14 Expert Tips To Improve Email Deliverability (+Checklist)

Vladyslav Podoliako
Jan 25, 2023
Reading duration
17 min

If you have already learned how to segment your recipients, set up your domain with basic steps, and created perfect value-driven content, the chances are your email will still land in the dreaded spam folder. Email outreach trends change in matter of seconds. Just think about the data — one in six emails does not reach the inbox.

Yes, improving email deliverability goes far beyond what you can find in most email deliverability guides. Did you know that even the link that automatically appears once you add your physical address in the footer can trigger spam filters? πŸ€” (Now you do

But nothing is impossible. Folderly enhances email deliverability through transparent email journeys, analysis, and progress. Somnowell Marketing Agency, for instance, increased the email deliverability rate from 45% to 100% through our integrated approach.

It’s high time to learn unconventional but effective tips to boost email deliverability in this article by Folderly's email deliverability experts, and start implementing them right away and elevate your email game! πŸ“ˆ

You’ll learn: 

  1. Before You Start: Audit Your Current Situation
  2. Expert Tips for Improving Email Deliverability
  3. 9 Statistics with Most Common Factors That Can Decrease Email Deliverability
  4. Ultimate Checklist: Enhancing Email Deliverability

Before You Start Improving Email Deliverability: Audit Your Current Situation

Once you got a strong desire, “I wish to improve email email deliverability rate ASAP,” it makes sense to slow down and reflect first. You must be fully aware of all the Good and the Bad taking place at the moment.

It means that a dedicated deliverability audit is a primary step to take on your road to flawless deliverability rates established.

Ask yourself (or your team) the following questions:

  • What is your sender's reputation? Improving email deliverability with your email sender reputation low will be more than challenging. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) watch closely as to what you are sending. Different tools can be used to check your sending reputation based on various data sources: SenderScore.org, BarracudaCentral, Google Postmaster Tools.

  • What is the complaint rate?  If you want to increase email deliverability, you have to treat user complaints that notify an ISP about a specific email sender's sketchiness seriously. The simplest way to check your complaint rate is to start with feedback loops (FBLs). These are specific services that most reliable ISPs provide. The loop is triggered whenever a recipient sends your message to the spam or trash folder.

An acceptable complaint rate is 0.1% or lower, that's 1 for every 1,000 emails sent.

  • Are your emails authenticated? To prove your trustworthiness, you have to authenticate your emails. Setting up proper Sender Policy Framework (see how to create SPF), Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC), and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) protocols is a must. In case you notice that these protocols are missing or inactive, you will have a clear indicator of poor email deliverability. 

  • Is your domain or IP address blacklisted? You should scan most of the known blacklists to remove your address if your complaint rate is higher than average. You can start with sharks of the blacklisting pool, such as Barracuda, Spamhaus Blacklist, SURBL, Spamcop, Outlook blacklist, etc. And here's a detailed walkthrough guide from Folderly on how to remove domain from blacklist.

  • What are the current marketing email stats? When improving email deliverability, it is critical to have direct access to your current email marketing metrics. These include: click-through rates, open rates, bounce rates. There are other stats you can browse through, but these three points will give you a clear insight into how well your deliverability score is. 

When it comes to bounce rates, anything between 2-5% is worth paying attention to. Just for your reference — the average bounce rate across the world is 2.63% and 3.34% in the USA. It might just be a temporary issue that resolves itself in your next emails. But when you see a bounce rate greater than 5%, you need to take proactive measures.

  • Is your email address properly warmed up? Whether you are new to the scene or your current IP address has been permanently blacklisted – you have to warm up your address before you start sending bulk emails. Those who skip the step will end up with a ruined sender reputation since most ISPs deem sudden spikes in sending rates a spamming activity.

If identifying issues becomes overwhelming for you, you can always get a helpful hand of Folderly email deliverability tool to get your domain's overall health scoring and mailbox analysis, and receive your long-term recommendations. Let Folderly do what it can do the best, so you can save time and resources and get a professional email domain health check.

Expert Tips for Improving Email Deliverability

The time for big changes has come. Now that you know all the good and bad aspects of your campaign, it's time to improve email deliverability and beat the competition. The Folderly expert tips we will share with you in a second have been well-tested more than once to ensure their effectiveness.

Configure your domain DNS settings

One of the primary steps to improve email deliverability is to assure the Email Service Providers (ESPs) that you are a reliable source and that your emails deserve to hit the primary inbox directly. That is where email authentication comes into play.

There are different ways to authenticate your sending domain:

1 Info

  • SPF – the verification record vouches that the email comes from a trusted sender instead of a potentially fraudulent relay server. And if you wonder whether can you have multiple SPF records, the answer is NO. It is not better (even worse sometimes) than having no SPF records at all. 
  • DKIM – given authentication protocol is responsible for delivering the message in its original state from one server to another without any potentially harmful changes.
  • DMARC – the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance protocol uses the best features of the two records mentioned above and ensures that any spam messages sent from a specific domain are blocked.

While some marketers use all the authentication protocols to increase email deliverability, others use only separate records. Yet, Folderly experts advise that you throw in another authentication option to the mix – Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI).

BIMI is relatively new on the market, and some dedicated marketing specialists are skeptical since they view it as little more than just a logo provider. But BIMI is a step-up in email security. Firstly, you can't configure BIMI without a DMARC protocol in place. Secondly, the branded logo attached to an email assures the recipients that it is a protected message. Thus, phishing rules out. Lastly, standing out from the "faceless" emails will increase open rates, improving email deliverability.

Set up a randomized delay between emails for cold outreach

Some present-day marketers falsely assume that the more is always the better. Yet, when you browse the sending limits of major email service providers such as Gmail, Exchange, or Outlook, you will spot a daily sending limit (You can find Office 365's email limits on the official website, listed as Exchange Online limits). It is possible to increase that limit, depending on your company or enterprise size. Still, another factor to keep in mind when trying to improve email deliverability is a smart sending delay.

Think about it this way: if you send a new email every 3-4 seconds, the chances that the system will view it as typical human behavior are slim. To increase email deliverability, you must set a smart sending delay.

"The healthy number here is 120 seconds between each cold email, which can also be randomized if you use sales engagement software". Says Dan Zinoviev, Folderly Sales Executive. "The main goal in cold email sending and outbound sending is to mimic real human behavior." However, the perfect delay you should target at 180 seconds (if possible). This approach will help you send emails more successfully thus, and the deliverability rates will also spike.

Get a look-a-like domain for your cold outreach that directs to your mail domain

Another non-evident way to increase email deliverability would be to use more than one domain for effective outreach. When you launch a cold emailing campaign, you try reaching out to as many potential prospects as possible. However, despite your perfect and updated mailing list, some messages may reach your clients, not at the best time, such as Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, which are associated with poor email deliverability and engagement.

Due to such a possibility, some of your letters will remain unopened and forgotten, while others may be sent to spam or instantly deleted. The more users react to your messages in such an inconvenient way, the higher the chances are of hitting one of the known blacklist. Even the reply "NO" is better than no reply when it comes to email deliverability.

Folderly experts suggest you create a look-alike domain to avoid the dire outcome. For instance, your primary domain address is – you@folderly.io, and you create two different look-alikes, such as you@team.folderly.com and you@bdr.folderly.com

Having look-alike domains ensures that your clients are still redirected to your primary address while the main domain does not suffer the increased risk of getting blacklisted at one time or another. Though the trick is not to take things too far and create dozens of look-alikes, one or two should be sufficient to improve email deliverability scores.

 Be risk-averse and keep 2 ESPs for better reach

"It is always good to squeeze the lemon twice." – says Dan Zinoviev, Folderly Sales Executive.

Most of the expert tips on how to improve email deliverability are designed to work in perfect sync with one another. Thus, as you work on creating a look-alike domain to spread the word about your company or services, you may want to consider two major ESPs instead of just one. Also, it significantly helps with email deliverability.

Take this hack from Folderly recent webinar — if you have Microsoft servers and Microsoft or Outlook, then it's better for you to email those people using Outlook as well because then the Outlook emails will be accepted more efficiently when you do call the email opposite to that with the Gmail.

Gmail accounted for 36.5 percent of e-mail opens, the highest share recorded.  However, messages from Gmail sometimes don't get into Outlook's primary inbox that easily. You may want to send out messages from two ESPs to increase email deliverability rates as you segment your mailing lists.

Minimize links, graphic content, and bold text in your email outreach

Modern email marketing enlists a plethora of possibilities and revenue-programmed opportunities. However, filling your cold emails with all kinds of links, images, and other graphic content isn't one of them. Emails with graphics show higher (2.92%) bounce rate.

This especially NEVER do it practice when it comes to cold email outreach. When an ESP scans your cold email and spots various links and graphic content added to it, it will automatically deem it suspicious. What are the chances that you are exchanging helpful content with a person you have never communicated with? Slim. That is what all email providers are encoded to assume.

First, connect and get into a door. And then, it might be worth adding images, presentations, and even videos if you want so.

Remember to always add alternative text to every image.
43% of people read the emails without turning the images on.

Make sure the email size fits one phone screen 

Time is always of the essence, and the modern world proves the point perfectly. Be concise when you decide to break through all the incoming messages in your user's inbox. How long should a success-oriented message be? The answer is simple — it should fit the size of the reader's phone screen. 43 percent of e-mails are opened via mobile. The whole message should fit in that Home screen for users to read through it and evaluate the provided information. Anything that takes a few scrolls down or swipes will seem like a waste of time to a present-day customer and will head you in the opposite direction of improving email deliverability.

Scale your outreach through the number of mailboxes, not the number of emails

It is doubtful that a single user can send thousands of emails daily, and modern ESPs are perfectly aware of that. When improving email deliverability, you must tune the mailing process to the most human-like strategy possible.

The limit of sent emails would depend on your ESP. For instance, if you have a regular Gmail account, you can send up to 500 emails. The safest way is to work on increasing the number of mailboxes rather than spiking the sending volumes.

Get separate domains for cold and warm emails

When you decide to improve email deliverability, you may want to implement the same approach to all the mailing branches. However, there is a massive difference between the emails your marketing team sends and those that the sales reps initiate. The widely accepted average response rate across all cold emails is from 1% to 5%.

In order not to ruin each team's efforts and collective deliverability rates, Folderly experts suggest that you send both cold and warm emails from different domains or subdomains. It surely seems like a small step, but it may bring tremendous changes to the whole process and increase email deliverability in no time.

Check your templates for spammy words

Spam words are trickier than you think. Not only are new spam words added to the list regularly, but some of them may hide behind the most innocent-looking words. Besides, the all-encompassing list with  spam trigger words is constantly being updated. 

Remember that you don't need to check for these spam words within your templates manually. A specially-designed email spam words checker detects which trigger words can damage your deliverability scores. Even a single spam word may significantly decrease your chances of improving email deliverability.

Choose the fitting sending sequence and frequency

When you focus on improving email deliverability, starting from the most complex and technical points, such as testing DNS configurations and evaluating the sender reputation, is natural. However, what many marketers leave out is the fact that irregular sending activity has a negative toll on the deliverability rates as well. In fact, automated emails do better than email campaigns in every metric, with an 83.4% improvement in open rates.

Those companies that send their marketing emails without any detectable plan or schedule look like spammers in the eyes of ESPs and some recipients. To increase your email deliverability score and to ensure that the users take your offers seriously, you must come up with pre-planned automated mass send-outs.

Folderly experts suggest that you start with smaller volumes and scale them on schedule. Gradually introduce logical value to your emails. If you present all you have in a single go, the chances that the client will need more from you are slim.

Facilitate the unsubscribing process (Ironically, yes)

Let's face it — some prospects will fall off moving down the sales pipeline. The average unsubscribe rate is 0.15%, regardless of how great the campaign is. You should be ready to let go when the time comes. On top of that, you can simplify the process and enable your users to unsubscribe from your emails whenever they feel like it

Unsubscribe links help to keep your mailing list clean (improving deliverability) and communicate with the engaged part of your audience to achieve better conversions and click-throughs. As a bonus — giving people the option to easily unsubscribe from content they do not want is also how you build trust and keep it.

Note, that in cold emails, it's not recommended to insert unsubscribe links. The links create the feeling of mass sending rather than individual approach. Instead of inserting the link, you can just write your prospect something like "Let me know if you want me to stop messaging you."

Quick Tips for Your Unsubscribe Links:

βœ… Place the unsubscribe button in a visible place
βœ… Highlight the unsubscribe links with colors, so recipients can easily find them
βœ… Ensure it’s a 1-click unsubscribe. The unsubscribe process should be this simple.
βœ… Unsubscribe people immediately, don’t exasperate them with a pointless delay.

Carry regular email validation out

One powerful strategy to enhance email deliverability is to regularly review and optimize your subscriber lists.

Over time, email lists tend to decline by approximately 22.5%. By proactively identifying users who haven't engaged with your messages in the past six months, you can reassess their relevance to your campaigns and potentially remove them from your sending list.

Furthermore, sustaining a steady stream of inbound leads is crucial for mitigating database decay and achieving successful marketing automation initiatives. Also, not all clients are sincere when they provide their email addresses. Email addresses that look fake, contain obvious mistakes, or don't correspond with the formatting standards should be deleted immediately since they will increase the bounce rate.

Recommended tip: If it has been 6+ months since your last email to a prospect, gain consent again by sending an opt-in form. If they opt out, remove them. Remember, less is more for email marketing. An engaged subscriber list is key to success. Also, make sure to check email address scrubber software to automate the cleansing process)

Prioritize the needs of your clients (Not an advanced yet classy step)

The more relevant the message, the more likely your subscriber is to engage with it. Fact.

While some clients may feel uncomfortable with getting a new email from you on a daily basis, they still feel interested in receiving monthly (even weekly) news. The average open rate for newsletters once a week is newsletters once a week is 33.33%.

But the best approach is to offer your customers a choice. Make them decide on how often to receive messages from you, and, as a bonus — your letters don't go to spam, damaging your sender score.

Moreover, as an ISP spots a spike of interest in your content, it will rank you accordingly. The only way to get there is to segment your audience and interact with every segment separately. Segmantation is rhe power. You can divide your users according to their:

  • Demographics
  • Purchase history
  • Location
  • Age
  • Sales funnel status
  • Interests, and so on.

Segmented email campaigns based on client preferences show 50% higher CTR than more generalized campaigns. Although you cannot come up with deep personalized messages for every client because it’s not scalable, the basic personalization such as adding a name is a MUST.

Check out our post with 14 personalization tips from experts to learn how to customise your marketing efforts. Let clients feel like they rule over the content they receive.

Regularly perform an email deliverability test

There's more than one way to boost your success, but it's crucial to know which path to take. A regular deliverability check can be a lifesaver. Folderly's email deliverability test can identify persistent issues twice as fast and fix them in a snap!

The Folderly email deliverability test covers all the bases, including email placement, DNS record configurations, content check, spam word check, and much more. And unlike other deliverability checkers, Folderly not only detects recurring problems, but also provides efficient and risk-free solutions.

Elevate your email game today with Folderly's innovative deliverability test!

9 Statistics with Most Common Factors That Can Decrease Email Deliverability

Don't let your email marketing efforts go to waste! Check out these nine critical statistics to identify potential risks and take immediate action to improve your email deliverability.

2 Stat (1)

Ultimate Checklist: Enhancing Email Deliverability

A brief revision is always a good way to check if you have all the essentials covered. Our expert team has come up with this ultimate deliverability checklist for your comfort and success.

Advanced Tips for Enhancing Email Deliverability

☐ Check if your DNS settings are properly configured.
☐ Double-check for a randomized delay intact.
☐ Check if you have a look-alike domain at hand.
☐ Check if you work with 2 dedicated ESPs instead of a single one.
☐ Check if you deleted all unnecessary links and media from your email template.
☐ Check if your email fits a mobile phone's Home screen size.
☐ Check if your marketing employees have dedicated mailboxes at their disposal.
☐ Check if you are using a different domain for cold and warm outreach.
☐ Scan your email templates for spam words.
☐ Check if your sending sequence is scheduled.
☐ Check if the "Unsubscribe" button is available.
☐ Check if you've segmented your target audience well.
☐ Check when the last deliverability test was carried out.

Final Words: Get Ready for the Game With the Growth Mindset 

Want to know the secret to skyrocketing your email deliverability? It's not just about perfect content and catchy subject lines. The revealed non-intuitive ways to ensure persistent growth. But what also matters is the growth mindset. So, here's the final advice:

Fear not! Learning how to cope with the pain and move forward is a valuable skill to have in your arsenal. Don't let one unanswered message or unreturned call derail your progress - take a deep breath, regroup, and keep pushing forward. 

If any questions are left unanswered – you can always reach out to us and get an informative consultation from a highly experienced Folderly team. Let’s bring your email deliverability to the next level together! πŸš€







Vladyslav Podoliako
Vladyslav Podoliako
Founder & CEO
Vlad is a Founder & CEO of Belkins and Folderly, a series entrepreneur and investor with over ten years of management expertise in companies with 100 million evaluation. Vlad has years of experience building and growing service companies and SaaS startups in SalesTech and MarTech. He is skilled in creating successful businesses from the ground up and building top-notch teams that drive all ventures to the top of their industries.

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