The E-consultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census of over 600 email marketers highlights the real cost of deliverability for the first time – marketers are wasting around 11% of their budget. 

This entry investigates what they can do about it.

Deliverability problems are most commonly the failure of emails to be delivered to the inbox, and when received distortion of messages when received because of image blocking and more.

Charges of scare mongering have been levelled at the DMA, ESPs and deliverability firms such as Return Path, Goodmail and Habeas

These organisations stand to gain the most from investments in deliverability, but the research finally shows how much marketers may gain too.

The E-consultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census shows some interesting findings. 

  • Deliverability is wasting many marketers’ budgets: email marketers estimated they were losing 11% of their budget and agencies put this figure higher at 14%. 
  • A blind spot for many: 60% of online marketers say they don’t need to improve deliverability, yet 80% cannot measure how much they are losing through poor deliverability. Without measurement techniques it is difficult to justify and quantify benefit or risk.
  • Adding to a sizeable sum: the value of sales generated by direct marketing is running at £125billion, and of this total online sales via the internet is reaching £52billion (source: DMA Economic Impact Analysis 2006). Assuming email marketing contributes around 10% of the latter figure, the real monetary loss of poor delivery that this equates to is significant.

There are a number of proven methods to understand your deliverability rate – the first and most important step is to investigate your present sender reputation and the factors affecting it. 

You also need to set your own benchmarks for open rates, click rates and conversions.

It’s a complex task. Deliverability strategies can lead to changes in data collection, targeting strategies, message design and campaign planning which is why we’ve built a team of deliverability specialists who help both our clients and those email marketers broadcasting their emails through other means. 

Your sender reputation is influenced by the feedback from recipients who have received your communications before.  If they have complained to either their web mail hosts or a blacklisting firm, this will count against you.  

Your complaint rates are affected by:

  • Data Management: Is the way in which you capture, clean and suppress your email contacts encouraging low complaint rates?
  • Campaign metrics: what are your average bounce, complaint and unsubscribe rates?

There are also other factors that affect deliverability:

  • Technical set-up: is your sending server configured for bulk sending?  Are appropriate accreditation and certification schemes in place?  Is your IP address and domain strategy building you a positive reputation?
  • Campaigns: how are the major spam companies handling your messages and how do the main email receivers display your designs?
  • Monitoring: are you monitoring the major black lists and spam organisations to ensure any problems are picked up?

Conducting an audit helps you understand your deliverability situation, and build an action plan.

One final thought.  If you can achieve an uplift of 11% by preventing deliverability problems, it should be easy to estimate the maximum amount to spend. 

If you take your revenue from email marketing (e.g. £100k), and increase it by 11% (e.g. to £111k) you’ll have incremental revenue. 

Then, dependent on your business model, if you take the profit margin (e.g. 35%) from these incremental sales (e.g. £11k), you’ll have a maximum figure to invest on deliverability (35% * £11k = £3,850). 

As long as your investment is less than this figure, then it is a good commercial decision.

Henry Hyder-Smith is Managing Director of