Investments on deliverability should be driven by sensible, well thought-out commercial reasoning rather than by ‘scare’ stories in the industry press. 

Following E-consultancy’s report that shows that the email platforms and services market is set to grow by 20% to an estimated value of £178 million by the end of this year, I’m convinced that one of the main drivers of this growth is deliverability – email marketers are investing in achieving better deliverability rates.  
I’m torn between whether email marketers are spending on deliverability as a result of not wanting to be the star of the next ‘scare’ story in industry press (such as have appeared on this very site!) or through sensible, thought-out commercial reasoning.
Interestingly, DMA research (The Email Service Provider Distribution Report available at shows a real difference in the level of deliverability achieved by UK email service providers.  

[This is only half the story too. There are also companies with in-house email systems – how are they faring?  In my experience, many are not even measuring them to find out.] 

The survey of Email Service Providers (ESPs) identified that they are achieving different rates of false positives of between 0.5% to over 5%.

The difference in these ‘blocked in error’ email rates shows how even those dedicated to email broadcasting are experiencing varying success rates. This is something all email marketers should consider when deciding on an ESP partner.   

Why worry about deliverability?

Last week over lunch, I was chatting with one of our clients who operate in the online retail sector. This large brand was still mulling over whether deliverability investments were worthwhile and was struggling to concoct a way of proving the business case to colleagues. 

We ended up doing some simple maths to work out ROI in order to come to a decision. These sums can be used by anyone and are shared below:  
With a low deliverability rate
In this example, 100,000 people are mailed and 95% are delivered (the worst rate in the DMA research) meaning 95,000 are delivered. 
Of them, say 5% click through (4,750 visits) and 10% convert on site. This leads to 475 orders
With a higher deliverability rate
Using the same numbers but just increasing the deliverability rate, 100,000 people are mailed again and 99.5% are delivered (best rate in DMA research) This means that 99,500 are delivered. 
Of them, 5% click through again meaning 4,975 visits and 10% convert on site = 498 orders
The difference is 23 orders. Just using the average transaction value of a typical order, you can calculate the absolute return. If this increase in revenue is higher than the investment into better deliverability rates, then the decision is easy.
Looking at the flip side, should your deliverability rate worsen, then the potential to miss out on orders is a sobering thought.  Email marketers experiencing erratic rates may want to consider this and work with their ESP to implement a monitoring policy or measures to take away the uncertainty.
[In addition to this, there are concerns about how emails are displayed and the impact on brand, but this is something for another blog entry.]

Anyone interested in finding out more about deliverability can do so in white paper can get a copy via the Adestra web site:

Henry Hyder-Smith is Managing Director of Adestra.