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What's behind your deliverability rate?

And yes, another little article! This time, I will not talk about authentication but about deliverability and in particular... the deliverability rate! Indeed, we don't really tell you everything that's behind this rate... 

For those who know me a little, you know that I have worked for 3 different professional e-mail routers over the last 10 years and I can tell you that the method of calculating the deliverability rate remained the same.

Why this article? Unfortunately still today, I hear and see a lot of inconsistencies on the definition of deliverability rate... Rather than pull out what little hair I have left, I decided to write this article 

The best sales argument of the salesman!

As I said in the introduction, I worked for 3 professional e-mail routers, the first one being Emailvision. The company had a strong commercial power but it is necessary to know that some salesmen were ready to give their mother to sell a few thousand e-mails (and I'm not kidding). In their defense, they had colossal objectives to achieve each month or they would be thanked very quickly! In addition to selling anything and everything, some had the annoying tendency to announce (and to promise) to their prospects a deliverability rate of 100%... and all of this in an inbox of course...

Unfortunately for them... reality far surpassed their fiction... More on that later...

What is the deliverability rate?

I searched on Google for the definition of deliverability rate, here is what I could find :

" The deliverability rate of an emailing corresponds to the percentage of "successful" emails that have actually been delivered to the recipient's mailbox. "
This is the number of emails that were successful without errors. "
Number of undelivered messages / number of emails sent * 100. "
"The deliverability rate generally corresponds to the proportion of email messages considered to have actually reached their recipient during a campaign.

We can see that from one site to another the definition of this term can be different! But finally, who is right? Who is wrong?

How is it calculated in your router?

To know who is right and who is wrong, we will look at the router side and then at the sender/recipient side. We will take the following scenario as an example: I send an e-mail from my routing solution to my personal address.

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Router side:

  • Situation n°1 : an error message (hard or soft or block) is received, the e-mail is considered undelivered.
  • Situation n°2 : no error message is received on the "return-path" address, the e-mail is considered as delivered.

Sender/recipient side:

  • Situation n°1 : the e-mail has been received in inbox or in junk mail, the deliverability rate on the platform will be 100%.
  • Situation n°2 : the e-mail was not received but the routing platform indicates that the e-mail generated a bounce (hard or soft or block)the deliverability rate on the platform will be 0% (and the bounce rate at 100%).
  • Situation n°3 : the e-mail has not been received (not in inbox, not in junk mail)the deliverability rate on the platform indicates a deliverability rate of 100%... But why?? There can be several reasons: either the e-mail got lost on the Internet (and yes it can happen)or the bounces mechanism of the remote server did not work (and may work next time)Either the bounced e-mail never reached its destination, or the spam filter put your mail directly in the trash.

As you can imagine, your router calculates your deliverability rate not on the number of emails that have reached your recipients (and even less on the number of e-mails that actually arrived in the inbox) but on the number of e-mails that could not be completed (because the response from the remote server is a proof of non-reception). Thus, your deliverability rate will ultimately include:


Finally, is the deliverability rate interesting?

The answer is YES and NO... Let me explain:

YES because it remains a good indicator to quickly check if an advertiser had a delivery problem. However, it should be coupled with the bounce rate to define if the problem was related to an ISP blocking (cf. soft bounces or block bounces) or poor database hygiene (see hard bounces).

NO because unfortunately it does not really indicate if all the emails that were not rejected were delivered to the inboxes of your recipients and even less if it was in inbox or spam... (even if an opening and/or a click confirms that the e-mail has been delivered).

We conclude!?!

Even if the deliverability rate allows you to quickly see if a campaign has been delivered, it is not, in my opinion, a major indicator since we will never know the proportion of e-mails that have actually been delivered. We will then have to rely on three other rates: the bounce rate (hard vs. soft vs. block)opening/click rates (by destination) and dissatisfaction rates to really judge the performance of a campaign.

And you, do you agree or disagree with my plea? Feel free to comment on this article and give us your opinion 

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