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My Email Deliverability Is Awful - Now What?

Thomas Senne
Senior Director of Global Deliverability

Although we all want to live in a world where every email message goes directly to the inbox, sometimes that isn’t a reality. I speak with many different types of marketers in many different types of situations. A fairly common scenario is when a new person takes a new role and inherits a less than desirable deliverability situation. We occasionally deal with situations where something goes horribly wrong, and you may find yourself in one of those tough spots. Where do you start, and what should the first things that you look to accomplish?

Get Real

The first thing that you have to do is an honest evaluation of the program. What is actually the situation? A common mistake is for someone to look at one of the available scoring systems that are out there, and take that information as truthful. Any score is based on data that may or may not be relevant to your particular program. Gather all of the information that you can, but make sure that the information you are gathering actually makes sense.

What are your inbox placement rates? Is that data sample large enough to be statistically significant? What are the open, click, and bounce rates over the past 6 months? What kinds of numbers do similar senders have for their messages? This realistic POV will help you to have an open mind when making future plans.

The Sign-Up Process

Go back to the beginning, and I mean the very beginning. The collection process is critical to deliverability success. Do you ask for explicit permission for sign-ups? Do you confirm the opt-ins, or are you using an implicit opt-in? If you are using implicit opt-in, that’s going to drag down deliverability. If you send abandon cart email to people who haven’t opted-in to your messages, that’s going to negatively impact deliverability? Are you telling them exactly what “brand” they are signing up for, or are you sending them messages from other brands?


A proper warm-up and ramp-up period is crucial for building a good reputation. You should plan for 30-45 days of fluctuation between the Inbox and Spam folders, as ISP’s determine your proper position. Consistently send messages, do not start and stop sending, or greatly vary your cadence. These are practices which can negatively impact and slow down your warm-up. Send to your most engaged senders, start slowly, and ramp-up to full volume based on daily metrics.


This one is always a tricky subject, but often a major cause of deliverability issues. You should be thinking quality over quantity. Sending more messages might generate more short term action for you, but it is almost always a recipe for later troubles. When you lose a customer because you emailed them every day, they are probably not coming back from the spam folder. Don’t lose sight of the goal, which is to have a back and forth conversation. (We call that engagement in the business!)


Content does still matter. This is the building block for the relationship that you are trying to build. Sending relevant content builds trust and allows you more freedom down the line to do some more aggressive things. If you are sending content that sparks no interest in your customer base, then it’s probable they won’t be seeing the messages you are really counting on making an impact.

Take a deep breath, keep an open mind and you should be able to pinpoint deliverability problem areas. Don’t forget that deliverability success almost always comes from playing the long game. Build relationships, nurture a conversation with your customers (or potential customers) by providing interesting content at regular intervals.

Modern Marketers must orchestrate and deliver marketing messages that are relevant to individual preferences and behavior. Getting email delivered to the inbox is critical to this process. 

Download Email Deliverability: Guide for Modern Marketers to find out how to achieve email deliverability that really delivers. 

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