How to Solve Trouble with Email Deliverability

Caitlin Leonard
Account Manager
Deliverability kitty is BROKEN!

When it comes to your email program, if you aren’t thinking about deliverability on a regular basis, you’re probably in trouble. The ability for your email to reach a customer’s inbox is critical to the success of your email program. If your email never reaches it’s destination, what’s the point?

Inbox placement is critical, but is it an issue for you? You follow email acquisition best practices, but unfortunately email deliverability can affect everyone and it’s best to know how to address issues if and when they arise.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how we attack email deliverability issues at eROI.
Deliverablility Kitty is learning to get better.

1. Educate Yourself

Learn all the important terms related to email deliverability.
This will help you immensely when you have conversations with your ESP or agency’s deliverability team. Litmus wrote a great blog on key deliverability terms that addresses pretty much everything, from the definition of an ESP to DMARC.

2. Do I have an email deliverability issue?

Declining open rates? Customers not receiving emails?
You have an deliverability issue.
These are two key indicators that your emails are not reaching inboxes. In my experience, it’s often a coworker or friend that reaches out to say “I’m not getting your emails anymore, do you guys still send those?”
Large increase in email soft-bounces?
You have an deliverability issue.
If you discover that 90% of your emails have soft-bounced, clearly something is wrong.
Are your deliverability scores dropping?
You have an deliverability issue.
Some ESP’s provide deliverability reports as a part of their feature set. Check them regularly. Your ESP may contact you to let you know if you’re on email blacklists; do not wait for it to get to that point.

3. Check off the basics

So, what’s next? Start by checking the basic health of your email program. You should be monitoring regularly anyway, but if this is news to you, create a checklist.

  • IP Reputation Score
  • Domain Reputation Score
  • Sender Reputation Scores
  • SPF
  • DKIM


You can get your reputation scores for free at Reputation Authority or submit your IP address or domain and in return you’ll get a great synopsis of the health of the IP or sending domain.
Ensure that you have SPF, DKIM and DMARC set up properly. If you have no idea what any of these acronyms mean, see the Litmus article on deliverability definitions, then ask your internal IT resource or your ESP’s deliverability team if these have been set-up properly. These authentication measures should be set-up simultaneously with your IP Address and if not set-up properly, will need to be resolved.
Deliverability Kitty knows how to warm up an IP

4. Narrow Down the Problem

It’s time to start narrowing down the other possible culprits. While this can be a manual process, it’s essential.
Ensure your IP was properly warmed.
If you didn’t follow best practices for IP warming before your first send, deliverability is going to be a problem for you. Especially if you are on a new, private IP addresses.
Pin-point a time period when your issues began.
When did you start receiving customer complaints that your emails weren’t hitting their inbox? When did open rates begin to drop? Once you narrow the time period, you can investigate any acquisition practices or changes in your email program that occurred during that time.
Review deliverability reports by domain.
Sometimes issues are isolated to one or two Inbox Providers like Yahoo or Gmail. If so, you have deliverability issues for that Inbox Provider. If your ESP doesn’t provide deliverability reporting by domain, you can still dig into that information by pulling the email open rate by domain.

5. Begin to Address

Once you get to this stage, you’re actually at the fun part where you can implement tactics that will directly affect the health of your email program.

  • Oops, I didn’t properly warm my IP Address.
    Go back through the IP warming process and this time, do it right. Over time, your IP Reputation scores will get better.
  • I have some bad email addresses or old lists.
    Did you pinpoint a time where emails were acquired outside of your basic best practices? If so, time to clean up your list! There are several ways this can be accomplished: Develop a re-engagement program to keep the customers that really want to receive your emails while purging your lists of bad or disengaged email addresses. This can be a little scary, expect your list to decrease by up to half, but it’s a good thing! These people weren’t opening your emails anyway. Use a an email verification service like Bright Verify to clean-up your list. This costs money, but is effective.
  • I have an issue at Yahoo or Gmail.
    Each inbox provider is different and there is no one way to ensure that your emails will be received at every inbox provider. If you have an issue at a specific provider, read up on their sender guidelines and make sure you are compliant: Gmail Bulk Senders Guidelines, Yahoo Bulk Sender Guideline, Hotmail/Outlook/Live Bulk Sender Guidelines.

I’d also encourage you to sign-up for feedback loops if available. Feedback loops will provide you regular reports on spam complaints. Make sure anyone who is marking you as spam is immediately added to your master suppression list.
Deliverability Kitty is happy to be operational!

That’s it! It’s all about education, investigation and trial and error. Hopefully you feel more prepared to navigate the crazy world of email deliverability, but if you’re still unsure, hit us up to inquire about our email deliverability services! We’d love to hear from you.

Caitlin Leonard
Caitlin Leonard, Account Manager at eROI.