One of the most common questions we get as an email service provider is: “Can you guarantee our email deliverability will be high, and what statistics can you provide to support this?”
First, it’s important to make a very clear distinction between what email service providers determine deliverability as and what marketers determine deliverability as. As far as email service providers go, deliverability means the email makes it from your particular platform and to a receiving server. As far as the marketer’s definition, deliverability means the email has reached the inbox.
While it’s possible to theoretically test if your emails are reaching an inbox through the usage of seed lists, it’s important to note that seed lists never can really tell the full story as far as your deliverability goes. Seed lists don’t behave like true inboxes in that they aren’t really being used for anything outside of testing your mailings, so they’re not being trained in the same way that your personal inbox might be. Thus, your seed list email addresses aren’t really behaving the same way that a true email address might. They definitely have a place in email testing, but it’s important to take that testing (as you do with any testing) with a grain of salt.
The truth is, every email service provider likely has the technical elements in place to effectively guarantee delivery to a recipient server. However, no service provider is going to honestly be able to guarantee inbox deliverability, as it is dependent on an extraordinary number of factors related to the way you send email, including (but definitely not limited to!) sender reputation, list acquisition techniques, and how relevant your emails are to your recipients. Email service providers can give you all the tools you need to follow best practices, but no matter how good of a provider you are, it’s ultimately up to you to decide how good your inbox deliverability winds up.
As long as you follow all best practices, you could technically obtain 100% delivery (though it’s not an easy path by any means) — as long as you have the following in place:
- Data is collected through confirmed opt-in methods.
- Purchased data is not used without obtaining explicit permission prior to sending mail through Pardot (or another tool).
- Content sent is spam filter safe.
- Your delivery solution dynamically monitors and polices its environment for misuse and closes accounts that create situations that could harm other accounts within the system. (This part is my job, and we police our system aggressively!)
As far as Pardot’s email compliance team goes, we are particularly aggressive about permission-based marketing, as we genuinely care about our reputation as an email service provider, in addition to your reputation as an email sender. We also monitor for high bounce rates (over 10%) and high spam-complaint rates (over 0.1%), as those are the best indicators of potential reputation damage. We provide you with all of the technical backend and tools you need to make sure you have the best possible deliverability as far as transferring the email goes, but ultimately it’s up to you as a marketer to get it past the receiving server and into the inbox!