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Email Deliverability Metrics To Monitor

14 min read
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When the phrase ‘email deliverability’ comes to mind, people often assume it involves a bunch of numbers and complicated technicalities that require advanced analytical skills to look into. Email deliverability isn’t rocket science, and with premium cold outreach tools available, the analytical part can be taken care of within minutes.

Do you ever wonder why the email you worked tirelessly on didn’t land up in the prospects’ main inbox? What have you done wrong? Is your content not working? Do you need to retarget your email list? What’s going on exactly?

Have you heard of Internet Service Providers (ISPs)? Well, think of ISPs as Mailbox Providers that determine whether or not an email will be accepted into their system and ultimately the inbox of recipients.

Now, it’s not like there’s an actual person behind the screens manning the systems, it’s all automated and configured for certain systems to be in place.

If you’re new to email deliverability, then I highly suggest you set up your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records. These are authenticators running in the background that ensure your email lands in the recipient’s primary inbox.

Another thing you can set if you want an extra layer of fraud protection and authentication is, BIMI (Brand Indicators Messaging Identification).  

Nearly 85% of emails users receive on a daily basis are regarded as spam. So email deliverability is one aspect of your cold outreach campaign that you need to work hard on.

If you want to ensure that the emails you have worked hard on land in the prospect’s main inbox, you need to track how your emails are performing. 

Email deliverability metrics provide you with an insight into exactly this.

This blog explains the key metrics to monitor your email deliverability. 

What Is Email Deliverability And Why Is It Important?

In very simple terms, email deliverability refers to the ability of an email to land in the recipient’s primary inbox. In addition to this, deliverability is also linked to inbox placement; whether the email sent appears in the primary inbox, promotional tab, social tab, junk, or spam folder. Email deliverability is the percentage of emails accepted by the ISP. 

Say you have around 1000 subscribers, and your deliverability rate is 98%; that’s 20 people that never see your email ever. And then, you realize your open rate is only 30-40%? How does that make sense if you have such a high deliverability rate? 

Where have those emails disappeared? These emails have most likely ended up in the spam or junk folder. 

One of the primary goals for your email campaign is to reach the recipient’s inbox, safe and sound. Tracking key metrics allows you to undertake a hands-on approach so you ensure every single user on your email list receives and opens your email. 

So let’s delve into the metrics that are going to help you with this:

8 Key Email Deliverability Metrics To Monitor and Focus On

1. The Number Of Spam Complaints

spam complaints

We all receive emails daily. I am sure you have come across an email that appeared sketchy; at times email service providers themselves share the same sentiments as you and immediately provide you with the ‘mark as spam’ option. When you click on that option, you have filed a spam complaint. Spam complaints affect your ‘sender reputation’ and ISPs take them very seriously. 

A report compiled by Verizon found that 94% of malware is delivered through emails. It is evident there has been an influx of spoofing and phishing emails, so in order to protect you, the option of flagging an email as spam is made available. 

If you see an increase in your spam reports, then you must rethink your email campaign strategy to figure out why. Action taken needs to be prompt as spam reports can result in your domain being on a deny list which entails deliverability problems in the long run for your outreach campaign. 

How to prevent a spam complaint?

  • Personalizing email content 
  • Sending valuable content that is relevant to the recipients
  • Adding an unsubscribe button (make it easily legible) to avoid recipients marking your email as spam 
  • Ensure the overall aesthetics of your email appear professional

2. Hard and Soft Bounce Rates

bounce rate

A hard bounce rate is one that is irreversible i.e. caused by permanent reasons such as the recipient’s email address being invalid, incorrect domain name, the server having blocked you, or the deliverability has been compromised. 

Hard bounces need to be manually or automatically cleaned out from your email list otherwise your domain will be flagged as spam. A hard bounce is to be expected, it is not avoidable altogether. 

A hard bounce rate of 1% is acceptable in any given industry. Over time, hard bounces could result in a compromised sender reputation or permanent blocks. 

A soft bounce on the other hand is a temporary delivery issue usually caused by the recipient’s server. While a soft bounce could happen for a number of inexplicable reasons, here are the most common ones: 

  1. Overloaded Inbox 
  2. Inactive Inbox 
  3. Oversized Email Size 
  4. Non-existent Domain Name 
  5. The recipient’s email server is down and inactive 
  6. Other unknown reasons 

When an email address continues encountering a soft bounce, it ends up being considered as a hard bounce and you will have to remove it from your email list.

Most B2B organizations have an average bounce rate of 4% to 5%; thus, an acceptable soft bounce rate would be 3% to 4%. However, it is advisable to keep your bounces as low as possible. 

3. Engagement Rate

engagement rate

Engagement rates can affect your email deliverability? Yes, they absolutely can. This is one of the most important metrics that is overlooked in email deliverability. 

The engagement rate is the percentage of recipients who have interacted with your email. It is generally calculated by dividing the total number of opens and clicks by the number of emails in your campaign that are sent. 

Did you know that if your emails are repeatedly delivered and ignored they will eventually land up in the ‘Junk’ folder? When this happens, it has a direct impact on your ‘sender reputation’ and decreases your chances of being delivered in the future. 

High engagement rates show the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that recipients receiving the email are genuinely interested in the content; resulting in better inbox placement. 

In order to improve your engagement rates, refine your email list and remove long-term inactive contacts from there. Repeated emails to these recipients will cause a dip in your engagement rates. 

You can run your content through a spam filter to identify the content that needs to be changed. If you run an eCommerce store, choose an eCommerce hosting with a spam filter security feature to check your content and make relevant changes.

A good rule of thumb is to only target recipients that have opened/clicked your email within the last 30 days to improve the engagement rate. 

Pro Tip: Saleshandy provides you with in-depth analytics for your cold email outreach campaigns. 

4. Delivery Rate

delivery rate

The delivery rate is one of the easiest metrics to measure. Your email delivery rate is the percentage of emails that have been successfully delivered to your recipient’s primary inbox. This metric is a key indicator in telling you how many of your emails were accepted by the ISP. 

Even if your emails have successfully been received by the subscriber’s ISP gateway server and your delivery rate is high; it doesn’t necessarily mean the emails are landing up in the inbox. The emails could be blocked by spam filters or automatically sent to the spam folder. 

This is where deliverability plays a part. An important thing to remember is that delivery rates differ from deliverability. The two are not interchangeable phrases. Deliverability allows you to track whether the emails being sent are reaching the correct inbox.

5. Inbox Placement Rate (IPR)

inbox placement rate

In very simple terms, an Inbox Placement Rate (IPR) is the percentage of emails that were delivered to the targeted inbox of recipients rather than the junk or spam folder. 

If you are experiencing a low inbox placement rate it may be due to:

  • Bad domain reputation 
  • Irrelevant or useless content
  • Numerous emails are being sent to invalid/unknown email addresses

How to increase your Inbox Placement Rate?

  • Authenticate your email address 
  • Refine your subscriber list and remove users that have not engaged with your email in the last 90 days or so
  • If you notice a low deliverability rate, then resolve the issue before activating another email campaign 
  • Keep a keen eye on your bounce rate
  • Constantly validate your prospects email addresses 
  • Delete inactive email addresses 
  • Improve your domain reputation

6. Spam Placement Rate

spam placement rate

Spam placement rate refers to the number of emails that have either been flagged as spam by humans/ISPs or delivered to the spam folder. 

But why do emails get sent into the spam folder? Many factors can cause this:

  • Your DKIM, SPF, and DMARC authentication is not set up properly or is faulty 
  • Lack of personalized email content 
  • Spam triggering words are found in the copy of the email 
  • Emails were all sent out at once

7. Open Rate

email open rate

Open rates are one of the simplest deliverability metrics to measure the success of your campaign. According to an email marketing study by Campaign Monitor, the average open rate for multiple industries is 18%. 

But did you also know that open rates are often misleading? Open rates are primarily measured through an invisible one-by-one tracking pixel. This means that an email is counted as “opened” only if the recipient receives the images embedded (the tracking pixel) in the message. 

Often, recipients have image-blocking enabled on their email client; which means that even if they have opened the email it won’t be counted as an “open”, thus underreporting the true numbers. 

8. Spam Trap Rate

spam trap rate

Spam traps are email addresses specifically generated to ‘trap’ spammers. They are used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or anti-spam organizations to catch spammers red-handed. 

A spam trap usually looks like any ordinary email address and is not used for communication. It is used by the owners to heavily monitor and identify these spoofers. 

If you are running a cold email campaign and you have spam traps on your email list, then it will most likely harm your domain reputation and your deliverability rates. The bad news is that even a well-intentioned email can fall prey to a spam trap. Unfortunately, this metric isn’t quantifiable or trackable. 

Regardless of the number of email addresses on your prospect list, if even one of them turns out to be a spam trap it is an indication that you are probably not following the best email practices for your campaign. 

Spam trap monitors are classifying you as a spammer in one way or another, despite your intentions. 

Here’s the good news though; by using email validation tools before activating your campaign, you can clean up your prospect list (follow this practice every 3-6 months). 

Tools such as Saleshandy Connect allow you to verify each and every email address on your list to elevate your deliverability rates.

Read more : Top 6 Cold Emailing Myths Busted

How To Boost Your Email Deliverability?

  • Ensure DKIM, SPF & DMARC protocols are in place and functional
  • Optional but recommended: Add BIMI (Brand Indicators Messaging Authentication) to your email authentication protocols (an extra layer of security)
  • Maintain Email List Hygiene – Refine and clean your email list at least once every 3 to 6 months 
  • Run your email content through spam trigger words tools 
  • Ensure the opt-out or unsubscribe button is visible and legible to recipients  
  • Frequently check your sender reputation 
  • Avoid buying email lists 
  • Avoid spam traps

Tools You Can Use

Email deliverability can be complex to comprehend, especially with all the numbers and graphs involved, it can be tough to figure it all out. But with the right combination of tools and best practices in place, your cold outreach email campaigns can bring in favorable results. 78% of marketers monitor their email deliverability, but out of that number, only 28% of them actually use third-party tools to do. 

Using tools that bolster your email deliverability practices will benefit you greatly. What sort of cold email tools do you need?:

  • A tool that has the ability to verify email addresses on your email list (Saleshandy offers the ability to verify email address from your prospect list before the launch of your campaign.) 
  • Uses a deliverability sending algorithm
  • Allows you to access your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records 
  • Allows you to create a custom tracking domain (this does wonders for deliverability!)
  • A tool that allows you to warm up your inbox
  • A tool that has the ability to predict an overall deliverability rate and bounce rate 
  • Use a double opt-in option 

Saleshandy is a cold email outreach platform that allows you to send mass emails with personalization in a few simple steps.

Saleshandy is an excellent tool that favors email deliverability by providing you with in-depth reports and analytics to help you make data-driven decisions.

Any email addresses that pose a risk for a bounce are marked as risky so you can further verify it or remove it altogether. 

The email addresses with the small exclamation marks next to them indicate that those particular email addresses are risky.

Beyond this, Saleshandy provides with you an estimated delivery and bounce rate before you launch your campaign so you can further refine your email list. Saleshandy favors deliverability to the maximum. Follow-up sequences with uniquely timed cycles can even be paused in-between days, so the servers don’t mistake your domain as a bot.

Pro Tip: Adding tracking links to your email content can cause the email to be relegated to the spam folder. Saleshandy allows you to create custom tracking domains that safely allow you to track link clicks. Custom tracking domains along with SPF and DKIM authentication, work in tandem to make your emails white-labeled which ensures deliverability. 


Cold emailing can be extremely effective if undertaken with the best email deliverability practices in mind. Imagine crafting the perfect campaign only to have it land up in the spam folder. 

Before you go crazy on email content and subject lines, you have to ensure that the emails actually land up in the inbox of your prospect (inbox placement must be prioritized!). 

When a cold emailing outreach campaign is launched, mailbox providers run a couple of vetting checks; these are also known as email reputation checks. Once all the systems have vetted you, a score is generated that affects your email deliverability.

All of the metrics mentioned above affect this score and in turn the ultimate deliverability of your email campaign. 

Besides that, here are a few other factors to keep in mind when thinking about email deliverability: 

  • The frequency of the emails 
  • Sender reputation 
  • Server/IP reputation 
  • Domain reputation 

Pro Tip: Inbox warming up helps boost email deliverability. Read more about it here. 

Keep in mind that reputation checks are one of the most essential components of inbox placement (i.e. which folder the email will be delivered to). 

The metrics mentioned in this blog act as important clues to the health of cold email campaigns. We recommend looking into these metrics early on, identifying and resolving issues ahead of time will help you have a smooth and effective campaign. 

From the point of view of ISPs, organizations that resolve such issues quickly are looked at in a positive light. The success of your cold email campaign is all in your hands if you prepare well, stay up to date with ISP’s regulations and resolve negative engagement metrics on the spot. 

Learn the depths of email deliverability in our cold email masterclass to reach your prospect’s inbox continuously. 📧


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