The Ultimate Guide to Email Deliverability

Chapter 1: Understanding Deliverability Scores

Though it’s not the sexiest topic in marketing, email deliverability is a critical aspect of any successful strategy. 

Based on various factors that we’ll get to in a minute, your deliverability score is used to calculate the probability of emails reaching your recipients’ inboxes. The lower your score, the more likely your messages are being marked as spam or “undeliverable,” also known as bouncing.

While different email service providers may use their own algorithms to calculate deliverability scores, the goal remains the same: to gauge the sender's trustworthiness and the likelihood of their emails being considered legitimate.

Let’s break that down a bit further.

Why Deliverability Scores Matter

Like we said before, every service provider may have their own metric to calculate your score. For example’s sake, we’re going to use Klaviyo’s ranking system to show you how these calculations might work in practice.

Think of your deliverability score like a grade in school—you’re getting evaluated on a scale of 1–100. Anything over 80 is generally considered pretty good! Anything under that is a sign that attention is needed. 

Klaviyo email deliverability

As an ecommerce business, achieving a high deliverability score is essential for several reasons:

  1. Inbox Placement: The higher your score, the more likely you are to land in your recipients' primary inboxes, increasing the chances of them being seen and engaged with. Because let’s face it, no one checks their spam folder.

  2. Reputation Management: A positive reputation is crucial for long-term email marketing success, as it impacts deliverability rates and inbox placement. That leads us directly to our next point.

  3. Customer Engagement: High deliverability scores mean you’re reaching engaged and interested consumers, leading to higher open rates, click-through rates, and ultimately, conversions. These are important metrics to keep in mind when monitoring or improving your scores, which we’ll touch on later in this chapter.

  4. Brand Credibility: Consistently reaching your recipients’ primary inboxes boosts your brand's credibility and reliability, fostering an important level of trust and loyalty among your audience.

Factors Affecting Deliverability Scores

Though your email deliverability can be impacted for lots of reasons, there are four main factors to keep an eye on that directly influence your scores:

  1. Sender Reputation: The reputation of the sending domain and IP address plays a significant role in determining deliverability scores. Positive engagement signals, like low bounce rates and high open rates, contribute to a favorable reputation, while negative indicators such as spam complaints and unsubscribes can harm it.

  2. Email Content: Think of this as the meat and potatoes of your emails, including subject lines, body copy, and images. Avoiding spammy language (like big promises or exaggerations), misleading subject lines, and images with large files can help you get in good with mailbox providers.

  3. Subscriber Engagement: The metrics we described earlier, like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, reflect the level of interest, trust, and interaction from your subscribers.

  4. Technical Setup: We’ll delve into the specifics of this one in the next chapter, but properly configuring email authentication protocols such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC increases your sender legitimacy and protects against pesky cyber attacks like spoofing and phishing. Additionally, maintaining clean and up-to-date contact lists and adhering to industry best practices can improve your deliverability scores. It sounds a bit technical, but not anything you can’t handle. 

Monitoring & Improving Deliverability Scores

You need to know where you’re at to know where you’re going. Regularly monitoring your scores and optimizing your practices are key to maintaining and improving deliverability over time. 

If your scores are just not hitting the mark and your audience isn’t being reached, we have a few strategies for improving those numbers:

  • Keep an eye on your engagement metrics and subscriber feedback—this will help you identify areas for improvement.
  • Then, segment your email lists based on engagement levels to more effectively target active subscribers.
  • Implement email authentication protocols to keep up a positive sender reputation and build trust with your audience.
  • Test different elements of email campaigns, such as subject lines, content, and sending times to optimize performance.
  • Follow industry guidelines and best practices—sometimes a lot of the testing has already been done for you. 

These strategies may involve a little bit of trial and error—never underestimate the power of a good, old-fashioned A/B test. 

Now, let’s get into the technical stuff. 

Chapter 2: Setting Up DMARC Records

In February 2024, Google and other Inbox providers changed the game for email marketers. In short, virtually all brands now need a dedicated sending domain rather than being mixed in with a bunch of different brands. If your brand has been around the block a few times, this probably sounds familiar to you.

If you’re new to DMARC records and ecommerce in general, allow me to get geeky for a bit—because it’s important.

DMARC, which is short for Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, is an essential email authentication protocol that builds upon existing authentication methods like SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). Essentially, it allows senders to specify how they want email messages to be handled if they fail authentication checks.

That sounds like a lot. I get it. 

But why does it matter?

Importance of DMARC

Correctly implementing DMARC provides some wildly important benefits for your brand: 

  • Enhanced Security: Avoid spoofing and phishing attacks by providing a mechanism for email receivers to verify the authenticity of incoming messages. Again, building trust.

  • Brand Protection: Protect your brand’s reputation and ensure that only legitimate emails are delivered to recipients' inboxes under your domain name.

  • Improved Deliverability: Positively impact your email deliverability by establishing legitimacy, reducing the likelihood of emails being flagged as spam or phishing attempts.

Setting Up DMARC Records

Anyone can check if their DMARC records are set up correctly by going to When they’re not properly set up, however, you can do so with the following steps: 

Step 1: Generate DMARC Record
Begin by generating a DMARC record for your domain. This record includes policy settings and instructions for handling messages that fail authentication checks.

Step 2: Specify Policy Settings
This includes the policy action (none, quarantine, or reject) and reporting requirements (where to send aggregate and forensic reports).

Step 3: Publish DMARC Record
Next, publish the record in your domain's DNS (Domain Name System) settings. This allows email receivers to retrieve and enforce your DMARC policies.

Step 4: Monitor and Analyze Reports
Regularly checking up on your DMARC reports helps you identify potential issues and take corrective actions as needed.

Example DMARC Record

In case you haven’t seen one yet, here’s what a DMARC record looks like:

v=DMARC1; p=none;

In this record you’ll see “rua-” followed by an email address. You’ll want to replace that with an email address that you monitor or an address with a digest service such as 

Digest services will send you digests related to sites trying to send email on your behalf. Without this type of service, you’re going to receive DMARC-related emails that you likely won’t be able to make sense of. The services are both inexpensive and worthwhile—take it from me.

We touched on a lot so far—but we’re only just scratching the surface. To sum it up, here’s what we’ve learned…

Setting up DMARC records correctly is essential for ecommerce brands to improve email deliverability, enhance security, and protect their brand reputation. That means alongside other authentication protocols, you can establish legitimacy, lower the risk of fraud, and ensure that your messages reach recipients' inboxes safely and securely.

Chapter 3: Managing Contact Sources

This one’s a biggie. Your brand’s contact sources are the various channels and methods through which you collect customer email addresses. In this chapter, we’ll cover strategies for identifying, categorizing, and optimizing these contact sources so you can reel in engaged customers—and keep them engaged. 

Common Contact Sources

Generally, most brands should be utilizing at least some of these sources to build a robust contact list. 

  • Website Pop Ups: This mutually beneficial transaction is the first thing your customer should see on your website. You give them access to a newsletter, account registration, or promotional offers—and they give you their email address.

  • Checkout Process: Simple email opt-in checkboxes presented during the online checkout process are easy ways to collect contacts automatically.

  • Lead Generation Campaigns: Landing pages or lead magnets can be used to capture email addresses from interested prospects…this could be an exclusive sale, a sweepstakes, a call for user generated content, and more.

  • Customer Accounts: Building interest in creating a customer account could be as simple as offering a rewards program or subscription service. 

Categorizing Contact Sources

Once you've identified your brand’s most effective contact sources, it's important to categorize them based on their compliance with email marketing best practices and regulations. Common categories include:

Explicit Opt-In Sources: These are contacts who have intentionally opted in to receive marketing emails through a clear and voluntary process, like a website form or a checked opt-in box. 

Implicit Opt-In Sources: These are contacts who have provided their email addresses during transactions or interactions with your business but may not have explicitly opted in to receive marketing emails. 

Third-party Sources: As the name suggests, these are contacts obtained from third-party sources, such as purchased email lists, co-registration agreements, or lead-generation partnerships. These sources have a tendency to present higher risks for deliverability issues and compliance violations, and should be approached with a bit more caution. 

Complying with Marketing Opt-In Requirements

To avoid your emails being reported as spam or bouncing back, it’s important to make sure that they comply with marketing opt-in requirements. Long story short, your contacts have to have given you consent to add them to your contact list, and there must be clear communication of the purpose and frequency of your messaging. Now, this isn’t just important for your deliverability—it can also be a potential legal issue. The legality behind marketing opt-ins varies depending on the country, and you can incur heavy fines if you break the rules. For example, Canada and the UK are known for having pretty strict anti-spam regulations, so it’s necessary to familiarize yourself with your country’s rules. 

There are a few ways to go about marketing opt-in compliance: 

  • Use clear, concise language to describe the purpose of email communications and obtain consent. Odds are, people will opt in.

  • Implement double opt-in mechanisms to confirm the validity of email addresses and the intention of subscribers. I will admit though—unless you are having deliverability issues, which we will get into a bit later, for most accounts I would not advise turning on double-opt in.

  • Provide easy-to-use opt-out mechanisms and honoring unsubscribe requests promptly. Google’s rules specifically state, “Marketing messages and subscribed messages must support one-click unsubscribe, and include a clearly visible unsubscribe link in the message body.”

To sum this chapter up, effectively managing contact sources is essential for maintaining a healthy and engaged email list. And the more engaged your list, the more likely your emails will reach inboxes. Categorizing your contact sources is helpful in identifying potential issues, and can help you stay ahead of the curve, maintain trust with your consumer base, and prevent a dip in deliverability and engagement. 

Chapter 4: Auditing Contact Lists

I get it, no one loves an audit. But putting in the extra effort to maintain a healthy and engaged contact list, and weed out the outliers, could be the defining factor in your deliverability. 

Why Audit Contact Lists?

Regularly auditing contact lists is essential for several reasons:

Compliance: Ensuring that all contacts on your list have provided explicit consent to receive marketing emails is in compliance with email marketing regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR.

Deliverability: Cleaning up inactive or invalid email addresses, removing spam traps, and identifying and removing suspicious profiles can prevent emails from being flagged as spam.

Engagement: A clean and well-maintained contact list consisting of engaged subscribers leads to higher open rates, click-through rates, and ultimately, better campaign performance. If you play your cards right, engagement is a gift that keeps on giving.

The Auditing Process

Though tedious, this process is extremely important. Some universal steps might include:

Reviewing Contact Sources: This is where understanding your contact sources really comes into play. Begin by identifying all sources from which email addresses have been collected, including website sign-up forms, customer accounts, lead-generation campaigns, and offline events.

Assessing Opt-In Status: Verify that all contacts on your list have provided explicit consent to receive marketing emails. If someone hasn’t opted into your email marketing, don’t send them marketing emails. It’s that simple.

Identifying Inactive or Invalid Contacts: Look for inactive or invalid email addresses that may be harming your deliverability. This includes email addresses that have bounced repeatedly, spam traps, and role-based email addresses (e.g. People sometimes love the thought of sending to the biggest list possible, but not ensuring that all your contacts are active is one of the quickest ways to damage your sender reputation.

Segmentation and Cleanup: Segmentation is key! Segment your contact list based on engagement metrics, purchase behavior, and opt-in status. Remove inactive or invalid contacts, spam traps, and suspicious profiles to ensure a clean and engaged subscriber base.

Re-engagement Campaigns: For contacts that have become inactive or disengaged, consider implementing re-engagement campaigns to rekindle their interest. Note that these should be done sparingly and not abused.

Sunset Flows: While auditing your contact list, if you don’t already have a sunset flow or email in place, now is a good time to do so. The purpose of these touches is to give seemingly inactive contacts the opportunity to remain on the list. These text-only emails prompt contacts to click within the email to remain on the list. Those who do not click, including those who don't even open, can be tagged for later removal

Industry Best Practices for Auditing Contact Lists

My number 1 tip—be thorough. The more thorough you are in cleaning up your contact list, the more effective your strategy and campaigning will be. Here are some ways to ensure you’re being as efficient as possible:  

Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular audits of your contact lists to keep them clean and up to date. This could be done monthly, quarterly, or on an as-needed basis depending on your brand and marketing practices. Depending on the tool you use for email marketing, this process could also reduce your monthly bill.

Automation: Use automation tools and software to streamline the auditing process and identify issues such as inactive contacts, bounces, and spam traps more efficiently.

Segmentation Strategy: Strategizing your segments like we talked about earlier in this chapter allows you to tailor your email communications and improve targeting and relevance. Two segments most ecommerce brands should have are Active Customers and Active Non Customers. You’ll need to determine what defines Active for your brand.

Continuous Improvement: Continuously monitor and analyze the performance of your contact lists and email campaigns, and make adjustments as needed. If deliverability is being negatively impacted, how you have defined Active may need to be tightened up.

To sum up this chapter, auditing contact lists is a fundamental aspect of email marketing. By regularly reviewing and optimizing your contact lists, you can ensure compliance with email marketing regulations, improve deliverability, and maximize engagement with your target audience. Implementing best practices and adopting a proactive approach to list maintenance will help you achieve better results from your email marketing efforts in the long run.

Chapter 5: Automation Filter Cleanup

One of the main ways to prevent spam complaints is to ensure your messages are properly filtered and relevant to your segments. Sometimes, the key to improving deliverability is amping up your filters and tightening your segmentation to help weed out bots and inactive users—this is especially helpful when your deliverability tanks, which we’ll talk about later on in the course. In this chapter, we’re going to focus on the logistics and process of refining flow filters, or automation filters, to ensure optimized targeting and improve deliverability in the long run. 

Why Clean Up Flow Filters?

Aside from the obvious impact on deliverability, automation filter cleanups can help in two huge ways. 

Compliance: It’s essential to only target contacts who have explicitly opted in to receive marketing emails—not only is this considered a best practice, but not doing so puts you at risk of violating compliance regulations. 

Engagement: Targeting engaged and interested contacts with relevant content increases the likelihood of them opening, clicking, and converting, leading to higher engagement rates and improved campaign performance. Removing inactive users also helps avoid triggering spam traps! 

Filter Cleanup Process

The process of cleaning up flow filters involves several steps to review, refine, and optimize email automations. Why do you care about this? Because you don’t want your automations to email the wrong people, which could eventually get you in deliverability trouble.

Here are some final things to consider on this topic:

Reviewing Flow Settings: Begin by reviewing the settings and filters of each email flow in your chosen platform. This includes triggers, conditions, and actions that determine when emails are sent, and who they’re sent to.

Opt-in Compliance Check: This is a common consideration that keeps popping up because it’s SO important. Verify that all flows are set up to target only contacts who have explicitly opted in to receive marketing emails. Check for conditions or filters that may inadvertently include non-opted-in contacts.

Segmentation and Targeting: Segment your contact list based on engagement metrics, purchase behavior, and opt-in status. Refine filters to ensure that emails are always targeted and relevant to your customers, which includes removing inactive or disengaged contacts from all of your email flows. We’ll talk more about this in the next chapter. 

Testing and Optimization: There unfortunately isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for filter cleanups, as it largely depends on your brand’s consumer base and their behavior. Test different filter settings and segmentation strategies to identify the most effective approach for each email flow. Monitor performance and make adjustments as needed.

Before we end this section, let’s touch on some specific flow filter parameters and go over a starting flow filter for a brand that’s had deliverability issues.

TRIGGER Filters refine whatever metric was used to trigger. So, if your flow is triggered by someone adding to cart, you can edit the trigger filters to say "only send this flow to people who added Product A to their cart." 

PROFILE/FLOW Filters are where most of the work in this chapter happens. The filters here kick people out if they don't match a certain definition—even if they are part way through the flow already. For example, a Welcome Flow will kick someone out of the series as soon as they place an order, whether they've received 0 emails, 1 email, or all of them. This is where you say "must be opted-in to marketing." If they aren't, they get kicked out! 

ADDITIONAL/MESSAGE Filters are where things get super targeted. If, for example, you have a post-purchase flow that showcases a series of products, you may not want someone who has already purchased that item to get an email on that product. So you would add an extra filter to the email about Product A that says "only send to people who have not purchased Product A in the last 180 months” (or however long).

Here’s an example of filters that were put in place to help with poor deliverability:


Can receive email marketing


Had been in this flow zero times in the last 30 days


Has bounced email zero times over all time


Has placed order zero times in the last 15 days

Chapter 6: Campaign Segmentation & Scheduling

Effective segmentation and scheduling of email campaigns is crucial for not only improving deliverability, but also driving conversions! In this chapter, we’re going to focus on strategies for segmenting contact lists based on relevant criteria, scheduling campaigns to optimize delivery times, and ultimately achieving the results you’re looking for. 

Why Segmentation and Scheduling Matter

Segmentation and scheduling play a significant role in the success of email marketing campaigns for several reasons:

Relevance: Segmenting contact lists allows you to tailor email content and offers to specific audience segments based on their preferences, behaviors, and demographics. This means people will only see content that they’d most likely be interested in. That brings us to our next reason.

Engagement: The more personalized and relevant the content and messaging are, the more likely your recipient will open, click, and convert—leading to higher engagement rates and improved campaign performance. For example, if you’ve sent someone 20 emails and they haven’t opened or clicked a single one, would you consider them an engaged contact? If you’re wondering, the answer is no, they aren’t.

Deliverability: Scheduling campaigns strategically helps ensure that emails are delivered at optimal times when recipients are most likely to engage, reducing the risk of emails being overlooked or ignored and improving deliverability rates.

Segmentation Strategies

Segmentation involves dividing your larger contact list into smaller, targeted lists based on relevant criteria. A big list doesn’t always mean more engagement! As we mentioned previously, segmentation can hurt egos that focus on list size, but it can help your overall performance and domain reputation. Things to consider when segmenting:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, location, income level, or other demographic information.

  • Behavior: Purchase history, browsing activity, engagement with previous emails, or other behavioral data.

  • Preferences: Product preferences, content interests, or communication preferences. For example, Skims keeps sending me womens underwear emails. I’m a guy and what they are sending me isn’t relevant. And they have information and the ability to know that they should be sending me guy-related emails.

  • Lifecycle Stage: New subscribers, loyal customers, inactive subscribers, or other lifecycle stages.

If you’re having deliverability or overall performance issues, don’t be shy about bringing the size of your campaign segments way down. It’s better to reduce volume and actually have them deliver than continue to hurt your score. 

For example, “clicked email 2 or more times in the last 30 days” is often a good place to start (and then build back up to 45 days, 60 days, etc.). 

Scheduling Best Practices

An important part of strategic scheduling involves determining the optimal timing and frequency for sending emails to your segmented audiences. Consider the following best practices:

Timing: Schedule emails to be delivered at times when recipients are most likely to engage, such as weekdays during peak hours or based on recipient time zones. 

Frequency: Avoid overwhelming subscribers with too many emails by spacing out campaign sends and sticking to a consistent sending frequency that makes sense. 

Testing: Experiment with different send times and frequencies to identify what works best for your audience. Monitor the performance metrics we talked about earlier in the course, and adjust your scheduling strategies based on engagement and conversion rates.

Campaign Segmentation & Scheduling Process

We’ve talked about the “why,” so let’s wrap up this chapter by quickly reviewing the “how”:

Step 1: Segmentation—Analyze your contact list and identify segments based on audience demographics, behaviors, preferences, or lifecycle stages.

Step 2: Develop a Strategy—This should align with your campaign objectives and audience insights. Create targeted segments that allow for personalized messaging and offers.

Step 3: Campaign Planning—Plan your email campaigns as far out as you can, including content creation, design, and messaging, with each segmented audience in mind. This might also entail different versions of your campaigns to tailor the message toward a segment’s needs or interests. 

Step 4: Scheduling—Use your platform's scheduling features to schedule campaigns for delivery at optimal times based on engagement patterns.

And last but not least…

Step 5: Monitoring and Optimization—Keep an eye on your campaign performance metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Use the data to influence any adjustments to your strategy to beef up and optimize future campaigns. 

Chapter 7: Email Design Best Practices

Think of the last email you received that really caught your attention. It’s probably not as easy to recall as you think… 

Effective email design is crucial for capturing your audience’s attention, encouraging clicks and purchases, and establishing or reinforcing your brand. This chapter focuses on best practices for designing visually appealing and engaging emails that resonate with your audience and improve deliverability. 

This topic could be pretty extensive, but since we’re focusing on deliverability here, I’m going to focus on some high-level items. Let’s start with:

Why Email Design Matters

The way your email looks is crucial for several reasons:

First Impressions: The design of your email is the first thing recipients see when they open your message. Would you rather engage with this, 

A visually appealing and strategically-designed email not only creates a positive first impression, but makes people want to stick around and interact with your content.

Brand Identity: Consistent branding across all elements of your email, including colors, fonts, and imagery, reinforces your brand identity and helps recipients recognize and trust your brand.

Engagement: Clear calls-to-action, compelling imagery, and relevant content increases the likelihood of recipients clicking through to your website, making a purchase, or taking other desired actions.

A Place for Text-Only Campaigns

While emails with tons of images and branded elements may be the most eye-catching, it’s important to note that they are also more likely to be identified as marketing or spam by email providers. If you ever find yourself in a deliverability bind, incorporating more text-only emails will likely help you to reach more inboxes.

The easiest way to test if this is impacting your deliverability is to A/B test a design against a text-only version of the emails (make sure you're using the same subject line so that doesn't impact open rates). When we say "text-only" we mean no images, not even your logo.

Here are a few tips for making text-only campaigns even more effective:

  • Avoid too many links. One or two should do the trick.

  • Don’t overdo it on emojis—they don’t show up for all devices.

  • Personalize it. Create a dynamic space for your recipient’s name or a dynamic discount code to make it seem

Design Best Practices

These are things that are generally considered gospel when it comes to designing a marketing campaign. 

Mobile Responsiveness: Consider that, depending on your target audience, many—if not most—of your recipients will be viewing your design on a mobile device. Design emails to be mobile-responsive, ensuring that they display properly on a variety of devices and screen sizes. Use a single-column layout, large fonts, and tappable buttons to optimize the mobile viewing experience.

Clear Hierarchy: Use a clear visual hierarchy to guide your customer’s attention and highlight key information such as headlines, product images, and calls-to-action. Use contrasting colors, bold fonts, and strategic spacing to create emphasis.

Compelling Imagery: High-quality images and graphics should showcase your products or convey your brand's message effectively. Use images that are relevant to your content and resonate with your audience.

Concise Copy: Keep email copy concise and to the point, focusing on delivering your message clearly and effectively. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and bold headings to break up text and improve readability.

Clear Calls-to-Action: Include clear and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) that prompt recipients to take the desired action, whether it's making a purchase, signing up for a webinar, or downloading a resource. Use contrasting colors and button styles to make your CTAs stand out.

Accessibility: Ensure that your email design is accessible to all recipients, including those with disabilities. Use descriptive alt text for images, readable fonts, and sufficient color contrast to accommodate users with visual impairments. A good rule of thumb for readability: all copy should be a minimum of 16pts. 

Testing and Optimization

It wouldn’t be strategic if we didn’t test and optimize our designs for maximum effectiveness. Some things to consider when testing:

A/B Testing: Conduct A/B tests to compare different design elements, such as subject lines, images, CTAs, and layouts, to determine which combinations perform best with your audience. Be cautious about testing more than one thing at a time. Doing so muddies the data and won’t provide you with actionable results.

Performance Monitoring: Monitor key performance metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribes to gauge the effectiveness of your design efforts. Use this data to make informed decisions and optimize your designs accordingly.

To sum up this chapter, your design is not only a reflection of your brand, but it’s also one of the most important parts of an engaging campaign. By following the design best practices we highlighted earlier, you can create emails that resonate with your audience and encourage higher conversion and engagement. And as always, do yourself a favor and test designs and other changes you may want to try.

Chapter 8: Monitoring and Continuous Improvement

Now that you’ve got everything set up properly, monitoring your campaign performance and improving where necessary is key to long-term success. Monitoring campaign performance and implementing continuous improvement strategies are essential for optimizing email marketing efforts and achieving long-term success. In this chapter, we’ll focus on the “why” and “how” of monitoring key metrics, analyzing that data, and then using your findings to drive your strategy moving forward. 

Why Monitoring and Continuous Improvement Is Important

Marketing is never a set-it-and-forget-it practice. Things are always changing, so keeping an eye on your performance and making data-backed decisions based on your findings is arguably the most important part of the process. Here’s why: 

Performance Optimization: Regular monitoring means you’re keeping track of key metrics such as opt-out rates, unsubscribes, and spam complaints. When you identify areas for improvement, you can use the data and practices we’ve covered to adjust your campaign for better results.

Audience Insights: Not only does analyzing your data help inform your decisions, but it also gives you valuable insights into your audience’s behaviors, preferences, and engagement patterns—so you can tailor your email marketing strategies to more effectively meet their needs.

Adaptability: Preferences, trends, and practices change—that’s just life. And being adaptable is a necessary strength to stay afloat. By keeping up with changes in audience behavior, industry trends, and email marketing best practices, you can adapt your strategies and tactics accordingly to stay relevant in such a constantly evolving landscape. Always remember, what works today may not work tomorrow.

Monitoring and Analysis Process

Let’s break down the “how”: 

Step 1: Define Key Metrics—Identify key performance indicators (or KPIs) that align with your campaign objectives, such as unsubscribes, spam reports, and bounce rates.

Step 2: Set Benchmarks—Establish targets for each KPI based on historical data, industry standards, or campaign goals. You’re going to need something to measure performance against, and these are good places to start. 

Step 3: Track Campaign and Flow Performance—Here comes this chapter’s buzzword: monitor. Regularly monitor your campaign performance in real-time, or using reporting tools provided by your email marketing platform. Track KPIs and compare them against benchmarks to see where you are in reaching your campaign goals.

Step 4: Analyze Data—Take a deep dive into your campaign data to discover relevant trends, patterns, and insights that might be useful to you moving forward. Does your audience prefer lifestyle images over model images? Do they respond more to designs or text-based messaging? Does your audience interact more in the morning or at night? Look for correlations between different metrics, identify areas of strength and weakness, and pinpoint opportunities for improvement.

Step 5: Identify Opportunities—Based on your analysis, identify opportunities for optimization and refinement. This could include adjusting targeting criteria, refining content, testing different subject lines or CTAs, or optimizing send times.

Step 6: Implement Changes— This one’s pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people don’t forge ahead and utilize their data to actually make positive changes. Use your findings to test new strategies or tactics, and monitor the impact on campaign performance to determine how effective they are. 

Continuous Improvement Strategies

As the saying goes, there’s always room for improvement. So aiming for the best possible results should consistently be a top priority. Here are some of the ways you can continue to improve your processes, strategies, and ultimately your performance. 

A/B Testing: Experiment with different variations of email elements, like subject lines, content, CTAs, and design to identify what resonates best with your audience and drives the highest engagement and conversions. Like we mentioned before, be careful not to test too many things at once so your results are clear and definable. 

Segmentation Refinement: Continue to refine your segmentation criteria based on the way your audience is interacting with your content. Then, tailor your messaging and offers to specific segments to keep them as relevant and effective as possible. It’s more than okay to have a few versions of the same campaign or flow to cater to specific audiences.

Personalization Enhancement: People love to feel like the center of attention—and that goes for customers, too. Explore opportunities to personalize some of your email messaging, such as dynamic content, product recommendations, or personalized recommendations based on past purchase history or browsing behavior.

Optimizing Automation: Review your automated email workflows, such as welcome series, abandoned cart reminders, or post-purchase follow ups, and optimize to ensure they are delivering maximum value and driving the results you’re looking for. These touches can be huge revenue drivers if you’re utilizing them correctly! 

Feedback Integration: Never underestimate the power of a simple survey! Incorporate feedback from your audience, such as survey responses, customer reviews, or support inquiries, into your email marketing strategy. What do people want? What are they looking for? What’s not working for them? Use this feedback to address pain points, improve customer experience, and tailor your future communications.

Long story short, continuous monitoring of your performance metrics and utilizing that data to improve your marketing strategy is key to understanding your audience and staying adaptable in such a fast-paced industry. You’d be surprised what you can miss when you look away. 

Chapter 9: Let’s Recap

We’ve covered a lot so far when it comes to deliverability management—and before we wrap up with saving your deliverability when it’s entered the danger zone, let’s go over the highlights of what we’ve learned so far.  

Key Learnings

Deliverability Score Review: Understanding the significance of deliverability scores and how to review them using tools like Klaviyo.

DMARC Implementation: Learning how to set up DMARC records correctly to enhance email authentication and prevent spoofing and phishing attacks.

Contact Source Management: Exploring strategies for identifying, categorizing, and managing contact sources to ensure compliance with opt-in requirements.

Auditing Contact Lists: Learning the importance of regular contact list audits to maintain list health and improve deliverability.

Flow Filter Cleanup: Understanding the significance of filter cleanup in email flows to ensure compliance and improve engagement.

Campaign Segmentation & Scheduling: Exploring best practices for segmenting contact lists and scheduling campaigns strategically to maximize engagement and deliverability.

Email Design Best Practices: Learning how to design visually appealing and engaging emails that resonate with recipients and drive conversions.

Monitoring and Continuous Improvement: Understanding the importance of monitoring campaign performance, analyzing data, and implementing continuous improvement strategies to optimize email marketing efforts.

The Work Doesn’t End Here

While this crash course has provided a solid foundation in email deliverability management, it's essential to recognize that managing email deliverability is an ongoing process. As email marketing evolves and recipient behaviors change, businesses must adapt their strategies and tactics to maintain deliverability and engagement rates.

Feel free to return to any of the chapters we’ve covered for a refresh—I know we’ve thrown a lot at you.

Finally, let’s talk about getting back into customer inboxes when your deliverability sh*ts the bed.

Chapter 10: What to Do When Deliverability Tanks

Up until now we’ve mostly talked about proactive things you need to do with email marketing. But what do you do if you wake up one day and find your marketing emails going to spam? Heck, how do you even know emails are going to spam? Here are a few quick indicators to keep in mind:

  • You regularly monitor inbox placement, along with other people on your team, and find that emails are going to spam.

  • You see your click rates suddenly dropping, dramatically.

  • Revenue from email is on a steady decline.

If you use an email platform such as Klaviyo, there is a deliverability section that literally provides a domain reputation score. If yours is going down, it’s time to assess the situation and take some action. 

Some of the action items have already been touched on in this course, but here’s a rundown of things you need to tackle. 

  1. Review Deliverability Score

  • If you’re using Klaviyo, check the Deliverability section and review your score. You should aim for 80+. The 70’s range is workable and likely no cause for concern, but below that, you need to take immediate action.

  • There are also several other third-party and mailbox-specific tools you can use to assess your sender reputation. You can check those out here if you’re interested. 

  1. Check DMARC Records

  • Make sure your DMARC records are set up correctly. You can check on them by going to

  • If DMARC has not been set up correctly, this is one of the most immediate things you need to address. Revisit chapter 2 if you find this is a significant missing piece. 

  1. Identify All Contact Sources

Figure out where your contacts are coming from, and confirm that they have explicitly opted into marketing emails. Having folks who did not opt in to your marketing communications is a red flag for deliverability, and could be cause for spam reports and reputation damage. Here are some of the most common sources to keep an eye on:

  • Klaviyo or Attentive Forms

  • Quizzes

  • Shopify Accounts — these can be notorious for spam bots to infiltrate. If you find that bots are creating large numbers of accounts, consider adding a captcha to your account creation page.

  • Checkout Checkbox

  • Reward Programs

A common mistake is passing contacts over from Shopify prior to them opting in. People often end up as contacts via an account signup page that does not include marketing opt-in language. 

  1. Audit recent sign-ups

Once you’ve identified your contact sources, the question becomes “Do my contacts have the correct marketing permissions?” To ensure you’re not sending unsolicited marketing emails to those who haven’t opted in, here are some things to consider:

  • Are there lots of suspicious looking profiles/bots on your contact list? 

One of the simplest ways to tell if a contact is not genuine is by the name on profile. Often times, if the name is 123 123, or contains a long string of random numbers and letters, odds are they’re not legit. For example, if the first name is erhaeo2hr33r and last name is er46sljtsea. Create a segment with these suspicious contacts and confirm that they have not been back on your site, opened or engaged with emails, or viewed any products. If that’s the case, then go ahead and delete them from the account.

  • If you find that a particular sign up form is becoming problematic, consider adding a double opt-in to that source. 

For example, if you have a quiz on your site and find that the bounce rates are high, consider adding a double opt-in to help prevent bogus emails landing in your list and going through any type of automations or campaigns. Because after a while, they are going to hurt your domain reputation. 

Examples of Flow Filter Cleanup

With the exception of transactional flows, like purchase confirmations or receipts, all flows should have filters limiting emails to only those who have opted into email marketing. Now—say after this course, you notice your contact list isn’t as pristine as you thought. To get your contact list back on track, start with these actionable steps to cleaning up your flow filters:

  • Check the settings on all your abandon flows to confirm that someone does not receive browse, cart, and checkout flows back to back. This is a good way to get marked as spam.

  • If your deliverability score is low, limit flows to those who have clicked an email at least once in the last 30 days, for example.

  • Confirm your welcome flow trigger(s). The welcome should only go to non-customers who have explicitly opted into marketing. Filtering your flow to only go to those who came in via specific signup units is an easy way to tackle this.

  • In the beginning, exclude anyone who has bounced or marked spam from flows (especially the Welcome flow). If email 1 bounces, they should not continue through the flow. Once things start to improve, you can begin to think about loosening the reins.

  • Map out flow timing and smart-sending to confirm contacts are not getting a slew of messages in quick succession. No one wants 5 emails from one brand in a single day, let alone a single hour. That’s a one-way ticket to an unsubscribe.

  • Use additional message filters to limit contacts to only messages that are relevant to them. For example, in post-purchase upsell flows, exclude purchasers of Product A from getting an email encouraging purchase of Product A. They already have it, so try encouraging something like dynamic or personalized recommendations to that segment instead. 

Campaign Segmentation & Scheduling

Here are some tips from industry best practices to make sure you’re getting the most out of your segmentation and scheduling processes.

  • If campaign CTR  is low—or opt-out, spam, and bounce are high—it’s likely time for stricter segments. Here is a sample non-purchaser segment definition that might be helpful:

    some text
    • Can receive email marketing because opted-in

    • Has clicked email at least once in the last 30 days

    • Has bounced email zero times over all time

    • Had marked spam zero times over all time

    • Has placed order zero times over all time

  • Separate customers and non-customers into their segments to make it easier to identify problem groups.

  • Schedule campaigns to go out over multiple hours to lessen risk of being ID’ed by inboxes as a bulk sender. No one likes a bulk sender. 

Email Design

  • If deliverability is weak (ID’ed by low OR, CTR, and high bounce), test using text-based campaigns. That means zero images (no html) and minimal links.

  • Try replacing text blocks with live text in designs as is applicable (having 50+ words of live text reduces the risk of being flagged as spam). 

Let’s Wrap Things Up 

There you have it, folks. In this course, we learned that deliverability is an incredibly useful indicator of your email marketing success, and there are so many factors that go into getting emails into inboxes. Regularly monitoring and analyzing your performance will help you identify areas of improvement and inevitably level up your email marketing game, keeping you out of the deliverability dog house once and for all—but remember, once you get your scores and metrics where you want them to be, the work is not done. Now, it’s all about maintenance. I hope you got something useful out of our time together! Return to this course whenever you want to brush up on your deliverability knowledge, or need useful tips, tricks, and examples to keep your sender reputation squeaky clean. May your emails be delivered, and your contacts opted-in.

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