Getting to know your delivery rate

Share this content:
Kevin Senne
Kevin Senne

As e-mail marketing professionals, we are bombarded with numbers — sent, bounced, opens, clicks, hard bounces, soft bounces, unsubscribes and complaint rates. But we are still missing one of the most criti­cal metrics: How many of our e-mails actu­ally reach customer inboxes?

We must step back and take a look at the deliverability landscape. The major providers that make up the majority of e-mail marketing lists have tightened delivery requirements. Yahoo, AOL and MSN/Hot­mail have all implemented authentication technology and coupled that with reputa­tion evaluation. We must now prove to e-mail providers that we belong in the inbox, vs. the bulk folder.

To determine true inbox delivery rate (IDR) you will need to know e-mail sent, e-mail bounced, blackholed messages and seedlist delivery rate.

For e-mail bounced, some messages will not bounce for several days. The number and duration of retries before marking as a bounce is a setting that is configurable in your mail transfer agent. The industry stan­dard for retries is a 72-hour period.

Blackholed messages are e-mails deleted with no record and are commonly found at corporate domains. A good way to determine this number is to look at all domains where you delivered more than 25 messages but had no bounces, opens or clicks. You may catch some good domains, but cancel those with the smaller domains you did not choose.

Seedlist delivery rate, a test to estimate delivery rate to your top domains, should be used as a guide to inbox delivery but not a sole source of data. Since we have enough real data, you can feel confident using your seedlist delivery rate as a conservative total.

To calculate your true IDR, identify your blackholed messages by calculating the number of messages sent to domains with greater than 25 recipients with zero opens, bounces and clicks. Then determine your number of unblocked messages by sub­tracting your failures from messages sent and then blackholed messages from that number. Finally, multiply the number of unblocked messages by the seedlist delivery percent to find your true IDR.

Kevin Senne is director, Premiere Global Services. Reach him at


Next Article in Email Marketing

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

We recently were named B2B Magazine's Direct Marketing Agency of the Year, and with good reason: We make real, measureable, positive change happen for our clients. A full-service agency founded in 1974, Bader Rutter expertly helps you get the right message to the right audience at the right time through the right channels. As we engage our clients' audiences along their journey, direct marketing (email, direct mail, phone, SMS) and behavioral marketing (SEM, retargeting, contextual) channels deliver information relevant to the needs of each stage. We are experts at implementing and leveraging marketing technologies such as CRM and marketing automation in order to synchronize sales and marketing communications. Our team of architects and activators plan, execute, measure and adjust in real time to ensure the strategy is working as needed and change things if it's not.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above