Email Delivery vs Deliverability

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Often, you’ll hear people refer to email delivery vs deliverability — which are both very important — interchangeably. However, they are not the same and you need to know the difference if you’re looking to grow/understand your email list.

You Need To Know the difference vs Email Delivery and Deliverability

Email delivery.

If I’m sending you an email, I want to make certain that your server accepts the email. This process occurs before your inbox can determine what folder (e.g., spam, priority, etc.) the email falls into.

This is basically step one and email delivery in a nutshell. 

But even if your server does accept the email, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to receive it.

An email message can bounce back for any number of reasons:

  • Recipient mistyped their own email address
  • The email address doesn’t exist anymore
  • Typo in the domain or the domain is down
  • Your attachments are too heavy

All of these things will count as a failed delivery, and you’re usually immediately notified. 

You Need To Know the difference vs Email Delivery and Deliverability

Personal funny anecdote: For some reason, in my Gmail account, one time I misspelled, my assistant, Kristin’s name. And so because of that, every time I wanted to send her an email it would auto-populate the wrong email address.

Then, Kristin and I would do this Laurel and Hardy routine where I’d be like,

“You got the email, right?”

She would look at me quizzically, “You didn’t send the email.”

“Yes, I did. I’m looking at it. Oh wait, never mind. It came back for some reason.”

Eventually, I had to figure out how to remove her incorrect email address from my Gmail account. That’s an example of an email that never got delivered. 

Email deliverability. 

Let’s continue with my anecdote…

So, I correct that email address (there’s no typos in it now) and I send it off to Kristin and it gets to her server. Now she’s going to receive it, but her server will use automatic filters to help sort through what it determines might be spam.

If it does determine the email to be spam, then the email was delivered to her, sure, but the deliverability of that email failed.

In other words, it got to her inbox, it just never got in front of her!

And that’s something we all want to avoid!

To learn how to improve your email deliverability, listen to this episode of Build Your Tribe:

And don’t forget to subscribe to BYT for weekly episodes dedicated to business/marketing/social media strategy!


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