DELIVTERMS: Deliverability

Today on DELIVTERMS, the series here on Spam Resource where we help you decode deliverability and email terminology, we're going back to square one. The main word, the root term, the starting point of all we talk about here on this blog. The term: Deliverability.

Combine the words "deliver" and "ability" and you will have found the very specific word that refers to whether or not email messages get delivered: Deliverability. And by "ability," we mean the ability to get an email message delivered successfully to the inbox folder in a recipient's mail client or application (called an MUA -- mail user agent -- in nerd land), versus having that message land in the spam folder, or rejected.

Deliverability is measurement, study, and practice. You study deliverability to learn how to do things properly, to not get labeled a spammer. You practice deliverability to execute based on that knowledge, and you measure deliverability to understand what's working and what's not working, and to understand whether or not your email messages are landing in the inbox.

Deliverability is both technical and strategic. Technical settings like the proper handling of unsubscribe requests, setting up email authentication and DMARC, proper DNS and domain configuration, these all matter for deliverability success. But along side that, there's the strategic component of deliverability; choosing to employ proper opt-in techniques, applying segmentation appropriately, and sending wanted and expected content, these are all choices you make and have a great impact on whether or not you'll find deliverability success. Poor strategric choices are one of the quickest way to hamper your ability to get email to the inbox reliably.

And then it comes to measuring that deliverability success -- it's all a matter of settings and signals. Checking your settings to confirm that you've got the proper headers in place, that email authentication is properly configured, that all domains and hostnames in the headers and body properly resolve in DNS. And then it comes to signals, the positive and negative reputation feedback you receive from subscribers, passed to you directly through tracking, or passed back to mailbox providers to allow them to build that reputational profile of you as a sender. Are you generating too many spam complaints? Are enough people interacting with your email messages? Are your messages measurably wanted and engaging? That's what the signals tell you.

Putting these all of these together, the strategic, the technical, the settings and signals, the study and practice, that's deliverability.

The oldest mention of the word deliverability on this blog seems to be from 2003, a whole couple of years after first launching. 

Want to see more deliverability and email terminology defined? Click on through to view the whole DELIVTERMS series here on Spam Resource.

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