22 thoughts on “Email Marketing Services: The Deliverability Myth

  1. Hi Adrian,
    You know, I have been seeing more and more email newsletters landing in my spam folder. And it’s weird, some get through and some don’t … from the same blogger. Thanks for pointing out this issue, it may seem trite, but is important if that’s what you’re going to base your decision on.
    I’ve tried AWeber and GetResponse, I now use MailChimp. No real reason actually. But no, I’ve never made a decision on deliverabilty.

    1. Hi Corinne,

      Yes, it may look weird when you see that some emails land in the spam folder and other don’t, all of them being sent by the same person via the same email marketing service. But actually it’s not that weird if you know how the spam filters work. Their algo takes into account multiple factors and one of them is the content of the email. What was the difference between two emails sent by the same person via the same EMS? The content. Voila! :)

  2. There is so much hype and lack of knowledge in the field. People tend to just listen to the experts, without stopping and thinking, if what they’re reading/listening actually makes sense.

    Thanks for the article, actually makes sense. At the moment I’m playing with Amazon SES and it seems to work allright, as long as the content of emails is not spammy.

    1. You’re right, Hermann, lot of hype and lack of knowledge. And common sense… is so rare. So many people don’t understand simple facts such as…

      1) sending emails all day long doesn’t automatically make you a veteran email expert. The same like playing football all day long in the schoolyard doesn’t automatically make you a professional football player :)

      2) being an expert in a certain field doesn’t automatically make you an expert in all the other possible fields. [So when your guru who is a Facebook expert talks about emails, listen, that’s OK. But take it with a grain of salt instead of assuming that she or he is kind of God and knows everything.]

  3. Hey Adrian,

    It’s true and frustrating when some emails get delivered in spam folders. I know that I usually don’t check that folder so if emails happen to go in there, it’ll be lost.

    I use Get response right now and I’m slowly looking at other alternatives. I know that ‘experts’ blow things up and then everyone jumps on the bandwagon . I think I’ll seriously research my next email marketing service.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment. I always check my spam folder because I know that sometimes legit messages are routed to that folder. I cannot afford to miss emails from customers ;) But it’s true that most people don’t check that folder and usually a message that landed in the spam folder is kinda lost.

  4. Hi Adrian,

    Actually I don’t blame any of these guys, They’re just trying to sell. I ain’t gonna lie it’s frustrating when you see what’s not true about what a buyer is shouting he offers. Everybody experiences this.

    Madmimi seems to work great for me although I had to look into other options too like Benchmark email and I ain’t gonna lie. It’s good… If I happen to discover a bad side… I’ll scream it out plus I’m sure there’s one (Just haven’t found it out yet)

    Thanks a lot for the eye opening article.


  5. Hi Adrian,
    For e-mail newsletters I use mailchimp and they do get received in the inbox. Though if its gmail e-mail ID it may go into promotions tab. But if you see the mails received from the newsletter of professional popular bloggers they come directly to your inbox(even in gmail). They use premium services of the above mentioned services.

    1. Hi Nikhil,

      I use mailchimp and they do get received in the inbox

      How do you know it? Do you stay behind every subscriber right in the moment they log into their email client? ;)

      But if you see the mails received from the newsletter of professional popular bloggers they come directly to your inbox(even in gmail).

      You haven’t read the article above, have you? Or maybe you haven’t understood it…

      They use premium services of the above mentioned services.

      From the perspective of our topic (email deliverability) there’s no difference between the premium services and the free ones provided by the same company. The premium services allows you to have more subscribers and give you access to more features. For example, if you have a free MailChimp account, you don’t have access to the autoresponder feature. If you pay for a premium service, you get that feature. And others.

  6. Hi Adrian

    You are so right and thanks for the mail. Most email marketing service the deliverability speech as a marketing strategy but as you brilliantly revealed, it is about what is in the content of the mail.

    Thanks for sharing. Take care

  7. Hi Adrian,

    You hit on a real problem that many of us experience as we learn to grow our email lists and keep in touch with our list members.

    I know that there are certain mistakes that many people make, or results that will happen if you’re not aware to look out for them. One of these is: If a member of your list hasn’t opened emails from you in a while, your emails will end up in their spam file. Also, GMail has an interesting way of dealing with emails sent via autoresponder, especially if people haven’t gone to the trouble of earmarking where they want your emails to go, e.g. Promotional, Social, Spam, Inbox, etc. There’s a way of ensuring you stay out of the spam folder in how you first get people to sign up and then in how you send them follow-up messages.

    I always recommend people keep in touch with their list members in other ways too along side their lists. For example, via Facebook Groups I’ve set up related to whatever list they’ve signed up to. Also, I follow them on Twitter too. This helps to cross-contact list members. As well as creating more of a community feel.

    Regarding the promotion of one email marketing service over another – it might depend on affiliate commission percentages.

    – Tom

    1. Thank you for your comment, Tom, I appreciate it.

      I always recommend people keep in touch with their list members in other ways too along side their lists. For example, via Facebook Groups I’ve set up related to whatever list they’ve signed up to. Also, I follow them on Twitter too

      This is a very good idea, but sometimes it’s not very easy to put it in practice unless you already have a previous relationship or the subscribers make the first step (joining your FB group). For example, if I subscribe to your mailing list using the email address I use for subscribing to newsletters you’ll not know who is the person behind that address and what his Twitter account is :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hi Adrian, I’m not an expert but I do know an expert. That’s you. I’ve learned a lot about email marketing over the years but not nearly enough to come close to feeling like an expert.

    There. That was my boring disclaimer. LOL Now I’ll tell you my thoughts.

    There are a number of factors that will get our emails thrown into jail. You just mentioned the most common – language and links. Both AWeber and GetResponse do make an attempt at “grading” our emails and pointing out what may be considered spam when it comes to language. I imagine most email marketing services worth their salt have similar methods.

    But we, as the email marketer, hold much of the responsibility as well. Seriously, how many people would walk up to one of their friends and say something like, “If you take advantage of this incredible offer within the 24 hours, I will send you this free bonus valued at…” LOL

    Much of the time, we get flagged as spam because we look, sound, and feel like spam. I’m as guilty as anyone.

    Email service providers have advanced faster, I think, than most of us but it’s never going to be a perfect system.

    Just last night, I went in and dug out a bunch of emails from my spam box by LeadPages. These are emails I’ve been getting, with no problem, daily since January of this year. Gmail saves the last 200 spam messages and I don’t know how many times I pushed the “Not Spam” button. But it learns; because I woke up this morning to several new LeadPages emails that were delivered straight to my inbox.

    I have no idea what triggered those emails to start being filtered as spam but it happens. I’m human, almost perfect, but still human so my first thought was, “LeadPages needs to get their act together. Their emails are going into the spam box.”

    No, my emails are going into the spam box. These are automated emails using my exact words in the subject line.

    More than likely, I used suspect verbiage in a couple of the lead magnet titles and then failed to “fix” the action right away. Then every email from then on was, apparently, filtered. That’s my guess anyway.

    Before I left AWeber, I changed my “from/reply” name and email to better reflect what I call my “VIP List.” That first email that I sent after the change seen a massive drop in open rate.

    I got a couple of emails asking when I was going to send the next email because I had already told my list I would email them that Friday. That caused me to start asking people I knew were subscribed and most of the emails were going into spam. AWeber said it shouldn’t have happened, but it did.

    I think we disagree a little as far as what constitutes a better email marketing service but deliverability is only a small part of that. A service would have to be pretty bad if they didn’t have a pretty decent handle on deliverability. An autoresponder that is blacklisted by major ISPs and ESPs would be like a selling cars that don’t start. The company wouldn’t be around very long.

    My point is, really, that we need to do our job as the email marketer, even as part-timers, and take on some of the responsibility. We need to pay attention to what is happening because things can change drastically from email to email when we’re not consistent.

    Which bring me to another point – consistency. If we email every week, then wait months to email again, we’re just asking for trouble. By the way, I’ve done this myself. People forget they subscribed and hit the spam button. A few of those and we’re fighting an up-hill battle.

    We need to learn how not to look like spam to both the email service providers and our subscribers. Oh, and a decent email marketing service and autoresponder should be able to help with that but aren’t always to blame.

    Sorry for the book Adrian but I’ve never been accused of brevity. ;)

    1. Haha, Brian, thank you for the book :)

      I’m not an expert but I do know an expert. That’s you.

      Well, I know I cannot compare myself with the real email marketing experts. That’s their job. But I’m an expert indeed if you compare me with 99% of the bloggers, biz opp marketers and alike :)

      I was always interested in this topic, I made tons of tests and I keep my eyes open. That’s how I succeeded to constantly get a CTR of around 50% (as proved here) while not using a premium service and having on my mailing list all sort of super dangerous email addresses from AOL, Comcast or other email services that use very aggressive spam filters. If you compare AOL and Gmail, it’s like the latter one doesn’t even have a spam filter installed ;)

      You just mentioned the most common – language and links.

      You’re right but I did it because this article isn’t about the reasons why emails land in the spam folders. So I thought that is somehow inappropriate to develop here that side topic.

      The article tries to wake up the ton of people who choose AWeber of GetResponse based on the wrong reason.

      Some of them send BS and they assume that choosing one of these EMP will solve their problem and the deliverability of their emails is guaranteed. Wrong. A BS language and behavior is a problem no matter the EMP that is used.

      Others send decent emails and could choose any decent EMP, but they pay extra money for services they don’t need or use. Just because they think the deliverability of their emails can be guaranteed only by a premium EMP. Again wrong. See my own example mentioned above.

      I think we disagree a little as far as what constitutes a better email marketing service but deliverability is only a small part of that.

      I don’t think that we disagree. You’re talking about a bigger picture, while this article is focused on a smaller picture. This article was never planned as the ultimate guide to choosing an email marketing service, or the ultimate guide to getting a 100% email deliverability.

      The point of the article is to reveal a myth and make some email marketers aware that their behavior is very important. Bad behaviors cannot be always offset by a good EMP.

      Thank you once again for your comment!

    2. Brian, either I’m a genius or a total idiot. But when you say, “An autoresponder that is blacklisted by major ISPs and ESPs would be like a selling cars that don’t start. The company wouldn’t be around very long.” I say this POV is misguided. People WANT to believe their emails are being delivered. Adrian has repeatedly described how when one person shifts from provider A to provider B they always report better deliverability. Not because it’s true. Because they WANT it to be true. They want to believe the grass is greener because they spent so much time agonizing over the decision!

  9. Hallo,

    There are no email marketing companies that can guarantee you 100% deliverability.
    One of the most important factors is the quality of the content you send. The subject line in the image you posted is : “win iPad Pro worth $1000”. This will go into ‘spam’ (especially in gmail) regardless of what email platform you use.

    1. Hi Agata,

      Basically your comment repeats my conclusions (other words, the same meaning) and then you refer to that message sent by GetResponse to their affiliates (second image under the first sub-headline).

      So if you’re Agata Naruszewicz, Business Development Executive at GetResponse, let me tell you something: it’s quite obvious that the headline “Only 10 days left to win iPad Pro worth $1000” is bad, but what exactly is the point of your comment?

      Are you trying to teach your GetResponse colleagues email marketing via my blog? Odd… Or maybe you haven’t noticed that the headline belongs to your company ;)

  10. Hi Adrian,
    Sorry, but… what is MLM, WAH niches?
    I suppose MLM is Multi Level Marketing.
    Am I right?
    And what is WAH?
    Thanks for your useful posts!

  11. Adrian,

    I am having a huge deliverability problem with Get Response. I finally have a small but decent email list after growing it for months with Get Response and everything is being delivered but going to spam folders. How do I know this? Because I tested it on about 85 people on the list. Get Response can’t give me even a hint of why this is happening. I am in the retail business, my emails are not spammy…..I am perplexed? What is one to do?

    1. Hi Karen,

      1) It’s impossible for me or anyone else to help you without knowing a lot of details that you haven’t provided. Deliverability issues cannot be solved by posting a short comment on a blog or a forum. They can be solved by analyzing how you collected the emails, what you did immediately after collecting them, what you sent to your subscribers (text and links analysis), how you treated the bounces and the inactive subscribers, etc.

      2) The fact that you think that your emails aren’t spammy is irrelevant. The spam filters don’t use your algorithm for their assessments but their own algo. There are many factors taken into consideration. Some of them are included in my article. Other factors aren’t included because that wasn’t the goal of the article.

      For example, do you know what is the acceptable spam complaint rate? Usually is 0.1%. One spam report for 1,000 emails that you sent. If you were unlucky and two of your subscribers out of your tiny list forgot that they subscribed to your list and reported you, then the trouble is just around the corner. No one will contact you and ask you whether your subscribers were right or not.

      Another example: if you have an affiliate program, one of your affiliates sent spam and the spam was reported, then your domain name may become blacklisted. Usually the consequence is that all emails that include links to that domain name will be routed to spam folders.

      Another example related to the way you treat your inactive subscribers: if one of your subscribers stopped using her or his email address, after a certain period of time such address may be transformed by the email service provider into a spam trap. If you keep sending emails to that address, for sure you will be labelled as spammer.

      Etc ;)


      P.S. Usually email marketers who have deliverability issues blame the email marketing company that sends their emails. You just did it in your first sentence. The point of this article is that usually such an assessment is wrong.

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