Email Delivery Vs. Deliverability

Did you know that for every five emails marketers send out, one of them never reaches the inbox?

In some cases, the email goes missing, while in other cases, it ends up in the spam folder.

These issues are related to email delivery and deliverability.

The terms might sound the same, but they are two different concepts.

You need to learn more about them so you can increase the likelihood of people seeing your emails.

Delivery vs. Deliverability – The Basics

Email delivery is the first thing you should think about when you send an email. It refers to a receiver’s ability to accept your email.

It doesn’t matter where the email goes. If it makes it to the recipient, it passed the delivery test.

For instance, if I open my Gmail account, I’ll see an inbox, spam folder, promotions tab, and social tab.

If an email makes it to any of those destinations, it passed that critical first test.   


Next, you have to look at deliverability.

Deliverability is the term used to describe where the message ends up after you send it.

Let’s go back to my Gmail account.   

Everyone who sends me an email wants to end up in the inbox. After all, that’s the spot to go if you want me to read your emails.

Still, I have tons of emails in my tabs and spam folder.

spam folder

These senders failed in regards to deliverability.

Now that you know what these two concepts are, you probably want to know how it works.

Why do some emails pass and others fail?

Why Aren’t Your Emails Getting Delivered?

It seems like delivery should be a pretty simple process, doesn’t it?

You send an email, someone gets it, and you move on to the next one.

You just have to do a quick Google search to discover it’s really not that simple after all. Tons of marketers send out emails that never make it to their intended recipients.


One of the biggest reasons is because the domain name or email address doesn’t exist.

In other words, people gave you bad information or they changed their email addresses without updating their preferences.

I know I’m personally responsible for a few of these delivery issues.

I’ve been on websites that offer a free report or subscription, but I have to enter my email address.

I don’t want to get flooded with emails, so I give a fake email address to get what I want.

save and continue

I get free access and my emails end up in the Bermuda Triangle of cyberspace.

Of course, I don’t do that when I want something from the company on a long-term basis. If that’s the case, I want them to find me.

A blocked IP address is another common reason your emails aren’t getting delivered.

This typically happens to serial spammers. Fight the urge to spam and your emails should get delivered.

Why Do You Have Deliverability Issues?

Once you are certain that your emails will get through, you have to make sure they’ll go to the right place.

That’s not going to happen if you look like a spammer or if your messages appear to be promotional in nature.

Fortunately, you can get around these issues and end up in the inbox. 

First, consider implementing a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record to increase your likelihood of bypassing the spam folder.

This is a little complicated, but basically, an SPF record prevents spammers from sending emails with fake addresses that are attached to your domain.

You see this all the time. You open up an email that you think is from a legitimate business, only to notice that the email address doesn’t match the sender’s name.

gmail blurb

If you implement a SPF record into your campaign, you will be viewed as trustworthy. That means your emails will be more likely to land in the inbox.

You also have to be mindful of the copy that you send. Avoid spam words like “Free.”

spam tag

Finally, do what it takes to have a high sender reputation score. 

Your sender reputation score is determined by analyzing various factors, including spam reports and your number of unsubscribers. 

The better your score is, the more trustworthy you’ll appear. The more trustworthy you appear, the more likely you are to end up in the inbox.

Delivery and deliverability might be two different things, but they work together to ensure that your emails get in front of people. To test your deliverability try using Sendlane’s 14 day free trial!

How do you intend to improve your delivery and deliverability? Are there any tips that I forgot to add?

Let me know in the comment section below.

Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels as well as maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. She has enjoyed being a part of a powerhouse team where she has had the opportunity to wear a variety of hats and take her knowledge and creativity to the next level. When not focusing on increasing Sendlane's online presence you'll find Caitlin playing music on her guitar or piano and spending time with her Husband and their rescue dog, Piper.
Caitlin Hutchinson