So here’s the deal. Your emails may not even be getting to the junk folder! If they get to a junk or spam folder, they would at least be marked as “delivered” in your marketing platform. If you’re not careful, many of your emails won’t get past spam appliances to even have a shot at the inbox. And there’s a good chance you’ll never even know it.

‘Email Deliverability’ is the industry term for measuring what percentage of your emails get through to the inbox. In the email marketing world getting to the inbox is your number one objective. You can only achieve your campaign sales and marketing objectives if this happens first.

A recent ReturnPath deliverability benchmark report states that approximately one out of every five emails never makes it to the inbox. This metric means there is a huge percentage of email activity that does nothing to improve your sales and marketing results or the quality of your relationships with your audience.

If you hope to use email as part of your marketing strategy, you must understand what it takes to get your message through to your audience. There are numerous factors affecting your success. Think of it as two layers of defense you need to penetrate. Your message needs to get past a Gateway to get inside the network of your target. Then your message has to get past a spam filter to make it to the inbox.

Your email sender reputation score is a number assigned to you by an Internet service provider. Your marketing messages are more likely to get through to your audience if you maintain a high score. This score can be affected by many things including:

  1. The volume of email you send from your IP address
  2. The number of people complaining about spam or unsubscribing from your email campaign
  3. The number of emails that bounce because you sent them to unknown users or bad email addresses
  4. The frequency of your emails hitting known spam traps

A spam trap is one device used by Internet service providers to identify ‘spammy’ email practices. It looks like a real email address but doesn’t belong to a real person. This address was never used to opt-in to a campaign. So this email address should have never ended up on any marketing list. The only way it could end up on a marketing list is if it was harvested using an automated device or purchased from an email list provider with weak list hygiene practices. If you hit a spam trap you are obviously not practicing permission-based email marketing.

Hitting spam traps causes your bounce rate to go up. Then your sender score and deliverability go down.

In the next article, I will talk about some steps you can take to avoid spam traps and maintain a healthy sender score and email marketing reputation.

This article originally appeared on the So-Mark Blog and has been republished with permission.