5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Email Deliverability Rates

email marketing

Email marketing is a great way to increase your traffic and revenue. Although it isn’t the sexiest form of marketing, it’s one of the most effective.

It’s so effective that emails account for 37% of the total revenue Quick Sprout generates.

But if your emails are being delivered to people’s spam box instead of their inbox, none of your emails are going to be read. Which means you won’t be generating much revenue, if any, from your emails.

Here’s how you can maximize your email deliverability rate:

Avoid spam words

Most people will tell you that you shouldn’t have words like sex or credit in your email copy or subject line. But there are many more words you should avoid. Also, because the words vary per industry, you can’t rely on one simple list to cover all cases.

For example, words you should avoid in the financial space would be different from the words within the e-commerce space.

Here are some words to avoid in the financial space:

  • $$$
  • Affordable
  • Bargain
  • Beneficiary
  • Best price
  • Big bucks
  • Cash
  • Compare rates
  • Cost
  • Credit
  • Credit bureaus
  • Discount
  • Earn
  • Easy terms
  • Free

In the e-commerce space, you should avoid the following words:

  • As seen on
  • Buy
  • Buy direct
  • Buying judgments
  • Clearance
  • Order
  • Order status
  • Orders shipped by
  • Shopper

If you are wondering how providers know what space you are in, some mass email software providers ask you that question before you are allowed to send out mass emails.

For a full list of words you should avoid per industry, check out this blog post by Hubspot.

Don’t forget the basics

Before I get into the more advanced ways to increase your deliverability, you should make sure you aren’t missing out on the basics. Here are basic things to keep in mind when leveraging email marketing:

  1. Avoid red – red is a loud color and is used a lot by spammers. It could potentially set off spam filters.
  2. Misleading subject lines – from blank subject lines to ones that don’t even match your copy, be careful using them because they are a big part of the spam algorithm email providers employ.
  3. Capital letters – avoid using all capital letters within your email or subject line.
  4. Don’t be too excessive with symbols – avoid using too many question marks, dollar signs and exclamation marks… especially in a row.
  5. Don’t link too much – from your calls to actions to links within the email, ideally you shouldn’t use more than two or three links.
  6. Unsubscribe links – each of your emails should contain an unsubscribe link. The harder you make it for people to unsubscribe, the more problems you will have.
  7. Be thorough – make sure you include a proper reply to email address and a from address so that people can get in touch with you if they have any issues.

Pick the right service provider

From Aweber to SendGrid, there are thousands of options out there when it comes to email software. Sure, some may have better features than others, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle that you should be looking at.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that some service providers have much better deliverability rates than others.

I used to think Infuisionsoft was the best solution, but I’ve had better luck by combining SendGrid with Ongage.

Here are my deliverability rates with Infusionsoft:


And here are my stats from combining SendGrid with Ongage:


As you can see from the screenshots above, I had a bigger list once I migrated to SendGrid, but my open rates were much better. I went from a 26.07% open rate to a 37.57% open rate. My click-through rate went from 10.46% to 17.48%.

Keep in mind that nothing else was changed. The email copy, the subject line and even the sequence of the emails were identical in both platforms. I was able to get better open rates by simply combing SendGrid with Ongage.

Do your research before you pick an email platform. I wish I did that before I started as I have tested one too many software solutions.

Certify your IP

When your emails go into spam, it doesn’t really affect the email address you are sending the emails from. It affects your IP. The way to ensure that your IP is clean is to get it certified.

Email providers like Yahoo have “whitelists” that make certain your emails don’t go into the spam box. It’s hard to get on these whitelists, but through services like Return Path, you can whitelist your IP address.

This one little trick, although it will cost you thousands of dollars a year, can help boost your deliverability rates by up to 40%.

Don’t forget to be logical

What do you think the number one reason people’s emails go into spam boxes? It’s not because of the spam words, a bad email list or spammy emails.

The number one reason your emails are likely to go into someone’s spam box is because you don’t use logic.

Service providers like Gmail and Yahoo Mail are sophisticated. If you keep emailing people that don’t open your emails, yet they open other people’s emails, your future emails are more likely to go to their spam boxes.

That’s right; if people don’t open your emails, they are more likely to end up in spam boxes even if the recipients don’t mark your email as spam.

For this reason you should build logic when sending emails. Most software providers offer this… Here is some of the logic I follow:

  1. If someone doesn’t open your email three times in a row, stop emailing him or her.
  2. If someone doesn’t open your email two times in a row, send them a unique email the 3rd time to help increase open rates.
  3. Don’t email people too often as this will more likely cause your list to get burnt out.
  4. Leverage double opt-ins to help ensure that you are only emailing people who want your emails.
  5. If an email bounces back, remove that email address from your list.
  6. Leverage marketing automation (the video on this page is a bit salesy, but it should give you a good understanding of what you can do with marketing automation and segmentation).


If you aren’t leveraging email marketing, you should start right away as it is an easy way for you to boost your revenue. Some of my friends say that their email list is like their own personal ATM machine because every time they do a blast, they make thousands of dollars.

If you are using email marketing, treat your list like it’s gold. If you don’t take care of it, your emails won’t be getting delivered to people’s inboxes, which means you won’t be making money from them.


  1. Love this Neil!

    I recently only realized that unless people click “display images” the open rate isn’t tracked correctly. So many little mistakes to make!

    Thanks again!


    • Ramsay (funny meeting you outside of BT)..anyway…

      You are right, without that “display image” you have no idea. That’s why I don’t use any extra logic like “remove if doesn’t open X-number of times.

      What I will do is, once a year, I’ll send a newsletter that starts out by thanking the person for being a reader and then I say that I understand the need to unsubscribe from email listed because of an overloaded inbox, not being interested in the topic any more, etc. Then, I give them a link to unsubscribe and I say, again, thanks for being a reader and I wish them the best. Then I continue on with the rest of the newsletter.

      Also, because of the popular phrase “spring cleaning,” I usually send this email out in the spring.

      Outside of that email, that’s all the thought I put into it. I know my open rate and then I add in a percentage of that for readers who don’t enable images. As long as that rate grows, I don’t worry about the other X-percent.

    • using images will also help, just have a small image with words that make emails go to spam box

    • Ramsay, very true. These small things add up.

    • With email marketing its important to use genuine lists and not ones which were bought from list brokers. Good subject line gets more opens but content of the mail and call for actions gets the needed conversions.

  2. Andrew Grant :

    Another highly practical post, Neil. Thanks for sharing the numbers.
    Looks like we need a league table of deliverability rates, or a forum to share these kind of statistics.


  3. Great insights Neil! I’ve been hesitant in the past to delete people who have signed up but haven’t interacted. It was mostly ego on my part to keep my numbers up. I see the logic in getting rid of people who haven’t opened an email in some time. I already delete bounces but now I’m going to go through my list to find stale emails to remove as well.

    • Glen, sounds like a solid strategy. I think you are definitely on the right track. Thanks for reading 🙂

    • Glen I’m with you on the ego thing. I too am reluctant to delete users who have signed up as I keep thinking about one day selling my site and the size of the list! My mind keeps repeating “the money is in the list”, but surely any serious buyer would be more interested in the quality of the list, rather than the size? (Brain says yes!)

  4. Suneel Thomas :

    Neil, you are one badass motherfucker! Sorry for cursing but whoa! The information on this website is nothing less than a free online marketing course for professionals.

    I heard that you’re working on creating a 100+ free online marketing videos. Can’t wait for that to release!

    Thanks for the pro tips man. The “Don’t forget to be logical” part was something I never though about this seriously. Also, apart from what you mentioned here, do you have any advice on how to track emails more effectively?

    • Suneel, hahah thanks for the kind words. I am definitely working on creating more marketing resources. Services like Mail Chimp can help you track email analytics data.

  5. Logo Design :

    Thanks Neil. I am planning to use email marketing for my Graphics Design service. And this post is huge help.

    Al amin

  6. Amal Rafeeq :

    All I can say is “WOW”.
    Great article Neil,
    My clients are starting to inform me that some of the mails from on my newsletter are being cornered into the SPAM box and I think some of these words are the reason for that.
    Thanks a lot mate. I’ll consider them from next time. 🙂
    Now allow me to share this informative piece of content.

  7. Love the tip about sending a unique email after two unopens. So logical, but I know 99.9% of marketers don’t do it. I also know from my agency experience while doing direct response marketing that IP health is a BIG deal. The risk of messing up your IP’s reputation is almost always more costly than simply maintaining it.

    • CJ, great points. It is definitely a balancing act. I would suggest really creating great headlines and providing relevant content.

  8. Question.. I am not sure how to solve this issue..

    my site is about getting FREE stuff (samples, full size products.. ect).. so it’s hard to avoid that work, but that is why people get my emails..

    But I often fear my emails hit the spam filter because of it..

    what strategy might I use to solve this issue??

    • sorry.. not work.. word

    • Jenetta, you should try to fix your subject lines. Often times if your subject lines are too spammy they will get sent to the spam box.

      • Jenetta Penner :

        the prob is though.. that it is the freebies people want. I do write “content” posts and I have tried featuring those in my emails but they just don’t get the clicks.. because people want their free coffee and hair products.. lol

        I looked up free in the thesaurus and here is what I got..

        chargeless, comp, complimentary, costless, for love, for nothing, gratis, gratuitous,

        not sure if any really will have the pull as “free”.. but I could give it a shot 🙂

    • Jenneta, you can start with going to the thesaurus and looking for words that also mean the same as ‘free’. I see your domain has the name frugal in it, so that’s another word to research and see how many other words have the same meaning and feel to them.

      Also maybe use the product names and be sure that they match with the same names inside of your email. So if you are talking about ‘Getting Baby Diapers Without Shelling Out Anything From Your Pockets” and then in your email body it talks about the same thing product and how you can get baby diapers for free or low cost – you should be good to go. 🙂

      Hope this helps you.

  9. “Email isn’t the sexiest form of marketing” … you got that right.

    As you’re aware from your consulting work, most businesses treat it like an afterthought or worse, neglect it like a red-headed stepchild.

    I have a client who suffered a 50% traffic drop in the last 8 months but with a proper email strategy we were able to increase their revenue 42%.

    So “un-sexy” email saved the day.

    Neil, if you had to rate traffic tactics based on the return-on time-invested, what would that list look like?

  10. Anmol Makkar :

    Great Article Neil.
    You’re a Genius. Every time your content is unique, awesome and helping to anybody in Internet Marketing.

    You’ve this time cleared many doubts regarding Email Marketing, I never knew about which words you should avoid and what should be avoided in design.
    Can u tell me whether a weekly newsletter option to reader is OK? or should I increase my frequency?

    • Weekly is fine. You can email more often but you should A/B test it to see if that helps boost conversions or decreases it.

  11. Thank you, Neil, as always your articles are terrific; but here is what I appreciated more than anything – that you SHOWED US YOUR TRUE email stats via screenshot.

    So many people think they are failures if they don’t have a 100% open rate!

    To see that about 1/3 (and up to 2/5) of your subscribers OPEN your e-mails, and then 1/3 (and up to 1/2) OF THOSE ‘openers’ actually click through is a real RELIEF for me to see.

    Way more ‘real’/realistic. If this is an eye opener for me – that one of the best marketers out there doesn’t have a 100% newsletter/email open rate – it has to be a ‘nice’ surprise for others as well.

    You just showed several of us how to check our ego at the door. And THAT is awesome.

    Your honesty is QUITE REFRESHING. Thank you!

    I wish you very much continued success.

    • MJ, great insights. Thanks for reading. You are spot on with all your observations. Everything is about the numbers when it comes to email marketing. People should treat it just like they treat their website traffic analytics.

  12. Hey Neil,

    Quick question – why would you use Sendgrid instead of Amazon SES?


  13. Sandy Halliday :

    Great article as usual Neil. I have an old basic Aweber account and don’t have the luxury of being able to select the subscribers who don’t open my emails. I have been considering if the added facilities I would get if I upgraded my account would be worth the extra cost.

    As for frequeny of emailing a list there are different schools of thought about this and list building courses that I have bought recently have said to email every day.


    Of course it depends on the niche to a certain extent. I have just started to email my health niche weekly newsletter subscribers twice a week instead of just once with the newletter.

    • Sandy, I think you should just start off small and send emails to a certain segment of your email list. I do a lot of testing before sending anything out. I think that way you wont alienate any of your members. You should just do what feels right for you, there is no cookie cutter approach. You know your customers best 🙂

  14. Whats ongage exactly for ? Can’t I use just sendgrid ?

    • You could, but it helps you route your emails through multiple ESPs, which makes it easier to test different ones out.

      It also gives you more in depth stats.

  15. Mornie Bacho :

    Good post!!! I’m always curious how mail services manage to filter spams, though some of them are on my radar but still learned a lot.

    Thanks Neil.

  16. Muhammed Muazzam :

    Hey Neil,
    I am a blogger.
    I have done lots of marketing other ways but not E-mail marketing.
    Can i do e-marketing of my blog?
    If yes, how?
    whom i will be sending e-mails?

    • Muhammed, you can definitely do email marketing. You just have to find a list of emails that are relevant to your product and provide great content.

  17. Hi Neil,

    It should say that i learn new techniques from every blog post. i have read all your advanced guides on seo,link building and content Marketing. Trying to implement them in my work. Hope for the best results. Also waiting for more articles like this.


  18. Hi Neil,

    Great article as usual 🙂

    I’m also using autoresponder feature for my email strategy.
    I was looking for services to split test different version of email content, but didnt find anything.

    Do you have any recommendations?


    • Usually within your email solution there is split testing built in. For example you can split test within Aweber.

  19. All I can say is “WOW”.
    Great article Neil,
    My clients are starting to inform me that some of the mails from on my newsletter are being cornered into the SPAM box and I think some of these words are the reason for that.

    • You should really work on your subject lines and calls to action. That should clear up the spam issue.

  20. Digital Deepak :

    I have been using aweber.com for quite some time now. They are great for my needs. But in the future I may move to Office Autopilot because I heard they are great. You have anything to say about Office Autopilot Neil?

  21. Thanks for sharing the information.It is definitely going to help me.

  22. Brilliant article Neil. And thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  23. Good to find out about Infuisionsoft and Ongage services.

    The importance of email marketing and how to leverage the benefits are greatly valuable.

  24. Locker locks :

    Hi Neil,
    I really struggle with email marketing. I try to do it myself as I have good up to date data lists but my email server just blacklists me if I send more than one email at a time. I them try using my Hotmail account and I am limited to 100 a day. help.

    • You should really think of investing into something like Mail Chimp. It lets you track analytics and send emails out to thousands of recipients.

  25. Seems easy and it’s not rocket science but also depends on the niche.

  26. Chris Carpenter :

    Good Article.

    Some times I thought, How much hard work you did in your life.

    Thanks for sharing with us your experience.

  27. Quite interesting. I never thought that email marketing can be so successful and can earn you money. I will definitely try this, however for that I first need to get people subscribe to my blog! Now that’s again a big task..

  28. Excellent post. I think that we can increase email open rate by adding some real and unique Title of the Email too.


  29. This guide will help me alot and thank you for including spam words. You have a great blog.

  30. Awesome post, Neil!

    I’m currently using Infusionsoft, but from your article, it seems like going with a self-hosted solution + external SMTP would be best.

    Do you have any recommendations for a self-hosted email marketing solution with similar marketing automation features as Infusionsoft?


    • None that I know of that work out of the box like infusionsoft. A lot of it requires a developer to customize and build in the logic.

      • Ok, thanks! Do you have any specific suggestions from software you’ve used in the past or are currently using?

  31. When it comes E mail marketing. open rate is one of the important factor and you’ve practically explained well by this post. Thanks Neil.

  32. Kingsley Agu :

    Wow! Thanks for showing me words that are likely to be considered as spam. I’d keep that closely in my mind when next I attempt writing my next newsletter.

  33. damdama lake :

    passionate blog thanks for sharing.

  34. I never thought to email people after two unopens. That’s a great idea. You can create an engaging email that shows them that you do care about delivering great content. I also never thought to remove people off my list if they don’t open a mail after 3 unopens. I guess I just hope that eventually they’ll realize the great work I’m putting into my content and eventually start opening it. 🙂 Wishful thinking.

    Once again a well thought out post that makes me look at how I need to improve how I send out emails to my list. Thank you!

    • Karl, you really have to be persistent. More often that not people think they are being annoying, but in fact they are being persistent. If you want something show it 🙂

  35. We’re currently planning an email marketing campaign but we haven’t give much attention to the subject lines..

    Again, another helpful post and tips from you. Thank you, Neil!

  36. Neil this was really helpful.
    Building a list for me would be more tedious job I feel. Can you write a post on this?

  37. Hitesh Shah :

    Nice Post Neil thanks for sharing your ideas it’s really useful in every time.

  38. Ankit Bansal :

    Hello Neil.
    I have been always been reading articles about how important is email marketing. I started building my list and as you stated , i am trying to be more logical. Thanks for the article.

  39. Great article. But we surely need a huge number as far as number of email subscribers are concerned. So first i will try building that , and then a successful email list. Anyways thanks Neil/

  40. Great Tips, I will use this tip for marketing.

  41. Hey
    Great read. I wish I was at the point where I was blasting out enough emails to make that big of an impact. I have used MailChimp with good results, but will be sure to look out for many of the words that could cause an email to be sent to the spam folder.

    • Ian, you really have to be mindful of the words you use in subject lines. Looks like you are on the right track 🙂

  42. Great article Neil. This post has been helpful for me thanks! I think I’ll start my email marketing campaign.

  43. Thanks again for the great article!

    i will be using this for my own business.

    Thanks again!

  44. Neil, First I would like to thank for your awesome post. Really, you have mentioned all the techniques and process on how to increase email delivery rates. Hope this could be very helpful for my email marketing.

  45. Michael Grullon :

    Awesome article! Don’t have too much experience in email marketing and this is so helpful. Really simple yet it goes into enough detail to get us started on the right foot. Thanks!

    Also I loved this line “The number one reason your emails are likely to go into someone’s spam box is because you don’t use logic.” Excellent stuff.

    • Michael, glad I could help. I think logic is what really drives successful marketing campaigns 🙂

  46. Thanks for the great article. I am a complete novice at email marketing, so forgive me if the answer to my question is obvious. Why would someone choose Mail Chimp over SendGrid + OnGage or vice versa?

  47. Most of these are good reasons for using an established ESP rather than trying to manage bulk email sending yourself!!

  48. What has been your experience in terms of deliverability between aweber and infusion?


  49. Really, I nee this from long time i was searching every where but here i found that I will try asap and share my experience here with everybody. Thanks for sharing

  50. Neil,
    Great article and one that has me wanting to know more about how you discovered the deliverability issues with Infusionsoft.

    What are some options for ESPs that are better than IS?


    • A lot of my buddies use Infusionsoft and they told me about the issues.
      As for ESPs, I love Get Response (enterprise solution) combined with Return Path, as that helps boost deliverability.

  51. Thanks so much – just really starting to care about this stuff as I grow my list … really appreciate the feedback.


  52. Hey Neil,

    I noticed that you’re starting to use GetReponse now

    Any particular reason for that?


  53. Brilliant as usual!

  54. ugg baratas online :

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  55. Informative post here, Neil.

    I had never heard about certifying my IP which is pretty powerful at 40% increase potential. Whatever you’re doing is working with those click through rates and massive email list. Keep it up!

    Really appreciate the great post,

  56. This is a great article. I have used verification/validattion vendors in the past to address deliverability, but had the best results from combining hygiene and verification. Specifically, I had about a 97% deliverability rate in comparison to 89-93% before integrating hygiene. I used webbula.com.

    • Marta, glad you saw such great results. Sometimes you just need to clean things up to get the results you want — I always stay organized.

  57. Another great post, Neil! We found it so informative we included it in Chargify’s recent blog post “The 9 Elements of a Successful Welcome Email.” https://www.chargify.com/blog/9-elements-of-a-successful-welcome-email/

    Thanks for writing great content!

  58. Hey Neil,
    Thank you for this article. I don’t know why but i had never stopped to note down the ‘bad words’ to use in emails. And your list is so true and a great starting point to add to my email sending checklist.
    Thank you for this.

    • It’s normal Henry, I think most people don’t consider it at first, but it’s something you’ll naturally learn to do with time and practice.

  59. Good post.

  60. Free Video Downloader :

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