How Email Engagement impacts Email Deliverability

How Email Engagement Impacts Email Deliverability?

As you’ve learned, email deliverability is important but did you know that email engagement is just as critical? Along with the other factors discussed in our previous article, email engagement can affect your email deliverability. The good news is that all the initiatives you take to improve email engagement will improve deliverability and your conversion success with email.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and inbox providers want to deliver the messages their users want in their inbox and block messages they don’t want. To do this, the inbox providers measure how their users interact with your email – i.e., your email engagement. This measurement of how engaged your subscribers are is a major factor in the sender reputation score the inbox provider keeps on you. So focusing on email engagement helps you get into the inbox and also helps with other email performance statistics like your deliverability score. But, what is email engagement?

What is Email Engagement?

Essential to both sales professionals and email marketers, email engagement measures how recipients interact with the emails you send them. Some engagement metrics include email open rates, reply rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

What is Email Engagement

How Do ISPs and Inbox Providers Use Engagement To Measure You?

Trends are constantly changing, and ISPs and inbox providers have access to a lot of data. That’s why optimizing email deliverability by monitoring engagement rates is essential. Email engagement is a standard reputation score that every inbox provider maintains on their own and doesn’t share. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and inbox providers look at many factors to assess the trustworthiness of your emails.
Essentially, if you’ve got a history of low email engagement, your future emails are more likely to end up in the spam folder, reducing your deliverability. Reduced deliverability means fewer recipients can engage with your emails, causing damage to your email deliverability and engagement scores. In many ways, your “sender reputation score” is your “email engagement score”.
ISPs and inbox providers score you based on many factors, but the following factors impact your email deliverability the most.

How Sender Reputation Scores Determined?

Google, Microsoft, and other modern inbox providers are looking to deliver messages to the inbox that their users actually want. They make this decision by scoring the user’s engagement on every email they receive from a specific mailer and then attach a sender reputation score to that mailer.

Proper inbox placement is a key concern for users. Google, Microsoft, and the other modern inbox providers apply their full tech stack capabilities when making delivery decisions. Today, sender reputation scores are calculated from sophisticated Machine Learning (ML) models. The ML models are kept secret and are competitive weapons used by inbox providers to compete against each other.

Sender Reputation – Positive Inputs:

  • Open Rates: If a recipient opens your email, they are interested in what you have to say.
  • Replies: This is a sign of direct engagement. The recipient is actively trying to engage with you, so it’s essential to include a nongeneric “Reply-To” address.
  • Forwarding: Forwarding emails signals to the inbox providers that the user is positively engaging with the email.
  • Marking emails “Not Spam”: Sometimes legitimate emails are placed into the Spam folder but selecting the email and marking it as “Not Spam” will signal this email as “wanted” and will help with delivery into the inbox.
  • Saving & moving email between folders: If a recipient places emails in a particular location, it indicates to the ISPs how they want to treat email from a specific sender.
  • Whitelisting: Adding a sender to your address book – whitelisting an email address – helps improve deliverability and engagement Whitelisting tells your inbox provider that you want to receive emails from a specific address.
  • Time spent reading & viewing emails: The longer a user spends on your messages, the more engaged they appear to be.
  • Printing emails: Printing emails signals user engagement with a sender’s email.

Sender Reputation – Negative Inputs:

  • Moving emails to Spam/Junk: This one speaks for itself. If a recipient is moving emails to Spam, they signal that they do not wish to receive future emails from a sender.
  • Deleting emails: If the recipient deletes an email without reading it, this makes a bad impression on mail filters and hurts your overall deliverability.

email engagement score

How Do I Know My Sender Reputation Score?

Inbox providers do not share the reputation scores they keep on senders. Inbox providers depend on proper spam filtering to guard their sender reputation scores closely. There are multiple indicators that senders can use to gauge their sending reputations. But, given that a mailer cannot see their score, what indicators can they look for?

  • Postmaster Sites: Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo offer postmaster sites where senders can look up information on their reputations. While these sites won’t tell senders their scores, they will point out problems negatively impacting scores.


  • Seed list test: Seed list testing sends an email to a specific list before you send the email out to all the contacts in your database. Major inbox providers test inbox placement to diagnose advanced warning deliverability issues.
  • Engagement Baselines: Every sender concerned about deliverability should establish baselines of the metrics they can view and track. Clicks are one of the best email metrics for baselines. Knowing where click levers should be with any send, a sender can watch for sudden drops in clicks that often indicate a deliverability issue. Baselines are a must since they use the metrics that the sender can directly track.

Email engagement metrics allow you to track activity that inbox providers use to build your sender reputation score.

Email Deliverability and Engagement Is All About The Data

If you’re landing in the inbox, your email deliverability score is good, you have high engagement, and you’ve now achieved the main goal: getting in front of your contact. But, landing in the inbox is just the beginning.

Data is the foundation of email deliverability because it helps you maintain a strong email reputation and tracks your email engagement. You can ensure high engagement and consistent deliverability by managing and updating your email contacts throughout the year. If you aren’t certain of the authenticity of the contacts in your database, DealSignal can help you verify and validate that the email addresses you have are both real and active.

Manually cleaning your email contact lists can be a very tedious process, but using verification services can greatly reduce the number of invalid email addresses in your database. Get started with DealSignal today and learn why clean data matters to email deliverability and engagement.

Rob Weedn

Rob Weedn is Founder & CEO of DealSignal. Having worked in B2B marketing and sales for many years, Rob is passionate about helping revenue generating teams meet their goals by providing them with the immaculate contact and account data they need to target, engage, and convert prospects effectively. Follow Rob on Twitter @robweedn.

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