Email deliverability

Stop Landing In The Spam Folder & Immediately Skyrocket Your Email Deliverability – With Brian Minick

Do you know how many of the email addresses on your list are invalid? What happens when your subscribers mark your emails as spam rather than unsubscribing? How can you improve your sender reputation and your email deliverability? And did you know that you're losing approximately 22% of your subscribers every single year? 

We discuss this (and more!) with Brian Minick from ZeroBounce. And we guarantee you – you want to know what Brian has to say here. So listen or read on, and you can thank us later! 


(0:12) Want a FREE resource to get more clicks on your emails? Check out Click Tricks. 
(3:10) Check out our sponsor ZeroBounce. 
(4:58) Did Brian really jump from the side of a cruise ship?
(6:20) What is email validation and why do you want to do it?
(9:44) Why deliverability rates aren't accurate.
(11:43) The truth about disposable email addresses.
(16:08) How to deal with typos.
(19:50) Other reasons why email addresses aren't valid.
(24:33) How to build an email list based on quality and not quantity.
(26:47) Make informed business decisions with ZeroBounce.
(31:40) Subject line of the week.

What is email validation and why do you want to do it? 

Having validated over 18 billion email addresses over the years to check if emails to those addresses are deliverable, ZeroBounce did some research back in 2022. And they found that, on average, about 22% of email lists are decaying year on year. This means that next year you won't be able to deliver 22% of the emails you delivered this year.

And part of the reason why is because of job shifts and email addresses getting shut down or abandoned. But there's more, and we're going to go into details with Brian a little later. But for now, let's let that number sink in – it's a terrifying statistic! Sure, if you have more personal accounts on your email list (rather than business ones), you're looking at a slightly slower decay. But that number could be higher if you're B2B. Brian confirmed that ZeroBounce (who are B2B) are seeing their own database reduce by 32% every year!

If you've been following our work for a while, you'll know that our approach to email marketing is based on building a list over time and nurturing those people. We make offers from the start, but not everyone will buy straight away – some people can take a couple of years before they become customers. And if these people aren't even going to be on your list next year, you definitely want to sell to them quickly! You want to turn them into paying customers to keep them in your world. Because when they become customers, they're more likely to get in touch and let you know if they changed their email address, for example.

But let's get into more detail… 

Why deliverability rates aren't accurate

When your emails aren't getting delivered, you might see your bounce rate increase. However, Email Service Providers (ESPs) don't do a great job of explaining why that is. ZeroBounce, in their analysis, focuses on deliverability. When your emails are delivered, it means they've landed in someone's inbox. ESPs, on the other hand, will consider an email as delivered when it's left their system and has gone somewhere. In reality, it could be in someone's spam folder (blocked by a spam filter) or the Promotions folder. All it means is that the email has been sent.

The reason why ESPs report on ‘sent' rather than ‘delivered' is that they can't tell the difference! But also, this way, they show you a great-looking number. What you really want to know though, is whether your emails end up in the subscriber's actual inbox. 

But what are some of the other reasons for email list decay? 

The truth about disposable email addresses 

A lot of websites out there let people create disposable email addresses – these are valid email addresses that give you access to an inbox and allow you to send and receive emails. People typically use them to get past gated content that requires an email address (like a lead magnet or a coupon) but without using their real email address. These are anonymous.

But once the person has grabbed the piece of content they wanted, they leave that website, and they're gone. That email address is no longer a marketable contact. So if you send emails to that address, they'll either bounce or go unread. It's a completely useless contact because it's just like a ‘burner email address' with a one-time use. 

The good news for us marketers is that disposable email addresses can be detected. So, as a business, you can make some decisions. If you're a charity that accepts donations from anonymous people, then this use case works for you. It’s a valid and safe scenario for accepting disposable email addresses onto your list. But otherwise, if the emails are bouncing, and you're never getting engagement, you're building a list of vapour!

From a marketer’s point of view, these email addresses are a waste of space because these people won't ever buy anything from you. Plus, because the emails aren't being received, disposable email addresses are hurting your deliverability and reputation as a sender. And in the long run, this affects your ability to reach the people with legitimate email addresses who want to receive your marketing and buy from you. So it's important that you know this technology exists, and you take measures to rule these people out. 

How to deal with typos

Another issue that affects the decay of your email list is… typos. These are incredibly common. And a lot of people accidentally type the wrong username or domain when filling in opt-in forms. Simple errors can be detected and corrected, but that's not always possible. 

ZeroBounce has technology that allows the user (in real-time) to detect the error and have the chance to correct it. When a potential typo is identified, the user is presented with an additional screen where a suggestion is made about the correct email address. The user can then confirm and proceed or deny and correct the typo. This is a seamless experience that works with a message that appears on the screen on the page that immediately follows the sign-in form. 

And this is great news for us email marketers! It means we're not sending emails to the wrong address. And in turn, that means the emails won't bounce and hurt your deliverability. 

The Top 10 Books To 'Power Up' Your Email Marketing

10 book recommendations that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we stumbled upon which have been game-changing for us).

Other reasons why email addresses aren't valid

Other issues affecting list decay are spam traps and ‘complainers' or ‘abusers'. These are people who mark your emails as spam rather than unsubscribing. And when that happens, it negatively impacts your reputation in terms of how the email servers perceive you as a sender. If enough people are marking you as spam, you’ll potentially end up being blacklisted, and the rest of your emails might go straight into people’s spam folders.

This is because email providers take feedback from their customers. And if a lot of users consider you spam, the email servers make decisions about your domain, your IP address, etc. Their job is to put content in front of their users that they actually want. So if enough people are considering you spam, they won't want to send your content to others.

Of course, as an email marketer, you can't predict this behaviour – you don't know that specific subscribers will decide to mark you as spam rather than using the unsubscribe link you provide at the bottom of your emails. So what can you do? First thing first, make sure your unsubscribe links are clear and visible – don't hide them!

But also, don't consider unsubscribes as something negative. The truth is when someone unsubscribes from your list, they're opening the email and clicking on a link. This is considered engagement, and it helps you build a good sender reputation. 

ZeroBounce can detect ‘complainers'

Because ZeroBounce works with a lot of sending partners, they receive data feeds that allow them to detect ‘complainers' who tend to mark emails as spam rather than unsubscribe. They have a record of 5 million ‘complainers', so if someone is known to ZeroBounce (and you're one of their clients) they're able to give you a heads up before you even accept someone like that on your list. 

Once you have access to data and statistics (and know, for example, that a certain email address is associated with someone who's 10 or more times more likely to report you as spam), you can decide whether to accept specific email addresses or not. Unfortunately, these are the types of issues that you can't deal with on your own as a business – you need the data. And ZeroBounce has access to it!

How to build an email list based on quality and not quantity

So if you already have an email list, how do you find out how many of those email addresses are problematic? Brian explains it’s about quality and not quantity. Quantity is easy – anyone can add email addresses to their lists. But you want to focus on quality instead. Whatever the size of your list, what matters is that certain rates (such as bounce rates or complaint rates) stay low. It's a percentage game – stats matter for you and for the ESPs. 

If you've acquired your email list over time, ZeroBounce can analyse your entire email list to give you an idea of how many email addresses are undeliverable or risky. Once you get past this step, you can clean it, upload it, or send it through the ESP (depending on which one you’re using, ZeroBounce might have an integration with them) and let them run the analysis. It's a quick and easy job for ZeroBounce – they take about 45 minutes to run the data on a list of 100k email addresses and can give you information on each one. That allows you to effectively validate your list.  

Make informed business decisions with ZeroBounce

Historically, ZeroBounce finds that 57% of people's email addresses are considered valid and safe to send. That leaves 43% of addresses that aren’t necessarily ‘bad’, but they need looking into in order to understand why the report highlighted them. If certain categories of email addresses are coming up for you, you have some important business decisions to make.

If you have invalid email addresses, for example, you'll want to get rid of them. Because you really don't want those people in your CRM or ESP, especially if you're paying per contact! And with regards to other categories of ‘bad' email addresses, you can benefit from the experience of ZeroBounce – they'll help you make decisions specific to your business. 

If you’re still in the early days of your list-building activity, knowing about the quality of your contacts will help you build a good sender reputation from the start. Because at the end of the day, your subject line, your content, or your offer can be great, but if your emails don't get delivered, no one will see them! 

So if you're a podcast listener and want to give ZeroBounce a test drive, Brian is offering 1,000 FREE validations. And if your list is smaller than that, even better! Now's the best time to be proactive and start looking at your data because doing the cleanup at a later date is going to be a lot harder. So check it out! 


Make More Sales with our cutting-edge Psychology-Based Email Marketing Programme

  • Psychology-based email marketing.
  • 45+ Email Campaigns.
  • Video Campaign Workshops.
  • Growing Library of Video Trainings.

Subject line of the week

This week’s subject line is “trapped in the airport.” The email was about our 36-hour journey home from Austin back in June. We drew a parallel between the intricacies of marking sure people don’t slip through the cracks in the airport and ensuring subscribers haven't slipped through the cracks of your email automation.

It’s a curiosity-driven hook that leads from the storytelling in the subject line, which also starts with a lowercase – and that's curiosity-invoking in itself. It comes across as if the email was potentially rushed because you are (indeed) “trapped in an airport”. So check it out!

Useful Episode Resources

Related episodes

6 Things You Didn’t Know Your Email Marketing Platform Could Do.

Warning: 6 Lies Your Email Marketing Platform Is Telling You.

The Surprising Thing That REALLY Impacts Your Email Deliverability.

FREE list to improve your email marketing

If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here

Join our FREE Facebook group

If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.

Try ResponseSuite for $1

This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.

Join The League Membership

Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.

Subscribe and review The Email Marketing Show podcast

Thanks so much for tuning into the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode (all about how to stop landing in the spam folder and improving your email deliverability) and love the show, we'd really appreciate you subscribing and leaving us a review of the show on your favourite podcast player.  

Not only does it let us know you're out there listening, but your feedback helps us to keep creating the most useful episodes so more awesome people like you can discover the podcast. 

And please do tell us! If you don't spend time on email marketing, what do you really fill your working days with? We'd love to know!

Leave a Reply

People who read this also enjoyed:

email marketing and webinars

How Paul & Emily Finally Started Making A Profit In Their Business Using Email Marketing And webinars (And Our Amazing System!)

Read More
buy email lists

Pretty Awesome Reasons Why You Should Never Buy Email Lists (And What To Do Instead)

Read More

Get our ‘Famous’ Daily Email Tips