Email Marketing

2022 industry trends: deliverability

Though it has been around for quite some time, email continues to be a tried-and-true marketing channel for companies, small and large, across industries. And as we enter 2022, there’s no sign of that changing. According to a recent DMA survey, email ROI increased by more than 30% year-over-year.1

Yet, deliverability challenges still plague senders and prevent emails from reaching subscribers’ inboxes. In fact, nearly 1 in 6 emails from U.S. senders get send to spam or blocked. 2 2022 is going to be the year we turn this around. Our deliverability expert, Kathleen Schaefer shares what email marketers can expect as we head into the new year and how to stay ahead of the competition.

Meet the expert
Kathleen Schaefer
Kathleen Schaefer
Senior Director, Inboxable

Kathleen Schaefer is the Senior Director at Inboxable. Kathleen is a leader in email and cross-channel digital marketing solutions. She focuses on leading and maintaining client facing support for Data Axle/Inboxable technology and service offerings. Kathleen’s expertise allows her to help Data Axle clients to conceptualize campaigns, recognize capacity and achieve successful outcomes.


What marketing trends do you see dominating 2022?

In a time where the industry is battling to understand which previously tracked KPIs and metrics are still relevant, one source of data remains most valuable – direct subscriber feedback. 2022 will be the year where we hand the microphone back to the subscriber. Whether in the form of surveys, preference center data or even unsubscribes and spam complaints, your subscribers are telling you how they feel about your emails.

When planning for 2022, we recommend investing in strategies to collect information directly from your subscribers. Zero-party data is information shared directly and proactively by your audience about their preferences and interests (e.g., surveys, polls, etc.). You can use preference centers to gather essential information about how your audience wants to hear from you. Putting your audience in charge of their relationship with your brand can increase engagement with your messages, help you identify the right sending frequency, and reduce the risk of emails being marked as spam – all of which affect deliverability.

The more accurate your information is and the more data points you can collect from your subscribers, the more you can enable another emerging 2022 trend – artificial intelligence. AI unlocks the ability to analyze data and subscriber actions to learn more about your audience. Email marketers can utilize this data to predict trends and identify what’s working and what’s not, including what you need to do to retain or engage customers. As AI-driven technology continues to advance throughout 2022 the more powerful it will be, advancing relationships with subscribers by driving personalized experiences and content.


Do you see the role of deliverability changing in 2022, especially with the recent changes brought about by Apple iOS 15?

As email marketers are working to find their footing after the iOS 15 MPP release and adjusting their strategies to rely on less information such as opens, major ISPs such as Gmail, Yahoo and Microsoft are continuing to expand the data they monitor and digest to determine each sender’s reputation and whether or not their email will land within the inbox or junk folder.

Although many factors can impact your email deliverability, one key theory remains consistent – only send emails to people who want them. With the lack of visibility surrounding opens and user engagement, It can be extremely difficult to continue to follow this golden rule and remain balanced in the eyes of each ISP. Key deliverability strategies which strongly influence mail stream health such as audience segmentation (mailing to only those who have opened an email within a certain period of time) can become difficult to redefine. As subscriber engagement data becomes blurred, deliverability monitoring tools will increase in importance as they can be valuable when looking to understand campaign performance as well as gather and analyze subscriber feedback.


What deliverability metrics should marketers keep their eye on in 2022?

Seedlist inboxing
As we move into a landscape where less of an emphasis is placed on open rates, utilizing seedlist to monitor inboxing rates continues to be extremely valuable for email marketers. Seedlists can be used to monitor any deliverability issues causing junk folder placement and ultimately impacting email campaign performance.

Spam complaint rates
Complaint rates should be viewed as direct feedback from subscribers. When we see spikes in complaint data, it is extremely valuable to understand what caused it – whether it was an increase in mailing volumes or a certain subscription source not properly setting or meeting subscription expectations.

Blocklists/Spam traps
Blocklists are a publicly available, real-time database of IP addresses that send spam. If you land on a blocklist, major ISPs will likely block your campaigns. Blocklistings generally results from a sender’s poor list quality including sending to spam traps.

DMARC threat data
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) is a form of authentication which has been designed to identify and protect users from forged or “spoofed” messages used for phishing scams. The level of each policy (monitor, quarantine or reject) can be customized by the marketer. Having an actionable DMARC policy is one requirement to enroll within the BIMI program, enabling marketers to display their logos within subscriber’s inboxes at major ISPs including Gmail and Yahoo.


How do you see Data Axle building value for clients in 2022?

Industry updates
Inboxable consists of a team of experienced and dedicated deliverability analysts who are active within the deliverability industry. We remain focused on keeping our finger on the pulse, digesting the latest and more important information and relaying it to clients.

Deliverability monitoring, flagging issues and providing information regarding the root cause
Inboxable uses many different data sources to determine the overall health of an email program. This includes seedlist inboxing, spam trap monitoring, blocklists and ISP reputation data. Each dedicated analyst can identify and summarize the most important data points in an easy-to-understand way.

Providing actionable recommendations and strategies to boost performance
Let’s face it, deliverability can often be an overwhelming topic. Once email marketers get a handle on what’s going on with their program, identifying next steps in order to work towards improvements can be challenging. Inboxable can help break down which items need addressing first, and provide actionable information and strategies that will lead to long term performance improvements.


What do you think the next big industry disruptor will be?

In 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. This was one of the first major steps towards data privacy and protection. The law required that businesses should have the user’s active consent before they can use their data which ultimately changed email marketing forever.

Fast forward to 2021 and privacy and data continues to impact the email marketing landscape. With the rollout of iOS 15, Apple’s “Mail Privacy Protection” gave iPhone’s native mail app users the ability to hide if, when and where a user opens their email. In addition, this rollout impacted pixels used to collect valuable information used to gain insight into campaign performance as well as personalize content.

We can anticipate that as data privacy continues to gain importance, email marketers will have to continue to evolve. Marketers are learning to take an emphasis off of open rates and pixel information, and rely more on other key indicators and information but the question is – what’s next? With rumors swirling that we may lose visibility into additional key pieces of information, such as clicks, marketers will have to adjust how they collect and digest feedback by taking the emphasis off of extracted data and giving the power of feedback back to subscribers. Preference centers and first party data will be weighted heavily as marketers continue to evolve with the email landscape, finding the balance between offering personalized and relevant email campaigns while respecting subscriber privacy and data.

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