Marketing 101

How to Interpret (and Improve) Your Email Deliverability Report3 min read

, Veterinary Marketing Specialist July 22, 2020 2 min read

How to Interpret (and Improve) Your Email Deliverability Report3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

When you review your email deliverability report, you probably see successful deliveries, bounces, unsubscribes, and spam reports. But what does it all mean? Here’s a brief overview of the key metrics you may find on your email deliverability reports, and how to interpret them.


This term indicates that the recipient’s email server accepted your message. However, this doesn’t represent the actual deliverability of your email. A delivered email has simply arrived at the email server, but it could have been sorted into a spam folder instead of the inbox—which is naturally where you want it to go. The number of delivered emails can’t tell you the quality of the delivery—it just tells you that the email arrived.


There are a few categories of bounces when it comes to email: general, soft, and hard bounces. Let’s look at the differences.

  • General Bounces: This indicates that an email could not be delivered to the receiving server, but the reason for rejection is unidentified.
  • Soft Bounces: This type of bounce indicates a temporary delivery issue. There are a lot of reasons this can happen. Here are a few of the most common:
    • The recipient’s inbox is full
    • The recipient is having a technical email problem
    • Spam filters rejected the email
  • Hard Bounces: This happens when an email is considered permanently undeliverable. These emails are marked as undeliverable in your database, and you can no longer send mass emails to these contacts. Common reasons for hard bounces include an incorrect email address or a recipient blocking your delivery.

The average benchmark for email bounce rates is around 2%, according to data from the email marketing platform Emma. If you notice a bounce rate higher than 5%, it’s time to evaluate your strategy.


The recipient visited the unsubscribe page to indicate that they no longer wish to receive communications from you. These prospects will now appear in your audience as opted-out. They may reenroll in email programs in the future by opting in. Many email marketing platforms give you the option to allow prospects to manage email preferences so they can self-curate which email lists they are part of. This tactic helps reduce global email opt-outs.

Unsubscribes aren’t exclusively bad—when people who aren’t interested in your message opt out, your email performance rates tend to improve, and so does the health of your list. However, you still need to keep an eye on your unsubscribe rate—it can be an indicator of a larger problem with your email strategy. Statistics from CampaignMonitor suggest that the average unsubscribe rate is 0.17%. How does your email marketing compare?

Reported as Spam

This metric indicates the number of recipients who reported your email as spam. If you see a high number of these coming in, evaluate your strategy immediately. A normal spam rate is anything less than 0.1%.

Spam reports can happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe the recipient didn’t opt-in to receive messages from you, your subject line is misleading, or perhaps your email campaigns have low overall engagement rates (eg, opens, clicks). If your spam rate is high, try these ideas to help keep your emails out of the spam folder.

And there you have it: a quick look at your email deliverability report. Keep a close eye on your metrics, and never stop optimizing. Next up, explore 5 practical ideas for increasing your email opens.

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