Inbox Placement: Why is it Important for Avoiding the Spam Folder

Creating an email marketing campaign for your product or business is tedious work. After countless hours of creating the perfect message, you finally hit send and wait for engagement from your recipients—that is, if they land directly in their primary inbox.

While your emails are delivered, they can land in places other than the email inbox, like the junk, promotion, and spam folders. This guide will help you understand inbox placement and its importance to your email campaigns. We will also include some tips to increase your inbox placement rate and avoid the spam folder for good.

Read on to know more.

Man sending an email Courtesy of Canva/Pixelshot

What is Inbox Placement?

Inbox placement refers to what happens to an email after it’s delivered successfully. Most inbound emails are filtered using algorithms by the mail service provider, which determines where they will land. This metric specifically accounts for emails that go into your recipient’s primary inbox and excludes the ones that land outside of it (e.g., spam, junk, promotions, social, etc.)

Inbox placement is critical since most users spend their time here checking essential email info (subject line, heading text, etc.). In contrast, if emails land in the spam, promotions, or social folder, recipients may not notice them at all. So, if your emails land in one of these places instead of the primary inbox, your subscribers usually won't see them.

How to Calculate the Inbox Placement Rate (IPR)

To determine if a campaign has poor inbox placement, you need to calculate its inbox placement rate first. It measures the percentage of emails that successfully land in the recipient’s inbox compared to the total number of emails delivered. Take note that this calculation doesn’t account for emails that were not completely delivered (e.g., hard bounces).

Inbox Placement Rate formula Inbox placement rate

In contrast, you can calculate the email delivery rate by getting the percentage of emails that landed in a recipient’s mailbox compared to the total number of emails sent. This data is more focused on your overall email deliverability, including ones that land in the promotions tab, are blocked, or are in the spam folder.

Email delivery rate formula Email delivery rate

Ideally, a healthy email program should have a 98% delivery rate or greater. This contrasts the inbox placement rate, which varies depending on different factors (e.g., type of email message, content, etc.)

What are Good Inbox Placement Results?

If you regularly send email marketing campaigns or cold emails, you should aim for 90% or higher. Once it drops to 80% or less, consider increasing your sender reputation first. Also, consider decreasing engagement with your subscribers to prevent your inbox placement from declining further.

Why is Inbox Placement Important?

Having a high inbox placement rate benefits your campaign in the following ways:

  • - Improved credibility and trust

Inbox placement is closely related to your sender reputation, a score set by internet service providers (ISPs) to an email address. The higher your score is, the more likely an ISP will deliver your emails to your recipient’s primary inbox, increasing your email deliverability. This also makes you a reputable and trusted sender, telling them your content is highly relevant to your recipients.

  • - Better visibility to potential customers

It goes without saying that emails that land in the inbox have a higher chance of being opened and read. This is important both for gaining more customers and increasing brand awareness. On the other hand, each time your email lands in a recipient’s spam or promotions folder, it could mean you’ve lost a potential client.

Man checking mailbox Courtesy of Pexels/Burst

  • - Helps you pass spam filters and the junk folder

Spam filters are algorithms that detect unsolicited or infected email messages and block them from landing in the recipient’s inboxes. While they’re an essential tool for every mailbox provider, these filters can sometimes label your emails as false positives, which can place them in spam folders. Following the best email marketing practices will improve your inbox placement and help you pass spam filters consistently, increasing email performance.

Key Factors Affecting Your Inbox Placement Rates

Here are some key factors that significantly affect your inbox placement rate:

#1. Sender Reputation

As mentioned, the sender or domain reputation is a score set by major ISPs to email addresses. Your sender reputation is used by your recipient’s mailbox provider and spam filters to determine if your emails should land in the primary inbox or the spam folder.

To verify your identity to an email service provider (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.) as a legitimate sender, we recommend you enable these email authentication protocols:

#2. Email Content

To have a good score and better email delivery rate, provide relevant content and avoid spammy material—this applies to the subject line, email body, and even the links you insert. Quality email content marks you as a legitimate email sender by major mailbox providers (e.g., Google and Microsoft), so your emails avoid the spam folder.

Women writing an email Courtesy of Pexels/Taryn Elliott

#3. Recipient Engagement

Along with creating relevant content, you must ensure that your email messages are interesting enough to drive engagement with your subscribers. Monitor your email performance stats, especially the reply and open rates, as these data reflect your campaign’s engagement. Keeping these key metrics high increases your deliverability and sender reputation.

5 Useful Tips to Increase Your Inbox Placement

#1. Clean Up and Validate Your Email List

To effectively increase your inbox placement, you must prioritize problem areas, like your email lists. We recommend growing your email list organically and refraining from buying lists, email scraping, and adding email contacts without their permission. Instead, use double opt-in to gain genuinely interested subscribers and refine your mailing list.

Also, try to test emails on your list using email verification tools. This ensures that the addresses actually exist and they consistently receive emails.

#2. Do an Inbox Placement Test

Inbox placement tools allow you to assess the deliverability of your emails for various mailbox providers (e.g., Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) Besides giving you the inbox placement rate (IPR), a quality inbox placement tool helps you gain insights and optimize emails landing in the primary inbox. Sending a test email to a seed list and checking where it lands also gives you an idea of your email deliverability performance.

#3. Monitor your Spam Complaints and Unsubscribes

Whether due to irrelevant emails or an ineffective email cadence, you must pay close attention to these complaints since they directly affect your sender's reputation and IPR. Ideally, you can adjust your email campaigns based on this data to avoid being flagged as spam.

As for unsubscribes, having a minimal percentage is ideal. However, if it goes over 1% of your mailing list, you’ll need to check and create adjustments on email content, cadence, and other factors.

Mailbox spam item Courtesy of Pinterest/USNews

#4. Maintain Good Engagement with Your Subscribers

Keeping your subscribers engaged with your content can be challenging, but the answer relies on sending them relevant email campaigns at a healthy rate. Besides having the correct contact list, you need to segment and optimize that list based on key factors (e.g., reply rate and purchase behavior) to send personalized content and increase deliverability. You can also do A/B testing to seed lists to better understand your subscribers’ content preferences.

#5. Use a Reliable Email Service Provider

Remember that your reputation is tied to the reputation of your chosen ESP. If they have reputation issues, you will, too. And if they don’t fix the issue, you will need to move to another ESP, which is a time-consuming process.

So do your research and choose wisely. You can also avoid the issue altogether by using a self-hosted email platform like MailWizz. With MailWizz, you have complete control of every campaign and access to impressive features.

Explore MailWizz now.

Final Thoughts

As an email marketer, you must focus on key factors, like email content, sender reputation, and subscriber engagement, to keep your inbox placement at an optimal range. Conducting an inbox placement test, checking email delivery reports, and cleaning up your mailing lists via email verification are a few ways to increase inbox placement in your campaigns.

Curious how MailWizz compares against other ESPs? Check out our core features today and see increased email deliverability on your campaigns!

Do you have questions?

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