How Bird Optimizes Email Deliverability For Customers

How Bird Optimizes Email Deliverability For Customers

How Bird Optimizes Email Deliverability For Customers

Email deliverability is getting harder, but 95% of Bird’s customers are beating industry benchmarks. Here’s how.

Here’s some humbling (and sobering) news for email marketers: Only around 27% of email senders have a marketing email deliverability rate of 95% or higher.

The situation is only getting tougher, too. In February 2024, Google and Yahoo began enforcing new requirements for bulk senders that make it even harder for your emails to be delivered (unless you comply with their new standards).

So, are email marketers just doomed to a life of poor deliverability now? Absolutely not. 

Despite these emerging delivery challenges, 95% of Bird’s email customers consistently outperform deliverability industry benchmarks. To uncover the secrets behind our success, we spoke with Tony Patti, our Director of Deliverability Services, to gather his insights and advice

Here’s an in-depth look at how Bird optimizes email deliverability for more than six trillion branded emails every year.

First things first: Why should businesses care about email deliverability at all?

Deliverability can be an invisible problem dragging down your campaign ROI. If you don’t know how to interpret your email marketing metrics, you might be looking for solutions in the wrong place.

For example, you might misdiagnose low read rates as a messaging problem instead of a technical issue, then spend ages fiddling with subject lines only to see no improvement. Unfortunately, even the world’s most intriguing subject line can’t save you if your emails aren’t delivered in the first place.

The perfect campaign that never gets seen is simply a waste of time and resources.

Make no mistake: Poor deliverability comes at a material cost for your business, impacting both your revenue generation and your ability to acquire and retain new customers.

Email drives revenue

Email is estimated to have generated nearly $11 billion in revenue in 2023—and that number is projected to grow in the future. There’s one simple reason email marketing has endured the past few decades of digital marketing: It consistently delivers a strong return on investment. 

In short, email marketing is just as promising as ever, as long as you’re doing it well. 

Tony recalls an experience overseeing a Black Friday email campaign for a computer hardware customer. The deliverability for that campaign achieved an inboxing rate of nearly 98%, far beyond what the customer expected.

“As a result,” Tony shared, “they ran out of inventory. They actually had to have additional computer inventory flown into the U.S. from Japan on commercial airline flights.”

Your competitors are looking for an edge

If you don’t actively pursue excellent deliverability, your competitors will always have the upper hand with your shared audiences.


Because they’ll be in your audience’s inboxes, and you won’t. Simple as that.

If you want to gain a competitive advantage, you need to optimize your email deliverability and engagement through real-time analysis of your biggest rivals. 

Luckily, that’s easier than it sounds…

How Bird optimizes deliverability for email customers

High email inboxing is all about getting the details right—which means keeping up with the latest data regulations, industry best practices, and other email requirements.

The primary responsibility of any email service provider (ESP) is to create the best possible environment for optimal deliverability results. Our strategy includes a comprehensive four-phase onboarding and evaluation process:

1. Conduct an email marketing background check

Every new Bird customer begins with a questionnaire we use to gather information and evaluate historical email performance. This initial phase of evaluation helps Bird experts address glaring deliverability issues while developing a plan to enable better results.

We ask questions like:

  • Does your business rent or buy its email lists? This helps us understand if you’re damaging your reputation by emailing people who haven’t opted in and are marking you as spam.

  • What domains are you using? This shows us your overall email “health” based on factors like engagement, spam complaints, and bounces.

  • What internet service providers (ISPs) are giving you the highest rate of deliverability? ISPs are the gatekeepers of deliverability, so we want to make sure they’re all operating at max efficiency.

These questions help us prioritize our first actions, including customer education, so they avoid pitfalls in the future.

Paid email lists, for example, require immediate intervention. “A lot of privacy and GDPR laws state that you cannot just buy a list. You have to have someone's explicit permission to email them,” Tony emphasizes. “So if the customer has been a big list buyer or list runner, they have a lot of emails that were not permissioned properly. When people get these emails, they know they didn't consent to them—and they click ‘Spam.’ And then you see that inbox rate go down.”

Meanwhile, the IP addresses for each customer’s sending domains can be uploaded into Bird’s Inbox Tracker solution to display performance for the prior six months to a year. Bird’s proprietary technology uses this information to prevent your domains from getting flagged as spam by ISPs in the future, enabling a higher rate of deliverability.

Once we’ve established a deliverability baseline and compliance with our customers, we then focus on pushing their numbers higher.

2. Use confirmed opt-in for your lists

The Holy Grail of opt-in collection is the confirmed opt-in. Also known as the double opt-in, this form of consent involves a two-step opt-in process: one when the consumer provides their email address to your business, and a second when that consumer clicks a link in the email confirming their address and their subscription to your list.

Bird always strongly recommends that our customers use confirmed opt-ins when adding emails to their lists. It’s a cut-and-dried, verified approach, and one that most consumers are now familiar with. It also provides a crucial safeguard when it comes to email deliverability because a confirmed opt-in is far less likely to get marked as spam by your email recipients.

With other types of opt-ins, consumers are more likely to feel like they’re getting emails they didn’t sign up for. When spam complaint rates creep too high, your deliverability is threatened: Email services might be more inclined to send your messages to the spam folder, and you run the risk of getting added to a spam blocklist (a list of IP addresses or domains known to send spam) such as Spamhaus.

“Spamhaus is the worst block list to get on,” Tony says. “And they can (and most likely will) require that you switch to a confirmed opt-in before they unblock you.”

Another way to end up on a blocklist is if you forget to include unsubscribe links in your branded emails. If you don’t give readers a clear opt-out option in your emails, you increase the risk of your messages getting filtered to spam or being blocked from delivery.

3. Evaluate email frequency and engagement

Email services like Gmail pay close attention to metrics like email frequency and engagement. Over time, high email frequency and/or low engagement rates can jeopardize your deliverability, even if you’re only sending to lists verified through confirmed opt-ins.

This is because email services are eager to improve their user experience, and many of them are using AI and machine learning to analyze emails and improve spam filtering. Gmail users may be familiar with an unsubscribe prompt that pops up when they haven’t opened a promotional email from a particular sender within the past 30 days. This is one example of how email services are tracking consumer engagement and using this information to shape their email filtering methods.

Bird evaluates each customer’s email frequency and engagement to identify strategic changes that optimize deliverability for future emails. For example, consumers who subscribe but rarely engage with your marketing emails may be better suited for a different marketing list with a lower message frequency. Or, you may want to remove unengaged recipients altogether while performing routine “email list hygiene” tasks (managing your email list so that you're only sending to valid and engaged email addresses). 

We also recommend that businesses proactively optimize for deliverability instead of waiting for email services to drop the hammer. While Google does announce certain platform-specific changes, such as revisions to its search algorithm, they don’t announce the email changes when adjusting Gmail’s filtering criteria.

“Eventually, you're going to run up against the speed trap, and they're going to catch you, and all of a sudden, you'll have a deliverability problem,” Tony says. “Customers will say, ‘We didn't change anything. We don't know what happened.’ And you didn't change anything—but there's this thing called a machine learning AI algorithm that's changing every minute.”

4. Plan for seasonality

Seasonal events and changing market conditions require months of planning; not only for email campaigns, but for entire marketing departments. Because of the rising role of deliverability in email marketing performance, the savviest marketers are optimizing deliverability well ahead of the launch of these campaigns.

For retailers and e-tailers, no seasonal event compares to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday long weekend, which ushers in the intense Holiday shopping period that actually extends into early January. The revenue generated from these days of holiday shopping can make or break a business. Bird’s experts like to connect with customers at least six months ahead of these seasonal events to make sure deliverability is optimized for when it’s time to send subscribers their Black Friday and other promotional emails, including one-day flash sales and personalized promotions.

Marketers have many options to increase delivery rates during these seasonal windows. Engagement programs throughout the calendar year often improve consumer engagement rates and reduce the risk of having messages filtered to spam. Email frequency may need to be slowed down during other times of the year so that high-frequency emails around seasonal events don’t run the risk of getting filtered out by email service algorithms.

As Tony points out, consumers aren’t the only ones involved in these purchasing decisions. When email service algorithms have the power to filter certain messages to spam, they’re also narrowing the purchasing choices presented to consumers. 

“The algorithms can decide, ‘I don’t like your mail this year,’” Tony says. “So we work on changing that. We try to limit the customer’s exposure to things that could negatively affect their future campaigns.”

That’s a quick glimpse into where we start when we bring on new email clients at Bird. We equip hundreds of email marketers with data and intelligence, scalable sending, and experts like Tony to bolster their strategy and drive their email ROI.

Quick tips to improve your email deliverability

Fully optimized deliverability is an ongoing process between email service providers and their customers. But email marketers can score some easy deliverability wins, by addressing the simple mistakes that may be impacting your inboxing rate.

Here are three ways to improve deliverability today:

Fully optimized deliverability is an ongoing process between email service providers and their customers. But email marketers can score some easy deliverability wins, by addressing the simple mistakes that may be impacting your inboxing rate.

Here are three ways to improve deliverability today

1. Set up an SPF, DKIM, or DMARC record

Email services use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols to verify your sender ID through encryption and certificates. Missing sender IDs can result in your emails getting sent to spam or flagged as a security risk.

Google offers some easy-to-follow guidelines on how to properly set up these records for your domains.

2. Check your email HTML for formatting errors

HTML formatting errors can impact the appearance and readability of your emails. Beyond this degraded user experience, though, these errors can also threaten deliverability.

Fortunately, missing closing tags and other coding errors are easy to fix, and they will instantly improve your email deliverability potential. Several tools are designed to identify these HTML errors, including Google’s Schema Markup Validator.

3. Add one-click unsubscribe to every email

As mentioned above, leaving one-click unsubscribe buttons out of your emails is one of the biggest red flags for email service algorithms that are crawling incoming mail for spam. A simple one-click unsubscribe button in each email will satisfy their requirements and preserve deliverability.

Don’t mark your own emails as spam

Email deliverability is complicated—and the rules are subject to change at any moment. If you’re serious about maximizing the ROI of your email program, you need the support of an email service provider offering state-of-the-art optimization tools and guidance from in-house deliverability experts.

With integrated deliverability analytics, real-time campaign monitoring, competitor analysis tools, and advanced email AI simulations, Bird provides everything you need to optimize deliverability, beat industry benchmarks, and outperform your closest email competitors. 

As Tony says, achieving even a 3% increase in email deliverability could help your business drive a significant increase in revenue. Don’t hand these percentage points over to your business rivals. Connect with Bird’s experts instead and realize the full potential of your email marketing program.

Interested in boosting your email deliverability? Request a demo with Bird today and see how we can transform your email strategy.

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The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.

By clicking "See Bird" you agree to Bird's Privacy Notice.