Deliverability: A Basic Glossary of Terms and Concepts | email marketing solution

In terms of email deliverability, there are a lot of terms, concepts and general jargon to get mixed up with. Here is a non technical description of the basic lingo and concepts that can help you get started in your quest to understand deliverability.

Email Deliverability

The number of emails you are sending is not equal to the number of emails that are actually delivered. Email deliverability is a term with two meanings.

                1. Meaning the whole subject area of you emails getting to their respective places.

                2.Refering to your success at getting emails delivered to their respective places.

Email management organization

There are different organizations involved in the process of delivering email. Google manages the incoming email for gmail accounts; large corporations manage email for their company employee accounts; and if you use desktop email, the software manages also makes a judgment call on incoming email.  In a more perfect world, we would need these, all emails would be delivered as planned. But in the world of spammers, viruses and hackers, we need some inbox protection. These organizations ask three basic questions:

                1. Do we delete this email and not deliver it?

                2. Do we deliver it but flag it as spam and send to the junk folder?

                3. Do we deliver this message directly to the inbox?

Most deliverability terms refer to the processes and/or technologies that help these organizations make decisions about email messages.

Spam Filters and Anti-Spam Technologies

Anti-spam technologies are any mechanism that is used to identify and handle spam accordingly. There are lots of different anti-spam technologies operating at multiple places in an email messages journey.

One of those technologies is a spam filter. A spam filter is another broad term that is used to define any process or technology the examines incoming emails to tag them as legit or spam. If it is tagged as spam, it is usually rerouted from its original destination (your inbox) to its final resting place (that spam folder you never check and always delete). There are two ways that these filters usually process emails. They either use the body and subject line text itself or the sender and route that the email has traveled .

Spam Reports

A spam report comes when a recipient of an email flags said email as spam and reports it. There are a few ways an email can be reported as spam.

                1. Users can report spam to the organization managing their account such as Google, or their          employer corporation using a “mark as spam button,

                2. Users can report spam to a third party anti-spam organization who can add the sender to their   “blacklist” , or

                3. Users can report spam to the email software they are using.


A black list is basically the naughty list for email senders that email organizations can use as a quick reference to determine if an email is coming from a known spam sender. The simple version to how this works is that an email organization uses their personal blacklist, or a publicly available third party black list to check the email sender against; if the sender is on one of these list, it is tagged as spam.


A whitelist is the natural opposite of the blacklist. A whitelist is a list of good senders. Being on a whitelist can get you a free pass through some spam filters. Many big email providers have whitelist, but personal email accounts can have whitelists too. The recipients address book acts as a whitelist and all email from senders saved in a user’s address book is considered safe and is automatically send to the inbox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.