With most historical innovations, it probably wouldn’t have made much sense to seek improvement without first identifying there was a problem. Sure, the chocolate chip cookie was a happy accident and no one necessarily needed to solve a chocolate-based dessert shortage crisis. But, this is rare. Normally great innovators take a look around them and initially see the problem. Then, they act.

Our delivery team applies this approach on a daily basis when consulting on delivery strategies. For example, a common complaint we get asked to rectify is “my mail is not going to the inbox at Gmail.” If there was a button to push to fix this, we would love to have it (don’t worry Gmail…only if the sender was following all of your best practices). However, delivery is complicated and takes a focus on two main areas in order to make sure you’re not improving a problem that doesn’t really exist.


There are a LOT of moving parts involved in email delivery. We’ve referenced in previous posts that email does appear to be magic. You click “send,” the email delivers. But, as any seasoned marketer knows, this is far from the truth. And when the email messages don’t quite deliver as expected, we must identify why.

Did I send too many messages too quickly? Did I send to too many disinterested groups of recipients? Did I collect my list of email addresses from an untrusted source? Or, did I not have some basic email infrastructure set up prior to sending the message? These are a few of the hundreds of standard questions that could be explored within each delivery issue.

One key way to identify what is “not working” is to compare it to when things were “working.”

  • Review your own statistics within the same mail stream or even a similar one.
  • Confirm when data looked more favorable.
  • If you’re a new sender, confirm what you pictured the data to look like for you to achieve a successful email program.

Then, start dissecting. Look at every possible granular difference that existed between the two scenarios (every piece of data has a “hashtag” next to it) and I guarantee some ideas for improvement should rise to the top.


Now that you know what is different, is it possible to make your current scenario more like your previously successful (or ideally successful) scenario? Some things can’t go backwards. Businesses move forward and it’s difficult to do exactly what you did a year ago. It may take some of that awesome innovation to find a way to look like the same great sender you were when Gmail or Yahoo were letting you into the inbox. Luckily, there are a few tools out there (Marketo, Pardot, Net-Results) that are available to help you with marketing automation and to better target the users who want to hear from you and your brand.

With the wide range of research this “identify vs. improve” approach can take you in, the comforting summary (from our experience) is that the areas of improvement will either fall within the methods in which a sender decides:

1. How they collect email addresses

2. How and when they send to their recipients

3. How and when they choose to remove their recipients from their email list

For more on how to properly collect email addresses, read our guide: How to Authentically Grow Your Email List and if you’re a customer interested in our Expert Services, you can learn more here.

Happy Sending!

Jacob Hansen
Jacob comes from a background in technical account management and delivery analysis for the last six years, and has been with SendGrid's Deliverability Consultant team for the last two years. He enjoys spreading knowledge to help the email community send more "wanted email" and to help senders realize their full potential. Originally from Nebraska, but living in Colorado long enough for it to feel like home, Jacob enjoys a lot of what the Denver restaurant, bar, brewery and music scenes have to offer.