February 25, 2023

Inbox Placement vs Email Deliverability: A Comparison

Learn what inbox placement vs email deliverability is and which is more important. Additionally, discover how to boost your inbox placement.

Inbox Placement vs Email Deliverability: A Comparison

If you’re a cold emailer, knowing the difference between email deliverability and inbox placement is key to reaching high engagement rates and protecting your sender reputation. 

In this article, we’ll break down inbox placement, email deliverability, and which is more important to track. We’ll also cover the factors impacting deliverability and inbox placement.

Finally, we’ll provide four tips to improve your inbox plcement rate, including an innovative tool to help boost placement.

This Article Contains

What’s The Difference Between Inbox Placement Vs Email Deliverability?

Before we distinguish between email deliverability and inbox placement, let’s first define the two concepts.

What is Email Deliverability?

The email deliverability rate is the percentage of emails you send that are successfully delivered.

An email is “delivered” when it reaches the intended recipient without bouncing or being blocked (e.g., by blacklists).

However, an email that gets delivered may still land in a spam or junk folder. Email deliverability doesn’t account for where an email lands in the recipient’s mailbox after it’s delivered.

What is Inbox Placement?

Instead of just tracking whether emails were delivered, inbox placement measures how many emails landed in the recipient’s primary inbox rather than a junk or spam folder.

Here’s how to calculate inbox placement rate:

This calculation excludes emails that land in folders like:

  • Spam
  • Social
  • Updates
  • Promotions
  • Unfocused
  • Junk

Therefore, the inbox placement rate provides a true indication of how often email providers are hiding your emails from your intended recipients. Remember, out of sight means out of mind.

Next, let’s explore why this difference matters and discuss which metric is more beneficial:

Inbox Placement Vs Email Deliverability: Which is More Important?

Both deliverability and inbox placement are critical if you want to master sales and marketing engagement.

However, interestingly, businesses rarely optimize inbox placement and tend to focus on deliverability. The majority of businesses aren’t even tracking inbox placement correctly. 

Take a look at this example:

Say you’re trying to assess the success of a cold email outreach campaign.

When you look into deliverability, you may learn that you have a 95% email deliverability rate. That means that 95% of the emails sent were successfully delivered, while 5% bounced, got blocked, or encountered a sending issue.

However, when you check the inbox placement of the same email campaign, you might notice the following figures:

  • 75% inbox placement rate.
  • 20% spam or other folder placement rate.
  • 5% bounce rate.

This tells you that while 95% of the emails were delivered, 20% didn’t land in the main inbox. Instead, they’re going to a spam, junk, promotion, social, or newsletter folder.

The reality is that people rarely check their spam folder or secondary folders.

Additionally, recipients tend not to trust mail that’s marked as spam. Due to engagement-based filtering, this issue is likely to get worse over time.

As a result of this low inbox placement rate, your open rate, engagement rate, and conversion rates all take a knock.

What inbox placement rate should you aim for?

According to a survey, the average inbox placement rate is around 77%, so aim for rates above that. At Allegow specifically, we’ve seen top-performing sales teams maintain an inbox placement rate of over 90%.

However, it’s important to note that your inbox placement rate still depends on your deliverability. And as a result, you can’t afford to ignore your deliverability rate either. 

3 Factors That Influence Deliverability

Three crucial factors that impact your deliverability rate are:

1. Your IP Address and Sending Domain

The IP address and sending domain are important for how likely a mailbox provider is to trust your emails.

For example, it’s best not to use free domain email sending platforms like Gmail or Hotmail for email outreach. You’ll also find IPs from 3rd party SMTP servers (like SendGrid, Mailgun etc) are more associated with sales/marketing emails - making them more heavily filtered because of the risk they pose and volume of emails they can send within a short period of time. 

Your best option for optimal deliverability if to use the IP on your paid G Suite or Outlook accounts. This will make the cold emails you send less likely bounce or be placed in spam by the mailbox provider.

2. Validity of Email Addresses

Emails sent to non-existent or inactive email addresses won’t be delivered and will affect your deliverability rate.

There are two ways an email could bounce based on the email address of the recipient:

  • A hard bounce occurs when an email address is incorrect or no longer in use.
  • A soft bounce occurs when there is a temporary deliverability issue. For example, this could happen if there’s a problem with the receiving server, the recipient’s mailbox is full, or the email is too large.

One thing to note here is the existence of catch-all email addresses. 

These addresses accept any emails sent to the owner’s domain name, even if the email address is misspelled.

For example, if someone tries sending an email to “” but types “,” the email will be accepted by the “” catch-all address.

This can be useful for business. However, it can make email verification solutions less reliable towards businesses which have catch-all email addresses in place. 

You should also be aware of sending emails to a spam trap

Sometimes an internet service provider (ISP) or email service provider (ESP) will reclaim an abandoned address to catch spammers. If you accidentally send mail to a spam trap, it could harm your sender reputation and deliverability rate.

This is why it’s essential to run frequent email verification checks on your email lists and remove addresses from the list after an extended period of no engagement. 

3. Permissions

Note: This point is more applicable if your business is running an email marketing campaign rather than cold outreach.

Consent is a prerequisite for any legitimate email marketing campaign run through a service like Mailchimp. 

If an email marketer doesn’t have permission to email recipients, the email campaign will likely have a higher bounce rate.

This is generally the case with scraped or purchased email lists where the recipients haven’t consented to be contacted by your company. Additionally, such lists are more likely to contain invalid addresses.

To maximize your email delivery rate, build a legitimate email list with opt-in permissions and proper email verification.

Read our guide on inbox placement to further explore factors that affect your email spam rate.

Now that we’ve covered what affects your email delivery rate, let’s go over what affects inbox placement:

4 Key Factors That Influence Inbox Placement

The four reasons why emails don’t always reach the primary inbox are:

1. Authentication Protocols

You need to undergo a specific email authentication process to prove to an ISP or email provider that you’re trustworthy and you are who you claim to be.

Some of these email authentication protocols include:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
  • Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)

These provide ISPs and ESPs with the information they need to prove that the email sender is allowed to be sending emails on behalf of the sending domain. This helps prevent scams like phishing and spoofing.

Without proper authentication, a spam filter may pick up your emails and harm your overall inbox placement rates.

2. Prospect Engagement

Mailbox providers can filter prospects’ emails into different folders based on engagement, which can, in turn, affect your deliverability.

Providers can base their filtering system on any combination of the following:

  • Recipients’ engagement with your email content in the past.
  • Your domain’s overall engagement rate.
  • Recipients’ prior engagement with content that’s similar to yours.

An algorithm can look for signs of negative engagement, like making spam complaints, deleting emails, or a low open rate.

That’s why you must send engaging email outreach content that gets recipients to open and reply.

3. Sender Reputation

Your sender reputation – or domain reputation – is a score of your trustworthiness as determined by an email service provider.

Note: The domain reputation differs from your IP reputation. The IP reputation is associated with your server. Your domain reputation is more likely to affect inbox placement because it’s more reliable and consistent than your IP reputation.

Many aspects factor into your sender reputation or sender score, including:

  • Your engagement rates
  • Your email volume
  • The number of spam complaints made against you
  • Your track record with spam traps and spam filters
  • Your bounce rates

If your sender score is low, an email provider is less likely to place your emails in the primary inbox, damaging your inbox placement rates. 

A sender score over 90 indicates a strong sender reputation.

4. Content Credibility

The content of your emails is also crucial to your inbox placement rates.

The ideal email content should be relevant, engaging, and personalized. 

To maintain a trustworthy reputation, you should avoid the following:

  • “Spammy” phrasing.
  • Typos.
  • Red hyperlinks (blue is the most trusted color for hyperlinks).
  • Putting the content of your email in one image (a common way spammers try to bypass the spam filter).
  • Incorrect or shortened links.
  • Poor rendering on mobile.
  • Dangerous or invalid code.

Recipients may file a spam complaint if your email content doesn’t appear valuable or trustworthy. This can affect your sender reputation and inbox placement rates.

4 Tips to Improve Your Inbox Placement Rates

Follow this advice to boost your inbox placement:

1. Segment Your Email List

In order to send content that’s highly relevant to each recipient, create targeted segments within your list.

The segments can be based on:

  • Whether the company is an SMB, midmarket, or enterprise company.
  • The trigger that prompted you to add them to your list.
  • The ongoing engagement level of the contact.

This gives recipients the impression that you’ve thoroughly researched them before reaching out. They may then be more inclined to engage or trust you to solve their pain points.

Check out our article on monitoring and boosting inbox placement rates.

2. Send Relevant, Engaging Content

Remember this: just because your email outreach isn’t spam in the eyes of the “law” (the protocols and spam filters) doesn’t mean your recipients will agree. 

Prospects define spam by the content of the emails.

If recipients don’t find your emails relevant to them or engaging, they may ignore them or, worse, file a spam complaint.

Some tips for better content:

  • Stick to short, simple, and “boring” subject lines to stand out from general email marketer content.
  • Break the pattern on preview text by starting with a negative word, a time-sensitive word, or mentioning one of their coworkers. Try this instead of “Hi {{Name}}.”
  • Include hyper-relevant content based on topics they’ve engaged with online.
  • Optimize your problem statement by avoiding jargon, exaggerations, presumptions, and lengthy sentences.
  • Design your CTA to be short, the only question in the email, and avoid requesting meetings.
  • Keep your footer basic, avoiding elaborate HTML, images, unnecessary information or links, taglines, etc.

Some tips for content that encourages prospects to open and reply include:

  • Ask the recipient if they’re the right person to contact for what you’re offering or if you should contact a named coworker.
  • Ask the recipient if their company has similar goals to one you’ve had strong results with before – This also gives you an opportunity to flaunt your past wins.

3. A/B Testing

Don’t be afraid to experiment with elements like:

  • Subject lines
  • Pre-header text
  • Length of text
  • Keywords
  • Link types and quantities
  • CTAs (calls to action)
  • Footer structure
  • Typography (e.g., bolding, font)
  • Structure
  • Placement and quantity of personalization tags

You can A/B test different variations and collect data on which ones brought the best results. Be sure to update every outreach email template you use at least once every 60 days, so it doesn’t get stale.

4. Use Allegrow to Boost Your Sender Reputation

The race to your recipients’ inboxes is a highly competitive one.

There are many strategies to improve your sender reputation and inbox placement rate, but you may not get the results you want with those tips alone.

Fortunately, Allegrow - an inbox placement and email deliverability tool - can help.

Allegrow is a platform that uses a network of real B2B inboxes to interact with your emails in a way that significantly boosts your sender reputation.

Allegrow can:

  • Send daily emails to real B2B inboxes in the Allegrow network to boost deliverability.
  • Have the recipient inboxes interact positively with your emails by opening them, replying, marking them as important, and moving them out of spam. This raises your sender reputation and shows the internet service provider that your content is relevant and engaging.
  • Monitor inbox placement to see how your outreach strategy affects the placement rate.
  • Integrate with multiple mailbox providers, as well as marketing automation and analytics apps.
  • Help you compare health scores and sender reputations of different sales team members.

Some of Allegrows key features include:

  • Crucial inbox insight into spam rates and email sender reputations for different mailboxes in your domain.
  • A/B testing for your email content, with analytics to show which versions performed better.

  • A record of your email sending patterns over time. This is also useful for scaling your email volume without setting off alarm bells.

  • Optimize your email performance in terms of email size, sending patterns, keywords, and more.

Leverage Allegrow To Help With Inbox Placement 

Tracking email delivery without inbox placement puts you at a serious disadvantage.

Email deliverability leaves out a vital puzzle piece – the number of emails landing in a spam or junk folder instead of the main inbox.

Raising your inbox placement rate is crucial to growing engagement and conversions for your cold email outreach campaigns.

And if you want to track and optimize inbox placement, Allegrow can help you do so.

Get started with Allegrow today to take control of your inbox placement.