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Slay your email deliverability goals in 2021: 4 trends to watch out for!
Written by
Tejas Pitkar
Tejas Pitkar

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Slay your email deliverability goals in 2021: 4 trends to watch out for!

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Industry experts predict email deliverability trends that will impact your email program in 2021. Will you easily reach the inbox this year? Find out…

2020 was a disruptive year and a lot of us are glad that it’s behind us now. Last year, there was a lot of uncertainty looming in every part of our life. Seat belts fastened or not, we all participated in the rollercoaster ride. Email marketing, just like everything else, went through a rapid period of evolution. In a world where everyone is spending more time at home, many companies have had to pivot their strategies, shifting to digital touchpoints to access their customer’s demands. Email, one of the highest returns low-risk digital channels, has become hot again!

Email continues to play the role of sparking new conversations with your customers and nurturing new and existing relationships.  Ensuring that your emails reach the inbox is going to be crucial in 2021. Our email benchmark report: A study of 50 billion emails showed that global deliverability had improved this past year

Competition is tough in the online market and you have to constantly  stay ahead of the curve. Therefore, you need to stay on top of email deliverability trends, starting now. We decided to approach experts to see what they thought of the key trends shaping deliverability this year.

In this blog, 4 of the brightest email deliverability experts provide their predictions for 2021. 

A rise in brand visibility and security

Your inbox has become a crowded place with brands jostling with each other to get consumer attention. There is an emergence of new tools to get more visibility inside the inbox. Ideally, your customers should get excited every time they see your email. You may prefer to adopt new email standards like BIMI which spread brand awareness and boost engagement with your customers. Today, it’s already a hot topic among marketing folks to get any brand a spotlight inside the inbox. Additionally,  as Lauren Meyer, VP at Kickbox explains, BIMI will also build trust with your audience and mailbox providers alike to boost your deliverability.   

Lauren Meyer, VP of Industry Relations & Compliance – Kickbox.

LinkedIn, Twitter

BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) is an emerging email specification unlocking the potential for email senders to stand out against the competition by displaying brand-controlled logos right next to their emails within recipient inboxes, while simultaneously increasing their brand’s protection against phishing and other fraudulent email activities. 

Agari reports that nearly 5,300 companies had adopted BIMI by June 2020: a 3.8x increase since the start of April, even though the only mailbox provider supporting it publicly at the time was Yahoo. 

Google announced the start of a pilot program in July 2020, and other MBPs have announced intentions to adopt shortly as well, so my prediction is that we’ll see accelerated adoption of BIMI in 2021. 

While not all predictions come to fruition, email marketers would do well to follow this one. Simply going through the process to seeing your desired brand logo show up within subscriber inboxes (among other places) is one that can build trust with your email audience and mailbox providers alike. This will strengthen your sender reputation, helping you avoid deliverability issues and keeping your emails flowing into the inboxes of your recipients. 

Ready for recipients to start seeing your logo in their inboxes? Check out my recent interview with Matthew Vernhout, Communications Chair for the AuthIndicators Working Group championing BIMI, and then take advantage of Netcore’s grademyemail tool, which painlessly guides you through the process of implementing BIMI.

Reducing the carbon footprint to get inbox friendly

There has always been a debate amongst email experts on whether or not you should engage with inactive users. Over the past few years, mailbox providers have tightened the noose on delivery to non-engaged users. They need to provide a positive experience to their users and therefore,  messages sent to a non-engaged customer start landing in the spam box, after a while.
Our email benchmark report confirmed this theory when the data showed that inbox delivery increased for the companies when they segmented their audience and targeted relevant content to active users.
Benjamin Billon of Splio explains that in 2021, senders will try to engage more with their active customers to increase deliverability with mailbox providers and get more environment-friendly.   

Benjamin Billon, Compliance and Deliverability DirectorSplio


My email-related prediction for 2021 is that carbon footprint will be increasingly taken into consideration by both senders and MailBox Providers.

MBPs are going to tighten even more on the non-engaged users. They already started in 2020, both global MBPs, like Gmail announcing they will delete old data on inactive accounts (a few years ago, they would have just extended the storage capacity) and changing its way to calculate the spam complaint rate (excluding inactive mailboxes from the divider) or local ones, at least in Europe where several MBPs disabled, archived and deleted a bunch of inactive accounts. Of course, storage costs money and this is one of the reasons, but another is that digital storage also increases the carbon footprint. Therefore, the useless use of bandwidth and storage is in the MBP’s crosshairs.

Senders will target more effectively and exclude inactive* recipients more and more, both to follow the MBPs will and maintain good deliverability, but also to reduce their carbon footprint. They will also try to optimize the content to send lighter emails, but as AMP for Email is becoming increasingly popular, it would only make emails heavier with an additional MIME part.

Hopefully, ESPs will be able to assist their customers in the process.

 *Note that the notion of inactivity is different for MBPs and senders, with also various degrees of reliability

Better privacy will lead to better deliverability

There have been several data privacy laws enacted in the last decade like GDPR(General Data Protection Regulation), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), CASL (Canadian Anti-spam law) which have regulated the consent practices and the way marketers store consumer data. Now, it’s become imperative to know the data privacy laws in the countries where your emails are delivered. If you have the right permission marketing practices and follow the jurisdictions, you will stay on the right side of the regulators. The way you collect your email data will have a bearing on your inbox delivery. As Matthew Vernhout, our VP of Deliverability puts it, privacy and consumer rights will drive how companies approach their customers. 

Matthew Vernhout, VP – Deliverability for North America – Netcore Solutions.

Linkedin, Twitter

I will probably sound like a broken record here, but we will continue to see privacy and consumer rights drive how brands market to consumers. 

With the fall of the safe harbor, the rise of the California Consumer Protection Act, and the California Privacy Rights Act coming in 2023 in California. 2021 may be the year that the United States government also adopts a federal standard for privacy to strengthen ties with the European Union and work towards a global standard on privacy.

With laws ready to cross the line in Singapore and India, and new laws in the early stages of development in Canada, the forward evolution of data privacy will be top of mind for many marketing teams this year and will likely continue for the next several years afterward.

How does this all tie back to deliverability you ask? With better privacy practices and consent management, better deliverability is a natural side effect. Looking back several years to the implementation of Canada’s Anti-Spam Laws in 2014. The adoption of affirmative and informed consent practices, tied to better data management lead to improved deliverability, lower bounce and complaints, and better conversion across all marketing verticals.

Use AI/ML technologies to boost your deliverability rates

Call it the rise of the machines. AI technologies have always been talked about in terms of the range of benefits they could bring to email. However,  as such for the last few years, no one was pushing the envelope in terms of actual email metrics it could improve upon using AI.
Our email benchmark report showed that the use of AI/ML features in our delivery platforms was able to boost inbox placement up to 30% for our brands. That brought about a seismic shift in customer engagement. In 2021, the sender can use AI to send ‘more intelligent email’ rather than ‘more email’. AI can recommend you to send the right message at the right time with the right delivery rate to the right customer. Mike Hillyer, Founder of Email Ninjas, predicts that doing so will naturally boost your inboxing in 2021. 

Mike Hillyer, Founder – Email Ninjas.


This will be the year that we see AI leveraged not just for offers, but to truly optimize deliverability. There’s a wealth of engagement data out there and smart senders are looking for more than just the standard trend data, they want actual insights into problem areas and alerts when trouble is brewing, not just that it has arrived. The sender that can use data science to change who gets what messaging and how often will find a quicker path to the inbox.

Final thoughts

This past year has proven that change is the only constant. The uncertain nature of this world crisis will continue throughout 2021. Armed with the above trends, we hope that you can optimize your email programs and get your emails inboxed. 
These insightful expert opinions clearly show an adherence to best practices to achieve superior inbox deliverability in 2021. In addition to these, we expect the senders to adopt deeper levels of personalization and segmentation. Data analytics and consumer preference are set to become centre stage while making email strategy decisions.
As the inbox of your customer gets overcrowded, you should use the above practices to send positive trust signals to mailbox providers to allow your emails in the inbox regularly.

Go, get your emails in the inbox!


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