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When will my email be delivered to the inbox after sending?

Samantha Orr

When will my email be delivered to the inbox after sending?It’s common to think that once you hit ‘send’ on an email, the email will be received immediately by the receiver. In an ideal world we believe this should be the case!

In general, if you are a good email sender, your emails will reach the inbox fairly immediately after sending. However, sometimes your emails will be delivered late or not at all. There are a couple reasons for this which we will review.

First – Let’s talk about the Internet Service Provider (ISP).

ISPs are the various mailbox providers around the world. Some are free (Gmail, Yahoo …), and some are paid for (Comcast, Verizon …). ISPs are actually responsible for delivering emails whether those emails are sent from a personal account or from an Email Service Provider (ESP) like WordFly. For example, if an email is sent from WordFly it is the responsibility of Gmail or Comcast to deliver that email to the subscriber’s inbox.

The ISP has no posted guarantee of email delivery to their inboxes. There are suggested guidelines for senders and all email marketers should follow posted guides (more details on guidelines in this post…how to stay out of the spam folder?), but there is absolutely no money-back guarantee that the email will be delivered or that the email will land in the inbox.

However, the ISP is required to follow certain RFCs (Requests for Comments) that have become official protocol for internet procedures. Specifically in RFC 5321/2 the ISP is required to deliver the email as soon as it is received or send back a bounce message to the sender. Even so, ISPs have developed loopholes to avoid delivery. One loophole is sender reputation (which we’ll go into more detail in the next section). Another common reason for mail being delayed or dropped is due to problems on the ISP side such as a server issue or attacks from senders.

Second – Let’s talk about your sender reputation.

Every email sender has an email reputation. Return Path developed what’s called the ‘Sender Score’ which is a primary way ISPs review email reputation. Marketers with high scores generally have great deliverability. Scores of 80 or less fair less well and often encounter higher bounce responses from the ISP or encountering undelivered emails. Think of it this way: The ISP is protecting the inboxes of their inbox users by reviewing reputation, it’s in their best interest to ensure only legitimate/wanted email reaches the inbox and that unwanted/spam email fails to reach the inbox.

Want to learn more?
Check out our support post to learn more about having a great reputation and helping your emails reach the inbox.