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Troubleshoot your Email Deliverability in MCAE


As B2B marketers using Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (MCAE – formally known as Pardot), it is critical to share information about your brand with potential prospects and existing customers. While new and trendy marketing channels have emerged in recent years, there is one channel that has stood the test of time and isn’t going away anytime soon: email.

But you can’t just stop there. Email marketing can be a tricky thing, and when you don’t have the proper guardrails in place to monitor your email deliverability, you might as well just not do email marketing at all.

In order to help you with this, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way to help boost your email deliverability in MCAE.

What exactly is email deliverability in MCAE?

Before getting into how to troubleshoot your deliverability, I want to define what exactly email deliverability is. Email deliverability refers to the ability of an email to successfully reach the inbox of its intended recipient. This is influenced by several factors, including the content of the email, the sender’s reputation to name a few. In essence, email deliverability is a measure of how successful an email campaign is at delivering emails to the inbox, as opposed to being filtered into spam or junk folders, bounced back, or blocked entirely.

Why should companies monitor their email deliverability?

As mentioned above, the whole point of email marketing is to effectively communicate with potential prospects and existing customers. That helps them along their journey to hopefully bringing in more revenue for your company. But the key is that they have to actually receive the email content. We would be naive to think we can simply press a button and for everything to magically work all the time. This is why email deliverability is so critical.

How can you troubleshoot email deliverability at your company?

Tip #1: Ensure your sending domain is fully authenticated

You likely will do this when initially setting up your MCAE instance, but sometimes you may not have the luxury of being there when everything is first being set up. MCAE takes care of some of the process with emails sent through the platform automatically pass SPF, but don’t just stop there.

Take the time to review your setup in MCAE to ensure your DKIM & DMARC are also validated. You’ll likely need to work with your IT team to ensure these are validated, so be ready for that. This may seem fairly basic, especially if you’re familiar with the concepts, but never assume you’re automatically good to go with something like this. I always advise my clients to check all your bases.

Tip #2: Review the List Emails & Template Reports

Especially if you have no clue on where to start when troubleshooting your email deliverability, this is a great first step and will provide some direction. Take a look back at all your previous sends and highlight the sends that resulted in low deliverability, whether it’s hard bounces or soft bounces. Remember, don’t just look at the number. Consider the total number of sends and translate that into a percentage of the total number of sends.

You may start to see a trend just by doing this, in which case you’re already taking great strides. Maybe it was a specific timeframe or a specific list that was being used. Maybe you still have no idea. Wherever you’re at, make note of these specific emails and move on to the next tip.

Tip #3: Review the send list for emails with poor deliverability

Now that you’ve identified which email sends were running into issues with deliverability, take a closer look at who you were trying to send those emails to. Oftentimes when I have worked with clients who run into an issue like this, it’s likely due to poor list management practices. As a baseline, you should never upload a purchased list into MCAE and batch an email to that list (it goes against their terms of service), regularly validate your database to ensure records are still active (there are a handful of email validation tools out there we like), and utilize a suppression list to exclude unengaged prospects from receiving your emails. Remember, while a big list of prospects might sound attractive on the surface, personalization and pointed content is key to doing email marketing the right way.

Tip #4: Use 3rd Party Tools to Regularly Monitor Deliverability

While there are a handful of solid tools out there, I’ve used Sender Score in the past to help provide an overview of your sender reputation and identify if you’re on any blocklists. Even Salesforce recommends doing this! This is a quick way to regularly assess your deliverability over time and provides insights that MCAE doesn’t provide. The key here is to monitor this on a regular cadence – you can’t simply check it once and leave it be for the rest of time.

In addition to Sender Score, services like Google’s Postmaster Tools and the Yahoo Sender Hub can assist in monitoring your spam complaints over time within those respective platforms. Email testing platforms like Litmus and Email on Acid can review your email content before you send it to ensure all of the formatting looks good in various browsers and has a higher likelihood of landing in the right spot in your prospect’s inbox. As an added bonus, MCAE has Litmus functionality built into the platform itself on certain plan types, so do take advantage of that if you have it.

Tip #5: Write good email content!

While you can have all the mechanisms and processes mentioned above in place, good email deliverability starts with writing informative and educational content. Avoid using “spammy” words like “free”, avoid using interactive content in your emails (like forms), and ensure your image-to text ratio is low (too many images in a no-no). While there are plenty more best practices out there, these are some of the main ones Salesforce has included in their article on MCAE deliverability.

When should a company monitor email deliverability?

The simple answer: all the time! We should never take a reactive approach in marketing operations, and that’s no different when it comes to email deliverability. It can be easy to put email deliverability aside and assume everything will be alright, but that’s when issues tend to arise.

Before you ever get to the point of hitting a spam trap and having to remove yourself from a blocklist, it is critical to monitor your send lists, clean up your database on a regular cadence, and monitor your email delivery performance after each send. As you can see, you’re never off the clock when it comes to deliverability.

Who should monitor email deliverability at your company?

While the whole marketing operations team should have some level of involvement in email marketing, email deliverability monitoring should belong to the campaign operations side of the house. Usually that looks like an Email Marketing Manager or Marketing Automation Manager at a company, but each organization varies with their job titles. Regardless of the role, these individuals should have a proactive mindset, be great problem solvers, and communicate often with other business stakeholders. Each of these skills is crucial for achieving optimal email deliverability for your company.


You’ve likely invested a lot of time and budget in standing up your MCAE instance and building out the marketing strategies you plan to execute. Yet, without excellent email deliverability, you will likely not see the return you expected. So whether you’ve spent years within Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, or you’re logging into the platform for the very first time, start with these five steps to start seeing your deliverability trend in the right direction.

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