It’s quite common for “email delivery” and “deliverability” to be used interchangeably, and more often than not you’ll understand the meaning from context. There are instances however when using one term over the other may not bear the intended sense, and cause quite some confusion. Hence why we differentiate between these closely related terms.
Email delivery deals with the communication between email servers, aka Mail Transfer Agents. In other words whether or not an email will ever reach and be accepted by the mail server responsible for the target (recipient) email address.
Email deliverability (also referred to as ‘inbox placement’) goes beyond that, and tackles the fundamentally different problem of where the email actually ends up after it has been accepted for delivery (i.e. the inbox, the spam folder, ‘a special place’, or somewhere else).
As we see from the definition above, both aspects are fundamentally different but also both crucial to successful sending. In other words – we can devise all the elaborate sending strategies we want, but if we can’t get our emails accepted in the first place, they won’t matter that much.
Similarly, getting our email initially accepted by another server won’t matter much if it then gets delayed, dumped, or concealed – we also need to comply with the additional policies and processing which follow delivery sufficiently well to land our mail in the inbox, where it can reach a human being, and serve its intended purpose.