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Deliverability Summit 2011 Wrap: ISPs, Compliance, Education

By

Director of Email Product

Last week, a group of leaders in the Email Service Provider/Email Services space met to discuss email deliverability. With our intents unified on making our products and services more robust, customers happier and everyone’s lives a little easier, we ventured through discussions about trends we’re seeing with high volume sending, problematic areas and how to better manage growing customer bases with unique needs.

Here’s an overview of a couple of the subjects that seemed to be at the forefront of conversations during the first Deliverability Summit we hosted here at our main Manchester office.

Dyn Deliverability Summit

Overworked ISPs

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the most difficult job of us all as they need to deal with millions of incoming and outgoing messages an hour while trying to decipher what their users would like to read and what they would prefer to be placed in a bulk or spam folder.

This task is no small feat and creates a whirlwind of content, reputation and behavioral filters that responsible high-volume email conduits like Dyn and others that attended are left trying to understand and comply with.

At large ISPs, the decision about what will go to the inbox versus the bulk or spam folder mostly lies in the hands of the recipient, and as those responsible for the proper delivery of that mail, we must respect that. With this in mind, the discussion quickly moved toward how we can better supply our customers with the right tools, education and metrics to become pristine email citizens. Sending email that your recipients want to engage with is the key!

Focus on Email Compliance

We refer to ourselves as ‘deliverability experts’ and even called the meeting a Deliverability Summit, but the truth is our desires and discussions all boiled down to compliance with best practices and respecting the recipient. Our solutions don’t include mystical IP addresses or Magical Transfer Agents (MTAs), but our benefits are a super robust infrastructure, reliable metrics and a lot of knowledge.

Our goal is to share these items with our customers and insure they have the tools and features they need to follow these best practices. This is the only path towards better deliverability and can lead towards smoother email operations and even higher profits for those companies that do it right.

Email Fatigue

This is a common pitfall of many higher volume senders and is where increased volume of deployments can burn out relationships between a company and their end recipients, resulting in deliverability issues with ISPs from exceedingly high sending volumes or the wrong sending cadence. List segregation, email preference centers and the constant monitoring of user engagement is critical towards not burning out those relationships and maximizing revenues. Thinking about the life cycle of the end recipient is important towards understanding the sending cadence that may be a match for them. The email cadence and list segregation techniques should be different for daily deal websites than bank loan offers.

Determining Senders Desires

We spend a significant amount of time educating and removing poor senders from our systems. They lower the reputation of our shared IP pools and consume our time and energy, but as a group we felt that their actions may not be due to any poor intent. There’s no educational course, so how does someone learn the proper techniques involved with being a responsible sender (which ultimately makes them the most profitable as well)?

After this, there’s only one question left; how can we identify those that want to learn versus those that don’t? We currently use surveys and interaction with our customers as we’re on-boarding them, but how can we do this in a scalable way for the mass of lower volume senders? These lower volume senders are ambitious and usually grow into higher volume responsible senders.

Other General Topics

  • Communicating with our customers – As you can probably tell, we are passionate about what we do. We want to focus that passion into better communication with our customers, understanding their needs and sharing ideas and concepts on improving email deliverability.
  • How are emails being integrated into social media? – Facebook and others are beginning to integrate email into their applications every day. How will these trends continue to evolve the marketplace?
  • How will our practices differ with paid versus free trials? - Trials are a good place to learn about customers and help those who will be growing quickly. How do you do this in a way where you can monitor these customers to provide the best feedback for them and yourselves?
  • What effect have people seen from using reconfirmation email techniques? – The reconfirmation email is a useful tool for taking older lists, or a changing brand, and gaining re-acceptance in sending to them. While this may drastically lower your list size, you’ll be sure you’re only getting users that want to be reading your emails to confirm, lowering your sending costs and providing a very specific market segment that wants to receive your offers.
  • Disaster Recovery - This concept is about infrastructure as ESPs continue to think about how to ensure we’re prepared to continue sending emails and providing our services no matter what disasters (think weather-related, natural disasters) may come our way.

While this just gives a taste of what the discussion covered during this first Deliverability Summit, we all hope it provides a sound foundation to continue meeting and improving ourselves in the future. To SendGrid, Constant Contact, Sitecore, Mill33, Message Systems, e-Dialog, SMTP.com, HubSpot and our people from Dyn, thank you for your insight and helping kick off what should be an annual event.

Mike Veilleux is the Director of Email Product for Dyn, a cloud-based Internet Performance company that helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Follow Mike on Twitter: @MikeVeilleux and @Dyn.