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Recipients are the secret to good delivery

Many, many people hire me to educate them on delivery and fix their email problems. This is good, it’s what I do. And I’m quite good at helping clients see where their email program isn’t meeting expectations. I can translate tech speak into marketing. I can explain things in a way that shifts a client’s perception of what the underlying issues are. I can help them find their own way into the inbox.
But…
Most of what I do is simply think about email delivery from the point of view of a recipient and help clients better meet their recipient’s expectations. This works. This works really well. If you send mail that your recipients want your mail gets to the inbox.
Here’s the secret: ISPs and most spam filters have a design goal to deliver mail their users want. They only want to block mail their users don’t want.
Filters are not designed to block wanted mail.
Sure there are complicated situations where senders have gotten behind the 8 ball and need some help cleaning up. There are situations where filters screw up and block mail they shouldn’t (and aren’t quite designed to). Spam filters are complicated bits of code and sometimes they do things unexpectedly. All of these things do happen.
But these situations happen a lot less than most senders think. Most of the time when mail is hitting the bulk folder, or is throttled at the MTA the issue is that recipients don’t care about the mail.
Recipients aren’t engaged with a particular sender or particular brand. So ISPs react accordingly and that mail ends up slowly delivered or bulked. This upsets the senders to no end, but the recipients? The recipients often don’t care that some mail shows up in bulk or arrives Wednesday afternoon instead of Tuesday evening.
When recipients are engaged with a particular sender or brand, though? Delivery is fast and reliable. Mail is rarely delayed or bulked. When recipients want mail, they interact with it. They look in the bulk folder. They miss it when it’s not there. They complain to the ISPs when they don’t get it. The ISPs react accordingly and prioritize or “red carpet” that email.
The secret to really good delivery is to get your recipients to handle your ISP relations for you. Send mail they miss when they don’t get it, and you’ll discover most of your delivery problems go away.
 
 

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