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Storms, outages and email

There’s been quite a bit of discussion about how Hurricane (Superstorm?) Sandy has affected email delivery over the last week. There are a couple things that may affect delivery at a number of domains.

Receiving mailservers hosted in facilities that lost power or connectivity for one reason or another. Most of these issues seem to be resolved now, although a number of places are still on generator power. There are also a number of facilities where employees and customers went above and beyond the call of duty to keep those facilities running. Peer1 got a lot of press for their bucket brigade, but they’re not the only company that kept running despite power outages, flooding and horrible conditions.

Routing hardware went down in a number of places. Again, mostly because of the power outages. Router failures can mean that some mail can’t get from A to B, even if both A and B are up and functioning. As with the servers, these problems seem mostly under control.

Recipients don’t have power or internet at home. In fact, I think this is one of the bigger marketing challenges. Recipients can’t get their mail because they don’t have power or internet. This is probably going to have a bit of a longer term affect on email. Even when folks get their email back, the latest sale email from their favorite vendor isn’t necessarily going to be what they are looking for in their inbox. Even if they are looking for that sale email, they’re going to have a mailbox with days worth of email to sort through.

None of this is a long term problem. It’s mostly temporary. But marketers can expect lower open and click rates during the storm cleanup and restoration phase.

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