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Does mail volume contribute to blocking?

There are two extreme opinions I see among marketing agencies and email senders when it comes to volume.

One group seems to think that volume alone triggers blocks. Another group thinks volume never affects delivery.

As with many things in delivery reality is at neither extreme.

Sending lots of mail isn’t the problem. Sending lots of mail your recipients aren’t interested in getting is the problem. Last year during the US political elections the Obama campaign, for instance, sent lots and lots of mails. Their list was an order of magnitude larger than the Romney campaign and there were days they were sending 10s of mails per subscriber. It was a deluge. But they were smart, and they did a lot of data mining and they did it in a way that got recipients to act on the mail. That mail was a deluge, but it was a wanted deluge by most of the receivers.

For a lot of vendors, too, increasing volume does increase response and revenue and all the things you want to drive with email marketing. But there will be people who don’t like the increase in volume. If they’re not valuable customers, no great loss. If they are valuable customers, then the increase in volume may drive a decrease in revenue.

In terms of inbox delivery, it’s not the volume it’s how wanted the mail is. Send wanted, interesting and engaging mail, you can send dozens of times a day.

No, volume alone doesn’t contribute to delivery problems.

7 comments

  1. Chris says

    Quality matters so much more than volume. Sending high quality messaging, to well engaged users, that you know well, is the holy grail of not getting blocked these days.

    Volume is perceived as an issue as it exacerbates all the issues surrounding poor recipient acquisition and that it goes hand-in-hand with all the fuss (& fud & myths) around “warming up”.

  2. laura says

    Warming up isn’t really a myth (although there is a lot of confusion about what it means). Even the best senders can’t move IPs without some delivery problems (mostly rate limiting at the recipient MX) during the early sends.

    But… that’s a good thing to blog about.

  3. CJ Rivas says

    Volume most certainly matters! Just about every single mail server limits the number of simultaneous SMTP connections that can be made from one IP address, and some go further with similar limiting.

    Laura correctly notes that the best sendres can’t move IPs without some delivery problems during the early sends, but her analysis falls well short by makng it sound as though after a MTA has been running for a while, has good authentication strategies in place, etc, it can send mail to any domain at an unlimitedf rate. This is simply not true.

    Nearly all ISPs and Email Service Providers limit the maximum number of simultaneous SMTP connections that an IP adedress can make to their server.

    Let’s check gmail:
    https://support.google.com/mail/answer/97150?hl=en
    Gmail currently has a limit of 15 simultaneous IMAP connections per account.

    Now Yahoo!
    http://help.yahoo.com/us_yahoo_mail_postmaster_basic_postmaster-38.html
    “Yahoo Mail accepts a maximum of 20 messages per SMTP connection. We encourage you to cap the number of messages you send to Yahoo Mail to fall within this per-connection limit.”
    They provide clear evidence of the relationship between mail volume and delivery barriers (blocking):
    “You may open concurrent connections from the same server to facilitate efficient transmission of your messages. However, while we do not publish specific guidelines for the numbers of connections you can concurrently use, we ask that you treat our resources with respect. The more you take, the fewer there are for others, which may force us to de-prioritize connections from your server(s).”

    There are many more examples, but that’s all I have time for now. Bad fluff article that egregiously misresepresents the facts

  4. aliverson says

    CJ, these are “good neighbor” limits, not reputational-related limits. Volume is part of the reputation equation, sure, but mostly only in that it’s a necessary denominator used to help calculate the primary metrics– things like complaints, bounce rates, engagement rates.

    I’m from the hyperbole police, and I’m here to repossess your weird “egregiously misrepresents the facts” statement — even when trying to account for the fact that English probably isn’t your first language, you’re making absolutely zero sense.

    Connection limits aren’t a primary governor based on reputation, they’re a measure of how wide the road is.

    The only other times I see somebody going on and on about how it’s really just a matter of limiting connections appropriately so you can send as much as you want, it’s eastern european spammers trying to figure out how much crap they can shovel at Yahoo from Romania. Maybe that’s how it works when you’re sending spam, but it’s not the same game when sending legitimate mail.

  5. Anton says

    Al, while you are, of course, correct about the deliverability aspects of Mr Rivas’ unjust tirade, as a member of the Hyperbole Police Complaints Commission, I’m going to have to revoke your privileges on this one. To “egregiously misrepresent the facts” is perfectly understandable English (for a native speaker of UK English), and I suspect Mr Rivas is indeed a native speaker, albeit one with a buggy spell-checker.

    Attack the message not the messenger.

  6. Al Iverson says

    Heh, I’m guilty myself here of not being entirely clear. That phrase in particular didn’t strike me as being representative of a non-English speaker; the overall message did.

  7. Tam says

    Most important is that the lists are clean and verified which is what will affect the deliverability

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