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The source of deliverability problems

Most deliverability problems don’t start where many people think they do. So very often people call looking for deliverability help and tell me all about the things they’re doing to reach the inbox. They’ll tell me about content, they’ll tell me about bounces, they’ll talk about complaints, engagement, opens and clicks. Rarely will they bring up their list source without some prompting on my part.
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The reality is, though, that list source is to root of deliverability success and deliverability problems. Where did those addresses come from and what do the people who gave them think you’re going to do with them?
Outsourcing collection to a third party can cause significant issues with delivery. Letting other people collect addresses on your behalf means you lack control over the process. And if you’re paying per address, then there monetary incentive for that company to pad the list with bogus addresses.
Sometimes there are even issues with having your own employees collect addresses from customers. For instance, a retailer requires sales associates collect a minimum percentage of addresses from customers. The company even ties the associates’ evaluations to that percentage. Associates have an incentive to submit addresses from other customers. Or a retailer will offer a discount for an address and customers want the discount but not the mail, so they give a fake address.
All of these things can affect deliverability.
Address collection is the key to delivery, but too many companies just don’t put enough attention to how they’re collecting addresses and entering into the relationship with subscribers. This is OK for a while, and delivery of small lists collected like this can be great. But as lists grow in size, they come under greater scrutiny at the ISPs and what used to work doesn’t anymore.
The first step to diagnosing any delivery problem is to look at the list. All of the things ISP use to measure reputation measure how well you’re collecting addresses. Changing IPs or domains or content doesn’t change the reason mail is being filtered. It just means the filters have to figure out something new to key on.
Want great deliverability? Start with how you’re collecting addresses.
Want to fix deliverability? Start with how you’ve collected addresses, how you’ve stored them and how you’ve maintained them.
 

2 comments

  1. Email Deliverability White Paper | emailexpert says

    […] the premise of the White Paper.  The Deliverability White Paper and Lauras post address the same core question, so similar ground is covered albeit much more succinctly by Laura, it re-enforces the arguments […]

  2. Andrew Bonar says

    Well Said, much more succinctly than I managed!
    We published on the same subject at the same time more or less from what I can see, spooky. In any case I covered the same subject but as a full White Paper. Considering the relevance of your post and its timeliness, I have linked to you here from the download page.

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