Targets and measures
Over the past few years a number of email delivery products have been launched. Many of these products are intended to improve deliverability by improving metrics. The problem is they don’t work the way their purchasers thing.
Take data hygiene services. For the most part, these services take a list of email addresses, do data analysis and magic and then return a “clean” list to the list owner. They’re sold as a way to “improve list quality” but is that what they really do? They certainly reduce the number of bouncing email addresses. Which, in turn can improve reputation. But if a list is actively mailed and properly bounce handled, this does nothing.
The number of non-existent addresses on a list (bouncing addresses) is a way to measure the quality of data. By turning this into a target measurement for senders, we’ve made it much less useful as a metric for list quality. Every list can have a very low bounce rate now, you just need to go to a data hygiene company and they’ll clean off all the addresses that bounce.
What they can’t do is clean off all the non-bouncing addresses that were mistakenly subscribed. What happens is that lists look clean as they have low bounce rates but they may suffer from “mysterious” delivery issues. Mail goes to spam, open rates are kinda low, it’s just not a well performing list. The list owner may engage with their ESP to get help with delivery, but there isn’t much to do because the surface numbers look OK. There’s some half hearted recommendations to try and clean up the list, but because there’s nothing really wrong, the recommendations are not very aggressive. Minor tweaks don’t really lead to major improvements.
Everyone leaves the interaction and the implementation feeling somewhat dissatisfied, the program limps along and no one really knows how to fix it. Sometimes, the limping along is sufficient and revenue is high enough and everyone just accepts the lacklustre performance.
On the other hand, companies that have their data and can see that there are an increasing number of bouncing addresses on their list can use that data to make much more aggressive and effective changes. They aren’t hiding signals, so they have more to work with and can actually address the problem. Their programs that do more than tweak around the edges reap the rewards in a more vibrant and profitable marketing program.