One of the things I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about lately is how we measure deliverability. Standard deliverability measurements include: opens, bounces, complaints, and clicks. There are also other tools like probe accounts, panel data, and public blocklists. Taken together these measurements and metrics give us an overall view of how our mail is doing.

A globe with the words innovation, creativity, inspiration and idea written on it.

More and more, though, I see senders meeting all the standard metrics for these measurements, yet still struggling with deliverability. In many ways this isn’t surprising. There are a whole host of tools out there that allow senders to manipulate the underlying metrics without changing their underlying practices. To complicate matters even more, there are tools that manipulate open and click rates by following every link in an email. Finally, we know that some ISPs don’t send 100% of the “this is spam” messages to their FBL. Other metrics, like probe accounts, are inaccurate in an era of personalised delivery based on activity.

All in all, these metrics were built to tell us things about a mail system that no longer exists. Our next challenge is to figure out what metrics to use in the future. How do we monitor the effectiveness of our address collection processes and our deliverability?

One thing I’ve started having customers look at, especially my ESP clients, is how the consumer ISPs are accepting their mail. Are they seeing temp failures and if they are, what specific mailstreams are the temp failures related to? It’s a little early to tell if this is an effective measurement for ESP compliance purposes. It’s definitely helping identify problematic mail streams for my brand clients and allowing us to make adjustments to get to the inbox.

What I do know is that we in the deliverability space need to continue innovating and thinking about how to measure our deliverability. Mail filters are evolving, and we must evolve as well.

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  • Great points Laura
    The challenge especially when it comes to ESP’s is their tendency to put the blame for all deliverabilty at the clients door. Opens, bounces, complaints, and clicks are very convenient because they are all things that are the clients “fault”. Until they start (with your help or without) to go beyond the knee jerk and start to learn about what is actually happening this will continue to happen

  • I know that I am having trouble sending valid messages to my self-created groups of people I know personally or otherwise have agreed to be on the list. As a grassroots person with zero budget, it is a problem for me.
    There are a couple of domains that I have a particularly hard time getting to—some time ago I was able to have a some domains whitelist my e-mail provider, but recently the issue has cropped up again elsewhere. Beyond frustrating.

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