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Details matter

I field a lot of delivery questions on various online fora. Often people try and anonymise what they’re asking about by abstracting out the question. The problem is that there are very few answers we can give in the abstract.

Outline of a head with a gear inside it.

What are some examples of these types of questions?

  • Should you always remove an address that hard bounces? Well, in general, yes. But there are a small number of cases where the hard bounce is a mistake on the part of the receiver and you shouldn’t remove that address.
  • Should you send email to recipients who haven’t engaged in 3 years. Well, in general, no. But I’ve seen and managed campaigns to recipients much older than that. What are you really trying to do?
  • If we limit our sending to people who’ve opted in to email, we’ll solve our spamtrap problem, right? Well, first, why do you think you have a spamtrap problem? If you’re Spamhaus listed, there’s a lot more you need to do. If you’re seeing one or two traps at the commercial sensor networks, then what’s your overall deliverability look like?
  • Why would our mail suddenly start to go to bulk? Overall, it wouldn’t. What did you change? Did your website get compromised? Have you linked to a new image server? Did you publish a DMARC record? Did you mention a domain with a bad reputation?
  • If we change the from address of our mail will it affect our deliverability? It can, but what from domain you’re talking about, what you’re changing it from and what you’re changing it to all matter before anyone can actually answer the question.

Deliverability is not a science. There are no hard and fast rules. Even the rules I wish were true, like only send opt-in mail, aren’t really hard and fast. A lot of folks get decent delivery using purchased or otherwise non-opt-in lists. I don’t like it, but I acknowledge it.

In order to get good deliverability advice for a situation the full situation needs to be described. History, specifics, IPs, and domains all matter. Where your email addresses came from and how you’ve maintained your database matters. It all matters. Abstracting out a question just means you get an abstract and generic answer, and that doesn’t help anyone.

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