Email marketing is a blood sport. In the last 20 years, the only thing that’s changed with email is that good email senders continue to get punished more and more by email service providers. While ISPs and ESPs could totally coordinate if they wanted to, they simply don’t. The result is that there’s an adversarial relationship between the two. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block Email Service Providers (ESPs)… and then ESPs are forced to block clients.
It’s not as simple as double opt-in in the industry. Sites like ours work with partners on shared campaigns with vendors and clients. We don’t give them access to our list, but many times we collect email addresses together to execute campaigns on. That’s been a huge headache. Email service providers don’t care about your optin methodology nor your audit trail; they simply assume you’re a spammer.
ESPs like MailChimp have implemented intelligence on email addresses in a system called Omnivore. With Omnivore, Mailchimp sent 50,000 warnings and shut down 45,905 malicious accounts in 2011 alone. They may promote the fact that those accounts were malicious… I’d argue that many of them were simply companies sending to their lists and not using best practices.
According to Jupiter Research, more than 20 percent of email registrations contain typos, syntax, domain and other errors. Doing something as simple as sending to an old list where a specific threshold of email addresses bounces can set off their threshold. That’s not malicious. Not to mention bots out there pushing SPAM trap email addresses through systems every day to try and catch you. The irony, in my opinion, is that I believe it’s easier for a SPAMMER to get email into your inbox than the average company sending a good message.
Email Service Providers aren’t too honest about their deliverability rates, either. Often, they’ll tout a 99% deliverability rating but the small print states that it’s after a few email sends. Well, duh… the first sends capture the invalid email addresses! The average acceptance rate for a Sender Score of 91 or greater is 88%. Having 1% of your list bad can drop your deliverability by over 10%!
Utilization of list hygiene services can improve the percentage of emails that make it to the inbox, reduce your risk of being blocked by the Internet Service Providers, and reduce the risk of getting fired by your Email Service Provider… they’re worth the investment if you’ve got an old list or are collaborating on one. Keep in mind that you’ll simply never reach 100% accuracy on your lists. People change jobs and providers often, abandoning their old email addresses.
By Douglas Karr