Technologies for Email Deliverability

Spencerkollas As a follow-up to my post about the importance of reputation in email marketing, I interviewed Spencer Kollas, director of delivery services at StrongMail, about the latest technology solutions to manage reputation and optimize deliverability. (Disclosure: Marketo uses StrongMail technology, and the techniques described below, to optimize our email services for deliverability.)

Where do most marketing automation and CRM solutions fail when it comes to deliverability?

In this situation, there are two components to deliverability. The first responsibility is on the solution provider for providing the right tools for engaging in email best practices. The second is on the end-user for following through with them. Having the ability to automatically throttle email based on ISP requirements is one core technology feature that facilitates deliverability, as is support for email authentication, smart bounce management and real-time reporting to address any challenges as they arise. Without these capabilities, the end-users of these solutions are unable to keep their lists clean or manage their email sending speed — both of which can get them blocked by ISPs. With email sender reputation being the most critical factor affecting deliverability, marketing automation and CRM solutions need to empower their end-users with the capabilities mentioned above — and not all of them do.

Can you explain the role of emerging authentication protocols such as DomainKeys (aka DKIM: DomainKeys Identified Mail), SPF, and Sender-ID?

These help to authenticate your messages with ISPs, letting them know your emails come from you and are not phishing or spoofing attempts. This can in turn improve deliverability since various ISPs use them as ways to filter mail coming into their systems. Many of the larger ISPs use one or multiple authentication methods to help their systems build a reputation for each sender. StrongMail continues to be at the forefront of these technologies, because we support all the key technologies, as well as understand and believe in the important role that they play.

Why is proper bounce handling important, and how does StrongMail technology automate the process?

Proper bounce management is critical for enabling good email practices and increased deliverability. Unless a marketer knows why their emails are bouncing and why, they can’t effectively keep their lists clean, address deliverability issues as they arise, and promptly process unsubscribes. StrongMail has the most sophisticated bounce management technology in the industry, providing granular visibility into delivery rates. StrongMail’s Smart Bounce Management technology automatically captures both synchronous and asynchronous bounces, processes unsubscribes, applies hundreds of rules to normalize data across thousands of ISPs, presents the consolidated information into logical categories, and offers tips for correcting the issue that caused the bounce in the first place. (Note: Marketo uses this information to automatically process bounces for customers.)

What other list scrubbing techniques are important?

In addition to maintaining proper bounce processing, you should also sign up for all available feedback loops to help ensure that your list is as clean as possible, and that you’re only sending email to those clients that wish to receive your messages. And remember that list scrubbing should go beyond removing distribution accounts (e.g. [email protected] and [email protected]) and inactive and duplicate addresses — you should also be running your list against a list of known bad domains and role accounts.

For more email marketing best practices, download the joint Marketo-StrongMail whitepaper, 20 Quick Tips for Improving Your Email Programs.