Being Patient (and Self-Sufficient) in Today’s Email World

I know, sort of a silly title and sounds like a therapy email session in the works, but I thought I might use this week’s piece to talk a bit about how we all need to have a little patience with email and those who power it.

These past few weeks I’ve being hearing a lot of frustration with a few webmail providers that shall remain nameless for now. The frustration seems to be related to unknown reasons why email is being bulked and/or why that webmail provider won’t answer inquiring minds that want to know about the final disposition of their client’s email.

Most of us have been spoiled by the fact that some of these webmail providers have or had great abuse@ staff who answered every question that came through email or phone calls, but unfortunately many have not been able to retain those individuals for various reasons. The individuals at these webmail providers have always been forthcoming with many of us on why email was being junked or in many cases blocked, but because they are no longer there this leaves some of you and your ESPs in a bind since we can no longer know what is going on with our email.

To make matters even more interesting some of these webmail providers are having “interesting” financial times in which they are not making big efforts to invest into their email platforms and/or staff. Some have even decided that email is not the big money maker for them they initially envisioned and are going full throttle into the online advertising verticals again reducing the support for their email products.

Most of what I am hearing from people about not getting the past support is frustration in the form of statements like “What are these guys doing?” or “Why aren’t they listening to me?” or even better “They have to deliver this email because someone asked for it!” In all honesty many of these statements upset me because it seems that many of them really don’t know much about our user bases and customers’ user bases. It sometimes seems that many of us have either gotten lazy in looking at our email metrics and/or are not holding ourselves to the strictest of email standards.

The question I ask of you is this, “Do you really need a contact at an email provider to ensure your email is delivered?” I understand the fact that at times some technology changes can be impactful to our email even if unintentional at times when incorrectly implemented, but most of the questions I hear today seem to be related to deliverability issues. I’m talking about those issues where list management or non-relevancy is to blame. My point is this…we don’t always need someone to tell us what is wrong with our mailings when we already know the answer or have the data staring right at us. I’ve said it once and I will say it again: marketing is difficult and requires a bit of blood, sweat, and tears. If it was easy, we’d all be rich. To further that point, I would say that email in particular is difficult on purpose. Think about it for a second. As a marketer, you are given the ability to send vast amounts of targeted advertisements to a seemingly unlimited number of people within minutes. The ease at which this benefit is afforded and the relatively low associated cost is often lost on those who have not had to suffer through the old days of wide swath regional “targeting” advertising methods such as print, TV, and radio. If you must take additional time to prune your lists, grow your list organically, and yes, investigate your metrics to sort out a deliverability problem, then it is not the end of the world. It is the new cost of doing business online. In the eyes of a mostly automated receiving network, it is what separates you, the legitimate marketer, from actual spammers.

Folks, today we are afforded so much more with technology and services to give us gobs of data to understand what worked and what didn’t. Taking the time to adapt and use this technology and data can help you become more self-sufficient if you’re willing to do the work. If your ESP and/or internal email solution cannot give you a clearer picture than you had just five years ago, it’s time for a change. You don’t need a contact at an ISP to tell you what you already should know. The mantra of sending relevant and opted-in email hasn’t changed for years.

Mike May, head of insights at Real Magnet, said it best, “Relevance is the most valued currency in modern email marketing and your messages stand a much better chance of being opened, read, and clicked if you write them with some understanding of who your subscribers are.”

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