Finding the Missing E-Mail

Marketers using permission-based email marketing (contrary to popular belief, there are many) face a multitude of challenges. They’re up against countless configurations of hundreds of spam filters, which businesses and individuals have installed in droves. How can they determine just how many of their messages get to their final destinations.

The labor isn’t in tracking the number of messages delivered and opened. With a little programming know-how, even the smallest interactive agency can measure factors such as bounce and open rates. It’s deducing what happened to the remainder of the messages, those the bounce figure doesn’t include, that gets tricky. Did they end up in a bulk or spam folder? Were they quarantined or queued for deletion? Were they redirected to a bulk box by the ISP or by the user at a later stage? Did they result in the sender landing on a dreaded blacklist?

Deliverability is a primary concern for e-marketers. Legitimate email is often mistaken for spam, and spam filters make tracking messages very difficult. According to Pivotal Veracity, an email delivery and management company founded last year, over 26 percent of email sent by permission marketers suffers the awful fate of becoming “missing mail.”

To help marketers overcome this costly impediment, the company provides the tools and knowledge necessary to run superior email campaigns. This includes supplying valuable information marketers may not be getting from their email service provider.

Pivotal Veracity launched its suite of e-marketing tools in April. It features Content Scorer, a system that allows marketers to check email copy, infrastructure (design, background color, and so on), and methodology (including sending name) against spam filters and ISP blacklists to ensure compliance and implement improvements. It also includes the eDelivery Tracker tool to measure deliverability, report on delivery rates, and track where messages actually wind up (the tool was recently expanded to cater to business-to-business marketers, too). The pvIQ Enterprise Platform is the third tool in the suite. It’s an all-encompassing solution designed to “optimize delivery” via features such as access to advanced analytics and a centralized reporting system.

Pivotal Veracity partners with e-marketing firms such as BlueHornet to deliver these solutions to marketers. BlueHornet was one of the first email companies to endorse the Pivotal Veracity products last year, according to BlueHornet CEO Tim Marusich. Pivotal Veracity’s objective was “exciting” to his firm because, prior to the suite’s introduction, most email companies measured deliverability based solely on SMTP reports. E-mail was deemed “delivered” even if it landed in a spam folder. No distinction between “inbox” and “spam trap” was made.

“The Pivotal Veracity system not only gives companies more information on where their emails are going, but also lets them know if there’s a problem [that could impede successful deliverability”,” said Marusich.

E-mail deliverability rules seem to change daily, based on ISPs, law enforcement, and spam blockers. BlueHornet is grateful for the opportunity to supplement its services with Pivotal Veracity’s solutions. The company outsources them to clients in conjunction with its own technology, which includes an early warning system capable of catching email list abuse. Marusich has seen clients achieve an almost unheard of 100 percent deliverability rate using the tools.

Since I last addressed the negative issues facing email marketers a year ago, the spam situation has only worsened. It’s refreshing to see marketing companies preserving hope and working to solve problems, rather than dismiss the medium as a lost cause or direct media buyers to less perilous buys.

Pivotal Veracity and BlueHornet don’t just advocate superior e-marketing and offer marketers the opportunity to improve existing email campaigns. They’re encouraging buyers and agencies that have given up on email to grant this once-beloved channel a second chance. The tools and services are designed to empower marketers to successfully confront and overcome obstacles. It’s a huge step in the right direction.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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