Habeas Offers E-mail Reputation Checks to Small Business

The importance of verifying one’s reputation on blocked sender lists, once only the purview of major industry players, has trickled down to even very small businesses, according to Habeas, an e-mail trust authority firm that is now offering a slimmed down version of its reputation checking service for just those companies.

When it found itself turning away small business owners unwilling to invest several thousand dollars to monitor their status on blocklists, Habeas began offering its Reputation Monitoring, or RepMon, service as the small business version of its enterprise system.

“Our core strength tends to be in the small- to mid-sized enterprise… That’s our sweet spot. But we have at least a 1,000 people in any given month who could be legitimate customers, but they are very small,” said J.F. Sullivan, vice president of marketing for Habeas. “They might be small SoHo types of business, and they still have issues with deliverability.”

As part of the RepMon Web-based, automated service, Habeas will check five ISP addresses and two domains for a business against several tiers of blocklists, as well as perform proprietary infrastructure tests and provide alerts if an address is ever added to a blocklist, according to Sullivan. The service generally takes two days to complete and the results are presented online at the Habeas Web site with “an overall reputation assessment, the good, the bad, and the ugly, given on the top of the page,” said Sullivan. “For $20 bucks a month you get the same exact product that enterprise users have to watch their business, matched to a smaller business.”

Habeas started offering its high volume e-mail sender reputation service, RepCheck, in July 2005 and has gone on to create a whitelist database, SenderIndex, of approved senders has added other e-mail services.

The number of queries Habeas receives from small businesses is indicative that even the smallest lists owners are coming to terms with deliverability and reputation concerns, said Stefan Pollard, director of consulting services for EmailLabs, an e-mail service provider, and a columnist for ClickZ

“Everybody who is sending e-mail has finally gotten the message that there are these blocklists out there preventing your mail from going through, and are looking for ways to keep their reputation clean. There is a big gap from the numbers of e-mails they send out and the number being received, and that difference is the number that got blocked by reputation,” said Pollard. “E-mail has made its way down to the Mom and Pop restaurants and they also have to face all the same challenges that all the large senders have to deal with. They are becoming more savvy about their own marketing capabilities.”

The increase in small business realizing the challenges in e-mail marketing blocklists also comes when large enterprises are moving on to other problems, said David Daniels, vice president of analyst firm Jupiter Research.

“When we’ve asked marketers about their top challenges, e-mail deliverability is the top challenge for small business, those with revenues under $10 million. But when we look at larger companies, it’s now dropped down to number five,” said Daniels. “So for smaller business they are feeling the pain more. They are experiencing the challenges that most marketers were feeling a couple of years ago.”

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