August 21

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Around February 2019, emails stopped working!

By David Holland

August 21, 2020


You might remember, back in February/March 2019 there was a massive issue with email deliverability.  Everyone started blaming there CRM software.  But in reality, they didn't cause the problem, nor can they fix it!

Google, Verizon, AOL/Yahoo and all the big Internet Services Providers (ISP) all throw their toys out of their cots, at the same time.  It was almost as though they have a conference and decide to take actions that would impact email senders everywhere.

Let's step back and explain the role of the main characters in this drama.

If you write the emails, you are the author.  Obvious so far.

If you use an Email Service Provider (ESP) people like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft et al., they are like your outbound mail room.  They collect together email from everyone in your building, put stamps of the envelopes and deliver them the ISP's.

The ISP's own the servers and cables that form the Internet.

All good so far.

The ISP's delivery the email's through various trunking and sorting office, and they end up coming to the local sorting office.  Your inbound mail room.  They put your emails into mailboxes for you.

You then send your email clients (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) to go and get your mail and display it on your screen.

Remember each piece of mail has some credentials that get checked along the way.  A return address, and stamps to prove they are authentic (SPF, DKIM, DMARC etc.)

That is a bit oversimplified, but you get the idea.  Some of the confusion comes from the fact that the ISP's all run trunking and sorting offices that sort each other's emails, and many of them are also the Inbound mailroom too.

So what happened in February.

The ISP's stopped delivering and started reading everyone's email.  They started taking decisions based on your reputation, the content of the email, your engagement of the people you are sending to, and the completeness of your certification.

This caused a huge blockage of emails being allowed off the servers of the ESPs.  A tonne of emails went in the bin that month.  However, the ESP's responded by buying more capacity, and that issue was solved.

If you are sending single emails to individuals, the ISP's are usually kind right up to the readers' inbox.  However, if the readers have marked your emails as spam in the past, his inbox pops your new email into spam,…sometimes.

If you are sending hundreds and thousands of emails out in a single send, you need to use ESP software.  This parcels the emails up correctly.

The first thing the ISP's look at is if you have the right credentials (SPF, DKIM, etc.). If you don't, they are not keen to deliver your emails.

Next, they look at your reputation.  If you send lots of emails that bounce, receive opt-outs and complaints, and most of your readers do not open and engage with you, they are not keen to deliver your emails.

Don't forget, at this point; they are delivering the emails to your readers contacted inbound mail room.  If their mailroom doesn't think your email is important, they don't always pass it to the reader or mark it as spam or junk.

 I have used the words "not keen".  Surely the Internet is digital, and email gets delivered or not.  No.  What happens of the ISP's servers is a mystery.  The volumes are staggeringly huge. 

So there are only three actions you can take to get more emails delivered to your audience.

  • Have all the technical credentials sorted out properly.
  • Send emails that people want to receive.  It is your responsibility to create good content, not your ESP's.
  • Stop sending to people who are just not interested.  If they are not opening your emails, it does you more harm to keep sending to them.

There are plenty of marketing approaches to get better at #2 and #3. Shouting at your readers and ESP's is not going to help.

David Holland

About the author

Nice bloke with practical ideas. Former Procter & Gamble, Kraft and IBM sales and marketing executive. Became a business owner 20 years ago. Started multiple businesses including EXELA which is the most successful Keap® & Infusionsoft™ reseller in the EMEA region.

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