Some Email Industry BS We Should All Be Wise to by Now

Quick! Which email service provider has the best delivery rate? Don’t know? Neither do I. Let’s try and find an answer. According to a list put out by ranking firm topseos, Pinpointe On-Demand has the best delivery rate of 10 email service providers it ranked for January. Let’s just cut to the real problem with Topseos’ rankings list—that it mentioned ESPs’ so-called “delivery rates” at all.

Quick! Which email service provider has the best delivery rate?

Don’t know? Neither do I. Let’s try and find an answer.

According to a list put out by ranking firm topseos, Pinpointe On-Demand—as topseos referred to it—has the best delivery rate of 10 email service providers it ranked for January.

The company name is actually just Pinpointe, but let’s not quibble.

No, let’s just cut to the real problem with Topseos’ rankings list—that it mentioned ESPs’ so-called “delivery rates” at all.

ESPs don’t have delivery rates. Or they shouldn’t anyway.

Why? Because every major lever that affects whether email gets delivered to people’s email boxes is under the list owner’s control.

Email inbox providers’ spam filters have traditionally relied on three major metrics to determine whether or not email coming from a specific sender is spam: the number of spam complaints, the number of bad addresses a mailer tries to reach and the number of spam traps they hit.

And these days, ISPs are reportedly increasingly looking at engagement metrics—clicks and opens, for example, or lack thereof—to weed out unwanted mail.

All of the above-mentioned metrics are directly attributable to the sender’s behavior, not the ESPs’.

Yet, some email service providers tout their so-called delivery rates in their sales pitches.

For example, Constant Contact claims its delivery rate is 97 percent. But when one reads why its delivery rate is so high, it becomes clear

“We hold our customers to high standards with good email marketing habits and practices,” says a headline on the page touting Constant Contact’s delivery rate.

There is nothing wrong with Constant Contact touting high standards.

And this isn’t to say an ESP has nothing at its disposal that can affect delivery rates. For example, an ESP can affect deliverability by throttling-or sending the messages at a slower rate—so ISPs are less likely to block them.

Also some ESPs have better support structures in place than others. As a result, delivery rates can reportedly vary from ESP to ESP. But it’s not the ESPs’ delivery rates we’re discussing here. It’s the senders’ delivery rates.

This may sound like a ridiculously minor quibble. But referring to email delivery rates as the ESPs’ shifts responsibility for behavior that helps ensure high delivery rates from where it belongs—the sender.

Senders of commercial email must continuously be made aware that the responsibility for ensuring high email delivery rates lies mostly with them and there’s not an ESP in the world that can magically overcome the deliverability consequences of sloppy email address acquisition practices and poor list hygiene.

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: Notes From IRCE

Wait, is it 1999? That was my feeling as I walked through the exhibit hall during the 2010 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago earlier this week. Crowded booths packed with people asking questions, lots of tchotchkes and smiling vendors were the order of the day on the floor. Of course they were smiling; the event was the “largest meeting of e-commerce professionals ever assembled,” Internet Retailer Publisher Jack Love told a packed audience at the opening general session. Love told attendees the total attendance at IRCE 2010 exceeded 6,300 people, a 33 percent increase from IRCE 2009 in Boston last June.

Wait, is it 1999?

That was my feeling as I walked through the exhibit hall during the 2010 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago earlier this week.

Crowded booths packed with people asking questions, lots of tchotchkes and smiling vendors were the order of the day on the floor. Of course they were smiling; the event was the “largest meeting of e-commerce professionals ever assembled,” Internet Retailer Publisher Jack Love told a packed audience at the opening general session. Love told attendees the total attendance at IRCE 2010 exceeded 6,300 people, a 33 percent increase from IRCE 2009 in Boston last June.

On the exhibit floor, I met with many product and service suppliers and retailers, and all seemed excited that online retailing is growing and thriving as the economy gets back on its feet.

In terms of exhibitors, the floor was split between e-commerce platform providers, search providers, payment and security solution providers, and email marketing service providers. I met with many vendors; here are some highlights:

  • First Data, a merchant processing services provider, is about to launch eGift Social Solution, a mobile commerce service that provides consumers the ability to send item-level gifts — such as cups of coffee, sandwiches or movie tickets — to Facebook friends.
  • Listrak, an email service provider, introduced its Purchase Cadence Optimization solution, which automates email remarketing campaigns designed to proactively prompt customers to repurchase products.
  • MarketLive, an e-commerce software provider, has created a new version of its intelligent commerce platform, clearly with its customers in mind. The new version enables retailers to offer shoppers more refined search queries, as well as leverage online content and syndicate it across affiliate sites and social networking sites. It also packs advanced testing capabilities.
  • Payvment, a provider of social network-powered e-commerce applications, offered a solution that enables companies to open storefronts on Facebook. The solution provides a universal shopping cart, a shopping display and search tool designed for Facebook e-commerce, the ability to offer fan discounts, and enables any Facebook user to add comments and reviews to their storefront.
  • SLI Systems, a provider of intelligent on-demand search services for e-commerce sites, discussed Rich Auto Complete, which helps consumers search websites more efficiently by providing rich media suggestions to complete search terms they’re typing.