Deliverability Is a Shared Responsibility

I’m on the road lately and find that some marketers I meet are surprised to learn how much marketing there is in email deliverability. In fact, the marketing piece—all the things you do as a marketer to ensure a great subscriber experience like great content, relevant promotions, strong calls to action, effective design, frequency, permission, privacy, triggered messages, transactions—is often more essential to great deliverability than the technical aspects like infrastructure, reverse DNS and authentication. Of course, you need both to reach the inbox.

Here’s why the marketing plays such a key role—because complaints are such a key factor in determining your deliverability. ISPs view complaints as a proxy for how relevant and welcome your subscribers find your messages. Relevant messages have low complaint scores, the key factor in Sender Reputation and good deliverability. Irrelevant or too frequent messages have a lot of complaints—lots of subscribers clicking the “This is spam” button. No matter how good your infrastructure, privacy policy or even the practices of your email delivery vendor, if you want to consistently reach the inbox—and earn a response—you need to keep complaints at a minimum, and apply both marketing and technical brains to creating great subscriber experiences.

So it’s just as true that the IT folks can’t blame us marketers and we can’t blame them (or our ESPs). The great, important weight of deliverability is a shared responsibility—and opportunity!

—Stephanie Miller of Return Path