Education: Email Deliverability’s Kryptonite & Salvation

In our five-part interview series, we asked email deliverability experts about some of their biggest day-to-day challenges. We heard a lot about bad data and bad sender behavior. One of the main tools to help fix these issues—according to the pros—is deliverability education. But we found that deliverability education is, in many instances, broken and inaccessible. 

More than 40% of our interviewees said that they feel like many of their clients could benefit from valuable deliverability education. We talked to several thought leaders about how to work through this and bring a positive perception to email deliverability. 

During the interviews, one of the most often-stated pain points was undue pressure to go against best practices. 

“You know, it’s not just the marketers,” said Lauren Meyer, VP of Industry Relations and Compliance at Kickbox. “It’s people who have some KPI that they’re trying to hit and they’re not hitting it and they don’t understand what to do. A lot of people are just busy and desperate. […] They want a quick fix, a quick answer, a magic bullet to get themselves back on track.”

Deliverability Isn’t Marketer-Friendly

When working with clients, many ESPs provide educational materials and some companies even provide hands-on and even on-site support. But to all their efforts, most deliverability education just isn’t marketer-friendly. 

It can be difficult to change a client’s way of business when it comes to email deliverability. Those conversations are never easy and they always take at least a little pre-planning to be successful. 

“Sometimes they say ‘This isn’t even my job, I’m covering for someone on vacation and you want me to clean my lists? How do I do that?’,” said Meyer. “Sometimes it’s just challenges with that specific person saying ‘I don’t know how to do with this.'”

Meyer went on to say that in her experience she’s seen non-technical SMBs and clients who don’t understand and therefore can’t necessarily see the importance of spam rates and other deliverability trends.

The Solution: Education from Examples & Outsiders

We all want our clients to successfully navigate deliverability challenges but empowering them to take on their deliverability hurdles is a process.

“I would rather get you to where you can drive your own car after a period of time rather than have me be the Uber for you,” said David Fowler, former Sr. Director of Privacy and Compliance at ZoomInfo. “Then, of course, my job’s done to some degree.”

Likening deliverability proficiency to driving a car can be an apt metaphor. There’s not only the car the driver has to steer and troubleshoot but there’s also all the other drivers on the road, the road signs that give clues as to what to do and the policing agencies who aim to enforce the laws of the road.

Helping Hands Lighten the Load

Many times, a client is quick to blame an ESP for their own shortfallings. After a point, deliverability education can’t come from an ESP unless it’s tied to real results that showcase positive outcomes and revenue gains. 

Meyer mentioned an example where she identified a list for a client that was bloated with inactive users. She said that when she talked to them about it they weren’t interested in clearing off that dead weight. When she brought them a third-party tool that identified the inactive users as a problem, Meyer said that client was quick to take note of the tool’s results and expedited an email list cleaning to clear the dead weight that Meyer had been trying to get them to address all along. The catalyst? The third-party tool results that reinforced Meyer’s recommendations.

Likewise, there are many times that we, at Email Industries, come to the table to mitigate between a sender and an ESP. many times, we help tell the senders what the ESPs have already told them. We reiterate that ESP’s advice most of the time and because we’re an unbiased third-party, senders will take our advice more seriously and apply the ideas we’re all trying to get them to follow. Not surprisingly, the clients and the ESPs usually have a stronger relationship thereafter.

“If we have a contract with them and they’re pointing fingers at a sending platform or their reputation as an email sender it’s easy to say ‘well Hotmail’s not delivering mail because of you guys,'” said Meyer. “So I think there’s a little bit of conflict of interest where [the client] says ‘Well, we want to believe you but […] you’re worried about losing our business.’ I think that’s where bringing somebody in who’s just totally impartial, especially when it’s data-driven. It just really helps.”

Education Hinges on Balance & Buy-in

Finding the balance of education is exponentially easier once revenue examples and use-cases that directly impact the client are put in front of them. 

While ESPs do a great job of educating the clients and giving them personalized recommendations, those tools can still fall flat if they land on deaf ears. For clients who might need a little more help, bringing in third-party email deliverability experts to mitigate and reinforce the ESP’s recommendations might just help save the day.