ESP's, Bulk Emails and best practice

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Successful email marketing relies on more than just good strategy or content. Even the best campaigns can be hampered by a poor delivery vehicle. The key here is to de-risk your email send.

Bulk email broadcasts are most frequently sent via Email Service Providers (ESPs). These will have varying levels of sophistication in terms of their technology, demand management ability and the level of investment they put into improving and preserving their sender reputation.

Typically ESPs will utilise multiple IP addresses in order to give their users email the best chance of email deliverability. One of the larger ESPs is MailChimp, their website claims to use hundreds of different IP addresses to achieve inbox acceptance of circa. 96%

When selecting an ESP it may be worth selecting a provider that allows you to select/ use a custom domain. More sophisticated platforms will allow you to use a domain that is unique to your account. It is also recommended to ensure this is distinct from the domain you use for your day-to-day emails. For example ABC Company Limited may use ABCCompany.com for their website and day-to-day emails however with their ESP use ABCCompany-emails.com.

The above means you can send from a familiar looking domain name without having to rely on solely masking with a ‘friendly from’. Additionally it provides protection from sender reputational damage which could inhibit your day-to-day emails from being delivered into inboxes.

It may sound like a lot of work to set up an ESP however as a minimum do not send bulk emails from your normal outlook or gmail!

For companies that do a lot of email marketing it may be worth considering setting up multiple ESPs. Deliverability to different recipient domains will vary from platform to platform. By having a few different services available to you, you can segment your list based on what delivers best through each platform.

Similarly you may wish to protect your sender reputation on one platform/ domain if sending out to different types of data for example if you have a B2B and a B2C client base or even customer data vs cold data. One is more likely to damage the performance of the other if a campaign experiences a high ISP complaint, unsubscribe or poor delivery rate. Protecting sender reputation is key.

Finally there are potential cost advantages by having multiple ESPs at your disposal. Most will tie you into a package where the pay-as-you-go costs may penalise going slightly over your monthly allocated volume. It may be cheaper to simply buy additional credits at a cheaper rate from your secondary provider. Similarly they may have more favourable rates at the ‘lower’ end.

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