How Your Email Service Provider Protects Deliverability


What separates a great email service provider from a mediocre one? Getting more email messages in the inbox.

Email service providers (ESPs) do this by providing excellent deliverability for email marketers. An ESP protects deliverability for its customers by vetting new marketers prior to onboarding and enforcing strict guidelines around sending email and maintaining email lists. ESPs comprise different levels of compliance thresholds for bounces and complaints, and suspend email marketers from sending when those thresholds are exceeded. Deliverability is an ESP's livelihood, but keeping users in compliance can cause friction in the ESP/email marketer relationship. Often times, friction begins when the marketer is onboarded to a new ESP, and can continue throughout the entire lifecycle of the email marketer.

The nature of the process used to onboard marketers sets the tone for the type of relationship an ESP will likely have with its customers. If a low-touch onboarding process is used, the ESP provides very little hand-holding, trusting that the marketer has followed email best practices for list growth and maintenance. Marketers must confirm that lists are permission-based and abide by all email regulations. When using this process, ESPs instill a significant amount of trust in the email marketer. Low-touch onboarding leaves room for reputation-damaging activity by the email marketer, causing lower deliverability for the ESP.

Often times, friction begins when the marketer is onboarded to a new ESP, and can continue throughout the entire lifecycle of the email marketer.

In a high-touch onboarding process, deliverability teams provide more of a consultative approach. In addition to the steps taken during a low-touch process, one or more email lists are spot-checked for invalid addresses in an attempt to pin-point lists that may cause deliverability issues. If the data on a marketer’s lists meets compliance guidelines, the lists are accepted. This consultative process is ineffective because it lacks a sufficient amount of data to make informed decisions. A high-touch onboarding process is costly and time-consuming for both the ESP and the email marketer, adding friction to the relationship. When ESPs can only test a small percentage of emails on a list, the quality of a marketer’s data remains unknown until campaigns are deployed. In attempt to protect deliverability, ESPs may require that marketers have list data cleaned prior to sending.

Once mail starts flowing, ESPs monitor bounces, complaints and opt-outs, and automatically unsubscribe these from individual lists. By removing these addresses, the sender reputation is protected from further damage. However, an email address that unsubscribes or bounces from one list cannot usually  be automatically unsubscribed across all of the lists in a marketer’s account. It is up to the marketer to follow list maintenance best practices. Campaign statistics, such as clicks, opens, and unsubscribes, are important for monitoring subscriber engagement but do not provide insight into the ever changing deliverability of an email address. So how can an email marketer know when a list is falling out of compliance before being suspended? Currently, a sender receives very little warning (if any) before an account is suspended, and she is blocked from sending.

Prior to introducing a free email tier, MailChimp developed Omnivore to mitigate risks during the self-signup process. Omnivore gathers information on subscribers and predicts bad behavior, allowing MailChimp's compliance team to proactively warn marketers when data starts falling out of compliance. Few ESPs have the ability to do this, leaving marketers in the dark when it comes to the quality of the data on their lists.

Email service providers “focus on maintaining subscriber information, bounce data, and unsubscribes as a way to maintain list health over the life of a campaign." 1  But when the subscriber data in a list becomes stale, many ESPs suspend the marketer’s ability to deploy email and recommend a list cleaning service, like DataValidation, to remove undeliverable email addresses. While it may not seem like a big deal on the surface, the email marketer and ESP experience an enormous amount of pain when an account is suspended. ESPs directly lose revenue in favor of maintaining deliverability. Email marketers, many who are bewildered as to why the email list data collected over several years needs “validation”, become impatient and decide to change email service providers. Thus, an unsuspecting ESP onboards the email marketer along with the dirty data that caused trouble in the first place.

Email marketers, many who are bewildered as to why the email list data collected over several years needs “validation”, become impatient and decide to change email service providers.

In 2013, we began addressing points of friction experienced by email marketers and ESPs. We built integrations to MailChimp and Constant Contact, allowing email marketers to link an account to DataValidation, preview a deliverability report for each email list, and sync the cleaned email list back to the corresponding ESP. To prevent email marketers from getting blocked in the first place, we introduced Email Assurance for Email Marketers, which scans all email lists in an ESP account twice a day and automatically removes undeliverable email addresses.

In 2014, we began to focus on our mission of helping ESPs retain good senders. Most active email marketers will eventually run into list compliance issues, so why not empower the ESP to warn users in advance and rehabilitate when necessary?

We are proud to introduce Email Assurance for Email Service Providers. Learn how an ESP can use Email Assurance to help email marketers throughout their entire lifecycle.

Image Credit: Captain Roger Fenton

comments powered by Disqus

Most Recent Blog Posts

This Week In Email March 28th 2016
Building and Maintaining a High Quality Email List
This Week In Email March 7th 2016
5 Important Things that Affect Email Delivery & How You Can Overcome Them
This Week In Email February 3rd 2016

View All Recent Posts >



What People Are Saying

In less than two weeks we went from an 87% reputation to 98% with SendGrid. We have pleased the ISP gods thanks to your team!
— Mikhail Avady, IP SmartUP
I was a bit desperate yesterday after MailChimp blocked one of my uploaded lists. It is clear that DataValidation solved this very quickly. Thanks a lot!
— Yves Van Hee, Atradius
DataValidation saved my life! I had to migrate the newsletter campaigns from a self-programmed system to Zoho Campaigns, and I recognized, too late, that the dataset was horrible. Zoho blocked me during the first campaign.
— Hans-Henning Schulz, Deutscher Verlag für Gesundh
I LOVE your service. I’ve used the MailChimp integration, which works like a dream. I will be recommending your service to all my MailChimp clients as a “good practice” tool to add to their arsenal.
— Bridget Gilchrist, Tin Soldier Ltd.
Thanks very much for cleaning my list, the service works very well.
— Ross Debos, Sunday SouLounge
Super. I didn't expect the Mailchimp integration. It made everything painless.
— Philip Owen,
The service I have received has been fantastic. Without any doubt the best online service I have ever had. Thank you!
— Andrés Gómez-Peña, IDB
On our first eNews to nearly 2,500 subscribers, we had only 5 bounce-backs and 7 unsubscribes. No way that would have been possible without your service! Thanks, DataValidation, for keeping us in compliance!
— Jodie Rogers, University of Oregon
You guys are awesome. I've been looking for a platform like this for 2 months to vet media contacts for my startup so I don't trash our domain in spam traps. This was the most effective tool I've found, and I'll be using it again on the consumer side as we develop a direct email marketing campaign.
— Jared Criscuolo,
Y’all have a great service with a nice clean, user friendly interface. Glad to be able to have multiple versions of our list to make use of. No doubt I’ll be using the services of your company again in the near future.
— Cody Reid, Brunk Auctions
I'm very pleased with how fast I got a reply to my questions. Also very satified with the price and service. Great job.
— Joshua Guilfoyle, New York City, NY
Very useful — helped us get over the hump with our first import of 6-year old data to MailChimp. Now running much more smoothly!
— Alex English, Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA)
Thanks Data Validation! It was easy to use and after I studied the definitions, I was able to re-sort my data for upload to MailChimp. In addition, your tips about sending emails to the Accepts All emails was extremely helpful!
— Jennifer Hoskins, PHR
It's awesome!! I was able to import the cleaned list of A's and B's into MailChimp no problem, whereas before cleaning with DV, MailChimp let me know a re-opt in would be required. I'm thrilled with this service!
— Lily Starling,
We tried DataValidation on advice from a colleague. The service was easy to link to Mailchimp, and was extremely affordable.
— Jodie Rogers, University of Oregon
We are VERY satisfied. Your service has refreshed our stale mailing list and contributed to the surrealistic celebration of the Domestic Research Society's 10th anniversary - high in the Julian Alps!
— Alenka Pirman, Domestic Research Team
Your service has been outstanding, and I especially liked your LiveChat feature - very helpful!
— Karen Burke, Crop King
We saved thousands of dollars that would have been spent on bounces and opt-outs by using DataValidation's cleaning tools. Now, we use their real-time protection so we never have a bad list again.
— Blake, Perdue for Senate
Thank you very much! Your service is super!
— Lexi Serebro,
Thanks for your service, it was helpful and easy to use! MailChimp knew what they were doing when they recommended you.
— Abby Rubottom,
We are very pleased with your service and fast turnaround time. We ran a small list through and then sampled those emails through our email platform.
— James J. Marks, Background Info USA