A teaser for a Delivera whitepaper by Ken Magill provided blog fodder for Laura Atkins over at Word to the Wise. Ken’s premise, with which Laura agrees, is that ESPs which start talking about the wonderful relationships they have with folks at Spamhaus or at various ISPs should cause you to be extremely skeptical. Andrew Bonar, on the other hand, took issue with this premise on his blog.
Some of this comes because of various Requests For Proposal (RFPs) that are out there. These RFPs ask things like: “Outline the level and depth of relationships that your deliverability team has with service providers and blacklists.”
Like many others who have been working in the email space since before “deliverability” was a word, I have an extensive number of contacts — both at Spamhaus and other blocklists and at ISPs and other receivers. But, instead of answering that RFP question by name dropping my friends and business acquaintances (and the list would be an impressive one, I promise), we tend to explain what we do to help clients with issues.
Honestly, though, when you are talking with a deliverability specialist, you already have a problem. People like me don’t talk to clients who have outstanding programs that are sparkling and shiny. Instead, we get brought in when your good name has been tarnished, and maybe even dragged through the mud. Laura and Ken’s premise is that your deliverability depends mainly upon you because just about everything these days is metrics-driven and has no real room for human intervention. Andrew’s counter-premise is that this isn’t true universally.
Now, granted, I don’t have a lot of experience dealing with Chinese or Latin American deliverability issues, but those tend to come pretty rarely in my practice. But, my experience aligns more closely with Ken and Laura’s than it does with Andrew’s. This includes those times when I’m actually talking to someone I know about a client. They tend to ask two questions:
Did you use the normal process before coming to me?
What do the metrics look like?
If the answer to the first question is “no” then I get to hear: “Why don’t you let that process happen first before escalating this to me?” If the answer to the second is “bad” then I get to hear: “Great! Then our filters/blocklist is working as expected. Come back when your client has fixed things and the metrics look better.” Yes, things really are that simple.
But, if you want outstanding deliverability, you need to understand that this process is one that you want to avoid altogether. You need to do the things that make for outstanding deliverability before there is a problem with it, rather than doing those things to fix problems. And I don’t care if you’re sending mail to China or to Chinatown, if you’re doing things right then you’ll never need to talk to someone like me.
Does my name mean something? Sure, it does. My reputation is something that I’ve spent years building. But, will it get you any special consideration? Not really. About as far as it’s ever gotten me has been “the benefit of the doubt” when trying something off of the wall — but even that plan had to prove itself with metrics, not my solemn word that my client is a good person who would no more send spam than they would strangle their mother with kitten tails.
Deliverability really isn’t about who you know anymore. It’s all about how you perform.