The ISP should be the last of your concerns

English: Meditation

English: Meditation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey marketers! Listen up! I’m about to give you the dirty little secret to deliverability.

You know those stupid “one simple trick” scams that you see touting weight loss or lower insurance rates? Well, unlike those scams, I have one simple trick that will absolutely improve your deliverability rates.

Are you ready?


Seriously. That’s it. Forget about them. We live in a world of engagement now. The world is now all about respecting your subscribers and doing things their way.

You might have heard about someone who wrote a blog post saying that “Email engagement doesn’t matter…again”. The author talks about the recent Email Experience Council meeting in Florida a few days ago. One of the final panels featured some of my friends at various receivers and they gave some shocking news: They don’t count clicks. Since the ISP doesn’t count clicks, well, then they must not measure engagement!

No, not really. As my friend [acp title=”Engagement Totally Matters” author=”Andrew Barrett” id=”Barrett_01″ media=”blog” year=”2015″ month=”February” day=”11″ url=””]{author} points out[/acp], this shocking announcement means that they’re measuring other forms of engagement that marketers DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO.

So, what does that mean for marketers? Does it mean that:

  1. Hope is lost and we should do what we want?
  2. ISPs don’t care about engagement and we should do what we want?

Absolutely not in both cases. As Andrew points out, opens and clicks are the proxies that people outside of the environment can use to measure engagement.

So, why did I say to forget about the ISPs and their spam filters? Because we’re now living in a world of individual engagement. And the fact is that we’ve been there for years already with the largest receivers. These receivers are now looking at what individual recipients want. In fact, for a good long time, AOL has had a rejection code that reads “550 “username” Is Not Accepting Mail From This Sender”. Where that used to mean that the user had a whitelist of addresses that were allowed and all others were to be rejected, we’re to the point in the technology where the opposite of that can be true as well: Now the technology exists that will allow the user to say “I don’t want to receive mail from this sender anymore.”

The thing that has struck me the hardest about this “fight” over engagement is that we are leaving the recipient out of the discussion and they’re pretty easily the most important part of it all. The discussion is all about the impact of engagement on the ISP — not the recipient.

The biggest selling point of any ESP is going to be the ability to help the marketer craft the right message to go to the right person at the right time. It’s their bread and butter. But, when talking about delivering messages, we forget about recipient. And, while that’s maybe understandable for someone like me (who specializes in troubleshooting what happens when mail servers talk to each other), it’s really unforgivable for a marketer — someone who should be specializing in the impact that the (right) message has on the (right) recipient when delivered at the right time.

ESPs specialize in technology. It’s that technology that enables mail to get delivered. It’s that technology that gives you a nice, shiny interface to build out the journey that you want to take with the customer. And if you’re way more concerned about that journey with the customer than you are about the ISP’s spam filters, deliverability will tend to take care of itself.


[acp add author=”Bob Frady” title=”Dela is right” id=”Frady_01″ media=”blog” url=”” year=”2015″ month=”February” day=”11″/]

[acp add author=”Massimo Arrigoni” title=”Sender reputation and personalized deliverability: what inbox engagement really means” id=”Arrigoni_01″ url=”” year=”2015″ month=”February” day=”4″/]


Mickey Chandler