Engagement is the NEW Validation

Apr 16, 2020

Paul Shriner

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Deliverability has gotten a ton harder, and the tools afforded to email marketers have not caught up with the filtering algorithms large mailbox providers like Gmail and Yahoo use to fight spam. They slice and dice engagement data of every subscriber on your list to determine if a single subscriber would like to receive your content in their inbox or promotions tab, even if they are a loyal subscriber.

The good ol’ days

Gone are the days when you:

  • Verified an email addresses against the MX server
  • Avoided keywords like “Free” or “Cure Baldness”
  • Paid to see and monitor your sender reputation

Things have gotten much more… Sophisticated.

All of the engagement data lives within the mailbox provider.

  • What you open
  • What you don’t
  • Read time
  • What you click
  • How often you click
  • Your unsubscribes

Don’t hate the player, hate the game

Mailbox providers develop a profile about you as an email consumer. They have ALSO done a fantastic job spinning that scrutiny as a feature that helps limit inbox clutter. Make no mistake; this is not altruistic, this is about money. They are media empires that develop customer profiles for display marketing. They protect you from the so-called ills of YOUR email marketing so that THEY can target you. They put a thumb on the scale which shifts the power dynamic entirely to them.

The current landscape

Paying for expensive tools and consultants to solve deliverability issues is like bringing an apple to a gunfight. One side controls all of the rules and data (mailbox providers) while the other side just has access to the engagement data of their audience. The two paradigms do not match, much like an apple and a gun.

The world has changed in less than two years. Deliverability is about engagement. Today, inbox providers use sophisticated algorithms, armed with all of the aforementioned criteria, to determine the inboxability (Yes, I believe I invited that word.) of a given message/sender combination. If you are sticking with the tried and true methods, then you will either be leaving engagement on the table or you will hit deliverability issues, neither will get you a promotion.

Your own data is not enough

Your open and click data is not enough ammunition to bring to the fight. Sure, it offers a glimpse into whether or not an email should be delivered into the inbox, but it does not offer the same view that the mailbox providers have.

Engagement is the great equalizer

AudiencePoint has amassed an enormous pool of de-identified engagement data over the last 10 years. This amount of data can be used to re-balance the thumb that the mailbox providers have placed on the scale. Our combination of smart algorithms on top of a massive amount of data can predict deliverability of a list, just like the big guys.We’re building a service for marketers to determine whether or not an email address will be inboxed, before you even send the email.

Does sender reputation and content still matter?

It sure does, just not like it once did.

Does this comply with GDPR? CCPA? Future legislation?

While we cannot predict future legislation, we make every effort to secure subscriber data. We take every effort to ensure our compliance with digital subscriber rights and the associated legislation. How do we do that?

  • Follow a security by design model
  • Deidentify subscriber data
  • Re-index brand data to anonymized categories of data
  • Honor digital subscriber rights

What is the outcome

The old way of ensuring your deliverability no longer works. As the mailbox provider’s tools improve, so must the email marketers toolbox evolve. When you scrub your email addresses against pools of email engagement data, keep your sender reputation clean and offer relevant content, it’s possible to know what email addresses will be delivered and which ones will not.

While the ideal situation would be delivering content to a subscriber who has opted-in to receive it, that ship has sailed. The addition of datapool engagement data does level the playing field for email marketer with the mailbox providers that have heavy thumbs.