Salsa Scoop Say EHLO to email deliverability
Say EHLO to email deliverabilitySubmitted Tue Jul 10 2007 15:00:10 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Email. Its a pretty basic thing. You want to say "Hey" to our friend and invite him over for the game. So, you fire up that streamlined AJAX-y web client and fire off an email. Your friend gets the email, he says he'll bring the chips and beverages if you'll supply the main course and the TV. He'll even bring a few of his friends and that will be great. You reply back to his reply and the event is set. "What did we ever do without email?," you think. Then, the light bulb appears. "I'd bet we can apply this to what we do at work and I'd be a hero!", you say aloud. Unfortunately, you have only seen the tip of the cold, cold monolithic iceberg that is email deliverability. Now, I'll admit that email is a tool that has revolutionized the world. We use it for just about anything and everything we can think of and generally it works quite well. The drawbacks come when you are what is referred to as a "bulk sender". That means that you send a lot of email. I mean enough email to clog the tubes from here to Timbuktu and back. Millions upon millions of individual emails to subscribers of lists. People who want to receive those emails, people who signed up for those emails. Not spam. No spam content whatsoever. Opt-in (heck, you did double opt-in! ISPs actually like that!). It's a wonderful world to know you are sending email that people actually want. Unfortunately, the ISPs don't believe that their users signed up for the email that they receive. They actually distrust their users just as much as they distrust spammers. "Why is this?", you think. Well, basically because there is enough spam to reach from here, to the Sun, over to Venus and back. Billions upon billions of spam messages that cause real, dollar figure hurt (Boo hoo) to the ISPs of the world, most of whom give you email for FREE! They're so nice. They only have six or seven ads in most of their web clients, with one exception. More on these guys some other time. Seriously, ditch whoever you have and get one of their accounts if you want your email. They take everything, then want more, but in a good way. Coupled with intelligent spam filtering, their free email product is the best thing since not only sliced bread, but slicing in general. Sure, they look like this, but they maintain this. Feel good about it, but be cautious.) Anyhoo, you build a nice email talking about your topic of choice. You hit that "GO" button and email starts flooding out to your happy subscribers, ISPs start taking the email, looking at each individual email (yes, each one) to make sure that it's not spam. "We're on a whitelist", you think, "we should have no problem getting through!" Sadly, the ISPs think they know better and start blocking your emails after they start seeing so many all at once. Or maybe you're sending too fast. Or maybe you had the words "prescription drugs", "debt", "cheap", or "winner" in your email. That's just the beginning. Maybe you have malformed HTML or use too big of a font or even the dreaded "blue colored links" in your email. Thankfully for you, though, there are plenty of tools out there which will help you process those emails and ensure high deliverability. Even though, its a pretty big headache and someone who knows how to get around the hurdles is almost a requirement. 100% deliverability isn't really attainable because users' accounts get deactivated, their inbox might be full, or the ISP may end up blocking your email because they are having a particular nasty day. We can get pretty close to that bright, shiny number through a variety of tricks which make the ISPs take your email and get it to the people who are looking for it. We constantly monitor and tweak our setup to ensure that everything is getting out not only in a timely fashion but with high delivery rates. We do pretty well at it too, I think. In the future, I'll have more info to share with the community about how we do this, so look for that here very soon.