Case Study: Coordinated Efforts Wins the Day for Orvis

Posted by George Bilbrey 

Some of our best clients are retailers. Why is that? Because they understand the value of their email program – it gets measured month-after-month (sometimes week-after-week) by the revenue it pulls in. And retailers know that email that goes missing from the inbox earns them no revenue.

This was the case for Orvis. They had a successful program that was generating revenue. But they suspected deliverability problems. They signed on with Return Path and learned the ugly truth – on average 20% wasn’t reaching the inbox.

Some of our work to get Orvis back on track was “the basics.” Our deliverability consultants signed Orvis up for all available feedback loops. They got Orvis on the Yahoo! whitelist, which resulted in immediate improvements to those addresses. However, some of our work was less basic: we worked with Orvis to help them interpret their complaint data and learn something about what was causing complaints (and delivery problems). We also did ISP mediation with BellSouth and AT&T to get blocks there removed, based on improvements made by Orvis.

Soon it was happy days again at Orvis HQ – their inbox placement rates hit the high 90s and have stayed there ever since. Bottom line was a 22% increase in inbox placement rates and an 87% decrease in missing email.

I find this kind of case study very gratifying for two reasons:

  1. We helped our client in a significant way – that’s what we’re in business for.
  2. It validates our way or approaching deliverability consulting. We don’t believe in the “bat phone” – improving delivery rates by asking that ISPs remove blocks (though we do that when it looks like the ISP is making a mistake). Rather, we work with the client to improve their reputation (lower their complaint rates, etc.) and this fixes the delivery rates at the ISP. Moreover, by working with the client, they develop capabilities that prevent future problems.

For details on how we worked with Orvis and their impressive results read the full case study.

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About George Bilbrey

George Bilbrey is the founder of the industry’s first deliverability service provider, Assurance Systems, which merged with Return Path in 2003. He is a recognized expert on the subjects of email reputation and deliverability and is active in many industry organizations, including the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) and the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). In his role as president of Return Path George is the driving force behind the ongoing innovation of our products and services. Prior to Return Path, George served as Director of Product Management at and as a partner in the telecommunications group at Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University, and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, University of North Carolina.

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