Email Acquisition Doesn’t Have to Drive Poor Delivery Rates

Posted by George Bilbrey on

There is a persistent myth in the industry that third party email is inherently bad, that third party email drives high complaints and that using email for acquisition will ruin your deliverability.

These are all completely false notions. (And, by the way, equally false is the notion that a well-permissioned house file is inherently free of any problems. It isn’t.)

At Return Path we work with many third party mailers. We also sell third party email through our Postmaster Network division. Safe to say we know the true story behind deliverability and email acquisition.

Interestingly, third party email tends to fall into some of the same patterns as house file email. When it is well-permissioned, highly relevant and recognizable to the recipient it has better delivery rates. There are tactics the best third party mailers engage in to specifically protect their reputation and keep their deliverability high. First, they use closed loop opt-in (also known as double opt-in). They also tend to remind subscriber how they got on the list and are consistent with their from addresses so they can build a relationship with the subscriber.

Now, what about the myth that using email for acquisition ruins the deliverability of your house files? If poorly done, it can hurt your delivery rate. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. We have clients who use acquisition heavily who have great deliverability and others who never use it and have horrible deliverability.

So, how does email acquisition affect your house list? Basically, the only concern is if you use a less reputable mailer. If your creative hits a large number of spam traps or drives a large number of complaints, the reputation of your domain (mostly in URLs) can be damaged. In addition, your creative – that you have worked hard to perfect – might be “fingerprinted” and filtered out by content filtering applications.

You should check into your list rental partner very closely. Get their IP address and domains and get to work doing research on them. You can use Return Path’s free reputation lookup service to do the research. Are they listed on a lot of significant blacklists? Do they drive a lot of complaints relative to your house list? Do they hit a lot of spam traps? If you can answer “no” to these questions, you can use that vendor for third party rental without killing your house list reputation.


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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 Worldprints.com 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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