Deliverability has always been a key factor for all enterprises using email marketing. During the past few years, the subject has become harder and harder to deal with: phishing increase, more offensive anti-spam filters, smart inboxes, email listing globalization, etc. Opportunely, both the IT and marketing managers are becoming more aware on these subjects.
However, even if they are plunged into the deliverability topic, marketers are often disarmed facing some crucial matters. One of these big questions is: Shall routing be in-housed or outsourced in order to keep utter control over deliverability?
Let’s intend to clarify the advantages and disadvantages of both policies.
Outsourcing your routing: less work but less control.
Let’s start talking about the advantages of an outsourced deliverability. ESP’s main objective is to send emails; hence expertise is fundamental: all of the ESP’s must lead to this goal. With this in mind, the whole ESP infrastructure will adjust to react to the market’s evolution. Plus it will be updated to the current standards faster than you would do it yourself.
A good illustration of this is the recent shift of the Gmail images display, which had broken some ESP’s ability to track opens. In this particular scenario, just a couple of days were needed in order to update their infrastructure; you may not get the same outcome with an in-house solution.
Even though, outsourced routing may carry some inconvenient as well.
On top of the list being probably the most important is the lack of experts. ESP’s can rarely count more than one or three deliverability managers devoted to the implementation, management, monitoring and deliverability analyzing. Now let’s do the math— considering your router customer’s number, try to guess how much time a deliverability manager would devout to you. Most likely it would be less than an hour per month; in other words nothing… and less than nothing when problems come up.
When you employ a database for marketing, this becomes your most precious asset. Time and means invested to settle a trustworthy relationship with your customers are priceless. Therefore, this is why you should pay attention to whom you thrust your database when outsourcing, even if there is always a good reason for doing it. When deliverability is outsourced, not only you are revealing your email listing, but also all messages and behavioral data sent through them— and let’s not forget it is precisely that what makes your business valuable.
A shift in the marketers’ practice: multipath delivery.
By facing increasingly deliverability failures, unevenly handled according to ESP’s, marketers are trying to take control over their deliverability in different ways. The first one: to be up-to-date and highly trained. An increasing number of email senders are striving to get the most knowledge possible to decipher their ESP’s outgoing data.
Unfortunately, teams are not always enough trained, leading them to build their own shields. One of these is multipath delivery, which is basically to use several routers at a time either to have a lifesaver when downfall of the main router or just to mutualize several platforms. Thus, it is now usual to find marketers withstanding 2,3 or even more routers simultaneously.
Nonetheless the question remains: is multipath delivery actually improving deliverability? The answer: multipath delivery is far away from being a permanent solution. Since it will not solve deliverability failures from the source, in the best scenario it will improve deliverability temporarily— in the worst one it will lead to a sustainable drop of your reputation.
In-house email delivery: investing for the future?
Our last candidate is the in-house email deliverability procedure. Here we meet again some of the outsourcing disadvantages such as lack of experts. However, former-outsourcing budgets such as license, integration and emailing cost, may now be used in order to train the IT managers, turning them into deliverability experts.
Hard to believe, one of the main flaws of in-house routing is binded to its main advantage. In-house deliverability implies self-administration of all data comprising security and email address management. Even if it suggests an overhead work, it will reduce the amount of intervinients intruding your routing process.
In-house routing deliverability means total independence of the ESP’s reputation, furthermore it means utter disconnection with all of the others ESP’s customers reputation.
By employing your own infrastructure, domain and IP address range, you are a 100% responsible of your email sender reputation: no one will be messing with your business!
Regarding the possible deliverability failures; in-house routing enables you with overall power. Technical words here: an email is a SMTP dialogue between two servers: HELO, MAIL FROM, RCPT TO, DATA. At each stage of the SMTP dialogue, failures may pop out and reaction to them is often explicit. Mastering your SMPT server allows you to acknowledge the exact reason of the failure and then to fix it. It is quite an advantage compared to an ESP, which will gather the many SMTP codes into less intelligible categories: hardbounces, softbounces and spam filters.
Plus, through real-time deliverability monitoring, you may be much more reactive to failures.
Dependence when having a failure will ineluctably slow down your process, especially if you do not have the proper monitoring tools.
In-house deliverability is not a miraculous recipe that will shield you against incoming nasties, but if deliverability is crucial for your activity, you should require all your inner resources to master it. The less outsourcers, the less time spent on solving problems.