SOLVING DELIVERABILITY AND PROCESS MANAGEMENT ISSUES
Situation: A client's growing CMP (Customer Management Platform) product is developing issues with email delivery and with managing the email deployments
Email communication with customers is an intrinsic part of the CMP, but as the platform scales, email delivery performance is declining, and their team is challenged to manage the growing workload. They engaged Jay Dean to help define an email deployment strategy that will improve delivery, and design internal systems to better automate deployments and manage performance
The response - First, get set up for great deliverability
Email deployments based on "when it's ready", or that ignore the aggregate email volume on your mailing system, can create a sending cadence that looks "bursty" to the receiving EIPs (EMail Inbox Providers), hurting your deliverability. The first step was to work with the deployment team and with their clients to adopt a schedule that managed daily peak volumes and spread the mailing volume throughout each week. Clients were encouraged to adopt a regular sending cadence.
The mailing lists were subject to an intensive and multi-angled hygiene process. Untrusted domains were eliminated, along with recipients who did not interact over long periods. The MX records for the email domains were checked to identify 'dead" domains that have been converted into spam traps.
With new strategy in place, create management systems to support the new sending strategy and to monitor performance
We replace ad-hoc mailing procedures and informal communications with a simple system to record and communicate the planned schedule, record formal approvals from management and clients, and then automate the execution at the server. The remodeled system does not depend on a staff member remembering to start a process at a particular day and time, or to accurately cut-and-paste key parameters into a control document.
Once the mailing plan is developed, reviewed and approved, it executes automatically based on the approved parameters.
New reports were developed to show mailing system performance at a very fine grain; by IP address and by hour, in addition other new reports depict a broader picture. These reports track how the sending infrastructure is performing and flag issues for immediate action. Also, this email sender now sees how they appear to key ESPs, who are tracking similar metrics. Now the team can review performance and adjust rates, rotate IPs, or take other action to maintain deliverability.
What was Jay Dean's role?
This client has a quality development team and a very dedicated and hard working client services team, but lacked experience with the mechanics of bulk email deployment. Jay drew upon years of work at a major email marketing firm to lead them though the strategy process, and POC test, to perform the first cut at email list hygiene, define the process going forward, and to specify the new automation and reporting systems for their developers.
This company has a fine and admirable focus on their customers, but in email marketing there is a third-party to consider. These are the Email Inbox Providers (EIPs) who stand between the marketer and the customer. Your mailing strategy must consider how you will appear to the EIP as well as the customer receiving your communication.
Using your talented people to manually implement a new process or service is an expedient way to get into a test quickly and prove that your new product idea is viable, but it can be a trap. Humans are remarkably versatile, and can provide a level of custom service that cannot scale or be profitably automated. Before you build and test your "Minimum Viable Product", be sure to design and document your "Full-Scale, Profitable Product". Then, rigorously restrict your team to stay on that plan when implementing a test that has humans in place of yet unbuilt automation.
An old management consutant saying says that "what you don't measure you cannot manage". New processes are often poorly reported. Also, aggregate, high-level views are great for the big picture, but you do not execute at that aggregate level. Your product and your team works down at the "action-level" where specific actions are taken. For an email marketer, that means sending distinct campaign "blasts" over specific hours of a day, using specific IP addresses and domains to mail. Reports that show that level of detail are critical.