You Go Ken: The Deliverability Myth that ESPs Perpetuate at Their Peril

Matt Blumberg
By Matt Blumberg
CEO & Chairman

This week Ken Magill has a great column about the myth that ESPs control deliverability. He’s been on this topic for a few weeks now, and this particular column was inspired by a call he got from an ESP sales representative.

The point he makes, which we make a lot, is that deliverability is controlled by the marketer – by the actions the client company takes in relation to the email program. These actions include data collection, data hygiene, frequency and relevance. He makes a great analogy by saying that “… an ESP touting high deliverability rates is somewhat akin to touting high response rates.” Now let’s be clear about something. Many ESPs do help their clients with response through their Strategic Services departments. But it’s pretty well understood by clients that that kind of help is separate from the ESP technology and is a separately paid-for service. ESPs generally don’t just say, “hey, our average open rate are higher than industry averages” as if the technology itself were incurring some magical response effect.

I think that service providers actually do themselves a disservice when they hang their hat on deliverability. Because most of the levers are out of their hands, they set up impossible expectations for clients who will only be unhappy to hear that there is no magic solution to getting to the inbox. ESPs absolutely should celebrate the many things they do that can help with inbox placement rates (IPR) – working with a deliverability monitoring company to track campaigns accurately, firing clients who spam, keeping up-to-date with infrastructure requirements and authentication protocols. But overemphasizing their delivery rates is only going to create un-meetable client expectations leading to churn as clients hop from ESP to ESP hoping for a quick fix.

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