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Gerald Marshall

Gerald Marshall
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Recent Posts

Why All Email Contacts Aren't Created Equal and the Right Ways to Treat Your Email Opt-Ins

Posted by Gerald Marshall on Jul 23, 2019 9:40:48 AM

This article is published in collaboration with HubSpot which we use to power inbound marketing and CRM for BlackBox.

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Topics: Email Deliverability, Best Practices

Avoiding Email Blacklists Just Got Easy

Posted by Gerald Marshall on May 13, 2019 11:43:30 AM

We're proud to announce that we've made significant enhancements to BlackBox that were designed to empower any size email sender to easily identify bad email addresses and avoid deliverability pitfalls.

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Topics: Email blacklists

Email Marketing Predictions 2019 - A Meta View

Posted by Gerald Marshall on Feb 13, 2019 1:09:23 PM

For the 4th year we present a meta data analysis of the predictions made for the coming year by industry experts. This year we gathered 195 predictions and categorized them as presented in the chart below. For charting purposes, we normalize volume to 100% so we can determine which are the main areas of discussion.

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Monitoring Sender Reputation: Why an ESP Must Act Like a Wary Money Lender

Posted by Gerald Marshall on Dec 11, 2018 1:16:09 PM

Sender Reputation and ESP Deliverability

Just as a bank or another kind of lender must thoroughly vet a customer before trusting them with a loan, an ESP needs to know something about a customer before letting them use their marketing automation platform. A bank has money to lend and expects to get it back in order to loan it to the next customer, so that bank must ensure the person (or business) borrowing the money has a high likelihood of repaying the loan. The money is the commodity.

An ESP has credibility to lend in the form of their deliverability reputation with the ISPs, so an ESP must ensure the email sender won’t damage that reputation and thereby impact the deliverability of the other email campaign senders as well. The reputation is the commodity.

Why sender reputation should matter to ESPs

A lender judges the trustworthiness of a person based on a credit score or a similar kind of evaluation. The bank asks, “Will this customer pay back the money they want to borrow?” The information gathered tells the bank about the consumer’s past behavior, and judgments are made based on that past behavior. A person or business that has defaulted on loans in the past, for example, is likely to default on a loan again in the future and presents a higher risk. In a similar way, an ESP can judge the trustworthiness of a customer based on that’s customer’s sender score. An ESP asks, “Will this customer takes steps to protect our hard-earned deliverability reputation?” Although a sender score in and of itself won’t give an ESP insight into the exact behaviors of an email marketer, that score will indicate whether the marketer has worked to achieve and maintain a good sending reputation—or not.

That sender score can be influenced by many factors, because there are so many ways to damage a sending reputation, including lack of list hygiene, sloppy list building, ignoring of hard bounces and spam complaints, sending to spam traps, and emails that fail to engage.

As an ESP, you can take every step necessary to achieve whitelisting status, but that clean, bright white can be muddied with gray if your customers are lax in their own deliverability practices. The sender score can let you know which customers are putting your reputation at risk.

How senders earn a reputation

Like a credit score reviewed by a bank, a marketer’s sending reputation can be determined by using Return Path’s reputation measurement tool, called the “sender score”. A sender score is based on past behavior and what that behavior says about a marketer’s trustworthiness as a sender.

Email marketers can damage their reputations through irresponsible behavior that results in spam complaints, emails sent to spam traps and honeypots, being greylisted or blacklisted, and sending emails to unengaged subscribers—which results in a low engagement rate.

Email marketers who are guilty of these transgressions don’t get away with them without damaging their reputations. ESPs should be wary of customers who fail to adhere to the email best practices that prevent this kind of behavior because the ISPs are looking at these sending reputations. They are deciding whether or not to let emails through based on the trustworthiness reflected by these reputations. A low sender score means an ISP is less likely to let a marketer’s emails through. A high sender score means more emails will be allowed through.

And all of this reflects upon and affects the ESP’s reputation as well. Let’s call it guilt by association.

A sender score can’t be left to chance

As an ESP, it’s a risky gamble to trust that all of your customers are striving for whitelisting status, crafting targeted emails that engage and delight their subscribers, or even regularly scrubbing their lists clean. Based on our experience in the industry, it’s much more likely that you have customers with sloppy list building practices, little hygiene, and an old-school focus on batch-and-blast rather than one-to-one email marketing.

You would do well to educate your customers, to ensure they are aware of how their behaviors affect their sending reputations and therefore their email deliverability. You would also do well to assume the worst about each customer, and to run their lists through a vetting service such as BlackBox, so you can catch any of the bad email addresses they let slip through.

Ensuring your customers know how to protect their reputations

You can start by making sure your customers are aware of their sender score, as well as aware of the behaviors that move that score up or down.

You could even be proactive and ensure your customers are aware of and following best practices such as:

  •       - Ramping up new dedicated IP addresses slowly and carefully
  •       - Regularly doing list hygiene
  •       - Using best practices for list building, and emphasizing quality over quantity
  •       - Using only permission-based email marketing
  •       - Using double opt-in
  •       - Monitoring spam complaints and hard bounces, and taking action to minimize them
  •       - Sending emails that engage their subscribers
    •       - Offering a preference center where subscribers can control what kinds of information they receive and how often

When banks loan money, they do so with care to increase the likelihood that the money will be paid back. They look at credit scores and make judgments about the trustworthiness of a given customer. That is how they lower their risk when lending money.

Be like the bank. Be wary. You, as an ESP are also loaning something valuable to your customers: your reputation. And any damage done to that reputation negatively impacts the sending ability of all of your other customers who are using the same platform: Yours!

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Topics: Email Deliverability

Email Blacklisted? What you need to know

Posted by Gerald Marshall on Sep 11, 2018 9:37:02 AM

Email blacklisted. What now?

Email blacklists are not necessarily a bad thing. I know that's hard to believe if your domain or IP is listed and your email campaigns can't make it out the door. Did you know that almost 85% of the email sent is spam and most of this is stopped by blacklists? Now that's the bigger picture.

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How a data breach affects email deliverability

Posted by Gerald Marshall on Jul 18, 2018 3:53:36 PM

Sadly, data breaches happen everyday.

While we have all been diligently working to protect the privacy of European customers, data breaches have continued to happen. Here's a small sampling.

January: As many as 2 million payment cards and email addresses were compromised when criminals gained access to Jason's Deli POS system, impacting at least 164 locations. 

March: Orbitz announced a breach affecting 880,000 consumer email addresses. 

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Topics: Email Deliverability

BlackBox Adds Freemium Plan to Help Improve Email List Scoring for All

Posted by Gerald Marshall on Apr 30, 2018 2:04:49 PM

Freemium. Yes, freemium. It seems like an unlikely path for a market-proven product after years of helping world-class email senders build abuse prevention systems, but that’s exactly what we’re doing. Success is sweeter when shared with others, so we are letting customers use our product for free!

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Is your customer email list good or bad?

Posted by Gerald Marshall on Mar 16, 2018 2:39:03 PM

How To Score a Risky Email List With BlackBox

Have you ever had a customer wanting to use your email marketing platform and you weren’t quite sure of their intent or their savviness of the nuances of email marketing? Can their data put your system in a lurch and harm your reputation? BlackBox is the one unique data set that allows you to determine just that, before your customer ever mails.

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A Curated Look at 2018 Email Marketing Predictions

Posted by Gerald Marshall on Jan 30, 2018 11:03:01 AM

This is the third year we have collected and curated email marketing predictions. It looks as if it's the year of the platform, the emails sent, and the details/design of their content.

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Posted by Gerald Marshall on Nov 7, 2017 2:46:59 PM

Fall is in full swing and the clocks are rolled back! That means we’re now raking leaves, pruning bushes and cleaning out closets of old clothes as we switch to warmer, more relevant outfits. You and all email marketers should be doing the same tasks before sending Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday email campaigns.

That’s right: It’s time to for the Autumnal cleaning of your email lists!

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