January 16, 2008 | Spencer Kollas
For those of you that have been waiting to find out what I uncovered--here you go--enjoy.
The initial report stated that they were in fact getting 96.5% delivery. But, after examining the reports further, I noticed a line in the report that mentioned something about blocks. This block number was around 13.25%. Could this be? Was the ESP really counting a block as a delivered? Certainly not. If it got bounced by the ISP, why would anyone count it as a delivered?
I then asked the client for their perspective, and they explained to me that they were never exactly sure how deliverability was calculated, but they always thought it seemed fishy. With that, I decided to see if I could confirm that this was actually happening – because in my mind I was still thinking I was crazy for even thinking a respectable ESP would report things this way.
Finally, after looking through documentation and other items, we were able to confirm that my suspicion was correct. As I continued to think about this, I realized why so many senders have told me that deliverability is a “black art” or “voodoo." These marketers can not understand what deliverability really is because the “experts” in the field can’t even agree on what makes up a delivery rate, because in fact this ESP was counting blocked emails as delivered.
Needless to say I was quite upset that someone in this space would be, what I consider, untruthful with their clients. While I know a number of people at other ESPs, and I don’t believe that they all follow these types of practices, but it made me realize how important it really is having all the reporting in house so you don’t ever have to question the validity of the numbers.