Hard Bounces Are Not Just Invalid Email Addresses

Email, Marketing
Hard Bounces Are Not Just Invalid Email Addresses

Hard Bounces Are Not Just Invalid Email Addresses. Take a closer look at your esp (email service provider). 



Over the past few years I have had many conversations around this topic. As a data list provider it is obvious that our success as a company is directly tied to email deployment outcomes. On the surface it is easy enough for us at K12 to provide a simple response to questions regarding data quality. Customer:  “We had a 12% hard bounce rate and this is not what we expected as your company advertises 97% email deliverability.” K12, cursory response:  “The data is black and white and we can easily manage the expected hard bounce rates by preforming a regimented hygiene processes. 

For instance, educator email data has a roughly 20% attrition rate. That means that over a 12 month period one could expect 20% of their educational email contacts will become obsolete. The educator might have transitioned to another district, or quit, retired, and so on. So as a list provider we can manage this attrition rate by verifying our contacts regularly. This is accomplished by sending our file out to a 3rd party email verification company many times throughout the year and making sure we are pulling the bad contacts (bad email addresses) and re-verifying the contacts one by one. Very straightforward and this should address the issue right? Not so fast.  

What is surprising is the amount of customers that on the surface we think are very savvy marketers and they use companies like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp as their esp’s. This isn’t hard to grasp since the two are so pervasive in the email deployment market- and this is the issue. A couple of years ago I remember Miami-Dade Public Schools opted-out of receiving emails originating from CC. So MDPS essentially cut out the majority of the email advertising that was making its way to their employees. Regardless of the product, service, or who the author of the email was it was banished. So coming back to K12 and our data. Now when a client calls us and mentions higher than expected hard bounce rates our reply is "are you using one of the "mainstay", copious deployment companies?"

As difficult as it might look to export your data from CC or MC and start anew you should consider doing just that. When we ask the clients that are successful in their email marketing efforts who they use their answers generally point to esp's that I have never heard of. This isn't difficult to comprehend since this is 2019 and there are literally hundreds of good deployment companies and platforms. 

My advice- skip the adverts, fancy pie charts, flashy monkeys, and find the road less traveled. Warm up your newly purchased IP address slowly and forge patiently ahead. It took one of our largest clients three months to nail down the right deployment company for them and they are killing it. On that note- if you find someone great keep it to yourself. Most of us don’t need or want more Constant Contacts or Mail Chimps. 

When asked why don't we manage email campaigns. We are an education data company. We change oil, not wipers, or freon, or tires. We stick to one thing and try to be the best we can at that one thing. I wouldn't want my list provider to send my emails out with the other 1500 vendors. The water in that hot tub seems a little merky to me. Whoever you choose to deploy I encourage you to seed your list/s prior to turning them over to anyone. 

Charlie Isham

K12 Data, Inc.

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