What is more important, sending an email quickly or getting it delivered? To be fair, whats the point in sending it quickly if it’s not going to get delivered. So, it’s a bit of a rhetorical question, isn’t it?
And yet, we find that there is a general focus on just getting email campaigns out as quickly as possible, in the easiest way possible, without recognizing that it’s pretty pointless in sending it out, if the intended recipients aren’t going to actually get it.
Cloud based services like Bigpond, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail etc. All have a maximum number of emails per given period of time that they will accept from one email recipient. So, you have to work within these boundaries if you are going to get emails even accepted by those services.
So how do some email service providers (ESP) get mass volumes out in a short period of time?
If you look at where an email appears to come from and you will see something like;
From: Joe Bloggs, email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If we break that down, you can see that the From field, which should be a name only, has;
Joe Bloggs, email@example.com
This is to give you the impression that the from email address is firstname.lastname@example.org but…the from email address is actually what is between the angle brackets;
This is a sneaky trick and one that is heavily used by hackers. This enables most ESP’s to do several things, which in the early days of very little email security worked a treat;
- When 2 email servers connect the recipient server checks the IP address of the sending server, then checks the domain in the senders email address and makes sure the DNS records for that domain include an SPF record that says that domain and IP address are an authorized match. This is a check that is done in 90% of mail servers worldwide now. So, what most ESP’s are doing is getting the recipients mail server to check THEIR DNS records not the real senders DNS. This way, they don’t need to work with the sender to ensure that their DNS records are set up correctly to use their service, which really suits their low touch offering (use our service, but we don’t want to talk to you).
- Because of the above note about the maximum number of emails from any one user in a given period of time, some ESP’s can vary the email address they use as the sender’s email address and hence never exceed the maximum.
All very sneaky, but is it the right way to do it?
In the early days of emails, the answer is, that works, so yes. But, and it’s a big but, email security has come a long way and it’s progressing quickly. The big problem here is something called DMARC Domain Mismatch.
This is a security check that will typically happen AFTER the connection is dropped between the sending and receiving email servers, although we are seeing it as a failure while the connection is still established as a more common occurrence. This means that you may well get a report saying that the email was delivered, but it still may never get to the recipient.
With the DMARC Domain Mismatch, the recipient’s server will look at the entirety of the email message and look at the following;
- The Senders Email Address
- The From Name
- The Reply Email Address
- The Return Path Email Address
Note that the return path email address is something that the sending server sends to the recipients server as a means to communicate anything if there is anything to reports after the connection is dropped. The recipient will not see this email address.
It will look to make sure that all domains in those fields match up. If they do, it will pass. If not, it will fail and go no further.
Now the Purists out there will say that is rubbish, the specifications for the MARC Domain Mismatch says it looks at the Senders Email Address and the Return Path Email Address only. That is exactly what most ESP’s are banking on. However, we have evidence that 30%+ of all emails that rely on the Purists view, will fail to get past mail servers. That figure is rising every day.
Whats more, Google and Yahoo are now openly enforcing the extended DMARC compliance as of Q1 2024
Do it right
If you are going to send emails out in bulk and actually get them delivered into people’s inboxes, which let’s face it is the very point of the exercise, then you have to do it right!
Doing it right means making sure that you get all the domains aligned, you ensure that DNS records are setup correctly and you throttle your email delivery so that you do not exceed the maximum number of emails in a given period of time as per the specifications from the cloud-based services.
This requires your email service provider to actually work with you to make sure that everything is setup the right way from the start. Once setup, you can leave and forget.
But wait there is more…
More and more email servers are actually opening emails and checking all, or some of the links in the email to make sure there in nothing untoward in the email. In September 2022 we looked at tracking records and discovered that about 32% of all email tracking records originated by a server activity, not the intended recipient. In September 2023 the same research uncovered that figure has risen to 95%. You read that right, 95% of all email tracking activity can be attributed to a server checking your emails, not a person actually opening your email, or clicking on it.
If your service provider is NOT identifying this for you, you may think that your email campaigns are going along famously with big open and click through rates, when in fact the email may never have actually got to a user at all.
To make matters worse, if you create a campaign that has automatic follow ups based on the tracking activity, you may well be sending more emails that will never reach a recipient.
What do PRODOCOM do differently?
To be blunt, we do it the right way from the start.
We will work with you to get your DNS records right. In many cases when we look at a new Clients DNS records there are glaring existing errors, which can explain why emails from their own mail servers don’t seem to get through all the time.
We help you setup all the fields in your email so, the domains match and we get any soft bounces, which is where the server lets you know after the connection is dropped that the email failed, and we include that in reporting.
We throttle any emails going to the cloud-based services to ensure that we don’t exceed maximum email limits. This can be a moving target, as some cloud-based service like to vary the limit, making it a fun management process. But we do it all the same, as we want your emails to reach their intended recipients.
We identify for you if the email tracking record has been initiated by a server or a person. We also make sure that any automated follow ups only go out where we can identify the action was initiated by a person. Not only does this give you a true ROI, but it doesn’t waste your money paying for emails that were initiated by server activity not a person’s activity.