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A Marketer’s Guide to Understanding Email Delivery Threats – EEC – Email Experience Council – ANA

Email delivery threats are the third most hazardous category on Webbula’s Email Hygiene Report. Learn what they are and how to keep them off your list.

Some say that email marketing is experiencing a renaissance, but many of us know that email marketing has been the top channel in terms of ROI for years. According to Campaign Monitor, email send volumes grew 7%, while open rates increased by 13%, YOY in 2021.

One key to success with email marketing? A clean list. Doing periodic hygiene and verification on your email database can help you dive into what types of emails are in your list and causing deliverability issues.

In fact, According to Webbula’s 2021 Email Hygiene and Verification Trends and Benchmarks Special report, “In 2020, email delivery threats made up 70% of the threats identified by Webbula’s hygiene services”.

So what are email delivery threats, how do they end up on a list, and how can you tell if they’re on yours right now? Find out.

What are email delivery threats?

Email delivery threats are the third most hazardous category on Webbula’s Email Hygiene Intelligence Report; they are a moderate threat level.

Email delivery threats include:

  1. Duplicates: Email addresses that are identical to another within the database.
  2. Disposable Domains: Disposable domains are like burner accounts. These are temporary free email addresses created by recipients to receive that coupon or discount code. They only have a lifespan of minutes, hours, or days, then like a ticking time bomb they are poof, gone.
  3. Corrections: Email addresses that contain typos.

How do email delivery threats end up on your list?

  1. Purchased Lists

Believe it or not, some marketers will purchase lists as a “shortcut” to try and build their database and drive sales. However, doing so can actually make matters worse for your marketing program for a few reasons:

  • These addresses did not opt-in to receive messages from you. You could be violating laws such as CASL, GDPR, & CCPA.
  • They could cause you to be labeled as a spammer.
  • Your deliverability & sender reputation could be damaged.
  • Your IP address and/or domain might end up on a blocklist.
  • All this could negatively impact your ability to meet your marketing goals.

Not to mention, you have no background knowledge on whether these emails are legitimate or not. You could be purchasing a list full of spam traps, bots, disposable domains, phishing emails, seeded trackers, moles, and more.

Good email lists are never for sale and most ESPs won’t let you email to a non-opt-in list to protect their sender reputation. It takes time to grow a good email list. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

2. Fake emails can still pass double opt-in (DOI)

Another common way email delivery threats end up on a list is when subscribers sign-up using a disposable email address.

Disposable domains are temporary free email addresses created by recipients who click the double opt-in to receive that coupon or discount code. They look like the absolute best customer who double opts-in, clicks the link, downloads the coupon, and purchases an item — but they aren’t.

These addresses also tend to be high risk for privacy issues because of their connection to a public inbox. In other words, if one of these emails was ever used for or contains personal information such as changing a password or payment information, all of this data is now unsecured and open to the public. So, even if you are 100% opt-in, it is still important to perform periodic checks of your list.

How can email delivery threats cause harm?

1. Poor Deliverability

Deliverability rate is the percentage of email that reaches the subscribers’ inboxes. If your message fails to make it to the inbox, if it lands in the spam folder, junk mail, or is blocked by the ISP instead, then your deliverability rate will take a hit. Sending to disposable domains, or email addresses that have typos won’t get you to the inbox. This will hurt your deliverability rate.

Although we are strictly talking about delivery threats in this article, it’s important to note, they aren’t the only threats that cause poor deliverability. Spam traps, bots, moles and other threats that fall into the fraud, reputation, or conversion categories can, too.

2. Damaged Sender Reputation

Your sender reputation measures how often you send, how many emails you send, the bounces that occur, and spam traps that are hit, among other factors. These results are tied to your IP and/or domain. If you’re sending to a list that hasn’t been cleaned, you’re putting your sender reputation at risk and could potentially find yourself into a blocklist.

Regularly Clean Your List to Avoid Blocklisting

Don’t make the same deliverability mistakes over and over again. If you’re gathering new contacts through form submissions, you should be cleansing your lists regularly. Not only does data change all the time, but if you’re moving data between platforms such as ESPs or CDPs, you should keep the data clean and ready for sending.  Another best practice is to implement a three-level protection to your forms which include ReCAPTCHA, double opt-in, and a real-time verification & hygiene solution.

Using double opt-in is a great solution because once a customer signs up for your emails, they will receive a confirmation link to continue the sign-up process. This is made to assure that real people are signing up for your emails and not email bots, but it doesn’t fully protect you against other threats.

The best way to ensure you catch email delivery threats before they enter your forms is by implementing a cleansing service that coordinates with your CRM, email service provider, or lead capture forms to ensure the best top-of-the-funnel-data quality leads are entering your lists.

A real-time email cleansing API is designed to quickly determine if the email being submitted is a valid working email address. This will help decrease the fraudulent or inaccurate data submitting into your forms, protect your deliverability and sender reputation, and improve your campaign ROI. On the front end, it will create a better experience for your customers.

Keep your email list squeaky clean, maximize deliverability, and minimize business-halting threats. Download Webbula’s 2021 Email Hygiene and Verification Benchmarks report now.


Jenna Devinney is the Content Marketing Manager at Webbula. She manages social media, creates eye-catching content, and oversees web design. She’s a jill of all trades writing a surplus of 100+ blog articles over three years in the email hygiene and data solutions space.

Webbula is the undisputed industry leader in Email Hygiene, Data Enrichment and Audience Targeting services. Check out to see what Webbula has to offer.










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