Recent discussions about email deliverability sound oddly familiar. Before email become a major marketing channel, Standard Presort Mail (known then as Third Class or Bulk) was the exclusive direct response medium. Mailboxes overflowed with catalogs and sales pitches. Back then this would be the case year-round, not just right now — in the protracted post-Halloween holiday season. It was inevitable that direct mailers would begin to seriously strain the postal system, using mail as something for which it was never designed. Weekly DM News reports would outrage readers with fresh tales of huge batches of mail delivered late or not at all. Delivery costs rose and delivery satisfaction fell. And thus emerged other media, following supply and demand (and abetted by Moore’s Law). These media included email. Now the outcry continues, but with this newer channel.
Fellow veteran of direct mail Melinda Krueger (MediaPost’s Email Diva) has a good post in that publication (registration required) about the influence of a dedicated IP address over deliverability. It’s a good primer to the topic of email reputation and how it is measured through the lens of an IP’s suspected spamming track record. More importantly, it helps the “lay audience” — those who think an ESP is a psychic ability and not an Email Service Provider — grasp the unintended consequences of email marketing.
Once again we marketers are using a medium for something no one considered at its birth.