Email Marketer’s Advice to Email Service Providers

An Email Service Provider gains ground by taking care of its customers needs. To do this, though, the customers must communicate those needs to the Email Service Provider. In this post, I’ll suggest a key point for ESPs to improve, to help their customers succeed.

Working in technical support for an Email Service Provider, I had many opportunities to pass along customer needs to developers.  Now that I’m in the customer position, I find myself needing the same thing over, and over, and over.  That thing? Quick and easy access to soft bounce data.

One ESP gives great breakdowns of soft bounces by domains.  It’s easy to see performance with a click few clicks. Another ESP has access to great data, but it’s many clicks, selections, and options to reach that data. Since we have multiple accounts, I’m going through a whole routine multiple times. Another ESP only tells me the percentage of soft bounces, but gives no visibility further.

Soft bounces are important. As you grow your list, they become more important.  When you send millions of emails per month, this data is vital. Visibility of this data is something I just can’t do without, but ESPs are inconsistent in how they offer this.

My advice to an Email Service Provider? Look at how you present this data. Do you give your customers enough information? Do you break it down into usable charts and reports?  Can you get to these reports easily? Can you schedule reports, so they’re emailed?  Is the emailed version easily accessible?

Let’s take a look at one particular Email Service Provider I use regularly, but will not name. In order to analyze my soft bounces, I have to go through quite a few steps.

  1. Click on “reports”
  2. Click on “Detail Reports”
  3. Select “Bounce Details Reports”
  4. Select time period
  5. Generate report
  6. Select format for export
  7. Export and open in Excel

That’s not so much work, but we have half a dozen accounts.  This means I need to go through these steps in each account. It’s not horrible, but it is tedious.  I looked for a better way.  I found it in report scheduling.  I created a set of reports I needed regularly, and scheduled them to be emailed to me each day. That was great, until I discovered how much work it would be to access these emailed reports.

  1. Open email
  2. It’s not an HTML email, so I must copy/paste url into browser to open report.
  3. Download zip file
  4. Extract zip file
  5. Open report in Excel for analysis.

This process could be improved if the email was an HTML email with a direct link to the report. It’s zipped, which is unnecessary if I’m clicking to download the file anyway. By not zipping the downloaded file, and using HTML in the generated report email message, multiple steps could be removed. The scheduled report function could be quick, and simple.

The process is tedious, and a little annoying.  That said, the process does mean I can access the important data that I need. I wish this was always the case.

Unfortunately, not all email service providers see the need for access to this data. Strategizing email sends in the hundreds of thousands is much harder when an Email Service Provider only tells you a percentage of soft bounces in a send, but gives no insight on which domains are generating these soft bounces.

So please, ESPs, take care of your customers. Give them access to this important data. This is data that can help your customers succeed. Their success is your success.

Oh, and email marketers who aren’t paying attention to soft bounce data?  You should.

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