Email Marketing & Automation

Don’t Blame the B2B (Email) Messenger

One of our clients asked today if they should migrate to another email service provider off of the service they’re using. We asked why and they stated that they received an 11% hard bounce rate on the emails they had sent. They thought the system was broken because they hand verified that some of the email addresses that stated there was a hard bounce were active recipients at the company.

In a typical scenarios, a higher bounce rate may raise some eyebrows. Even in this case, we’re encouraging the client to speak to the deliverability team at their email service provider. However, this isn’t your typical company – this is a company that works in the B2B field and the email addresses on their subscriber lists aren’t your average Gmail or other recipients. They’re large corporations that manage their mail internal.

And the email service provider in this case has an outstanding reputation for good deliverability. So it’s doubtful that there’s an IP reputation problem with the sender.

This scenario is different than B2C email deliverability. Because of the volume of SPAM flowing into corporate mail exchanges, the vast majority of IT departments have deployed appliances or services to reject SPAM. Consumer systems often depend on the reputation of the sender, the message and the volume of Junk Filter clicks to determine whether or not to send email to the junk folder. And even then, the email isn’t bounced – it’s delivered… just to the junk folder. Business systems may not even have a junk folder or they might bounce the emails and never let them in!

A B2C email will still get delivered, but could be routed to the Junk Folder. A B2B email; however, may be rejected outright. Depending on the service or appliance they’re using to block SPAM, along with the settings they’ve configured, the emails could be rejected based on the sender’s IP address and reputation, it could be rejected for content, or it could even be rejected simply because the speed and volume of emails being delivered from a single sender.

In the B2C scenario, the email was physically accepted with a response back to the sender that the email was received. In the B2B scenario, some systems simply bounce the email altogether and provide a false error code of a hard bounce.

In other words, the B2B company’s appliance rejects the email with a hard bounce code back that the email address doesn’t even exist (even though it might). This, coupled with the turnover found at businesses, can raise the hard bounce rates of a B2B campaign substantially above the average B2C campaign. This specific client is also a technology client – so their recipients are security and IT folks… people that love to max out any security settings.

At the end of the day, the Email Service Provider isn’t lying… they simply report the code that was sent back from the recipient’s mail server. While bulk email services may have issues with their IP reputation (which you can easily monitor with 250ok), in this case the small but targeted list of recipients appears to be the issue to me. Our message to our client:

Don’t blame the messenger!

If you’re a email service provider or bulk email sender and want to monitor your IP reputation, troubleshoot deliverability issues, or measure your actual inbox placement, be sure to demo 250ok‘s platform. We’re a partner with them.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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