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Ken Magill

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It Takes More than a Phone Call to Deliver Your Email


By Ken Magill

Apparently some email-service-provider sales reps have been telling prospects they have people employed who have personal telephone hotlines to folks at the various major inbox providers. As a result, they claim, they can call on those contacts for favors if client deliverability troubles arise.

The issue came up in a white-paper discussion with a new client last week and has stuck in my craw ever since.

If you’re one of the sales reps touting this nonsense you need a steel-toed boot buried so far up your ass a heel print appears on your forehead.

If you’re a client who has bought into this nonsense, my name is Prince Samson Willington Omar of Lagos, Nigeria. I have 600 MILLION US DOLLARS tied up in a bank account here and I’m willing to share 300 MILLION US DOLLARS with you if you’ll help me get it out of the country. I just need a little up-front cash wired over so I can bribe local officials.

Now, I know not one single person who works at any of the major email inbox providers in any capacity.

But I don’t have to know the hotline claim is nonsense. All I have to do is apply a little logic—so little, in fact, that even my alcohol-addled brain can process it.

ESPs don’t pay inbox providers to deliver or sort their mail. Email marketers don’t pay email inbox providers to deliver or sort their mail.

When an ESP sends email out on a client’s behalf, the ESP is placing a burden on the inbox provider. As such, the ESP and its client represent a cost in real dollars to inbox providers.

How do inbox providers justify eating that cost? By making sure, as best they can, that they deliver email subscribers want and filter the stuff they don’t.

Subscribers represent revenue to inbox providers—in some cases ad revenue, in others subscription revenue. If an inbox provider delivers enough email subscribers don’t want, subscribers will leave and take their revenue-generation potential elsewhere.

Now imagine if, say, Yahoo! started letting sloppy email through from a particular ESP’s clients—thereby risking that revenue—because someone at Yahoo! had a personal friendship with someone at the ESP.

Given where inbox providers’ money is to be made—and where it is decidedly not to be made—that scenario wouldn’t make sense even if the ESP employee and the inbox-provider rep were sleeping together.


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Derek Harding
Date: 2013-07-12 14:12:00
Subject: Sleazy, or just out of date

Years ago major ISP spam systems were run by people who had a lot of control over what got delivered and what didn't. Who you knew and who knew you mattered a great deal. Over the past decade the systems have become more and more automated and the amount of influence individuals can (or will) exert on delivery has declined. So this may be some salesperson being super sleazy, or they may just have really out of date information. They're wrong in either case of course.
Posted by: Leslie
Date: 2013-07-12 12:06:03
Subject: Go on ... Name & Shame

Go on - tell us who it was! I had a particularly slimy ESP in the UK offer me a huge kick back to sign a client up - wonder it it's the same people?