Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Non-Marketing Guide to Email Marketing (medium.com)
92 points by eon01 on Sept 10, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

DKIM, SPF, and DMARC are not just about making sure your marketing emails don't end up in spam. They protect against certain kinds of email spoofing, sending an email with a forged sender address. While it's a technique often used by spammers and is subsequently often filtered as such, it can also be used to perform phishing attacks against your organization and your customers.

I fear this article is a bit too technical for someone more on the marketing and less on the IT end of things.

Even organizations I would expect to get DKIM/SPF/DMARC right frequently don't. I don't know how many "Hey, I see your emails have DKIM/SPF problems, here is how to fix it," messages I've sent that nobody ever followed-through on.

Spam folders are just one thing. The big new death knell for email deliverability are the "clutter" folders. Most email clients now use a learning algorithm to opaquely filter newsletters and advertisements to their own folder.

I use MailChimp for newsletters and postmark for transactional email, and between the two have great deliverability. Both services, and many others, guide you through the process of setting all this up.

After struggling for months to get off of some random opt-out spam list from MailChimp I just opted out of MailChimp all together. They offer zero support for those getting spammed by MailChimp customers.

Also MailChimp becomes crazy expensive after 3000 sign-ups.

Yep, they offer either monthly or pay-per-email-sent options. The latter is crazy expensive, especially for sending emails that aren't directly selling a product.

So startups opt for the monthly plan, and then in order to "get their money's worth", they send more emails than they might otherwise.

I sincerely wonder if MailChimp's pricing structure ends up causing there to be substantially more spam in the world. I don't want to hassle my users all the time, so I just pause my monthly service and unpause it once or twice a year.

But really I'd like to send 4-6 emails per year. And with MailChimp, I can either pay exorbitant per-delivery costs or pay for several months of subscription where I'm not sending any emails. Neither option seems great. Once email marketing becomes more of a focus for my company, I will look seriously at competitors to see if they have offerings that are structured differently.

It's not only MailChimp that causes the "get your money's worth" type send an email every two weeks even if you don't need to style behavior - it's an impossibility to run a clean list these days and not get flagged as spam by the major ESPs if you don't do this.

Here's what I've found: Say you're generating a new list from user entered email addresses, supplied by users with a form on your website. After regex for validating the "shape" of addresses, and also making the user enter their email twice (which I'm finding doesn't actually help your correct email rate, all it does is reduce the number of signups), a full 6% of gmail addresses you receive will still be invalid, and an additional 3% will be trash ('asdfasdf@gmail.com'). For non-gmail domains it's more like 20% bounce, 20% go to yahoo/outlook/hotmail black holes w/o bouncing, and you end up with about 60% delivery of your double opt in mail, of which about half actually bother to dig out of spam and verify. Awful! If you then went on to send one email per year when you have some big important event that your users actually signed up to hear about, I have some bad news for you. 30% of those emails will bounce, and you'll get on all the spam lists immediately. So, how do you get your bounce rate down? Simple! Send a welcome email - 30% of those will bounce, as before, but then, for those that don't bounce, send another "how're you doing!" email once a week. Voila - after a month, your bounce rate is down to 6%, your users hate you because you send trash all the time, but hey, from google, microsoft, and veriozon's point of view you're a great member of the email community, look how low your bounce rate is getting to be!

If you run an email server, please do the right thing for your legitimate marketers and ignore bounce rate - the extra 5% traffic to your smtp server is not going to burn it down. If you think high bounce rates indicate someone trying some sort of dictionary attack, well, sure - but this should generate a bounce rate that is near 100% - if you set your cutoff somewhere reasonable, say 50%, then you stop forcing me to have to send 5 emails to every signup!

Sendy is a good alternative. I tested it in my server, you'll need some technical requirements for the installation but after that it's easy to use.

Would you know of any alternates? I am searching..

I use sendinblue now, happy with their free tier.

Unfortunately MailChimp doesn't support custom Return-Path, even while their own Mandrill does. This makes it impossible to be 100% SPF-compliant under DMARC rules ("SPF not aligned" and all that).

SPF, DKIM and DMARC are about authentication not deliverability. They do have some impact on deliverability but their primary usage is authentication. The main way that intersects with reputation is that properly authenticating allows various mailbox providers like gmail, et al to apply more weight to your domain reputation in their inbox placement algorithms.

Off-topic: The animated border at the top of the screen feels like a loading bar and is making me nervous.

Shameless self plug: if you are interested in email marketing articles, perhaps you'd be interesting in my "Email Marketing Weekly" newsletter.


Signed up!

Welcome :-) I hope it proves valuable.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact