Do b-to-b marketers really know where their e-mails are going?

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When I speak with b-to-b marketers, one of the common misconceptions I hear is that they don't have to worry about e-mail deliverability with the same intensity as their b-to-c counterparts do. The main reason they cite is that they are not subjected to the same scrutiny as consumer marketers are because they distribute smaller batches of messages and send to corporate domains rather than major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or Inbox Providers. Not only is this inaccurate, but ignoring the real affect major ISPs and filtering service providers can have on b-to-b email deliverability can quickly have a negative impact on your campaigns and your bottom line. Here are two ways this can happen: 

b-to-b companies use large ISPs and Inbox Providers for e-mail or use hosted domains

Recently, I worked with two b-to-b marketers who questioned the number of e-mail addresses in their database tied to major ISPs and Inbox Providers. After a closer look, it was discovered that 40-50% of their lists were made up of these addresses. Some companies, especially small ones, don't want to use their primary system for external email while others may not have a robust platform or simply want the ease of use and accessibility provided by a major ISP.

On some occasions, it may appear that an e-mail is being sent to a corporate domain, when in reality that domain is hosted by a large ISP or Inbox Provider. In fact, most major ISPs and Inbox Providers offer this service. If this is the case, these accounts are subject to the same throttling and filtering controls as the provider's “consumer” accounts.

Don't make assumptions about the e-mails in your database. Do your research.

“Umbrella” services and appliances share data across their networks

Many recipient in-boxes, even those hosted on internal systems, are monitored and filtered by what I refer to as “umbrella” services and appliances. These companies (such as Barracuda, Cloudmark and Postini) monitor sending performance, and if your IP, domain or content is deemed untrustworthy, it is possible that all the domains using that service or appliance could begin to reject your e-mail.  This sharing of data can have a quick and broad impact on your deliverability.

Deliverability is a constantly and rapidly evolving issue—for both b-to-c and b-to-b marketers. Ignoring best practices for even a short time can significantly impact your deliverability rate. To be successful, you must stay up to date on best practices, monitor deliverability rates and correct issues quickly. And make sure your marketing automation and e-mail marketing provider has all the right tools in place as well—ideally providing you with a team dedicated to deliverability.

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