Andy Gradel was having a bad day. The Internet marketing manager of Cooper University Hospital, a 550-physician medical system with locations throughout southern New Jersey and the Delaware Valley, was getting ready to submit his monthly email newsletter report to his supervisor when he noticed that his steady 25 percent open rate had plummeted to 12 percent. Something was very wrong.
"I was scrambling, trying to come up with some kind of reason why it happened," he said. "While everyone talks about social media and Twitter and the hip forms of Internet marketing right now, email marketing is still our bread and butter. For each click-through I might get on a social networking site, I'm getting 20 to 30 from our email. It's really important that it gets through."
The problem, Gradel says, was that the domain server from which he was sending his email campaigns did not support Sender ID and sender policy framework (SPF)—authentication tools that help inbound-email servers classify which of the messages they receive are authentic and which aren't. Consequently, because Internet service providers (ISPs) and receiving networks could not verify that the email was truly coming from Cooper, his domain was blacklisted and emails he sent were not delivered.
By simply switching to a domain server that supported these authentication tools, Gradel was able to fix his delivery issue—for a mere $12.00.
Many organizations haven't been paying attention to emerging or even traditional best-practices in email marketing, says Jeff Wilbur, vice-president of marketing for Iconix, an email authentication company based in Santa Clara, California. As email marketing issues—including technology and legal concerns—evolve, there are several ways that these programs can go awry, he says.