Q&A | Preventing an Unexpected Spike in Email Bounces

Reposting this Q&A; from ThinData’s Email Strategies where I answer the question, “What do I do when an ISP discontinues a domain or migrates users from one domain to another?”

A subscriber asked:

We’re a large media firm sending email to subscribers throughout Canada and the United States. I’ve heard recently that one of the largest US ISPs has discontinued sending messages to some email domains. What kind of impact will this have on my email marketing campaign? And, what can I do about it?

Our Expert’s Answer (That’s me):

Here’s the scoop: One of the largest US ISPs is bringing into their system a large volume of email addresses that had formerly been distributed by another ISP. During the migration of these email domains, subscribers were encouraged to switch domains (similar to a few years ago when “@home” subscribers were prompted to actively change their addresses to “@rogers”, “@shaw” and “@cogeco” – based on the appropriate local ISPs).

If you are sending emails to subscribers in the United States whose email domains were distributed through the originating ISP that have not been correctly updated, you will find a dramatic spike in your email bounce rates. Under these conditions, you can take the following steps now to reduce the impact on your email campaigns’ success:

  1. Work with your ISP or ESP to ensure that all of the relevant domains are removed from your mailings
  2. Plan for an increase in telephone calls regarding missed email messages
  3. Review your email campaign content to ensure that critical subscriber information can be accessed through another method (e.g. placed on your website)
  4. Have your ISP or ESP quantify the increase in bounces attributable to this ISP’s actions so that you can factor that information into key elements of your campaign, such as:
  • Initial conversion goals
  • Delivery analytics
  • Testing schedule
  • Related follow-up messages

    Finally, ISPs across North America are constantly changing their practices and policies which in-turn will have a dramatic impact on your email campaigns. As a result, for all of your campaigns, include time and resources to review ISPs’ evolving rules as well as verify and update email addresses.

    Do you have anyother tips; please share them by sending an email to contact or leave a comment here

    Author: Matt V - @emailkarma

    Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional (Canada) (CIPP/C) with nearly two decades of experience in email marketing. Matthew is 250ok’s Director of Privacy, and he is currently the Vice Chair of the eec, after serving for several years as the Chair of their Advocacy Subcommittee. Matthew was recognized as the 2019 eec thought-leader of the year.

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