EP #41 Data, metrics, technology, and trends- how everything impacts email deliverability!

EP #41 Data, metrics, technology, and trends- how everything impacts email deliverability!

About this Podcast

In today’s special episode of the “For The Love Of Emails” Podcast, we welcome LB Blair, Founder at Platonic IDeal. Blair has worked with some of the largest email senders globally, including Banking, Politicians, Retail, and more. She has helped the world’s largest brands with their email deliverability and reputation remediation. She and her team are experts in email deliverability, email authentication and security, Gmail reputation, Custom tool development, etc. Matthew Vernhout, VP of deliverability at Netcore Cloud, hosted the podcast.

Quick Snapshots
In this podcast, Matthew Vernhout and LB Blair discussed:
Email marketing metrics that hold relevance in the changing email ecosystem
Pre and post platform migration advice
Importance of DMARC compliance for enhanced protection, performance, and more
Emerging technologies AMP and BIMI- challenges and outcomes with examples
Gmail dominance in market share and overall customer experience
What impacts the choice of email deliverability platform
Episode Transcripts

Intro: You’re listening to the “For The Love Of Emails” podcast, powered by Netcore, a weekly show dedicated to helping email marketers, marketing enthusiasts, and professionals of all walks engage, grow, and retain customers through reliable, innovative, and effective email communication and engagement. Discover actionable ways to increase ROI and deliver value through email innovations, personalisation, optimisation, email deliverability, and email campaigns.No fluff! Tune in to hear best practices and tactical solutions from the best thought leaders and practitioners. Master your email communication now.

Matthew Vernhout (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to another edition of, For the Love of Emails Podcast. I’m your host, Matthew Vernhout, Vice President, Deliverability for Netcore Cloud. Exceptional guest with me today. My good friend, LB Blair. LB is the founder of Platonic Ideal, a North American email deliverability consulting company. Just a little bit about LB before we start. LB is the founder of the Platonic Ideal. Her team has guided some of the largest email senders in retail, banking, media, and politics and many major providers in the tech industry with their email deliverability, their authentication solutions, and platform migrations. Her group specialises in all of these things. Reputation management included. Custom tool development if you need help with tools. LB has shown me some really interesting data points that she’s been working on with her team. We’re going to talk about those in a little bit. LB, welcome to the show.

LB Blair (01:03):

Hey Matt. Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.


Matthew Vernhout (01:07):

I’m glad you, I’m glad we were able to connect and get you on the show finally. I’ve been meaning to get you here for a while. You know, let’s start with a little bit, you know, tell us in your own words about LB, the person.


LB Blair (01:20):

Yeah, so I, I would say the most important thing about me is I’m, I’m kind of a lifelong learner as far, and that’s honestly, one of the things that I love about deliverability is it’s so dynamic, it’s always in flux. Things are always changing. I mean, not honestly, not just deliverability, but email in general, you know, there’s this whole ecosystem out there that kind of has a life of its own. You know, there are so many different players of the ecosystem that you have to be aware of from, you know, the recipients that you’re trying to send to, to the mailbox providers that have their concerns and independent blocklists and third party spam filters. There’s, there’s just so many moving parts to it. I, I find it fascinating. But yeah, I would say I love school. I have two degrees. I have also, I honestly, I would say I kind of have two and a half degrees because I did a little bit of a graduate degree and one thing, few people know about me in the industry is that I am a chef school dropout.


Matthew Vernhout (02:29):

Well, I’m going to show up for dinner one night. You can show me what you learned during that time period.

LB Blair (02:33):

 I would be happy to, I greatly enjoy cooking and culinary pursuits. But yeah, I, I no longer do that professionally.


Matthew Vernhout (02:47):

So, you know, you mentioned the things that you do professionally. So, you know, I kind of gave a bit of an intro around Platonic Ideal, and I know you guys do a lot more than what I was talking about in, in the intro about the company, you know, can you just sort of giving us a bit more around what you do and how you work with your customers?


LB Blair (03:06):

Yeah, for sure. I, I would say that our big push currently is to develop and nurture the email intelligence space. One thing that I feel that there is kind of a lack of in the industry are tools that give marketers, senders directional advice, or, you know, really concrete, actionable insights. So one of the things that we’re working on is applying data science to email marketing metrics in order to answer questions definitively rather than with, you know, cognition as we like to call it you know, what, what should you do? Should you send more emails, what is the correlation between your open rate and your revenue? Like, are you, you know, do more opens actually correspond to more revenue for you or is it possible that you’re driving opens, but not driving sales and revenue?


Matthew Vernhout (04:15):

That’s always a tough connection. That’s always a tough connection for a lot of brands and getting past you know, open rate metric you know, we saw and, and I’m sure you’ve experienced it as much as I have with the changes with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, the MPP service around, oh my God, my open rates look fantastic, but my revenue hasn’t changed. My clicks haven’t changed. Any thoughts on that?


LB Blair (04:39):

Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’ve been advising senders to pay closer attention to their click rates and, and their conversions just because, you know, I, I mean, I would say this MPP has certainly, you know, made open rate even more unreliable. This was already an existing problem. You know, MPP just kind of exacerbated it, but, you know, I would say open rates are still directional. I, I mean, it’s all about kind of taking the long view and seeing like which way you’re trending, you know, looking at a body of data. I mean, it is important because it, one thing that I experienced with a lot of my senders that, you know, surprised me, I think a lot of people may be expected MPP to be kind of like a switch flip, like, oh, opens are going to go up like overnight that isn’t, that doesn’t appear to be what happened.

LB Blair (05:40):

It seemed to be a much more gradual process of opens kind of just gradually kept up over time. So I think that’s why it’s important to, you know, really take a look at your data in different statistical views. And that’s one thing we focus on here at Platonic Ideal is, you know, okay, what was my average open rate for the last month? What was my average open rate for the last three months, the last six months, the last year? You know, what, if I look at all of those and then what is my open rate today? You know, if you look at all of those and see which way you’re trending, I mean obviously post MPP you would expect to be trending up but then, you know, once things have kind of stabilized, like how does your, yeah. How does your open rate today compare to your average open rate for the past, you know, 30 days or something like that?


Matthew Vernhout (06:38):

Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, open rates have always been rather directional and you know, you still get a pretty good signal even from MPP, right? If your open rate is terrible, for example, it’s, you know, it’s 2, 3, 4, 5%, it’s a good indication even with MPP that your mail went to the spam folder. Cause they’re not caching images when messages are in the spam folder.


LB Blair (06:58):

Yeah, exactly. And I’ve unfortunately seen a couple of instances of that recently. Yeah. The open rate just kind of bottoms out, and yeah, just like you said, if the emails hit the spam folder, they’re not caching images. And I believe it was even you, and you and I were talking about this a few months back, and you know, a few conditions kind of have to be true as far as when the opens are coming in. I would say that the other interesting thing that I’ve seen as far as what I’ve been advising my senders to do is to check your open rate after about six hours. Because typically, most campaigns do the majority of what they’re going to do after that period. I mean, you have to know your brand, and this varies by brand and audience a little bit. But I would say in the majority of cases, it’s true. But I remember you told me a little bit ago that you’re seeing a group of opens come in later at night because the phone has to be on the wifi. It has to be, you know, I think either plugged in or over a certain per cent charged for Apple’s MPP to kick in and cache those tracking pixels.

Matthew Vernhout (08:11):

Yeah. We predominantly see the open rates sort of, you know, 12:00 PM or 12:00 AM Eastern too, you know, 3:00-4:00 AM Eastern sort of that nighttime period in North America when people are plugging in their phones and going to sleep and MPP is working in the background to sort of pre-cache all those images. What is interesting and I don’t know if you’ve seen it, I don’t know if your client base extends a sort of beyond the North American reach, but in our India market MPP had a very small reaction or impact; I should say compared to the North American market. So, we saw maybe a 30 to 50% increase in North America, but only like a 10 to 15% in India.


LB Blair (08:54):

That makes sense to me because I feel like their device makeup is much more Android skewed than Apple iOS skewed. So, that makes a lot of sense to me. But yeah, yeah. So I would, I, I think that would probably be the pretty logical explanation there is that they’ve just got a lot more Android devices versus Apple devices.


Matthew Vernhout (09:19):

Absolutely. And, and we also see a predominantly, you know, where North America average retailer is 50% Gmail and India can be as high as 80 or 90% Gmail. So the mailbox skew is, is significantly different there as well. When it comes to working with your customers, one of the things we had sort of talked about in the intro was platform migration. Platform migration is a headache for a lot of people. Any tips or advice for people regarding when they’re planning a platform migration sort of the activities they should do in advance and then the activities they should do post-migration?

LB Blair (09:57):

Yeah, absolutely. I would say, you know, in advance, you know, talk with your existing ESP, the one that you’re migrating off of and make sure that you have access to all of your suppressions, you know, anybody that has unsubscribed, anybody that’s hard bounced, anybody that may have soft bounced, you know, X number of times and Y number of days. And I think it’s good to know those two values because it varies by platform. I know I used to work for IBM marketing cloud, formerly the product formally known as silverpop now known as acoustic. And I, I believe our policy was something like, you know, if an email soft bounced out of a campaign like three times in 21 days, then we would just consider that the same as a hard bounce. Because you know, obviously if somebody’s mailbox is like returning mailbox full, you know, three times in 21 days, then, you know, let’s just consider that dead probably.


Matthew Vernhout (11:03):

Especially if you’re looking at a Gmail address with 17 gigs of full email.


LB Blair (11:07):

Yeah yeah yeah..


Matthew Vernhout (11:08):

It’s probably an abandoned account.


LB Blair (11:10):

Matt, have you been looking in my inbox? I will say mine’s not abandoned, but I just..

Matthew Vernhout (11:14):

No, but I did get a bounce message the other, no, I’m kidding.


LB Blair (11:18):

I was like, no, no, Google, Google got me. They get that extra $2 a month, man. I promise you. I was like, yeah, just gimme the hundred gig. That sounds great.


Matthew Vernhout (11:29):

What about like the, you know, as, as you migrate platforms, there’s, there’s DNS that needs to get set up and things that need to change, you know, how do you address the, you know, the migration, including things like SPF, DKIM, DMARC, if it’s the, in a, in use to ensure that mail, you know, you’re not bouncing your mail by mistake.


LB Blair (11:49):

Exactly, exactly. I would say so the first thing. Honestly, the first thing that I do with migration is assess where the client currently is on their existing platform because it’s good to know, do they have any existing deliverability problems? Cause that’s kind of going to that’s going to guide the infrastructure or the set and the setup you want to choose. You know, cause, for example, if they have a terrible Gmail reputation right now, you might want to spin up a new subdomain and just have maybe a little bit more of a fresh start, like a new platform, new subdomain, new IPS, you know, try to kind of just take a fresh start and rebuild from there. So, I would say assessing where you currently are is very important, you know, and figuring out where you want to be is a lot of my advice.


LB Blair (12:48):

But yeah. I think it’s, and then also in a lot of cases that makes setting up authentication a bit easier if you’re not trying to use the same domain or subdomain for two platforms at the same time. But yeah, I, I would say, you know, check your SPF record, make sure you have enough space in there for an additional platform. You know, and I would certainly say for larger companies, I mean, you’re going to be looking at you know, doing a, doing a subdomain just because it’s yeah, there, there, you know, there are lots of services out there, like where you even put your spam filter in your SPF record. And a lot of times those don’t tend to be well optimized or, or flattened. So they take up lots of SPF lookups. There’s a couple of you guys that I’m talking about out there who need to flatten it out, condense it a little bit, maybe.

LB Blair (13:47):

But yeah, it’s also a good time just to audit what needs to be in there. Are you still using every single service that’s represented in your SPF record? Because if you’re not, you need to jettison it you know, you need to kick some of the old ones out for, you know, really security reasons. And, and things like that. And, I mean, I would say DMARC is a hard recommendation for me these days. I’ve just seen so much spoofing lately. And absolutely, if you’re going to migrate to a new platform, you know, you’ve got to get your custom DKIM set up. There’s been a little bit of talk about this lately, and I agree. I don’t think there’s any reason not to make sure you set up custom DKIM signing on your marketing, you know, and your marketing emails and ensure that you are DMARC compliant.

 Matthew Vernhout (15:51):

So you’re talking about the importance of DMARC


LB Blair (15:56):

Yeah. DMARC and custom DKIM signing, which I, I, I think is also important to help you establish a reputation. And also it’s the key to unlocking one of my absolute favourite tools on the planet which is Google postmaster tools because it’s free. And there is no reason not to have it set up on any domain that you are sending email from.


Matthew Vernhout (16:21):

Yeah. And I think the other important piece is there is, you know, the Yahoo CFL, which is their complaint feedback loop. Also requires DKIM to be configured whether it’s the brands or the ESPs in regards to ensuring that you’re getting that feedback from users. I’m also a big fan of ensuring that you have a proper list-unsubscribe header configured a lot of platforms use that as a way to supply an easy way for consumers to unsubscribe versus reported messages.

LB Blair (16:54):

Yeah. And I, I guess I would say in my experience that is managed by the ESP in most cases. And I, and I feel like, I feel like it’s really rare these days to see an ESP that is not injecting that into the header.


Matthew Vernhout (17:08):

Absolutely. Absolutely. When it comes to you know, your thoughts, what are your thoughts around things like the emerging technologies of AMP for email and you know, BIMI for brands and, and using their logos?


LB Blair (17:28):

Yeah, absolutely. I will address those in reverse order. I think BIMI, I think BIMI is super cool and I, I think it’s, you know, kind of the future of where things are headed because it’s honestly a request that I got a lot, even when I just started an email, you know, years ago at, at acoustic or at you know, IBM marketing cloud. And, you know, it was a very common support request of like, Hey, how do I control the contact icon that Gmail’s displaying? You know, we would get it at least a few times a week. And the answer back then was, well, you really can’t or I think you have to set up like a Google business page and you know, then maybe they’ll display whatever it is you put there. But I, I, I think now it’s, you know, for large scale brands, I think it’s absolutely a no brainer.


LB Blair (18:24):

And honestly, the wild thing is even, even my, you know, my like 75 plus year old, mother-in-law it knows kind of what it is as far as she’s like, oh, Hey, yeah, that icon, I recognize who that brand is that looks like, you know, a legitimate email to me and, and I use it because she’s on Yahoo. So she’s been seeing brands with BIMI logos as their contact, you know, for their contact icons for a while. And yeah, I, I think it’s, I think it’s something that makes intuitive sense to the subscriber. And I think it’s something that marketers have been asking for for a while. You know, the hurdle there is getting your DMARC to quarantine or reject. And Matt, you’re very aware of my strong opinions on quarantine as a, I am not a fan of it. I feel like it doesn’t provide the sender with any information. I typically go directly from none to reject because I would rather get the bounce messages back and be able to identify there’s a problem and rectify it quickly or, you know, at least stop sending mail until I rectify it.

Matthew Vernhout (19:37):

Very brave, very brave.


LB Blair (19:39):



Matthew Vernhout (19:40):

I’m a fan of, I’m a fan of a short period of time as in quarantine, give it, you know, two, three weeks iron out, those, those final few bugs. But I would also say not every brand needs to be at rejecting personal opinion, you know, quarantine for a lot of brands is good enough. And suppose you think about some of the mailbox providers. In that case, they treat quarantine as reject or inverse, they treat reject as quarantine which we’ve seen some discussion about recently where, you know, why is a mailbox provider not honouring the reject request?


LB Blair (20:12):

Yeah, yeah. I mean, definitely the Baheemas out there are kind of going to do what they want. But yeah, yeah. I, the reason I’ll say part of the reason I don’t like quarantine is my experience in the B2B space back when I was you know, helping manage the click dimensions, deliverability infrastructure as far in the B2B space, the quarantine folder, in my opinion, is just like no man’s land for a lot of spam folders, like the admin may or may not ever check it. And if they do, it’s very rare that they look at an email and go, oh yeah, that looks like something my subscriber wants. I’m just going to let that on through. Mostly I, I feel like, you know, the quarantine folder and like, you know, B2B spam filters, like Barracuda, like Proofpoint, like Mimecast things like that, is where email just goes to die.


LB Blair (21:03):

So, that is a large reason I like to avoid it. And yeah, but I agree with you, there are certainly, you know, mail mailbox providers, especially the big ones, who are kind of going to do what they’re going to do. They still think they know best. And but again, yeah, I like, I, I, I like being at quarantine or I like being at none. And honestly, I often don’t even, unless you’re looking to implement BIMI or unless you’re actively being spoofed, I often don’t even recommend my senders, like move on to reject, you know, just to, to make things a little bit, I guess, less risky for the DMARC deployment.


Matthew Vernhout (21:45):

Right? Absolutely. I think there’s, there’s a, a value proposition to, and, and, you know, certainly clear benefit for some brands to move, to reject banking, financial services, etcetera.


LB Blair (21:59):

Yeah, exactly.


Matthew Vernhout (22:00):

But if you’re an average retailer, quarantine is probably good enough for most parts, unless you’re actively being spoofed and phished, which frequently happens for many brands. Even my brands, I not in high volumes, but you know, several hundred messages a week attempt to spoof brands that I manage and own. So I, I think, you know, I hear that complain a lot or not complain, but I hear that comment a lot. I’m too small to care. People aren’t going to care.

LB Blair (22:29):


Matthew Vernhout (22:30):

Right. I have a demand with one person that sounds no email that gets 400 messages a day targeted against it in regards to people using it to spoof out that..


LB Blair (22:40):

I think there’s a lot of I guess what I call opportunistic spoofing, which is, you know, it’s, it’s probably some bot out there that is just trying to see what it can get away with and where it can get traction. And then once it finds, you know, a juicy target where it’s getting some inbox placement where, you know, maybe getting some click rate, open rate, whatever activity, whatever you know, nefarious goal conversion goal they have in mind when they start seeing some traction, that’s when they, you know, alarms go off in a good way for them. And they like to focus on it. But yeah, I’ve been seeing a lot of spoofing, like lower levels you know, or, yeah, low, lower levels of volume. So honestly yeah for me, DMARC is a recommendation for everyone.


LB Blair (23:34):

And regular, I would say at least weekly, check-ins on your reporting to review, you know, what’s going on. And that’s one of the things that we do for our clients is manage their DMARC because, you know, it can be pretty technical. I, I honestly think DMARC is just a good way to keep tabs on you know, your infrastructure as a whole as well, and kind of map it out because one of the things working with startups and working with smaller brands when Platonic was getting started that we found is, you know, a lot of cases, I, I would hear a lot of stories like, Hey, so I took over, you know, after the, you know, somebody would contact me and be like, Hey, I took over after, you know, the last marketer quit left was fired, whatever they’ve been gone for like a week.


LB Blair (24:22):

I started, you know, a week after they left. And, I have no idea what our infrastructure is. I have no idea what all applications are sending email on our behalf. And DMARC is a really good way to just kind of keep tabs on that. And then, you know, also like I was mentioning earlier, audit your SPF record so you can, you know, review your DMARC data which services are actually sending email on your behalf and then look at, you know, your SPF record and be like, oh, well, we haven’t sent anything from this in like three months, I can remove that.

Matthew Vernhout (24:55):

That reminds me of a conversation I had with Chris Erindale. And he had mentioned, you know, they started doing DMARC for a customer when they had sort of started the planning. The customer is, yeah, we have eight email platforms or eight email sources. We know where they all are. We’re good to go. They turned on DMARC and they found 18 sources of email. So clearly, you know, there are many other applications that may be sending emails on your behalf. You know, and that story, I’ve heard that story over and over again, brands that implement DMARC. You know, we worked with a retailer in, in sort of the Midwest. And when they turned on DMARC, they found that competitors were spoofing them and phishing their customers. They found that some of their vendors were spoofing their emails trying to.


Matthew Vernhout (25:45):

Not, not maliciously, but trying to basically like be invisible to the end-user with like delivery notifications and things, but not authenticated properly. And when they went through the process, DMARC saw a huge increase in performance for them both from an inbox placement point of view, from a consumer confidence point of view as well as just a, a general deliverability capacity, they were able to send more mail faster than they were before because their reputation had improved because the messages that we’re delivering were actually them. So there’s a lot of benefit to it even for a mid-size brand to look into. So absolutely everybody should do it at least a run policy from there, make that determination of whether you should move up to a, a quarantine or a reject.


LB Blair (26:32):

Yeah. So, I’m going to flip the table here for a second. And I got a question for you because I know at Gmail that typically you have to send a or, well, I think at Gmail and Yahoo, both for BIMI to light up and function on your domain, you have to send a, a, you know, a significant volume of marketing email, any idea on what that volume level is. Cause personally, I, I’m not, you know aware, I would assume it’s, you know, at least kind of, maybe in the hundreds of thousands you know, or at the very, very least the tens of thousands you know, so when, at what point you would say it’s worth it to kind of implement BIMI at what point of volume would you say is it worth it to implement BIMI BIMI for a sender?


Matthew Vernhout (27:23):

I’m, I’m maybe biased being the communications chair for the BIMI group and deliverability for Netcore. I may be biased on that. I think any brand of any size that is concerned about brand recognition and their logo appearing is a candidate. The sort of barrier to entry currently, if you will, is a, you have to own a trademark. So if you’re a small business, maybe you don’t own a trademark. And it has to be like a logo mark. So simply owning a wordmark isn’t sufficient at the moment. So you know, there is that barrier to entry of you must be big enough to own the registered mark of your logo. As well as to qualify or purchase a VMC, you know, they run in the nature and, you know, I don’t have exact pricing, but I’ve heard pricing anywhere from, you know, a thousand to $1,200 per domain.


Matthew Vernhout (28:21):

You might get additional discounts based on multiple domain purchases, but there’s a cost to entry that maybe some small businesses won’t be interested in paying to get Gmail volumes. But I think if you’re sending any mail of any quality and you’re interested in the solution, it’s worth it. Even if you don’t own the logo currently, you can implement BIMI without a VMC and, you know, pending reputation, you’ll still display at places like Yahoo or possibly FastMail as well. So I, I think it’s, it’s worth the exercise. And when you do qualify for a VMC, absolutely purchase one whether you send, you know, just B2C email or B2B email, or, you know, it, it’s all about how much you value your brand and how much your brand needs to be protected in that case. So it’s, it’s not free. And it’s not necessarily easy because as you mentioned, DMARC is a requirement. So there’s, there’s cost associated with DMARC enforcement, there’s cost associated with VMC. There are business costs and time associated with getting your brand ready for BIMI. So, you know, I don’t, in theory, it should be for everyone, and there is that free tier. But that free tier doesn’t get you in the door everywhere.

LB Blair (29:53):

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And yeah, going hitting the AMP questions since I did these out of order. I think I. AMP is super cool, man. I, I, I think hopefully it is going to be the future, but oh my goodness, good luck finding a developer that works with it. You know, if, if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re a developer that works at AMP, call me I, I would love to, you know, I would love to experiment a bit and get my clients working with it because I, you know, I think interactivity especially, you know, with the rise of Gmail and their prominence, you know, their representation in most lists, I would say it’s like 45% or more of most lists that I look at. With some lists even that is like always aggressively acquiring, like, and kind of churning contact.


LB Blair (30:48):

So like, for example, a hiring site, I would say it’s, you know, that they would be up to like 70% Gmail even in the North American market. So I, I, I think that you know, as prominent as Gmail is, and that is one of the core places that AMP for email works which, you know, for the uninitiated AMPs accelerated mobile pages I believe it was technology like developed by Google so you can check out their developer resources on AMP. Now, there also are some barriers to entry there. I believe you have to like register with yeah, you have to like register on Gmail. There’s, there’s kind of a process to get it working at Gmail as well.


Matthew Vernhout (31:38):

Yeah. So, AMP for email is sort of the three big providers; Google, Yahoo, and Mail.ru are all using AMP. I’m letting the cat out of the bag here a little bit. But I think it’ll be public by the time the show is broadcast. We are, we are AMP-enabled. We have lots of clients using it at Netcore. Currently, we have a copy and paste. So if you’re using an AMP builder, a third-party tool to do that, you can copy and paste AMP messaging into your account. And likely, by the time that this show airs, we will have a full-fledged drag and drop editor for AMP for all of our accounts, that they choose to enable it. They just have to go through the process, which we can help walkthrough to enable AMP at the mailbox providers that support it. So you and I should talk about that later if that’s something that is very much interesting.


LB Blair (32:34):

Yeah, that’s wild. And I think that you know, drag and drop editors for AMP is something I’ve been hearing about at conferences in the last little bit. Now that that’s kind of a thing again. So yeah, I think it’s yeah, I think it’s like super cool. I think the more that you can, I love the way that Gmail has made it a lot more about, you know, it’s just engagement and, and, and what I’ve seen in my career in deliverability is if the, you know, subscribers love what you’re doing, you’re gonna hit the inbox at Gmail. Like if subscriber, if your subscribers are engaging with your content you know, if you’re not sending to your whole lists acquired since the beginning of eternity you know, you’re going to, you’re, you’re going to hit the inbox at Gmail subscribers, enjoy what you’re doing.


LB Blair (33:28):

And I think AMP just adds to that. And I don’t think it would. I don’t think my advice would be, oh, every email you send should be an AMP email. I, think it’s another tool in your arsenal to kind of, yeah. To kind of take out. And yeah, I’ve heard there have been brands that done some like really cool gamification with it, of an email. I think, yeah, I think, I think it’s fantastic. And, and hopefully going to be the future of email in, you know, some years’ time.


Matthew Vernhout (34:02):

Yeah. We’ve done some, and we’ve seen some cool results. We had a case study with a customer who had a five-time increase in registrations for a webinar because they sent AMP-enabled forms that allowed you to register directly from the email as an example, which is fantastic. You don’t have to go to a webpage to register. Just fill out the form, click submit, and you’re done; you’re registered; we have other clients using AMP and testing AMP right now. So there are some cool things. And we built some cool demos internally. We built a, like you said, a, a game for those of you who know Wordle, we built an email version that emails to your inbox so that you can play right in your inbox.


LB Blair (34:42):

Oh, that’s sick, that’s sick. Yeah. I think that’s,

Matthew Vernhout (34:45):

So, some cool things can be done with AMP, for email. And I think, you know, the sky’s the limit on the future so of, of AMP. When it comes to you know, thinking about a platform. So I know worked on several platforms. I know you currently work on several platforms. When it comes to working with a brand or with a client, how do you help them pair the right platform for their business needs?


LB Blair (35:17):

Well, I think, yeah, the first step in that process is essentially assessing what their business needs are. You know, what are all of the different mail streams that you have? What are all the different use cases you know, that you have for email, you have, you have marketing, you have maybe just raising brand awareness, you have you know, your, your welcome email, your, your transactional streams, like password resets, things like that? I think it’s important. And honestly, I have got to say, I feel like even with established brands that I’ve worked with, it’s a little rare to find that they have this, kind of, all mapped out and documented somewhere of like, what does our, you know, what’s the map of, what our email program looks like and, and all our the various emails that we’re sending. So, I think that’s certainly very important.


Matthew Vernhout (36:16):

All right. One last question for you here today. You know, looking forward, you know, what does deliverability look like in 2025?


LB Blair (36:26):

Oh, I think that’s, I think that’s a really hard question to answer because like I was talking about earlier, there are so many players in the space, there’s so many, you know, know stakeholders and invested parties in the email ecosystem that, you know, when you kind of put that all together in a, a jar and shake it up it, it’s really hard to kind of see what that’s going to look like in the future. But I guess I would say kind of, as I was talking about, as, you know, I, I think Gmail is only going to become more prominent. I, I think, you know, they’re kind of currently delivering the best user experience. I’ve also seen, you know, in my relatively short deliverability com career compared to many, you know, just the rise of Gmail. When I started at, you know, silverpop back in like 20, late 2015, you know, Gmail was like around 30% of most lists.


LB Blair (37:31):

Now it’s about 45, you know, for many consumer senders. And they’re also growing massively in the B2B space as well. There’s, there’s also been a large jump in the B2B space, also in the educational space, you know, for.edu, you know, university domains, at least here in North America. I would say it’s, you know, that used to be pretty well dominated by exchange or, you know, Office 365. And I would say now it’s a much closer race. And again, Gmail’s kind of primary focus, I would say, is, you know, what is the positive engagement you’re driving in the channel? And what’s the negative engagement that you’re driving in the channel. And I think that that’s ultimate, you know, what’s going to matter. And I think, you know, kind of at you, if Gmail does continue gaining even more market share than they already have, I think one thing that’s difficult for senders is complaint rates because Gmail doesn’t tell you who marked the emails as a, you know, who marked your email as spam because they believe it’s a privacy concern for their subscribers for their you for there, you know, Gmail users.


LB Blair (38:47):

They don’t want to disclose that information and I get behind that. But I think it means one thing you, yeah, one thing that I see very few senders using even large scale senders, and this is also something I would say, I don’t see a lot of email marketing platforms kind of getting right is Google’s feedback loop ID as far as how that’s configured in the header. Cause I feel like, you know, the, you know, there’s always a variable slot for the ESP itself and then usually a variable slot for the account that’s sending from. But that’s not always the case, but that’s the way I would set it up and then perhaps have a variable slot for you know, the campaign or yeah, the camp, or maybe, you know, the subdomain or whatever.


LB Blair (39:37):

And then another one for the specific campaign to try to make that Gmail complaint information as granular as possible and figure out, okay, you know, what, what campaigns are driving my complaints? What am I doing that my subscribers don’t like? I mean, you can also judge that based on click rate, the open rate also to some extent, you know, these days we’ve already talked about MPP and how that’s affected that. But yeah, I don’t see anything on the horizon right now that will challenge Gmail’s dominance. I know there, there have been a few platforms out there, but I feel like they just see so much data that their spam filtering is so good that they’re kind of dominating the user experience. And then again, I think this is a, you know, as I was talking about the feedback loop IDs I think that that’s kind of that question also feeds into the one you asked me before about like plat, you know, platform selection.


LB Blair (40:42):

I think it’s important to assess the technical capabilities of whatever platform you’re going to use to do that. So, and, and the other thing I would say, you know, one thing I would say that’s important is being able to kind of view your email statistics by recipient domain, and also by list, because, or segment, because this allows you to segment your list into maybe like, you know, okay, here are the people that engaged one, you know, 0 to 30 days ago or 0 to 29 days ago. And you know, here’s people that engaged 31 to 60 days ago, and you just keep going back and you can see kind of what the curve of your engagement is like, which of these audiences bands of engagement is driving. The majority of my opens, the majority of my clicks, and my complaints also.


LB Blair (41:36):

And then that allows you as the sender to kind of, you know, almost like a sound mixer, kind of like tune the dials of oh, okay. You know, we see that, you know, people on the tail end, maybe like, you know, 90 to 120 days are, they’re more likely to complain, and they’re less likely to open. Maybe we try cutting them out and see how that affects revenue. If, you know, that’s your primary metric for success is maybe ecommerce or, you know, whatever your conversion goal is. So I think that that is yeah, I, I think, I think intelligence is only going to get better. I think you know, one thing we’re trying to push at Platonic Ideal for senders is applying data science to email marketing metrics to deeply understand your audience, the audience that you’re sending to and your performance with that audience and what is resonating with them, what is not resonating with them, how frequently you should contact them and, and, and things like that.


Matthew Vernhout (42:44):

Thanks very much for your time today LB. It’s been great having you on this show. Please tell the listeners where they can learn more about Platonic Ideal and reach out to you.


LB Blair (42:53):

Yeah. you can find us at platonicideal.com. It’s a, I, I forgot one of my favourite things, you know, that’s a reference to Plato and, and his idea of forms. As far as you know, the Platonic Ideal, to be quite honest, one of my business partners and I are, are huge philosophy nerds. And we were kind of like, man, what’s the most arrogant and obscure philosophical reference we could name ourselves after. And first, we came up with a categorical imperative because we’re both fans of a manual. Still, that .com was too expensive, so we landed on Platonic Ideal, and I managed to negotiate the acquisition of that domain. And, and here we are, you can also find us on LinkedIn. You can find me personally on LinkedIn to LB Blair, and always very responsive to LinkedIn messages. So at least the ones that aren’t spa.


Matthew Vernhout (43:58):

Well, thanks again for joining us and to the listeners out there. If you have your ear to the ground, we have a massive report for all things email marketing. Our email benchmark report is coming out very shortly. We looked across five different global regions and 19 industries and at 100 billion emails. So we’re going to put a link in the footnotes of this conversation where you can register to get a copy as soon as it’s made available. And if you haven’t yet checked out this year’s Forrester wave for email marketing service providers that was released just last week. So if you’re listening to this, it was in March 2022. If you’re listening to this later, it features Netcore Cloud, one of the 13 vendors that men matter most in the email space, and you can visit netcorecloud.com to get your copy and learn more about the email service provider space from the Forrester Wave ESPs. Thanks again, everyone, for joining us. LB, as always, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you, and I look forward to catching up with you again soon. Thank you very much.


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