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This post comes courtesy of our great friends at SendGrid! They rock and so does this post, they really know their email stuff!

When you think, “email”, your mind likely drifts toward the marketing messages you often subscribe to, forget about, and suddenly discover in your inbox one day. These newsletters, some including special offers and valuable content are certainly important – after all, they are effective tools to encourage future purchases and inspire customer loyalty. But in reality, the most important email that a company sends are the less promotional, but more essential transactional messages – usually automated messages that are triggered by a transaction.

startup weekend, sendgridSome examples:

  • Welcome messages
  • Account verifications, updates, statements and notices
  • Password delivery
or reminders
  • Order confirmations, invoices, receipts and renewals
  • Shipping notifications
  • Social Notifications: friends, followers, comments, tags, etc.
  • Reminders, alerts, and cancellations
  • Product updates and instructions

If your startup has any kind of Internet presence, you know how essential it is that these messages get delivered. We’d like to offer a few tips to help your legitimate email reach the inbox:

1) Are your messages reaching the inbox? Transactional emails experience higher open and click through rates because customers expect and even welcome them. So it’s imperative that your messages actually reach them. Unfortunately, 20% of legitimate email routinely goes undelivered, partly because ISPs mistake it as spam. Therefore, you must continuously monitor your transactional email streams to identify delivery failures and take preventative action before it affects your customers.

2) How frequently are these emails being deployed? Transactional emails need to be timely. If a customer places an order or signs up for an account, they want an instant confirmation of that action. If you wait too long to communicate with them, your customer will lose confidence in your brand. Email deliverability becomes essential here. You may have set your systems to deploy instant notifications, but your emails may still be getting blocked, preventing customers from receiving your messages. Invest in resources to ensure systems comply with ISP requirements, so you can meet your customer’s expectations and protect your brand’s reputation. Each ISP has a different set of requirements, so you’ll either have to do a lot of homework or depend on the expertise of a third party service to help you follow the rules.

3) Are you designing and coding your emails for optimum deliverability? Image heavy emails and HTML errors trigger spam filters and provide a poor experience for your customer. Consider the user when creating your emails. Yes, even transactional ones. Also remember, that your customers are reading emails on many different platforms – via apps and the web, on smartphones, tablets and laptops – your customers are on the move! You have a limited time to get your message across. Make sure you use it wisely.

4) Are you using dedicated IPs for your transactional messages? Your sending reputation is what ISPs use to make filtering decisions. Each IP has its own sender reputation. In order to truly optimize your email program, isolate your transactional email streams to one or more dedicated IPs. This way you can better monitor and diagnose potential delivery failures by email type. If you know that your “friend request” email messages are being junked, but not others, then it’s easier to take action and solve your problem quickly.

5) Are your mail servers secure? Make sure you don’t have an open relay or open proxy. Follow industry standard best practices for network and server security. All the best mailing practices don’t matter if you don’t have control of your environment. If you use a third-party tool or system for this, you’re probably in good shape, but check with email deliverability experts to make sure.

Deliverability failure is a little known crisis, the dark secret of email. It may already be a big problem for you and you don’t even know. Make sure you take the time to understand its implications on your business and get the right tools and expertise in place to properly manage and optimize your email streams. And since many of you are starting new ventures, you get the chance to be email-smart from the start!

For more information on transactional email, and how to get the most of these messages, download SendGrid’s free guide to Leveraging Transactional Email for Success.

Mitchell Cuevas
(@mcuevasm) I am the Sr. Marketing Director here at Techstars, am passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and am obsessed with finding, playing with, and implementing all the best new marketing (and other) technology I can get my hands on.