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B2B deliverability is different (and trickier)


B2B email deliverability is different than B2C. It’s more of a wild west, providers are more numerous; while Microsoft and Google do host mail for bajillions of B2B domains, overall there are so many more B2B mailbox providers, all hosting smaller pieces of the corporate email pie; with nowhere near the same level of consolidation seen in the B2C/DTC email realm.

More than that, there are two things unique to the B2B marketing space:

  1. Cold leads / unsolicited marketing mail, aka spam, is much more prevalent in the B2B realm. I get B2B spam, you get B2B spam, we probably all get B2B spam, and that can make people assume that it’s an accepted practice – though it’s really not – and that it works well – even though it I'm not sure it does. (And if you want to argue otherwise, let me remind you that there are too many apples.)
  2. Email sending volumes are a lot lower in B2B versus B2C. It’s much rarer for a B2B marketer to be sending to a list of a million plus subscribers. Higher volume is much more common in B2C. This matters both in how problems manifest themselves and how you resolve them.

Those two things come together to make it easier to stumble into deliverability problems in B2B marketing land (cold leads), and make it harder to fix deliverability problems in B2B marketing land (low volume).

Every B2B corporate email security service provider I’ve ever talked to has made it clear that they want opt-in mail only; they don’t approve of, and generally prohibit the use of, sending unsolicited bulk mail. Email sending platforms usually say the same thing. Compliance in this realm is a problem, though. The lower volumes of mail seem to make it harder for providers to catch clients using their email platforms in violation of policy. One assumes this will get better over time.

In the meantime, don’t think of this as a license to spam; just because your email sending platform won’t notice or catch small amounts of unsolicited mail; that mail will end up causing you deliverability pain. That smaller amount of email volume comes into play again here. Very small volumes of unwanted mail with high complaints or low engagement is enough to cause you to end up with a bad domain reputation, especially at Gmail.

In other words, cold leads + low volumes = Gmail spam folder.

And the fixes aren’t easy or fun. Small email volume means less levers to move to help improve deliverability. Improving deliverability is generally easier in the B2C realm, because of the higher email volumes giving you enough room to strategize, segment and suppress, in ways that you just can’t do when you’re only sending to 50-500 people.

Truly, don’t do that, unless you enjoy pain. And by pain, I mean spam folder delivery. There's a reason that most of those "cold emails" I'm receiving are going to the spam folder.

I could go on here, but I’ve got to keep it short today. Instead, let me link you to this fine article by Chad White, Head of Strategic Research for Oracle, where he breaks down "6 unique email deliverability challenges that B2B brands face." It's a great next stop if you want to learn more about B2B deliverability challenges (and how to avoid them).

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