Riding the E-mail Highway
Sending Infrastructure. All ISPs require that the infrastructure used to send e-mail is well-maintained and operated in a responsible manner. This means that your e-mail servers connecting to the ISPs must have valid reverse DNS entries and be secured to prevent unauthorized use. Having static IP addresses also is a common requirement.
Get On the Ramp
Assuming you will qualify, your next two questions are: Should I apply for ISP whitelisting? Should I make the added investment in RSP certification?
The answer to the first question is easy. Yes, you should. It’s free. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just don’t expect to get a free ride. Being on a whitelist won’t prevent your e-mail from being blocked or routed to the junk folder if your complaint rate or practices deteriorate. However, whitelisting will identify you as a legitimate sender to the ISP and open an important channel of communication should an “accident” occur. Additionally, the qualification process itself will help you better understand the requirements of different ISPs and allow you to evaluate your own practices relative to their standards.
The answer to the second question about RSP certification is more involved. To start, you’ll want to examine your delivery rate and other key metrics—such as opens and clicks—after you’ve taken advantage of ISP whitelisting, looking for performance improvements. Since coverage and benefits vary, you’ll next want to review the distribution and performance of your list by ISP and compare that to what’s offered by the different RSPs. If you’ve got a solid reputation and a good delivery rate, you may find that the benefit is not so much in improved deliverability, but rather in better placement and image/link rendering that yields higher click and conversion rates. Also, some have better solutions for B-to-C mailers than B-to-B and vice versa. ROI testing is the final critical step. You want to be sure that the premium you pay for certification with a RSP actually pans out in terms of better bottom-line results.