ALLDATA provides innovative software solutions that connect automotive repair technicians with the diagnostic and repair information they need from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). A subsidiary of AutoZone, ALLDATA serves a customer base of independent repair shops throughout North America, as well as in the European market. Reaching new and potential customers through automated email marketing is crucial to ALLDATA’s business, and the lynchpin of its marketing strategy.
It’s every email marketer’s worst nightmare. Your campaigns are humming along, doing numbers, when all of a sudden, you see an inexplicable spike in bounce rates for your email campaigns. Where do you turn to diagnose the problem and get advice on how to fix it?
Well, if you use Act-On for your marketing automation platform, you turn to our industry-renowned Deliverability Team. If you use another platform … well, thoughts and prayers.
The Dreaded Bounce: Where Can Marketers Turn When Emails Aren’t Landing?
Although ALLDATA’s parent company, AutoZone, has a large marketing team, ALLDATA itself works with a leaner crew. So when they saw the first indication that their emails were starting to bounce, Thomas Bianchini, the associate web developer who builds many of the company’s marketing emails, felt a twinge of panic. After some anxiety-fueled Google searches, he contacted his customer success manager, who immediately set up a call with Act-On’s secret weapon: the Deliverability Team.
At Act-On, we’re not shy about saying that our Deliverability Team is the best in the business. That probably makes them the best in the world. (They might even be the best in the galaxy, but we’ll have to wait until we make contact with aliens to know for sure). As Thomas and his team quickly learned, part of what makes them effective is their extensive knowledge and experience of ISPs, the providers who manage personal email accounts and servers, and set the rules for what emails are blocked or filtered for SPAM.
In ALLDATA’s case, Yahoo had flagged some of their email sending practices as potentially malicious. “Travis [Wetherbee, Act-On deliverability consultant] really has his ear to the ground with the ISPs and how each ISP operates,” Thomas said. “Travis really understood how he could navigate each of those ISPs to advocate for us. Because it’s very easy to get a bad reputation, and he knows what buttons to push.” That expertise is crucial, because each ISP has its own rules on what will get a sender blocked. And as Thomas and his team learned, the ISPs aren’t always transparent about their own rules.
Getting Back On ISP’s Good Side: A Slow, Steady Process
Act-On’s deliverability team quickly discovered that ALLDATA had been put onto a list of senders with a bad reputation. As if marketers need more things to keep them up at night, Thomas and team learned that simple factors such as when and how often you send can get you flagged by certain email providers (in this case Yahoo!).
The recipe for repairing that reputation involved discipline. ALLDATA limited its sends to only the most engaged users on its previous emails while suppressing sends to any inactive users. Still, that process took longer than expected–months, not weeks. While no one wants to end up blocked by an ISP, Thomas says his team has learned from the process. “It’s been a real blessing because now I see it’s more than just supplying very good content or appealing content. It’s also about sending to the most interested people and sending to those who are not interested enough to keep them interested,” he explained.
Rising Metrics, Restful Nights, and Peace In The Galaxy
In retrospect, Thomas says his only regret is not calling the Deliverability Team sooner! “Where my expectations were exceeded was how they were able to work with the ISPs and be our advocate,” he explained.
“I did not see that coming. I thought the ISPs would just be this monolithic wall! This immutable entity that we just had to deal with.” As it turned out, Travis and the rest of the deliverability team were able to leverage their reputation and long working relationships with email providers to diagnose the problem and recommend a process to get out of the proverbial email dog house. “Having that kind of influence on our behalf was invaluable,” Thomas said.
Now, ALLDATA’s US team is getting back on track with its email marketing program. The silver lining of the experience has been a new commitment to deliverability. Act-On’s team is now working with ALLDATA’s European division to help ensure deliverability in that more heavily regulated environment.
As for Thomas and his team, they’re happy to see their metrics recovering apace. “We’ve seen a steady increase in our CTR in the last three months, and that’s probably been a direct result from the Deliverability Team’s coaching with us,” he said. Your move, email deliverability marketers of Alpha Centauri.
Wishing you had a galaxy-class email deliverability team on your side? Sign up for a demo and see how much further you can get when your MAP provider cares about your success as much as you do.