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Sunset policy and tracking

Email’s Not Dead: Season 1, Episode 6

Sunset policy and tracking

Email's Not Dead

About this episode:

Sometimes you need to clean house, and that includes your sending habits. That's what we're talking about in this week's Email’s Not Dead – sunset policies. How does tracking tie in with engagement? When should you say goodbye to unengaged email addresses in your mailing list in order to maintain your sending reputation? Join Jonathan and Eric as we start wrapping up season one.

Meet your presenters

Jonathan Torres

Jonathan Torres

Manager of the TAM team at Sinch Mailgun

Eric Trinidad

Eric Trinidad

Technical Account Manager II at Sinch Mailgun


Email’s Not Dead – S1, E6: Sunset policy and tracking



Eric Trinidad: Welcome to Email’s Not Dead. My name is Eric and this is Jonathan.


Jonathan Torres: Hello.


Eric Trinidad: Hey man, how's it going?


Jonathan Torres: It's going.


Eric Trinidad: Good, good. We're here to talk to you about email and all the things that we enjoy – and lack thereof – enjoy dealing with email services. We're going to go over some tracking and sunset policies. So we want to talk about how we deal with that, what we look at in the day to day, and you know what that's about.


Jonathan Torres: But, yeah, it goes hand in hand with kind of like complaints and un subs. And really when we're talking about is overall like list hygiene, like what we talk about when you know who you're sending to you, why you're sending to them, should you be sending to them? All those questions. We're going to cover a lot of that stuff just to kind of get it out there. Air some things out, if you will.


Jonathan Torres: That was a lot of air coming out of your mouth right now.


Eric Trinidad: Sorry, sorry.


Jonathan Torres: But, cool, awesome. So first off we wanted to get into… tracking. So tracking. Why tracking? Is tracking? Who's tracking?


Eric Trinidad: I got one for you. Why tracking?


Jonathan Torres: Oh, that's a good one. That is a very good one. But yeah. So cool. Like when we start off with it. So what is the value in tracking? Right. What is the point? Why are we tracking? First of all, we'll talk about engagement all the time, right? It's one of those keywords, one of those buzzwords, one of those highlight things that people say out there in the email space, engagement. And it's something that should be attainable, that seems to be attainable. But how to attain it is kind of the thing. And if you're not tracking, you never know if you're actually getting there. Never know if you're actually making it to engagement, making it to a spot where somebody is looking at your stuff or not. And tracking should easily accomplish that. Now, there are some ins and outs of it there are, you know, some caveats you have to kind of keep up with. But tracking, making sure that you're putting something on your email, something that states, whether your users, the people you're sending to you are actually opening these messages and are clicking on these messages. Yes, it is one of those things that as a sender. Yes, 100 percent. Let's track it. Let's make sure that, that we're getting it out there. We know what's going on. But even if we aren't tracking it as senders, there's people out there who are tracking it. And that's going to be who we're sending to. Not just individual users, but the companies that we're sending to you. Right. So Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft, all the big guys and even a lot of the small guys are tracking one who you're sending to and then if they're actually doing anything with your messages, if they're not doing it, not opening, not clicking on stuff, not doing anything at all. Yeah, that can be a problem because that's exactly what they see.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. Of... these huge players have a huge responsibility. Not only are they huge, but they have huge responsibility. With great power comes great responsibility.


Jonathan Torres: Yes. Yes. I feel like I've heard that somewhere.


Eric Trinidad: Somewhere, it's been out there somewhere, but yeah. You know, and with that you have to, they have a responsibility to their users to protect them. And they want to make sure that things are getting to them that they need to and things that shouldn't be there should it be. So one of the big things, I guess, Gmail, you know, they're big proponents on interactions and engagement and then the conversational stuff like saying I'm sending to John like, hey, man, let's hang out. Like, I want to make sure that you get that. But like, if it's for a business, like okay, like saying something for me, like I want to make sure that I get my Hot Topic deals because inside I'm a 14-year-old, you know, girl.


Jonathan Torres: That's okay.


Eric Trinidad: I love me some Hot Topic, man.


Jonathan Torres: We understand. We, I mean, me. I understand. So to get that.


Eric Trinidad: I want to make sure that yes, I'm getting notified of the deals and then when I get those deals that. Yes, I'm clicking on them. Yeah, okay. If they go to Gmail, they go to my promotions tab. But that's cool because that's where I go when I look for all my deals. One and done. It's easy but I got to be looking at it, got to be engaged with it. I got to you know, I'm going to have that conversation with it of just clicking on it and scrolling it and making sure that I'm getting all the links that I have. So if I'm doing all that, if I'm engaged with that message, then of course, Gmail is going to be like that guy one time, though. That guy wants Hot Topic emails, you know.


Jonathan Torres: Not Hotmail.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, not HotmailI. But he wants to get Hot Topic emails. You know, I want to make sure he gets all of his notifications when all his charms go on sale. Well, you know, when earrings are fifteen percent.


Jonathan Torres: I know. You want all of those body-piercing pieces, you know, like, you know, get them all.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. I got to have all my medallions.


Jonathan Torres: I mean, that's good. My favorite thing that I've ever got from Hot Topic is like a three porg moon shirt, so.


Eric Trinidad: Oh yeah!


Jonathan Torres: In case anybody out there is a Star Wars fan. Awesome stuff that they have sometimes.


Eric Trinidad: Yes. See it's not all bad.


Jonathan Torres: It isn't all bad. That's the thing. That's exactly what you want to show companies like that. But that's how you get that information, too. Right. Like you want Hot Topic to know that you are opening their emails, you are clicking on their links. You want them to know that you want to be part of this list and not just somebody who, hey, got on the list somehow, inadvertently or forgot about the list and now just, you know, letting them sit there in their inbox. Because eventually what happens is those emails are going to start to go to spam. And the more those go to spam, the more Hot Topic doesn't realize, hey, this person doesn't want to be part of my list and they're not tracking that information. If they're not tracking it and that starts happening, then it can get a lot more emails going into the spam folder instead of going into the inbox because people aren't clicking on it, people aren't engaging with it. It doesn't show Gmail or Yahoo or AOL or Microsoft, anybody. It doesn't show them that you're interested in those messages. Or people in general are not interested in those messages. And that's where the danger comes in. So if we're going that route with it, like, when is enough enough. When is, you know, when does somebody decide that, hey, you've tried, you've made your attempts, you sent every single love letter you possibly can and you still get the big fat no.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah.


Jonathan Torres: You get that rejection. You know, it hurts. It definitely hurts. Trust me from experience. I know it hurts.


Eric Trinidad: You got broken up over email, John?


Jonathan Torres: No, not over email. But it could have been. It could have very, very well been over email. It was just the email of like the early ‘90s. Which was just, you know, pen and paper. Over, you know, a series of classmates that passed on notes, it's just what happens back then.


Eric Trinidad: I feel like I'm too old in that sometimes and, you know, especially like going back to the dating game because we've both been married for some time now and then, like getting back out there, like, I remember when lol was laugh out loud, not like, or like, lots of love.


Jonathan Torres: Lots of love. Yes!


Eric Trinidad: Not just laugh out loud. Oh, man. Those are just confusing conversations, you know.


Jonathan Torres: But hey, you know, times change, things change and sometimes people change. And if that happens, if it starts going that way, that's where we got to start looking at, I guess what would be the next part of this right. Sunset policy when we start talking about what it takes, when is it a point that you want to stop? And a lot of times that comes a lot sooner than you would think. A lot sooner than, hey, like maybe just maybe leave them on for like a year if they're not opening emails. A year is a very, very long, very long time.


Eric Trinidad: A lot happens in a year.


Jonathan Torres: A lot happens in a year. So many things can happen in a year. Like I don't even know. I can't even think of a good example.


Eric Trinidad: Say, like you get a new job. What if you're sending to, like, a business Gmail account, you keep hitting that new user that was like engaged that one time? I mean, who knows?


Jonathan Torres: Move job. Got fired and maybe got promoted. They don't do that kind of stuff anymore. Like, you know, we're going to think positive.


Eric Trinidad: Well, I don't know if they would promote you and then change your email address.


Jonathan Torres: Well, okay, that's a very good idea.


Eric Trinidad: is not something they do.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, that's very, very true. But even that, you know, like, there's definitely times where, yeah, you somebody's going to fall off, they're going to fall for X reason, whatever that case may be. Maybe they just got tired of it. Maybe they got tired of emails that are coming in. You know, hopefully that's not the case. Hopefully there's good content going out there. You know, maybe that's a conversation for later time and on what you're sending within your email. But regardless of what that is, if they are no longer opening those, if they're no longer clicking on stuff, then, yes, remove them from your list. And I know there's a lot of different theories out there. I personally, one of my favorite suggestions and is kind of like depending on how your frequency goes. And I think this is kind of an industry thing as well, where really you're looking at how often you're sending to how soon to remove somebody from your list. So if you're sending out every week, you know that that's going to be a lot. You have more time. You can give yourself a little bit more time to remove somebody from your list. But if you're sending every day and they're not engaging, you said think about it. If someone hasn't clicked on an email in two weeks, but you're sending every day, that's fourteen emails, you know, you've already sent them. They're not even opening, let's say. Right. So very simple. Bare minimum opening messages. Fourteen days. Fourteen different emails. That's already looking pretty bad in the eyes of somebody like Gmail. You know, so I say that's already the case. Two weeks, reduce your sending frequency to them like you don't. There's no reason you have to keep hammering this person. I mean, nobody wants that, right? Like I mean, I don't know. Have you ever been heavily pursued by a girl, Eric?


Eric Trinidad: You know, it's so funny you mention that because I was thinking about a buddy of mine that always used to call me, like, and I wouldn't want to hang out all the time, but like, if I called him or like if you called me, like, if I didn't answer the first time, he'd call me four more times and then send me a text message.


Jonathan Torres: That is a lot.


Eric Trinidad: That is a lot, that is obscene. And then be like, hey man, I don't know if you're busy or not, but just wanted to see, like, what's going on. Like did you want to hang out and be like, oh, I'm busy. Like hit me up later. And then he hit me up like thirty minutes later.


Jonathan Torres: That's not later enough.


Eric Trinidad: And he'd be like, hey dude, just checking back you know.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah. It's too much. And that's exactly the thing, what we're talking about here. Right. Like, you know. So yeah. Reduce that sending frequency like instead of sending everyday to this person send once a week and then give that a couple more weeks to you know, to kind of let it simmer, let them see if they still want these messages, give them the option to reduce that sending frequency. You know, as a sender, we have to be a little bit more robust. You got to be a little bit more flexible in what you're doing and doing that in itself can help out so much, just reduce it to once a week, maybe try that for four weeks. And if it doesn't, that's another four, that you know, is nothing. So then you got to really start thinking about, hey, should this person be on my list at all or not? You know, maybe even reduce it to a month at that point, give it one more shot at that point. Re-engagement. We talk about re-engagement campaigns all the time.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. Like, are you still interested? Like, hey, you know what we've sent to you a few times. Are you sure you don't want to hang out. You sure you don't click on my link. You know, I got these awesome deals, you know.


Jonathan Torres: I'm here and I love you and I just want your love back.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. I'm just telling you all the love that I have for you. I don't care if you don't respond, you know, I'm still going to love you, but if you don't, I'm going to remove you. So, like, because you've got to think about it like a relationship. You're getting ghosted. That's what the kids call it right? Ghosted?


Jonathan Torres: Ghosted, yeah. I'm assuming.


Eric Trinidad: I have no idea. Kids today are so crazy, I don't even understand them. But, you know, you don't want to keep engaging them if you're not getting engaged because one that's going to happen, man that's going to really tarnish your reputation. Yeah. You know, those mailboxes could get turned into spam traps. I don't know if we talked about that in the past.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, definitely. One of those things.


Eric Trinidad: You know, and that could really damage the reputation of your IP if it's a dedicated IP or your domain overall, which I mean, both don't run in tandem, but are both very important.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, because those abandoned mailboxes, like you never know what happened. I mean, that could be exactly what happened instead of somebody disengaging with your messages, somebody who maybe was just not interested, it could be somebody that just left that mailbox there. You know, maybe they had, like we all tend to do sometimes spin up a lot of email accounts and you abandon one because, hey, you forgot that you did that one on this other service that you're no longer using. And, yeah, if you keep sending to that one, it becomes an abandoned mailbox, becomes.... then a spam trap. And then as soon as you keep sending to it, like the fact that that you as a sender have not cleaned up your list enough to know that, hey, this person who received something a year and a half ago and now this mailboxes spam trap and you're still sending to it constantly, like, that's really, really bad. Really ugly, real fast. And that's something you really don't want to have.


Eric Trinidad: And yeah, it's so weird. Like one of these things, it's like, you know, it's repetition built over time. And then like one mistake, it's really that one mistake like, oh I just sent to, like, a list of like all my users that have told me, like, never contact them again. I know you keep that list around. But they said, never contact me and I just sent them all. So boom, like, my reputation just tanked. Man, that's going to take a lot to kind of get back. That's rebuilding that trust, you know. Have you ever hurt your best friend or a girl you previously dated and made a mistake?


Jonathan Torres: Mistakes are a daily thing. It's not even when, you know, sometimes you just get home and, you know.


Eric Trinidad: You got three mistakes lined up


Jonathan Torres: Maybe it was your turn to do the dishes and, you know, you forgot. Oh, that's easily a mistake, right?


Eric Trinidad: Yeah. Yeah, I know. But, you know, you know, it doesn't take you that long to rebuild trust. But, of course, like, you know, with friends that you just met or just like even with the relationship, you hurt them real bad and you start spamming them. You know, it's going to take that time to kind of rebuild that trust. So, yeah, to forego any of that, just making sure you got good lists, make sure, you know, you're cleaning everything up, staying off these, you know, blocklists, you know, not sending to anybody who doesn't want to be sent to, you know, just maintaining that, hygiene. Be hygienic, you know.


Jonathan Torres: Yes. Yes. That's a good way to bring it all back around. Right? Because that's the whole point of it. Right? Is making sure that the people on your list want the stuff that you're removing people. And as much as it hurts to get rid of somebody, a lot of times what we're talking about also when we get to the heart of it is, what does that cash that I'm spending, what does that get me in return? And yes, I may have a list of people who have never engaged, but, hey, it's a list of a million people. And those million people, maybe a good quarter of them have stopped opening my emails. They've stopped clicking on my links. They've stopped doing anything with my messages. And I don't want to stop sending to 250,000 people. That's a lot of people that's potential customers. The problem with that is, is that if your reputation goes down with those and brought down by those, then what's the rest 750,000 is going to look like, you know, what is the actual, you know, time, money spent to build more reputation to get back in the good graces of somebody like Gmail or Microsoft or Yahoo. And what happens at that point? So, man, sometimes as much as it pains to say you got to follow the cash, man. Like, you just got to like you have to. And doing that by removing those people, by getting in better graces with these companies, increasing that reputation, increasing that engagement rate, man, like, now I know I have a way better chance of getting my email into the inbox right in front of somebody's face for the rest of hundred and, you know, or 750,000 people. You know, yes, I've stopped sending to two hundred fifty thousand, but that's going to improve so much more on everybody else. And give me that return on investment that I'm looking for. If I'm spending money to send people email, like, why not make it people who are clicking on my stuff, who are going to help, you know, generate that revenue but also help out with my reputation because, heck, if they're not helping, they're hurting. Right? Like, absolutely you're either sandbagging or you're making three pointers. You know what are you going to do?


Eric Trinidad: Solid sports reference.


Jonathan Torres: I maybe lost half the audience. I'm sorry, I had to go there.


Eric Trinidad: Right on. So I guess keeping good list, being hygienic, like we said, you know, making sure that your content is engaging and making sure that you are sending to those who actually want your messages and less is actually more, so making sure that you follow all these examples and you know, and if you are sending to a lot, you know, just cut it back, you know, just cleanse that, you know, oh, just a good cleanse.


Jonathan Torres: Everybody needs a good cleanse every once in a while.


Eric Trinidad: It just feels good at the end of the week, you know, just to kind of let your hair down. You know, I'm in a room with very long haired individuals. You know, I don't know what that feeling is, but I'm sure you all do. With all that being said, you know, keep it up, stay good. And I guess that's how we're going to end it this week. So, Jon, do you have anything to add?


Jonathan Torres: Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, there's definitely things you can do out there for best practices, right? Like, I know. Just to plug it a little bit, there's a blog post that I've even written out there on Mailgun's web page that has some of these best practices when to start removing people from your list, because that's the name of the game, right? We are always just trying to stay a step ahead. We're always just trying to keep up with what everybody else is doing. But, yes, like look at those best practices. Definitely, you know, with the sponsor here for Mailgun with the podcast, they got some great best practice pages out there, like when to start moving people, what to do with tracking, what to do with that engagement data that you have. But then also, you know, like search that stuff out. Like there's a lot of good help out there and a lot of stuff saying, hey, when is enough? When do you need to stop? When is throwing pebbles at a window more than enough? You know, like you've got to cut it out sometimes. And heck, that's what we're going to try to guide you to try to do the right way, because we all want to be in a good email space. So, yeah, definitely check out those things.


Eric Trinidad: Well, with all that being said in the upcoming week, we're going to follow up this podcast with the next section. John, what's the next section?


Jonathan Torres: The next section is complaints and unsubscribes. So what happens when this goes bad?


Eric Trinidad: It's going to be a rough one. Well, please stick around until then. if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to look up our blog post like Jonathan was talking about. But until then, we'll talk to you later.

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