In instances where mailing lists have been left dormant for a long period of time (greater than 12 months), or where data has been provided by an approved Force24 data broker (contact your Force24 Account Manager for this list), they’re classed as 'high-risk'.
What is the risk?
Domain and IP reputation damage is caused by excessive bounce rates and low engagement.
Note: Your email deliverability profile has been established based on sending good quality emails to an accurate audience of users who are likely to engage. Spam filters have complex algorithms that take these factors into consideration. So, if not managed correctly, sending to high risk data could affect all emails delivered from your account.
Certain ESP’s have been known to deactivate old email addresses and allow them to Hard Bounce for a period of 6-8 months. After that, at random, they are converted to a Spam Trap, and emails that are sent to Spam Trap addresses will be blacklisted immediately with one of the key blacklist providers. Hitting a blacklist will require intervention from our deliverability team to rectify, which will naturally impair your campaign delivery – hopefully just in the short term.
Process and protection
In the first instance, you should let your Force24 Account Manager know that you have either acquired data from an approved Force24 data broker, or have sourced internal opt-in data that meets the 'high-risk' category.
Your Force24 Account Manager will then help you import the data into the Force24 system and a high-risk flag will be allocated to that data set.
You must allow 48 hours for the Force24 system to perform its high-risk data analysis as follows:
- Ensure email syntax is valid
- Remove adverse generic email addresses (abuse@ webmaster@ spam@ postmaster@ etc)
- Check for disposable email addresses, i.e. bogus accounts entered to just download a white paper such as firstname.lastname@example.org (PLEASE NOTE: this uses a regular expression to match against and cannot catch all variations of this kind of input)
- Match contact for known Spam Traps (Force24 holds a master list)
- Match contact for known hard bounce
- Match contact for known persistent soft bounce
- Match contact for known spam complaints
- The Force24 platform will then perform a DNS check on the email address and PING the mailbox MX entry to ensure it is valid. It will categorise the response and determine if the email address is safe to remain an active contact. For example, if the response given is:
- “Will Accept All” – this means it is a valid email domain but that the domain would allow any address before the @ sign. Although this may be an active user, the risk of maintaining these users is far greater than the reward.
- “Unknown User” – this clearly means that the email server is correctly configured and that the user is no longer there.
- “OK” – this means we are happy to send to this user.
Once you have had confirmation from your Force24 Account Manager that the analysis has been carried out by the Force24 platform, you may send your first campaign.
Sending campaigns to high-risk data
When deciding on your subject matter for your first campaign to high-risk data, you must create a compelling and engaging offer. Look to one of your previous, highest-performing campaigns for a steer.
It is a requirement for high-risk data that you utilise the ‘Throttling’ function within the Force24 platform. For advice on how to use throttling please read our help article:
You may select whichever days of the week and times of the day, but our advice is to not exceed 240 emails per hour.
This will be split into batches of 20 emails every 5 minutes.
Sending slowly will help receiving ESP’s process the requests and reduce imposed email delivery delays. More importantly, it will also allow us to evaluate the performance of the data before any damage is done.
Think about the appropriate send server too. If your Force24 Account Manager has deemed it necessary to protect your main mailing profile, and has therefore provided you with an alternative send server to utilise - you should ensure that you select this mail server for the delivery of this campaign.
For advice on how to select a send server please read our help article:
During the campaign send
The Force24 deliverability team will watch campaign sends very closely, paying particular attention to excessive bounce rates and high spam complaints.
Because you have used the 'Throttling' mechanism we are able to speed up, or slow down, campaigns in the event that the bounce and complaint rates reach unacceptable levels.
What is an unacceptable level?
- Hard bounces greater than 10%
- Spam complaints greater than 2%
- Unsubscribes greater than 15%
If at any point your campaign reaches these thresholds, the Force24 deliverability team reserves the right to either adjust the throttling to reduce the speed or even halt the campaign entirely.
In the event of a campaign being halted, your Force24 Account Manager will explain the reason and help you decide the best course of next-step action.
What is the Force24 MTA doing behind the scenes to help?
The MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) is configured to support campaigns by listening to the receiving ESP’s responses and acting accordingly.
The MTA will intelligently decide how to order the delivery of emails based on the top-level email domain (i.e. @hotmail, @gmail) and staggering them to reduce the impact. This will also help when delivering into corporate networks where our emails will be sent to multiple recipients within the same organisation.
Assuming your campaign fell within the acceptable limits, it is still important to ensure that any addresses that do not respond fall into our dormant category,
Use the Force24 journey builder to create a segment of your high risk data and communicate with all contacts that have opened your emails.
This will validate these contacts and declassify them as high risk, allowing you to send to these users without the requirement of throttling or deliverability team intervention moving forward.
What about the non-openers?
Having run through the process of sending campaigns to the high-risk data 3 to 6 times, you can safely assume that all contacts not showing any form of engagement at this stage are very unlikely to do so in the future. They will therefore harm the engagement and deliverability to the contacts that are showing engagement.
At this point, it is our advice to cease campaigning to these users and deactivate them.
For up to date help and advice please download our helpful guide:
If you have any questions about this or anything else, please contact your Force24 Account Manager.