Email Reputation & Testing Web Apps

Recently I was chatting with an associate who was experiencing email delivery issues. Every couple of weeks he would end up on a certain anti-spam vendors blocklist, her sender reputation in general would drop a bit and the bounce rate would jump up. You could almost set you watch by it happening.

It’s not unusual to see the occasional anti-spam vendor doing this in an attempt to sell you services – emailreg.org  (aka Barracuda Networks ‘pay to part spam some of our boxes’) springs to mind. But this was far too pronounced, and with other metrics it was obvious something was seriously amiss.

This associate had been brought up on the mantra ‘test, test and test some more’ – which is generally good advice, unless your web application happens to be firing out live emails – such as receipts or invoices – and you happen to be mashing the keyboard or feeing in email addresses like ‘asdfadsfads@example.com’,’test@test.com’ etc. Similar variations will soon have you heading towards well know spam trap domains -and even avoiding those by luck, the bounce and failure rate shoots up.

What made this particularly acute was that this was transactional mail, and sales were not super high, so those 100 plus tests very quickly pushed the metrics all over the place, knocking the bounce rate up to 80% on one day – along with a blocklisting.

The issue was cleaned up, advice given, and that was that. Or it would have been if it was not for rebills… Her CRM & Cart Software “Limelight” (a Godforsaken flaky platform) was helpfully re-emailing the duff leads every 2 weeks. This surprised us all… The fact it was actually working for once as intended. Limelight lacks any simple, quick and easy email testing or feedback as an application – and the support is very poor and generally argumentative – so it’s not something anyone could recommend for serious work if  you rely on your CRM for professional production work.

But coming back to the focus…. once a morning was spent deleting those, things have started to stabilise and things are looking up.

The moral of this cautionary tale…. when testing ‘stuff’, be very careful what you throw into the email field – it may just come around to bite thy ass.

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