Emailing Infrastructure: Defining and Characterizing

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When you send email to your prospects or customers, you are using an email infrastructure without even knowing it. This tool allows you to send, receive, and store emails, whether your emails are personal, transactional, or even part of your email marketing project. Choosing it well is essential to optimizing the deliverability of your emails.

What is email infrastructure?

The email infrastructure is a set of solutions and software that enable the sending, receiving, and management of email. It includes, among others, email servers, routing software and anti-spam filters.

From a technical point of view, the emailing infrastructure is materialized by a set of servers, software and technologies, sometimes stored in the cloud. The sending and receiving of emails takes place via transmission protocols (e.g. SMTP or API). In most cases, the interface also provides systems for managing email addresses and mailing lists.

Depending on the size of your company or your organization and/or its needs, the type of email infrastructure can change. It can be self-hosted internally or managed by a SaaS tool such as Sendgrid, Mailchimp or Postmark.

Features of an Emailing Infrastructure

Below are the characteristics to consider when selecting your email infrastructure to monitor and maximize your email deliverability.

Manage your contacts and campaigns

An email infrastructure can be technical (SMTP) or marketing (more like a CRM). In general, SMTPs focus on sending transactional emails; emails are triggered by user actions via API or SMTP (such as account creation, forgotten password, or order confirmation). Marketing infrastructures, on the other hand, allow you to manage your contact base, create templates, and set up campaigns to be sent to targeted audiences. Recently, some platforms offer both functionalities (transactional sending + marketing campaign management interface).

Managing your contacts is an important feature for the efficiency of your emailing campaigns. In fact, a contact who receives an irrelevant email can develop a sense of frustration and lose interest in your brand. To avoid this, your email infrastructure must allow you to segment your contact base according to relevant criteria such as age, geographic location, and any other data useful for your industry. By segmenting your email database, you can refine the targeting of your campaigns, increase the performance of your mailings, and maintain a clean and qualified contact base. This practice also allows you to personalize the content of your emails according to each segment of your audience.

Use your own sending domains and email addresses

Your email infrastructure should allow you to use your own sending domains. The main benefit of this basic feature is that you can send email using your brand identity. By using your own domain name to send your emails, you build trust and credibility with your customers, which can help improve your open and click-through rates.

Also, depending on the purpose of your emails (informational, transactional, email marketing…), you can create sub-domains for sending customized emails. This will separate your sends and isolate email deliverability issues, if there are any. For example, you can use a “news” subdomain to send your newsletters, another “contact” for transactional emails, and so on.

Set up SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and rDNS authentication

You must be able to set up the following email authentication through your email infrastructure:

Email authentication: SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

This protocol allows you to authorize IP addresses to send email from your domain. Technically, only IP addresses registered in the DNS of the domain name can send email.

Email authentication: DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail)

In addition to authenticating sending IPs, this authentication ensures that the content of the email has not been altered in transit.

Email authentication: DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance)

This technology informs the sender of the authentication results of their mail to ISPs and allows for quarantine or non-delivery of mail in case of SPF or DKIM failure.

Email authentication: rDNS (Reverse DNS)

This authentication links the IP address to the domain name (only applicable to dedicated IPs).

Use of a dedicated or shared IP

Your IP address can be dedicated or shared. We recommend that companies with large and regular email volumes have a dedicated IP address to control their reputation.

On the other hand, we recommend that companies that send few emails and/or have irregular volumes use a shared IP address. In this case, the selected ESP will place the company in a pool of shared IP addresses of varying quality depending on KPIs (such as open rate, click rate, bounce rate, reported as spam, etc.).

Receiving feedback loops

This technical process in your email infrastructure allows you to be notified by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) that a contact has identified your email as spam.

This notification allows you to take immediate action to preserve your reputation as a sender and your ability to deliver email. In fact, if many of your emails are reported as spam, it can affect the deliverability of all your mailings. To protect your reputation, future emails to this contact will automatically not be delivered.

Access to all your performance metrics

Being data-driven has become the norm as companies are driven to constantly improve their return on investment (ROI). Every marketing effort must be measurable. When sending email marketing or transactional emails, your email infrastructure must give you access to performance indicators. Discover the key KPIs to track below:

Deliverability rate (volume of email delivered / number of emails sent x 100): This is the percentage of emails that were received by your contacts.

Bounce rate (number of undelivered emails / number of sent emails x 100). This calculation represents the percentage of mailboxes that were not reached by your campaign. This rate can be refined by separating hard bounces from soft bounces.

Spam Report Rate (number of complaints / number of emails sent x 100) This is the proportion of contacts who consider your campaign to be a phishing attempt or spam.

Open rate (volume of email opened / number of emails sent x 100) This is the percentage of contacts who opened the email out of all contacts who received the email.

Click-through rate (number of emails opened with at least one click / number of emails delivered x 100). This is the percentage of contacts who opened the email and clicked a button in the email, based on the contacts who received the email.

Unsubscribe rate (number of unsubscribes / number of delivered emails x 100). This is the percentage of contacts who chose to unsubscribe from your communications.