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Monitoring Deliverability: Claims and Counterclaims

Article by John Landsman

Marketing email professionals have waged longstanding philosophical combat over the benefits of seed versus panel-based data to monitor inbox performance.  Among competing vendors of such monitoring services, some of their claims are fact-based; some not so much.  We found one of the latter, attempting to refute our panel methodology, among the website content of 250ok.

Our actual point-of-view is that it’s not an “either/or” proposition.  Both of these inbox monitoring methods have useful roles in the tracking process. Our goal here is achieving wide and representative coverage which most accurately reflects real-world activity.

The primary advantage of panel monitoring is that it represents real consumers, whose inbox performance reflects actual engagement behavior, which we can also track.  Because user behavior has become a primary factor in ISP spam-filtering protocols, tracking the inbox performance of inert seeds can NOT provide an accurate picture of how successfully a given brand’s emails are reaching customer inboxes.

Panel data can support statistically valid inbox monitoring for most mailers, excepting the very smallest.  Panel’s trackable representation is almost always more accurate than the relatively few seeds available to any given mailer in the usual seed-based monitoring process.  Where that’s not true, seeds can be deployed to supplement panel representation.

Even so, a conventional seed is still a “fake” account which does not behave, and therefore cannot truly represent actual email subscribers

But, as a technological breakthrough, what if seeds could be brought to simulated “life,” to exhibit a representative variety of reality-based locations, attributes and behavior; e.g., reads, deletes, forwards, clicks, replies, purchases)?

eDataSource has now developed such functionality.  Called the “Enhanced Virtual User Network” (EVUN), this patent-pending innovation uses machine-learning to apply data representing more than five million actual users.  The system deploys inboxes which model user profiles that are geographically, demographically and sociographically representative of actual users.  These inboxes’ realistic range of realty-based simulated behaviors can yield far more realistic brand send-patterns, and thus far more accurate deliverability monitoring, than any conventional seed-based monitoring.

Overall, in combination with panel and conventional seeds, our EVUN ensures the most accurate deliverability monitoring in the industry.  Even better, unlike the traditional consumer panel, or seeds, these virtual users can be flexibly deployed for a wide variety of A/B and send frequency testing, customer journey development, and many other such use-cases.

Result?  With four distinct, independent tracking methods, we can — uniquely in our space — cover 43 ISPs, and track 190,000 brands and ten billion searchable emails with the highest degree of accuracy.   Sitting atop the resulting data platform is the industry’s most robust and actionable querying and reporting functionality for our Inbox and Competitive Tracker tools.  None of our competitors has this breadth of coverage and functionality, because none of our competitors has the data asset supporting it.   Our clients know this.