Email and Your CRM: Best Practices for Successful Outgoing Email Management

IRIS CRM Blog, Sales Efficiency
Outgoing Email Management

Part One – Protecting Your Outgoing Email Reputation and Deliverability Rates with Subdomains 

Email marketing is deceptively simple. You create an email or a series of messages, load them into your autoresponder, click a button, and out they go – a successful email blast! But there is so much more to it than that, and, in reality, a huge number of factors – from your list management to your technical setup – could actually be quietly sinking the success of those email campaigns. Worse still, you might be putting yourself at risk of having your deliveries shut out altogether. 

At IRIS CRM, our team is part of your team, and we want your email marketing campaigns to succeed. That’s why we go out of our way to facilitate the best practices that will keep your messages hitting inboxes and generating new business. One of the ways we’re doing that is by transitioning all users to sending outgoing marketing emails through unique subdomains. That might not mean much to you right now, but keep reading, and you’ll quickly see why it’s such an important part of our commitment to your success. 

 

How Reputation Impacts Your Company’s Email Success

 

Ask any marketer what goes into a successful email campaign, and they’ll list off things like great titles, engaging content, a strong call to action, and tight follow-ups. What they might not mention is reputation. 

But reputation is arguably even more important than all of those other factors because, without strong reputation metrics, those emails with great titles and engaging content might not even be delivered at all

So, what is email reputation? Every time you send an email, whether it’s a single message to a friend or a blast out to thousands of subscribers, the mailbox at the other end does a reputation check. That check assesses the reputation of the sender (your email address), the reputation of the server/IP/domain that the email originated from, the reputation of any links in the content, and the engagement rates of the sender. 

The results of the check are then used to determine where your email lands (i.e., the inbox, the promotion folder, the spam folder, etc.) and, in some cases, whether or not the email is delivered at all. That makes maintaining a strong reputation incredibly important to successful email marketing because failure to do so could render your time, effort, and costs completely moot. 

Your reputation is built up by things like high open rates, strong engagement, and high deliverability in and of itself. All of those things will make it more likely that your emails make it past the checks and filters and into a recipient’s inbox. Your reputation is knocked down by things like low engagement, delivery to spam traps, and, most of all, high spam complaint rates from your recipients. Those things are all red flags that make it more likely your emails will be redirected away from a user’s inbox, and could even result in your outgoing email being blacklisted if too many red flags accumulate.

As a result, it’s crucial to your success that you take strong steps to boost the positive factors and minimize the negative ones. Unfortunately, some negative feedback – like the occasional spam complaint – is unavoidable regardless of the quality of your campaigns.  What you can do, however, is make smart use of email subdomains to help minimize the impacts of mistakes and complaints – especially the ones you’re not even responsible for.

 

What is an Email Subdomain and Why Are Subdomains So Important?

 

When you send an email, it originates from a domain – an identifier that tells the 1s and 0s of the internet that the email is from your system. In your company’s web address, the part before the “dot com” is an example of a domain. When your email arrives on the recipient’s end, their mailbox provider looks at that identifier and analyzes its reputation based on all the other emails that have previously originated from it. It then decides whether your email is inbox-worthy, or should be redirected to somewhere more appropriate – like the spam folder. 

A subdomain is simply a child domain that exists within the framework of the main parent domain. You’ve probably seen examples of subdomains before – they’re represented in text as a prefix to the main domain. 

For example, if your primary domain was yourcompany.com, an example of a child subdomain would be email.yourcompany.com. 

So, what makes subdomains so important? 

Subdomains are important because they carry their own reputation separate from both the primary domain and any other child domains. Nothing that happens to the reputation of the parent domain can hurt the reputation of a subdomain, and vice versa. That’s a huge consideration when it comes to email marketing because it means subdomains give you the power to manage the level of risk in your email marketing, and to wall off certain types of email from reputation damage. 

 

Marketing and “Quick” Email vs. System Email: An Important Distinction

 

There are two kinds of email that most companies send – “quick” email, and system email. A quick email covers both your outgoing marketing email, as well as your day-to-day email. System email refers to the important system-generated messages that go out to your clients – things like confirmations, status reports, password resets, etc. 

A high delivery rate is important for your quick email, but it’s crucial for your system email. Failure to get a quick email through is potentially costly and a major annoyance. Failure to get system email through could result in major service issues for your existing clients – an unacceptable outcome.

The importance of this distinction lies in the fact that many companies don’t make a distinction and send both their quick and system email from the same domain. That means marketing emails – the kind that could very realistically result in low engagement and spam complaints – goes out from the same domain as crucial system emails, and the two are sharing reputation.  

Having your quick and system email on the same domain represents an enormous risk for the deliverability of your system email because one poor decision in your email marketing or even just some disgruntled subscribers could have potentially catastrophic impacts on your overall reputation. It’s either a disaster waiting to happen or one already happening, just in slow motion. 

Luckily, using subdomains completely solves the problem. 

Because subdomains do not share a reputation with each other or with the parent domain, protecting your system email – the email you need to get through every time – is as easy as sending it from its own subdomain. 

Setting up two subdomains – for example, mail.yourdomain.com for quick emails and system.yourdomain.com for system emails – ensures that even if you blow a marketing campaign and accidentally generate a ton of spam complaints, your system email delivery will remain safe. The unique subdomain acts as a firewall against any damage from the riskier side of your email ops. 

That’s especially true if you’re on a shared platform where multiple members all send emails through a shared domain or system emails are all generated through a single parent. In that scenario, the bad actions of another company could potentially sink your email reputation and deliverability because you’re all sending through the same domain. In a case like that, getting onto your own unique subdomains isn’t just a good idea; it’s an absolute must. 

 

A Summary of the Pros and Cons of Shared vs. Unique Email Subdomains

It would be misleading to say there are no benefits to sending your email through a parent or even a shared domain/IP address. There are some upsides. The downsides far outweigh them, but in order to help you make your own decision, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each setup. 

Sending All Email Through a Parent or Shared Domain:

Pros:

  • It’s the simplest option. Whether you’re sending through your own IP address/website or through a shared domain on a hosted service, this is generally the default setup. Continuing to use it requires no action.
  • Your marketing email will actually benefit from the high open rates and engagement of your system email. That will give a slight boost to your marketing email deliverability, which will potentially be lost when you switch to multiple subdomains.
  • Consistent email volume counts, and in a shared email ecosystem on a hosted solution, your deliverability could potentially benefit from the high and consistent volume of email being sent by everyone else. 

Cons:

  • You’re putting your system email at major risk. Just as your quick email potentially benefits from your system email, your system email reputation is simultaneously dragged down by your quick email. Your system email could begin to see deliverability issues, and if your domain ends up on a blacklist, you may not be able to get an email through at all, no matter how important. 
  • In a shared email ecosystem on cloud-based, hosted solutions, a couple of bad actors or spam-heavy users have the potential to cause significant damage to everyone’s reputation and deliverability – including yours. 

 

Sending Your Email Through Your Own Unique Subdomains:

Pros:

  • You have control over which types of emails are exposed to different levels of risk. You can create castle walls around your system email and ensure that no matter what happens elsewhere, your high-importance system messages will always retain their high deliverability rates. 
  • You can create effectively disposable subdomains. If your marketing efforts go awry for some reason and your quick email ends up in spam folders or blacklisted, you can switch to a new subdomain and effectively start fresh rebuilding your reputation. 
  • The work you put into building a strong reputation for both your quick and system email will never be put at risk by other users on a shared platform, ensuring exceptional long-term deliverability. 

Cons:

  • There is some work to do. Setting up new subdomains and splitting your outgoing email traffic isn’t difficult, but it isn’t automatic either.
  • If your outgoing marketing email has been enjoying a boost from the high-engagement rates of your system email or the email of other high-power users on a shared domain, you might see a slight dip in your deliverability, open, and engagement rates. 

 

How IRIS CRM Protects Your Reputation and Deliverability

At IRIS CRM, we firmly believe that unique subdomain use is the absolute best practice for both ensuring high deliverability rates, and walling off important system email against potential reputation damage. That’s why IRIS CRM requires all of our ISOs to send their outgoing quick email from their own unique subdomains, separate from the IRIS CRM parent domain. 

Integrating your unique email subdomain with IRIS CRM is extremely easy, whether you use GSuite, Outlook, or your own hosting account’s email service. With your quick email being routed through your own unique subdomain, you can handle your daily communications and utilize all of IRIS CRM’s advanced email marketing tools with full assurance that the important system emails generated by IRIS CRM and sent out to your merchants will always maintain the highest integrity. 

 

In part two of this series, we’ll dive further into maximizing your deliverability using proper configuration and authentication best practices. If you’d like more information on IRIS CRM’s full suite of communication and email marketing tools or guidance on the best practices to follow when integrating your external email, get in contact with a member of our team today!