Email Expert Talk 1: José Ramón García Layos, Senior Deliverability Consultant at Adobe
In our new series 'Email Expert Talk' we discuss all things email with distinguished experts who know about the struggles and strategies of working with high volume emails. We talk about how they cope with daily challenges, what their opinions are on the latest industry developments and how they manage to stay on top of the ever-changing email landscape.
For this very first edition of Email Expert Talk, we spoke with José Ramón García Layos, Senior Deliverability Consultant at Adobe. During his 12 years in the email industry, José has experienced different sides of deliverability, both from ESP, as from a marketing perspective. He has seen how challenging and rewarding deliverability can be and what impact it has to the success of a business.
As a Senior Deliverability Consultant at Adobe, José offers deliverability support to a client base consisting of some heavyweight email senders. He helps them excel in deliverability through his guidance, teaching and troubleshooting. Today, he shares some of his insights with us and explains how he ensures that his clients are well-equipped to reach the inbox of their subscribers.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
José: "My typical workday doesn't really exist - there are a very few days that look like the previous one. I usually go through the necessary monitoring for my already- onboarded clients and then support the ones that are onboarding through the different stages of the process."
My typical workday doesn't really exist
"This normally involves lots of meetings to get and provide feedback, which is, in my opinion, paramount in the provider-client relationship. I also like to invest time to work on defining processes and producing documentation so that by the end of the day we can be more effective to our customers."
Where do you draw the line between a deliverability issue and an abuse/compliance issue? How do you distinguish them in practice?
José: "I think a deliverability issue will always be a deliverability issue, regardless of what caused it. That means that, when troubleshooting a potential deliverability issue I'll go deep on the data I count on (bounces, spam complaints, IP/domain reputation, engagement metrics), I will analyse it to determine what may be causing the issue and then will take an action on it. The Inbox Service Provider doesn't care if a sender doesn't have permission or doesn't consider the email relevant: in both cases that email is spam and will be either blocked or sent to spam. As such, my approach is always to find out what's causing the issue and if it's due to abuse / compliance, work / force them to fix it."
In an abuse/compliance scenario most of the metrics will look off, whereas in other scenarios the issue will be more limited.
"As to how I do distinguish an abuse / compliance issue causing a deliverability issue vs. others, my experience tells me in an abuse / compliance scenario most of the metrics will look off in most of the ISPs, whereas in other scenarios the issue will be much more limited."
Some clients may cause you more headaches than others. In those situations, how do you tend to approach that communication?
José: "I usually try to educate customers as much as I can, in a manner that they understand that, unless the infrastructure side of things is having a problem (this is in my case as I work for an ESP), they do have the key to improve their deliverability by sticking to the best practices. On that front I always like to be candid and straightforward by explaining the reason and the action items that need to be tackled to improve."
You wouldn't believe it: in 2020, sending more vs. sending better is still a thing.
"In a case where a client wouldn't listen I try to understand why they wouldn't listen and see if there are smaller, 'local' measures that are easier to implement and less 'painful' from the client perspective, so that I can prove the point and get them onboard to get further measures in place. For example, if they are seeing deliverability issues in multiple ISPs, I would try to get them segmenting by engagement on the less relevant ISP (the one with less emails in their database), in order to not reduce sending volume drastically at the beginning (in 2020 sending more vs. sending better is still a thing, you wouldn't believe it)."
"In situations where Acceptable Use Policy violations are the issue, then I would involve the necessary legal teams to work with the customer."
Looking forward, where do you see email deliverability in 2025? What new challenges will we be facing and what current issues may be tackled by then?
José: "I believe user's engagement will be even more important in the incoming years. There are some ISPs that are way less sensitive to user's engagement than others (e.g. Microsoft vs. Gmail), and I think this will change, as email will still be widely used and abused. I also believe IP reputation will be less and less relevant over time, with domain reputation taking over on the other side."
"I see some wonky trend among ISPs to develop basically pay per delivery programs (they won't call it like this, of course), I think this is something we should reject as an industry and there will be a challenge to make these work in the context of what we always thought deliverability was about: sending emails to users who want to receive them. I really hope DMARC adoption among marketers finally spikes by then."