I was an early investor in two of the first email service providers (Email Publishing and Mercury Mail). My experience with ESPs goes back more than 20 years and, since the mid 1990s, I’ve seen the ESP ecosystem evolve from its infancy, with just a few startups blazing a trail, to today’s robust industry populated by mature marketing technology platforms. And yes, they are now called email marketing platforms, which seems much more grown up and sophisticated.
Deliverability first became a hot issue in the early 2000s, and our portfolio company Return Path emerged as an innovator and leader. Since then, deliverability has remained one of the most important levers for email marketers.
Consequently, the role of the ESP’s deliverability specialist (a job, like many others in our industry, that is extremely challenging and not well known) has become increasingly difficult. Today’s deliverability specialist is tasked with managing more clients, across more geographies, with ever-changing parameters by individual mailbox providers. And of course, like any industry, they face greater and greater client expectations.
Most deliverability specialists have cobbled together their own solutions (such as MTA logs and response metrics) and leveraged solutions like Return Path – although admittedly these solutions are based on the same platform any email marketer would use. In short, deliverability solutions for ESPs could have – and should have – been better.
Recently, Return Path launched their innovative new Partner Platform solution, the first deliverability platform built exclusively for ESPs, with extensive input from their longstanding ESP partners. When I first heard of the development of this product, I was delighted that Return Path had committed to investing in an ESP/super-user platform to address the unique needs of the ESP and their deliverability specialists.
Return Path’s Partner Platform puts deliverability data all in one place, allowing deliverability specialists to see what’s happening across their entire client ecosystem. Information is layered together to provide meaningful metrics and insights across all clients’ programs.
The vast data assets Return Path has invested in, coupled with the ability to slice and dice data, is a game-changer for deliverability specialists.
This is a huge step for the email marketing industry and something that’s long overdue. I’m glad to see that an 18 year old, independent company can continue to make big innovations while growing their business.