Protect Your Gold

Brad Cannon | 03/25/2019

If you don’t already know that email marketing is one of – if not the most- efficient ways to market, particularly when combined with direct mail, you’re living under a rock.

In our boot camps, we talk about your customer list being the hidden gold in your dealership, and the most valuable asset you have that your accountant won’t tell you about. It’s that important.


Unfortunately, oftentimes most of the discussion of list quality is about physical addresses. I think the reason why is because it’s easy to draw a correlation between bad mailing data and our bank account. If you have a garbage mail file and spend money to send mail pieces to it, when that returned mail comes back there’s a VERY direct line from that mail piece’s postage to the bank account. That hurts. Sometimes badly.

So let’s change it up a little this go around. Let’s talk about our email list.


Let’s start with the perspective that your email list is the marketing weapon in your arsenal that has the absolute highest ROI of all. It’s that important.

Now consider a major difference between email marketing and direct mail marketing:

If you send direct mail out to a bad list, and a lot of it gets returned, you’re out real money. That sucks, but only the folks for whom you had bad addresses were actually impacted. The post office doesn’t really care either, because you paid to drop off mail pieces and have them delivered somewhere. Doesn’t matter to them if the final destination is your customer or your desk. It was paid for either way, and their costs were covered when you bought the stamp.


Email is different. You have a reputation as a sender, and that reputation impacts your overall deliverability. To put this in perspective, if the number of bad email addresses you send to goes over a certain threshold, the ISPs (internet service providers) will start throttling the number of emails they even attempt to deliver for you. And the more you send to bad addresses, the more you get throttled, until you eventually get blacklisted, and they just stop delivering your mail completely. 

So while bad hygiene for direct mail matters, it’s actually more important for email because with enough bad addresses, even the good ones can get rejected. 


So how do we make sure the list we use is clean? It starts with the understanding that accuracy is critical. Make sure that the addresses are typed correctly. Read them back as they’re being input to be sure they’re right.

Whatever you do, DO NOT put a cute place holder in the email field. I’ve seen things like in some files. Some managers tell people to put that there so they can see that the employee actually asked for the address. **News Flash** if you see that, there is a 98% chance they didn’t ask and they just put that there to shut you up.


The real problem with doing something like this, is that many email programs and providers do a quick check to make sure you’re attempting to deliver to a valid address by checking for the presence of an “@” and “.”, which all emails have. Including the cute example above.

Almost 100% of email programs on the market will initially attempt to send to this address. It will hard bounce. It will register a ding on the senders reputation. Enough dings, good emails start getting throttled. Lost opportunity.


You also want to make sure things are spelled correctly. Some common misspellings of domains that we see are “” “” “” “”, among many others. Those (and literally thousands of others) are all going to bounce and create reputation problems for the senders. We have to get it right.

I’ll also mention the thing nobody likes to talk about, spam traps. There are typo traps (that catch misspellings like I just mentioned), pristine traps (designed to catch people who unapologetically spam), and recycled traps (the ones most likely to impact you as a dealer).


Recycled traps are email addresses that at some point were legitimate addresses but were for some reason abandoned and reclaimed by the provider. The provider monitors who sends emails to those addresses. Here’s the important part: they NEVER open any of the emails or engage in any way with the senders. They watch those senders over time, and if they keep receiving emails from them, their reputation takes a hit. Enough hits, and they stop accepting any emails from the sender at all. 

Believe it or not, ISPs measure engagement with legitimate email addresses as well, and if you are sending to people who never open your emails, your deliverability can suffer in that way as well. Accuracy and engagement are critical. 


So, while it’s really easy to see how bad physical addresses impacts the bank account, email accuracy is no less important. Arguably, maybe more so because trouble with email deliverability not only impacts the specific bad emails and the dollars they could represent but can and WILL impact your opportunities and dollars from GOOD email prospects as well.

If you want to talk more about email, and what we can do to push your results up to the next level, give us a shout and we’ll show you Firestorm. The only industry specific email platform designed by powersports enthusiasts for the powersports industry.


Talk again soon.