How to Ensure Killer Email Deliverability

I didn’t realize exactly how crucial email was to the operation of my business until I found my email list – assembled painstakingly over several years – held hostage by a blacklist. I learned my lesson earlier this year, and to help you avoid a similar situation I’m sitting down with email expert Xiaohui “X” Wang to talk all things email deliverability.

X is the founder of Essence of Emailwhich works exclusively with eCommerce shops on their email marketing techniques.

X and I dig into some specifics about email deliverability best practices, including what makes up your email reputation. We talk about how to come back from being put on a blacklist and if it’s possible to make it past Google’s “Updates” tab into your customer’s main inbox. X also shares several tools for managing email lists and avoiding spam traps that can immobilize your business email.

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(With your host Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com and Xiaohui “X” Wang of Essence of Email)

Andrew: Welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast, the show dedicated to helping high six and seven-figure entrepreneurs build amazing online companies and incredible lives. I’m your host and fellow e-commerce entrepreneur, Andrew Youderian. Hey guys, Andrew here and welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in today. And today, we’re gonna be geeking out about email deliverability. I actually ran into a big email snafu, got put on a blacklist for eCommerceFuel earlier this year and it was a pretty exciting emotional couple of weeks there when you wonder if the list that you’ve been working for years and years and years to build has become somewhat worthless.

So it’s something…email deliverability, it’s maybe not the sexiest topic in the world but it’s something like going to dentist or not going to the dentist. If you ignore something long enough, it can cause major problems down the road. So joining me to talk about that is Xiaohui Wang from essenceofemail.com and he’s our email expert in our private eCommerceFuel community, knows a ton about this kind of stuff. So we’re gonna talk about all things email deliverability, making sure that those messages are getting where they need to be and you’re not getting any hot water.

First Sale Shoutout!

Andrew: So before we dive in, I wanna do a first sale shout out first. I haven’t done one of these for a while but I got an email from Kris Cody who wrote and said, “Hey, I have been listening to your podcast and I just launched my e-commerce store yesterday.” This was a couple of months ago so apologies Kris for the delay but it’s pakaapparel.com, P-A-K-A, apparel.com. And one of the reasons that stood out to me was I was blown away by the quality of this site on day one. A lot of my sites look like just ugly ducklings when I first get them out there into the world.

But the product which is really beautiful, soft, Alpaca clothing and hats from Peru, I actually have worn an Alpaca hat into the office today. It’s really cool material. But the site is just beautiful. So Kris, really incredible job especially for what I think is your first e-commerce site. Impressive work with the photography, the storytelling. So yeah, congratulations, man, and congrats on that first sale. I’m thrilled for you. And like I mentioned on the last couple of episodes, this next Friday, the 30th, is gonna be the last weekly episode of the podcast. And I’ll dive into all the details on that last episode.

But a couple of things I just wanted to mention before then, thank you for everyone who’s written in, expressed concern, and asked if anything was wrong. Nothing is wrong. There’s no illness or business coming to a close, we’re not shutting down eCommerceFuel. It’s nothing like that. It’s just time to focus on a few other things and it’s hard to do a lot of things well. I’d say impossible. So I’ll get into the details next week. And finally, just one little thing to say, I will continue to be podcasting. This is not gonna be the end all be all of the podcast but I just won’t be doing it at the weekly pace that I’ve done for the last three and a half years or so. So just a few things I wanted to at least mention ahead of time.

So finally before we get into it with Xiaohui who I affectionately called X because we kind of nicknamed him in the forum, I just wanna wish you a very happy holiday season, a very Merry Christmas. I hope it was a good December for all you store owners out there and hopefully you get a few good days to unwind and relax a little bit before you come back after Christmas. And everyone, you know, you get all those emails talking about returns. Now, you ruined somebody’s Christmas because the tie was a day late. Yeah. Fun times after Christmas.

So anyway, hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Merry Christmas and thanks so much for listening. All right. Let’s dive in. X, so maybe to lead things off, what’s something that somebody can do that…maybe isn’t something they do in a discrete moment or quickly but over time, maybe it’s without thinking about it that can really damage their reputation and their deliverability?

Keep a Clean List

Xiaohui: Yeah. So what I’d say here is generally keeping a clean list. What we see with a lot of our clients and across a lot of programs is it’s really easy to, if you don’t have the infrastructure in place, to continuously clean your list to just send the email over and over to that list, to your active list. And as that list grows and as you add more people, then even though there’s going to be a bunch of dormant folks that naturally come from being on the list over time. They keep staying there and so, if you don’t have the processes in place to continuously clean it either quarterly or automatically in real time if you wanna set up the automations, then what happens is over time, you’re gonna have a bigger and bigger portion of your list become dormant and that can really hurt your deliverability in the long-term.

Andrew: And dormancy would mean people that don’t open, that don’t click, that don’t…aren’t engaging with your emails, right?

Xiaohui: Correct. So people who aren’t engaging at all with your emails and what happens sometimes is it also depends on how frequently you send emails. Right? And for senders who send emails fairly frequently, it’s going to be less of a problem. But let’s say you just have too much going on on your hands and you send emails quite infrequently, that can actually be a big problem because some of these dormant contacts, over time, what happens is some of the ISPs could potentially morph them into spam trap. So what happens is the ESPs might take account that hasn’t been active for a year or two years or whatever their threshold is and they convert it into a spam trap.

But before that, there is a period where they gravestone the account which essentially means they’re bouncing and rejecting all the emails that come in during that period. But let’s say you send emails really infrequently, then you might not be sending to that email address within that gravestone period. And then when you do send, it’s already a spam trap. So that’s something to watch out for in terms of dormant contacts.

Andrew: I mean, so that spam trap, like I’m thinking I had a high school email, it’s been years, it’s like when your 15bikeboy444@hotmail.com, the classics. I haven’t even logged into it in probably a decade. So that’s the kind of thing that could be turned into a spam trap and if you hit that, that’s not just like…that’s a fairly major flag for a lot of these ESPs are like that’s something that can tank your deliverability overnight, right?

Xiaohui: Correct. So spam traps are generally not very good to hit at all. The recycle spam traps that we’re talking about are a little bit better because at least at some point, they were real addresses. So generally, the black list at least treat them a little bit more leniently. But if you’re hitting a pristine spam trap which are essentially these email addresses that the third-party blacklist are seeding out into the internet and not really subscribing to any list with them but say if you’re, you know, you bought a list that was scraped or something like that, then those spam traps are even more detrimental to your list and can really take down your deliverability overnight. And we’ve seen unfortunately some instances in the past in my experience where that has happened and it’s not a pretty sight.

Rules of Thumb for Tidying Up a List

Andrew: So what about….I mean, you talked about keeping the list clean, what are some…maybe before we get into the mechanics of it, what are some good time frames, maybe rules of thumb, for let’s say we’re gonna create an automation to unsubscribe people from our list when they don’t, you know, when they’re not engaging in a certain amount of time? What’s a ballpark estimate that if people haven’t engaged, either clicked or opened an email in three months, you unsubscribe them or maybe three months, you trigger an email that says, “Hey, last chance. We’re gonna subscribe you unless we hear from you.” What’s kind of a maybe a high-level plan that you could give people?

Xiaohui: Yeah. And it’s gonna vary a little bit but what we like to start with and it depends on how frequently you send as well. For example, if you send once a month and doing it at the three-month mark doesn’t make too much sense because the subscriber has only been exposed to potentially three emails which is generally not enough to determine whether or not they’re truly dormant. But let’s say you’re sending at a frequency of like four or five times a month, so once a week roughly, then we like to use kind of 180 days, so sixth month, as a starting gauge of the dormant contacts.

And from there, once a contact is dormant, then there is some tactics you can use to try to re-engage them. For example, what we typically do is send a few touch point reengagement series. It could be three to five touch points typically, the first one being something like we’ve missed you and very light touch and calling out the fact that they are dormant. And then as you move further into the sequence, try different tactics and perhaps more drastic tactics to generate that engagement. So generate that open or that click so you know they actually have life in them.

Andrew: And do most services, like let’s say most people listening to this probably use a service like MailChimp or Klaviyo, for something along those lines, do most of those kind of services have a one…maybe a framework set up that you can drop into place and customize or do you have to create it based on the rules that they have? I know that for Ontraport, when I ran into issues, they kind of had a framework but it wasn’t really just a press a button to engage this and fill out some templates. You really had to customize some rules and some workflows to get that in place. Is that kind of the general standard?

Xiaohui: Yes. So generally, you’d actually need to go ahead and customize it yourself. MailDrop has been rolling out a few…kind of their predetermined custom sort of flows. So they might, may or may not have included that in the latest update. Klaviyo, you have to do that yourself as well and actually this is…in MailChimp, you can go ahead and add a last step where it actually removes them from the list whereas in Klaviyo, the workaround is you would have to put the ones who are still dormant into a different segment and manually unsubscribe them every once in a while. So both of them which are the flows themselves would need to be more custom.

Reputation Built on IP Vs. Domain

Andrew: When I think of an email reputation, I think…you think you could identify a sender from one list like at essenseofemail.com, you can identify of course by the domain, the essenceofemail.com, or by the IP sending the emails which the IP can change of course. The domain is not gonna change. Is one of the two more important? Like if you have your own IP and you totally flame out a list and then you change the IPs but you keep the domain, are you gonna be in the clear or how much of the reputation is based on IP versus domain?

Xiaohui: Great question. So first of all, you’re at the current stage. You’ll definitely not be completely in the clear unfortunately. Historically, the sender IP has taken far more precedence over the domain reputation but as we are moving forward, the domain reputation is becoming more and more important and actually Google and Gmail is kind of spearheading this and starting to give more weight to the domain reputation. So that’s going to definitely become much more important as we move forward which actually in my head makes sense even if it may be more difficult to manage for us but the domain reputation, you know, you are…it’s much more portable and sometimes you might be sending from multiple IP address, say IP addresses, say you have a lot of transactional emails and then you have your marketing emails from ESP and then maybe you have your customer service ones and whatnot.

So all those come from different IP addresses but they all come from the same domain. So not to say that sender IP is not important right now because when you…there are instances recently actually where we have switched sender IPs even whether it’s switching from one ISP to another or just getting into different sender IP pool and you do see some fairly significant differences in deliverability but at the same time, domain reputation is something that’s probably the wave of the future.

Andrew: Any services you can recommend for somebody to check their reputation? There is a bunch that were listed for a while and I tried and it seems like a lot of them out there give you just really either…they either make you pay to really get any meaningful intelligence or they’ll give you a 50% number that when I enter in a dozen other domains, they’ll have the exact same rating as I do. I recently came across Postmaster Tools from Google which was interesting. Any thoughts on good services people can use to check as well as Postmaster Tools?

Test Your Domain Reputation

Xiaohui: Yeah. So for Postmaster Tools, we’re actually recently starting to use them and it seems fairly useful thus far to getting some insights particularly around domain reputation. Now, of course, it’s a Google tool, it’s focused on Gmail and Google but at the same time, Google is a big player within the space and the algorithms of other ISPs. It’s different. They’re different but they all look at similar sort of factors so it’s very useful. Other than that, we also like to use senderscore.org for a high-level sender score. It’s powered by Return Path and what you do is you just put your IP address in there and it generates a score from 0 to 100, I think, or maybe 99 with the upper end being the better score.

And that looks at a variety of factors and checks against blacklists and also spam traps and gives you a score there. But in order to drill down even more, we like to use some blacklist checkers. For example, with MX Toolbox, they have a decent blacklist checker for domain or for IP addresses and they check across, I don’t know, like I think dozens and dozens of blacklists to see if you’re on one of those. But if you wanna drill in very deeply into deliverability, then that’s a separate topic. You probably wanna use one of the pay services.

In the past, we’ve used Mail Monitor app, Turn Path, a little pricier for them but they’re good. And then currently, we’re using Send Forensics to look into deliverability across time and for particular campaigns and whatnot.

What To Do If You’re on a Blacklist

Andrew: What do you do if you’re on a blacklist? What if you use these tools, you find out okay, our reputation is either less than beautiful or it’s downright terrible. How do you…I mean, I’ve heard from people that improving your email reputation is really difficult to do. So is it at that point, is it worth taking steps to try to repair? I mean, if so, what are those? Or at that point, does it just makes sense to say, “Okay, we’re gonna change the domain that we mail from.” What’s the best approach?

Xiaohui: It depends on the severity of your current state. So for example, even all blacklists are not created equal. Right? Sometimes we see one of our domains pop up on a blacklist and then it doesn’t affect anything very much because there are a lot of like smaller blacklists that don’t really have a lot of weight. And also, there is real-time blacklist meaning your domain or your IP can actually pop up in and out of a blacklist and don’t necessarily stay on it. But that being said, if you are registering on one of the major ones, for example, like Spamhaus or something, that is notoriously difficult to get off of.

So again, I think it kind of depends on how severe your deliverability issue is before you go in and try to diagnose it. But just from a blacklist perspective, the first thing is to see like how bad of a blacklist you’re on and whether or not you’re constantly on it or if you’re just kind of popping in and out of it.

Andrew: Interesting. And so, if you are, like let’s say it’s really bad, what do you do then?

Xiaohui: Yeah. It’s difficult. I can relate kind of a tangential story on that one. If you have clout with…if you’re a pretty high-volume sender or a bigger brand, then you probably have some clout with your ESP going through the director of deliverability with your ESP and perhaps you can get off even a really bad blacklist like Spamhaus. I’ve seen it done before. Usually, it’s like there’s a lot of austerity measures applied basically drafting a very long sort of plan to become a good sender and really working the relationships there to get off. But if you’re on some of the smaller ones, sometimes they even have a process to get off of it and usually requires getting in contact with their contact there and going through specific steps to do so. If you’re a smaller sender and you get on one of these big ones, yeah, I think it’s going to be pretty difficult to manage that.

Andrew: So it’s really, there is nothing you can do in terms of…it’s much more difficult after you hit one of these or get on these blacklists. It’s not just an issue of oh hey, I can now clean up my list and I’ll be really careful about sending. It’s like well, once you’ve done it, you’re kind of hosed. So you either gotta go in through off-line routes or through the direct route, through the spam directory, Spamhaus or whatever it is, or it’s time to abandon ship it sounds like?

Xiaohui: Yeah. Sometimes moving…if it’s just the IP that’s registered on a big blacklist, sometimes you can get off by trying to get a different ESP or just trying to get to a different IP address. But like I said, domain reputation is starting to play more of a role so it’s gonna become harder to get off but deliverability is definitely one of the areas where prevention is worth a lot versus the cure.

The Risk of Auto Opt-Ins

Andrew: A couple of things getting people on the list to begin with, again, most people who listen to this, a lot of them are e-commerce merchants and somebody goes to their store and they place an order. What are your thoughts on automatically subscribing them to newsletters? Because I’d say most stores do it. You know, we did it at Right Channel Radios in my past because it’s so hard not to, right? Like obviously they’re interested, they like what you have, they’re buying something from you. You’re not explicitly, and I guess some of those places have a little check mark on the checkout. You know, do you wanna be subscribed to our newsletter, but a lot of people don’t even necessarily show that. They just auto-opt them in. Thoughts on that? Like obviously it’s not totally white hat but how risky is it to do that?

Xiaohui: Well, first off, let’s look at the jurisdiction that you’re in and where most of your customers are in. United States tends to have fairly lenient spam laws so you can get away with that without violating, you know, step into legal territory and the mess there. But if you’re selling to Canada, for example, or some of the more stringent European countries like Germany, then their laws actually require explicit consent and sometimes you have to document the exact time and have proof of that if they ask. So first off, you just wanna make sure you’re following the laws of your jurisdiction.

But let’s say your customers are mostly in the States and you’re allowed to do that by law, then what happens is we typically would recommend at least having a pre-checked checkbox for opting in because that at least gives people that ability to get out of it instead of you force subscribing them. Now, the more that you don’t show that visibility, the more complaints it’s going to generate. For example, if you just don’t have the opt in or opt out box at all and you just force subscribe all the customers, then yes, you’re gonna get the highest volume of customers but at the same time, you can get quite high attrition rates, spam complaint rates, unsubscribe rates, as well as lower engagement. So it’s kind of striking the balance between getting the maximum amount of people on your list but also ensuring the quality and making sure they’re not messing things up for the rest of your list.

Single Vs. Double Opt-In

Andrew: What about single opt-in versus double opt-in? So let’s take the other approach and say a customer lands on your homepage, you pop up an offer box to them, you know, 10% off your email, something along those lines, and they enter their email. And you can use a single opt-in if you are not familiar with that, you know, listening. It’s where you enter an email and automatically an email shows up and you’re on the list. Double opt-in is where you get that confirmation email and you have to click the link to then be opted into the list. A little bit safer but obviously, you can probably have a pretty big drop off in people who would complete that second confirmation step. Thoughts on which one, for most people, I’m guessing they wanna go double opt-in. I wanted to go double opt-in the past because you get more emails, but how risky is it to not do the double opt-in?

Xiaohui: Yeah, great question. And again, the caveat there is locate your jurisdiction and make sure that you’re abiding by those laws. But yes, so it’s again the balance between getting more volume and then getting better quality. In this particular instance for your e-commerce, I’m more partial to single opt-in versus double opt-in since based on some of the statistics that I’ve read, with a single opt-in, you’re gonna get 20% to 30% faster list growth than the double opt-in which is fairly significant. Now that being said, there is still some best practices you wanna follow. For example, it’s probably a pretty good practice to send a welcome email anyways even if you are a single opt-in.

The reason being a lot of times, you might be getting people who are inputting email addresses that are maybe fake email addresses or there’s typos in the email address or other reasons where that email might bounce. So if you let it sit on your list and you accumulate these bad email addresses and then send a campaign in a long time from now, then you’re gonna get a very high bounce rate which is not great for deliverability. So overall, I’d say I still look to a single opt-in for the most part but with caution when compared to a double opt-in.

Andrew: So can you kind of hack it a little bit where you can do a single opt-in and if they don’t engage in that first one or two or three emails, you can just drop them off? So you don’t ask them to explicitly click a link but if you notice based on your metrics that they’re not even opening the emails for a couple times, then you can kind of remove them?

Xiaohui: Yeah, that’s definitely a possibility. I caution against just looking at open rates perhaps because open rates sometimes are a little bit deceptive since most of the ESPs do track opens through image pixel. So if they’re not loading the image pixel, sometimes it won’t register. But you can definitely have some processes in place to look at after the first few emails if you do run a sequence for opt-ins then if they’re not engaging, you can drop them off quietly behind the scenes.

Definitions of DKIM and SPF

Andrew: So one thing I wasn’t super familiar with before this year was DKIM and SPF. Can you describe a little bit about how those work and why they’re important and how they can improve deliverability?

Xiaohui: Yeah, great question. Now we’re getting more technical into deliverability. So DKIM and SPF, at the most core, they’re email authentication frameworks or protocols and their purpose is really to prevent sort of spoofing and phishing and really identifying senders and making sure they’re legitimate senders and the emails are legitimate emails. Now both of these frameworks are used pretty extensively by ISPs and all the email clients are receiving their emails. So it’s important to kind of configure it even if you’re using an existing email service provider like MailChimp or Klayvio.

It doesn’t really hurt your deliverability and in most cases it helps it sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot. And just to explain a little bit more for each, so SPF basically involves adding some text records to your DNS record and what happens is then the receiving servers, the dice piece will crosscheck against these records when they receive an email that’s claiming that it’s coming from you. So it’s basically like check and say, “Okay so you’re saying this is coming from eCommerceFuel and then we look at the DNS records of eCommerceFuel and seeing if the sender IP is authorized to send on behalf of you.

Andrew: So really the long shot that I heard is that like say, for example, Klaviyo or Ontraport, normally if you don’t set these up when you send an email from eCommerceFuel, it’ll say, you know, Andrew eCommerceFuel from Ontraport or from, you know, in Gmail, you’ll see that little sent by or sent on behalf of, something like that. But if you do this, if you add these two records to your DNS for a provider that’s sending on your behalf, it looks like it came directly from you versus through a third-party, right?

Xiaohui: Correct. You’ll have that via Klaviyo or something, that should be removed. Of course, you wanna double check it since we’ve run into cases where we’ve set everything up perfectly and for some reason, it still was there. But yeah, that’s one of the visible advantages but in the back end, the core advantage is being able to have enjoyed higher deliverability.

Andrew: And is there any reason not to set these up for all of your services? I’m thinking through we use like customer.io to mail the form for events and kind of our software director, we use Ontraport for our main list, HelpScout for customer service, Shopify for transactions, Vanilla Forums for…we’ve got like almost half a dozen different services. So for someone out there and a lot of people do with their text deck for stores. So is there any reason not to add these records for every one of the senders where you’re sending emails from?

Xiaohui: So generally, you wanna add them. Now, there are some limitations, not with DKIM so much but with SPF. They actually have a strange limitation where it’s limiting one record to 10 DNS look-ups. So it’s kind of annoying to some degree because as you mentioned, your text deck might have multiple and multiple services you’re sending and it’s pretty easy to hit that limit especially when one service might actually generate more than one DNS record lookup to that limit. So there are workarounds around it where you can use a subdomain once you run into the limit or you can do some macros and magic there to deal with it but that’s one thing to keep in mind if you deal with many services. But overall, you should probably set it up with all of the services.

Can We Beat Google?

Andrew: I think I know the answer to this already, but it’s been a while since Google rolled out their tab to Gmail and given that Gmail is probably wildly the most popular web-based email platform. Is there any way…it just pains me every time that I see one of my own emails go out, comes into my inbox, and I engage with a lot of my own emails to check them and it goes in the updates tab or the promotions tab. It doesn’t hit that primary inbox. Is there any way to be able to get your emails out of those tabs into the primary for your senders apart from explicitly convincing them to either set up it on a white list or drag half a dozen of them over to teach Gmail or is that just life now with Gmail?

Xiaohui: Unfortunately, that’s pretty much life now. I don’t know of any consistent way to beat the algorithm other than you drag it over as you said or white list it. But that being said, the good news is actually based on some of the research that I have read and based on some of our own experiences. When they were rolling it out, everyone thinks this apocalypse is happening and email is doomed forever but after…. It always happens. There’s always something that happens and the industry thinks it’s going crazy.

But based on what I have seen, there wasn’t actually that much sizable impact and sometimes there is actually somewhat of a positive take up there. So overall, it’s something that we should just kind of live with. There are some tools out there to check if it’s gonna fall into the updates tab or the promotions tab. For example, Litmus has a tool out there that you can send an email to and it checks it. But in terms of actually getting it moved, not a lot you can do there. But also to add on to that point, from some of the research I’ve read, the spam complaint rates for emails in the promotion tabs is actually lower than emails that fall into the primary tab, the commercial email that fall into the primary tab.

And also, if you were thinking about a campaign to say, “Hey, move us to your primary tab,” those tend to by and large be not very effective. I think I read stats where it’s like less than 1% of people actually taking that action. So for the most part, live with it I guess and focus on other things.

Essence of Email

Andrew: Nice. X, like I mentioned at the top, you’re the owner of Essence of Email. Can you give people a sense of what you guys do, what you specialize in, and then who like the perfect client is where you can help them the most?

Xiaohui: Yeah. Sure. So basically, we are a marketing agency. We’re focused on the email channel and we work exclusively with e-commerce shops to date and we handle anything from the strategy of email marketing campaigns, the creation of campaigns of various different initiatives, the copy, the design, the copywriting, and everything along those lines. So in terms of our ideal customer, I’d say they are stores that have somewhat of a history with their customers and maybe even built out a decent size email list but just need someone to come in and really help them take the email marketing program to the next level.

The Lightning Round

Andrew: Love it. X, before we sign off here, are you up for doing the lighting round as we have been doing this with all of our guests over the last two or three months and half a dozen, maybe a few more questions, but some random questions, get a sense of who you are. Less on an email front and more on like a real person human being front and feel free to keep them short and snappy. They don’t have to be super long. So if you’re up for it, say we dive in?

Xiaohui: Yeah, let’s do it. It sounds like fun. I might be a little embarrassed but let’s go.

Andrew: Perfect. That’ll be even better. Question number one, how much money is enough? What would your number be?

Xiaohui: Thirty million.

Andrew: Thirty million? Wow. What did you wanna be when you were a kid?

Xiaohui: When I was a kid, I really loved dinosaurs, so a paleontologist but I think that was before they realized all the dinosaurs looked like birds instead of these giant lizards.

Andrew: It wasn’t in email marketing?

Xiaohui: That came a little bit later. Not in second grade.

Andrew: How many hours per week do you work?

Xiaohui: Typically probably 45 to 50. When it’s crunch time, it’s more.

Andrew: Nice. What do you think about in the shower?

Xiaohui: Well, right now because I’m sitting here in a very cold winter, I just think about how…

Andrew: I thought you were gonna say right now because I’m sitting here in a very cold shower and I was gonna be scared.

Xiaohui: That would be hardcore but no waterproof microphone here. So right now, I guess I’m just grateful that I have hot water because it’s below freezing outside. So it’s quite nice to just enjoy it.

Andrew: Nice. If one thing was gonna bring upon the fall of civilization in the next 25 years, what would it be?

Xiaohui: Global economic meltdown.

Andrew: Based like a…so economic crisis? Not…okay.

Xiaohui: Yes. Economic crisis since we’re so linked globally and you saw from the recession back in ’08, it had quite a bit of impact. So the next one is probably even be stronger unfortunately.

Andrew: I can’t wait for the sequel of that. It should be a doozy.

Xiaohui: Yeah.

Andrew: If you had to leave your current job or business, so you couldn’t run Essence of Email anymore, you couldn’t even start another company. It was just for whatever reason, you couldn’t do it. Let’s say a court ordered it for some weird reason but you could join any company in the world and work in any position in the world. Which company would you join and what would you do?

Xiaohui: I’d probably join Airbnb because I’m pretty interested in the hospitality service space and ooh, position? I don’t know. Something that’s customer facing I’d say. Maybe like a customer service manager or something to that degree because it’ll be interesting to get the insights from the customers.

Andrew: What do you spend most of your discretionary money on?

Xiaohui: Travel.

Andrew: And let’s say you could live anywhere in the world and cost was not an issue, practicality was not an issue, and your entire community, all of your family and your best friends, were relocated there, so the only thing you had to think about was just the raw implications of the location, where would you live?

Xiaohui: Probably San Diego for the nice weather and the tacos.

Andrew: Nice. I like it. That would be high up on my list as well. What’s one of the most generous things someone has done for you?

Xiaohui: Well, my parents paid for my college which is way, way more generous than I could ever expect. So I’d say that would take the cake there.

Andrew: And last question, let’s assume you’re facing jail time for something you didn’t do, you’ve been either framed or the evidence is stacked against you in an improbable manner and you have two options: you can flee to another country and serve zero time and you know you’ll never get caught but the thing is you give up all of your assets and you can never return, but if you stay, if you do serve some jail time, you get to remain in the country and keep all your assets, be able to come back to the country, how much jail time would you serve?

Xiaohui: Quite an interesting question here. I think first of all, it would depend a little bit on which country I’m fleeing to because…

Andrew: You can flee to any other country.

Xiaohui: Okay, got it. So probably, I would opt to not serve any jail time at all. I don’t think I’ll fare too well in jail. And I’d say I’m fairly mobile anyways, even nowadays. So I’m fairly comfortable moving around and being in different locations, so…

Andrew: Got it. X, hey man, I really appreciate you coming on. Again, essenceofemail.com is the website and the business. So if you’re looking for email services, need help with campaigns, getting out of penalties, any kind of…anything email related with regards to e-commerce, check them out. X, I really appreciate you coming on and geeking out with me in terms of email deliverability. So thanks a ton, man.

Xiaohui: Always a pleasure. I appreciate it, Andrew.

Andrew: Want to connect with and learn from other proven e-commerce entrepreneurs? Join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s our tight-knit vetted group for store owners with at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales. You can learn more and apply for membership at eCommerceFuel.com. Thanks so much to our podcast producer, Laura Serino for all of her hard work in making this show possible and to you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. That’ll do it for this week, but looking forward to seeing you again next Friday.

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Photo: Flickr/Jeff Westfall

Post tagged in: Operations, Podcast, SEO & Marketing

1 Comment

  1. Great interview, Andrew! Thank you for sharing. The questions you asked are really important and vital. I was mostly interested in reading the part about Gmail. It seems that it only relies on the user engagement and places the message based on the past user’s interaction with email messages coming from that particular sender. I was hoping to hear some real suggestions how to ensure the placement under the Primary tab, but it seems Gmail is still a mystery and we have to live with it.

    Me too, I wrote a blog post about best email deliverability practices and I included a live deliverability test directly into the blog post so that anyone can test their email deliverability in real time.

    I think it might be a great addition and might be interesting to the readers of this post. I hope it is fine to share a link here https://glockapps.com/blog/email-deliverability-best-practices/

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