A few weeks ago, SendGrid’s email experts Ken Apple and Jesse McCabe held a webcast called How to Get Your Email Marketing Off the Ground. They discussed how to:

  • Create cost effective transactional and marketing email programs
  • Get your emails delivered to the inbox
  • Analyze the performance of your programs
  • Scale your program to meet the needs of your growing business

With so much to cover, Ken and Jesse couldn’t answer all the questions they wanted to. In an effort to continue the conversation, here are responses to the questions they were unable to get to during the webcast. And for those of you who missed the webcast, access the on-demand version here.

On your Pricing Page, what does the ‘Bulk Sender Notification’ feature mean?

Because of our relationships with all the major ISPs, we have a communication channel that allows us to inform these ISPs when a new high-volume sender will begin sending traffic via a new set of IPs. This will help to ensure that mail doesn’t get blocked and that it reaches customer inboxes.

How come you charge only $0.10 per 1,000 (transactional) email whereas Postmark charges $1.50/1,000? (Is their email deliverability service more reliable or superior?)

At SendGrid, we deliver over 8 billion emails every month (3,000 emails every second!) providing us with one of the largest cloud-based delivery platforms in the industry. Because of our scale, we have developed large economies of scale which equates to savings that we are able to pass along to our customers!

What about multiple language support, Spanish for instance.

Because of our growth and our reach internationally, we are currently evaluating a localization strategy that will allow us to support additional languages.

For Creative & Content, is there a way to provide personalized “relevant” content-based on fields in a list i.e. insert text block A and Image 1 for Male and text block B and image 2 for Female?

At this point, we do not provide the ability to dynamically display content blocks as a result of some specific user criteria. However, if you were able to break up your list based on a criteria that you select, our A/B testing functionality will allow you to optimize messages targeted at that list.

In past experience, I had a much higher spam complaint rate to AOL, users were Flagging/Spam rather than Unsubscribing. Are you seeing similar results and have you overcome this phenomenon?

The problem you are describing is really specific to the ISP and is related to the demographic that may typically use that service. What may help overcome this in the future is segmenting your subscriber list by ISP, then testing different placement of unsubscribe links and unsubscribe messaging. At SendGrid, we have reports that can help you track opens, clicks, block and spam reports by ISP which will help to continually optimize your campaigns based on ISP.

Is there a way to populate a personalization field on the fly?

Currently, we do not offer this capability, but will relay this to our product management team for their consideration.

What advice would you offer to help keep a clean sender list?

We recommend that after every campaign, you review your results and update your lists to remove all hard bounces and unsubscribes. It is also imperative that you seek to grow your lists organically or via paid acquisition (legitimate lead generation campaigns) and never purchase a list.

Are we not better off keeping our transactional email and bulk mail channels separate, by using different ESPs for them?

You don’t necessarily need to use different ESP providers for Bulk and Transactional Email. What we do recommend is that you send Transactional and Bulk (Marketing) email from separate domains and/or IP addresses in order to maintain separate sender reputations for each type of traffic. At SendGrid, we offer the ability to whitelabel your domains, therefore allowing you to the ability to separate your traffic and maintain different reputations.

I have email addresses from customers who have done business in the past (some over 4 years), is it ok to send an email asking them if they would like to keep in touch or be removed? And then only send to the ones that want to stay in touch?

Absolutely—this is the recommended approach and will ultimately help you to maintain a better list and engage with those customers who appreciate the content you are delivering.

What types of keywords should you avoid to make sure you don’t get sent to the spam folder?

Great question. Here is a good list from one of our customers, HubSpot, on this topic.

I have been using SendGrid for transactional email only and have a 97% rating. I want to start email marketing to 5000+ internal email lists (subscribers, customers, etc.) but fear jeopardizing my transactional (SendGrid) reputation. Should I use SendGrid, or some other provider for email marketing which will likely have higher spam issues than my transactional?

SendGrid has a very robust way to separate your two types of emails. For the safest and optimal configuration that can be accomplished on plans silver or higher, first request an additional IP which does cost $20 monthly but will allow your two types of emails to have different reputations in the industry. Second, you will create a subuser account which is a free feature. When creating this subuser, you will create a new user name and password and will specify that this subaccount uses the new IP. Now, use this account for your marketing email and the original one for your transactional email.

Can you add a second domain to send from? I do not see that as an option, even though I have done sends from a second domain.

A powerful feature about SendGrid is that we do not restrict the domain you send from. For transactional email, you have full control over setting the from address just like you set the subject, content, and reply to. For marketing email, when you create a new newsletter the first step allows you pick any sender address.

Is there a function to capture just the opens/clicks without downloading the whole email activity file?

To limit the types of events you would like to log, please use the Event Notification App which is available for plans silver and higher. The settings for this app allow you to choose as many or as few of the events that you would like to log.

Can you segment any more on the marketing emails? Market, age, etc.?

You might considering using the Category setting for the marketing emails. Each newsletter send that you complete does allow you to set a category. To review performance statistics you can view stats by category. This level of segmentation is helpful and easy but if you want full segmentation, you will want to use the Event Notification App that allows you to collect 100% of your data and then segment to any level of granularity you would like.

Is there a way to feed content into your newsletter generator so it is automatically generated so we can leverage your tools and our own automation tools? (Rather than creating each newsletter by hand.) Can newsletters be populated with content, and sent/schedule via API from our webapp?

Yes yes and yes. We are very proud of our API functionality at SendGrid. Your Devs can use the Newsletter API to do everything you would want to do with the UI. Many sophisticated users never log in to conduct their marketing email campaign but instead conduct it exclusively with the Newsletter API. You can find the documentation here.

With a regular SendGrid transactional email, is it possible to get stats on when that email is viewed (e.g. viewed with images)?

We have two levels of “view/open tracking” that you can utilize for transactional email. For aggregate open rates, you can enable the “open tracking” app. This will count your daily open events. Additionally, if you set a category in the header of your transactional email you can view opens by category. For the most granular view of the opens for transactional email you can enable the Event Notification App that allows you to collect 100% of your data and then segment to any level of granularity you would like.

Can you use the feature for creating marketing email, and send them out as a transactional email after a certain event? For instance an email (the same one) goes out to all users that have been inactive for 30 days?

At the present time we do not have that type of “trigger mail” functionality baked into the newsletter app. Using the Event Notification App you can consume all the user activity and they use the Newsletter API to programmatically create trigger newsletters.

Are there any A/B testing features part of marketing emails?

Yes. When creating marketing email on the 4th step you get the option to conduct A/B testing. It has several settings that can determine winning variations and can have as many as 10 variations. I guess that would be ABCDEFGHIJ testing.

I’m interested in SendGrid as cloud smtp for my own application, is this presentation just on your email application service?

Yes this presentation is for our marketing email app. You can view other past presentations on how to integrate our email service into your application.

Is it possible to segment your lists? It didn’t seem so and that’s keeping us from using SG full time for email marketing.

We have some degree of list segmentation but we are not as far along as I bet you would like. We allow you to send your content to multiple lists but at this time we don’t allow you to send your content to subsets of existing lists. We understand this functionality does require extra work to maintain separate lists, but we do know that more robust list segmentation is on the development road map.

On your Pricing Page, next to ‘Additional price per newsletter sent’, I see “Unavailable” against the Bronze plan ($9.95/month). No newsletters (bulk mail) possible in the Bronze plan?

You are correct. Silver plans or higher are the plans that include the newsletter or marketing email app. If you would like to test the app before you pay for the silver plan, you should know that it is included in the free plan that has a 200 daily email limit. That limit won’t let you do much marketing, but it will let you test the app.

How often should newsletters be sent?

The newsletter frequency is driven by the appetite of the recipient. Some newsletter type mail is sent daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The key would be to send at a pace that you are getting appropriate amounts of opens and clicks. This would be how you can measure their appetite for your content.

When can we able to see individualized stats of newsletter campaigns?

We have two types of individualized stats for newsletter campaigns. With each newsletter, (if that is what you call a campaign) you can manage that newsletter and it will show all the stats for that individual send. If you have multiple sends, please utilize the category setting when creating your newsletters. Every newsletter that has the same category will be viewable on the stats tab – http://sendgrid.com/statistics/compare.

What about html with text vs. all image emails?

The SendGrid service does everything logically possible to help with delivery as related to html vs. text. For example, since it is optimal for delivery to have both an HTML and Text version included in your content, the newsletter app automatically creates a text version from your html version. You can create your html content in any method and the text version will automatically be included. SendGrid does allow you to build a newsletter that is completely one large image, but I would discourage that. When spam filters see that type of email they assume you are hiding text in your image and it seems like a spammy practice.

Access the free on-demand version here.

As SendGrid's Senior Marketing Analyst, Danny is responsible for keeping the marketing team focused on making data-driven decisions to help make sure we are providing value for our customers and prospects. While he may spend his days knee deep in spreadsheets now, Danny spent most of the last 10 years managing email campaigns, website optimization, and PPC campaigns for B2B companies.