"Ask Me Anything" Q&A With SendGrid Co-founder and CTO, Tim Jenkins

"Ask Me Anything" Q&A With SendGrid Co-founder and CTO, Tim Jenkins

With all of the changes happening in the email industry lately, we asked SendGrid’s CTO and Co-founder, Tim Jenkins, to answer questions submitted from senders like you about our competitive differentiators, how to migrate to SendGrid, and email best practices in a short “Ask Me Anything” style webcast. If you’re looking to change email service providers or have questions about SendGrid, we’ve shared some of Tim’s responses below.

Competitive Differentiators

Q: Where does SendGrid sit in the market today?

Tim:  SendGrid was the one who really defined the transactional email delivery space, and we've been the market leader ever since. All of our competitors have really been playing catch‑up. None of them necessarily have the heart that we do. We have by far the largest market share in terms of customers who are using us. I think we're almost twice as big as our nearest competitor in that space. Definitely, in terms of volume, we eclipse every single one of them.

Q:  How is SendGrid different from SparkPost?

Tim:  There are a couple of big differentiators, the first being that, while SendGrid has been doing this for seven years now, SparkPost has just been doing it for one year. They have a lot of catching up to do in terms of features and understanding of the difference between delivering mail on prem, which Message Systems has lots of experience with, and what it means to be a cloud‑hosted solution for multiple customers.

Another big differentiator is just their size. Because they're so young, they don't have nearly the resources or people that we do in order to service their customers. That shows in the level of support that they're able to offer. They only have critical incident support, and that's not even necessarily 24/7.

Q:  How does SendGrid differ from Mandrill?

Tim: Transactional email is core to our business. It's not an add‑on, it's not something extra. It’s what we do. Everything else that we build is built on top of that core email system, like our Marketing Campaigns product. It's something that is so critical to us that it's not something that anybody has to worry, "Oh, what is SendGrid going to do later about that?" It will always be important to us.

The other big differentiator is just our support model. SendGrid has a very large Support team and a lot of Customer Success Managers. We very much try to make sure that our customers feel supported not just from our tools, but from our people as well. We really do love our customers.

Migrating to SendGrid

Q:  How does the set-up process work at SendGrid? Transactional email is critical for our business.

Tim:  Transactional email is the core of our business, so I'm glad it's important to our customers as well! The first step in getting set up is authenticating your account. That's setting up the DKIM and SPF records and such so that the email will be very customized to you and your company. After that, it's really whatever level of warm‑up is necessary depending on the volume of email that you send. Then you're off and running.

Q: How do I handle domain verification? The fast apps we use require us to send mail on behalf of our customers.

Tim: Domain verification for your customers is handled through our sender authentication wizard. You're able to go and create multiple authentications for the domains that you're sending from. That way, once they set up keys, their DMARC policies and things like that will all work out.

Email Best Practices

Q: Is it typical for clients to use dedicated IPs when they're sending over 100,000 emails?

Tim: I would recommend to anybody, regardless of volume, that you use dedicated IPs. I understand that since IPs are a limited quantity there is cost associated with it. That limited quantity is why people are using IP as the reputation metric.

But at the end of the day, having control over your reputation is a critical thing if email is a critical part of your business. The impacts that other people can have on you are more than being added to a deny list. It's undetectable things that you don't necessarily need. Honestly, my recommendation is a dedicated IP is always important.

Q: Is there a secret sauce for deliverability aside from the basic suggestions: DKIM, SPF, certifications, email content, etc.

Tim: I really wish there was a secret sauce just so we could bottle it up and sell it, but the truth of the matter is that, while those things that are mentioned are good technologies for authenticating who you are and proving to the ISPs that you're legit, the number one factor for deliverability is engagement.

It's all about how much your customers interact with the emails you send, and that is the signal to the ISPs of how wanted your mail is. If we could wave the magic wand and give you 100% deliverability to the inbox day one, it still wouldn't help you in the long run, because unless your customers are engaging, you'll suddenly see everything going to the spam folder.

Our Customer Success and our Delivery teams work with our customers who are having deliverability problems. They have to oftentimes even recommend sending less mail than they were before, because that's the secret to actually making their email campaign successful. Success of our customers is actually what we're the most interested in.

Final Thoughts

Q: Thanks so much for answering these questions Tim. Any final thoughts?

First, I really appreciate everyone taking the time to submit questions. I hope that a few things have come across in this Q&A. The first is how easy it is to get started with SendGrid. We don't have a lot of red tape in the way. We try and make it super easy to get people on, get them going, and still have the world‑class deliverability that we have to offer.

The second is how much of a built‑to‑last company we are. We're not a company that just started doing this yesterday and may not continue on. This is what our business is built on. Our business is going to be profitable by the end of this year; we are here for the long haul, and we will be here to serve your needs.

And lastly, I hope it’s clear just how great our commitment is to our customers. Our customer success is the critical part of our success. We cannot be a successful business without helping our customers be successful and grow. That is the definition of how we become more and more successful.

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