In this article, we will explore how a transactional email provider can ruin your business and what steps can be taken to prevent it. A transactional email provider can harm your business by causing poor email deliverability, incorrect information, lack of personalization, slow response times, and security breaches. It also concludes with a reminder of the importance of regularly monitoring and maintaining transactional emails for a positive customer experience.
- Mailgun has blocked our account twice in 1 week because we sent a single email (twice) to what they call “canary email address”. They haven’t notified us about this beforehand; they just have blocked the account.
- After more than 9 hours, our company cannot send any transactional/generic/marketing/support email to any of our clients. We keep trying to resolve this problem without success so far.
- Mailgun has been slow and unwilling to collaborate with such an urgent situation, which happened twice in one week.
- 11 hours later. Mailgun has enabled our account back again saying that it was a mistake. Looks like your whole company email was disabled by a mistake.
Email marketing and transactional emails are both types of email communication, but they serve different purposes and have different goals.
Email marketing is used to promote a product or service and build brand awareness. It often includes promotions newsletters, cold emailing, and other types of mass communication to a large group of recipients. Transactional emails, on the other hand, are triggered by specific events or actions and are used to provide information that is directly related to an individual transaction, such as order confirmations, shipping notifications, or password reset requests.
Transactional emails have the potential to harm your business if not managed properly. Unlike other parts of the email marketing process, transactional emails are sent as a response to specific actions carried out by the recipient. Sadly, many businesses do not realize the importance of transactional emails and thus miss out on a big opportunity within their targeted customer base.
The biggest difference is definitely marketing emails not being opt-in. For a customer to receive marketing emails, they have to opt in or opt out. Whereas transactional emails can be sent any time. This provides marketers with an opportunity to include CTAs and work towards building a better customer relationship.
Some ways transactional emails can ruin a business include:
- Poor email deliverability: If transactional emails are not properly configured, they may end up in recipients’ spam folders, reducing their effectiveness and potentially damaging the reputation of the business.
- Inconsistent or incorrect information: If transactional emails contain incorrect information, such as incorrect order details or shipping information, it can lead to confusion and frustration among customers and damage the reputation of the business.
- Lack of personalization: Transactional emails that are generic and lack personalization can seem impersonal and unprofessional, damaging the customer experience and potentially leading to customer churn.
- Slow response times: If transactional emails are delayed or not delivered in a timely manner, it can lead to frustration among customers and damage the reputation of the business.
- Security breaches: If transactional emails are not properly secured, they can be vulnerable to hacking and data breaches, potentially compromising sensitive customer information and damaging the reputation of the business.
It is important to regularly monitor and maintain transactional emails to ensure they are properly configured, contain accurate information, and are delivered in a timely and secure manner to avoid these potential issues.
At Crawlbase, we’ve been using transactional emails since our beginnings. We’ve always relied on external transactional email providers as they are supposed to bring ease of use and integration at an affordable price. But not all is good when you rely on a third party company.
Since we started our business operations several years ago, we’ve been relying on Mailgun for our transactional emails.
As we send several thousands of emails per month to cater to our thousands of clients, we need a reliable service with excellent deliverability. For some years already, we have a dedicated IP only used by our company, to guarantee that no other businesses are sending spam and damaging our reputation (something which happened to us in the past).
Several years ago, we decided to purchase a private IP and use it solely for our company email needs.
One of the good things about having your private IP, is that you own full responsibility for whatever is sent from there, avoiding spam and unwanted emails, which can damage your sending reputation.
That is why since around two years ago, at CrawlBase, we decided to connect our email servers to Mailgun SMTP servers. We also managed to use our private IP for our regular emails from our employees, guaranteeing maximum deliverability to our client inboxes.
On the 10th of November 2020, one of our employees contacted a blog owner who was looking for writers for his blog.
This is something our team does regularly, to spread the voice of Crawlbase across the internet.
Our employee sent a regular email, asking if the owner was interested in collaborating with us in writing an article about our products’ usage.
Well, all was good until, out of a sudden, we received an email from Mailgun that our account was disabled.
We thought it was a mistake, so we decided to contact urgently Mailgun support. In the end, we are paying clients for several years so that must be a confusion.
After some hours of emails and discussion, they told us that we emailed what they call a canary email, which is an email address that they have in their systems to detect whenever someone is scraping or crawling emails from the internet and using those emails to send spam.
Fair enough, we don’t know how they came to mark that blog owner as “a canary email”, but we told them that we were indeed not sending spam and only contacting the blog owner to make a collaboration.
Hours later, the account was re-enabled.
Fast forward to today, 17th of November, another account disabled email comes to our general inbox.
Again, they disable our account, and all our transactional emails, marketing emails, support emails, and SMTP employees’ inboxes stop sending.
We contact them back again, and they again say they will look into it.
Hours pass by, and our employees cannot send emails as we rely on our private IP via Mailgun to send all our company emails. Same for our support tickets, we offer 24/7 customer support for our thousands of clients, but the tickets keep coming, and we cannot reply to them as Mailgun has disabled sending from our domain.
After around 2 hours without being able to send any emails. They tell us that we have violated their AUP because we are:
- Abuse: Collecting or using information, including email addresses, screen names or other identifiers, by deceit, (such as, phishing, internet scamming, password robbery, spidering, and harvesting)
Additionally, they say that:
- Your intended recipients have given their consent to receive email via some affirmative means, such as an opt-in procedure, and you can produce the evidence of such consent within 72 hours of receipt of a request by the recipient or Mailgun;
- You must use reasonable means to ensure that the person giving consent is the owner of the email address for which the consent is given;
As a business, if your transactional emails end up in spam folder of your customer, you need a few transactional email tips to improve your chances of reaching the inbox. Here are some tips and tricks to cover you:
- Determine if a specific IP address or domain involved. This is extremely important because IP addresses are often blacklisted which lead to your emails landing directly in the spam tab - and never meeting the customer’s eye. Ensure that the email provider’s IP address is not blacklisted.
- Check email sending limits and also check email addresses to ensure if they are valid or not. You can use also extract emails from LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Create a clear subject line and pre-header for the recipient to see. The subject line is your first and foremost impression so make sure it makes the right impact, right away.
- Enable your recipients to easily manage their notification preferences and/or unsubscribe from your email. Once your customer feels comfortable with having the option to unsubscribe, they will be more interested in actually reading what your business has to offer.
- Although the intent behind transactional emails is obvious, clearly identify and state why the recipient is receiving the email. This helps Google sort your email into the inbox rather than marking it as spam.
- Check that the email content is properly formatted and free of broken links. Verify that the email content is not marked as spam.
- Consistently monitor delivery and open rates of your transactional emails to get an understanding of your delivery statistics.
We use Mailgun to:
- Send transactional emails (account confirmation, login alerts, billing alerts, etc.).
- Send marketing emails for users who opt-in in the signup form to receive marketing emails (users can unsubscribe at any time).
- Reply to client support tickets with our ticket management system.
- Send our employees emails using their regular email inboxes for better deliverability (we have our SMTP servers connected to Mailgun).
Do we collect or use email addresses, screen names, etc. by phishing, internet scamming, password robbery, spidering, or harvesting? No, unless going to a blog website and contacting the blog owner is considered harvesting a single email address. Then yes.
Our intended recipients have given their consent to receive emails? For our transactional, marketing, and support emails, yes. For our regular mail emails, it depends on the client, obviously. Do you ask for a concern to send an email with Gmail, every time you send a new email? How do you even do that, if that is even possible?
Do we use reasonable means to ensure that the person giving the concern is the owner of the email? Yes, we do as all our email accounts are confirmed via email. Otherwise, we do not send any emails.
After more than 9 hours and several emails back and forth, Mailgun hasn’t re-established our service. We had to re-route our emails to another transactional email provider to continue offering our service properly to our clients.
Update: After 11 hours, Mailgun has enabled back the email service. According to them, it has been a mistake. Unfortunately, this mistake has costed us money and some upset clients who didn’t hear from us during the email downtime hours or that they couldn’t validate their email to login.
It’s straightforward and clear. Whenever you offer a service to a business, you have to show some guarantees. You cannot block a whole company because you think the company is sending spam without letting them know beforehand and letting them solve the issue, if any.
Mailgun should notify the client first if an issue like this happens and then investigate, but never block and leave a whole company without being able to send a single email.
So there you have it, the key difference between transactional emails and marketing emails, and exactly how CrawlBase is helping provide an optimal solution for businesses.
Of course, putting all eggs in a single basket is not a good idea. Therefore, our company intends to add a backup email provider to guarantee this never happens again and all our emails from our clients and support tickets can continue to be delivered regardless of how our email provider decided to handle such a situation.