Delivering on success: Q&A with Spencer Kollas, Experian CheetahMail global leader for email deliverability

Spencer KollasExperian CheetahMail’s Spencer Kollas discusses email inbox deliverability and the importance of subscriber engagement.  He is a recognized industry leader with over ten years of email experience. Spencer is actively involved with many industry organizations including the Email Sender & Provider Coalition (ESPC), Messaging Anti-Abuse Work Group (MAAWG), the DMA’s Email Experience Council (EEC) and the Anti-Phishing Work Group (APWG). He is also a regular contributor to iMedia Connection and Deliverability.com, and speaks at numerous industry conferences and events.

In his new role as head of Global Email Deliverability, Spencer will provide Experian CheetahMail clients with valuable strategic and tactical insights on how they can stay in their customers’ Inboxes, as well as educate clients about the latest deliverability trends and industry best practices.

Spencer will be leading a session on the topic of deliverability and email ROI at the Email Sender & Provider Coalition (ESPC) Annual Meeting in Washington DC, September 11.

Never one to shy away from tough questions, Spencer sat down with us for a quick Q&A about his new role and approach to today’s deliverability challenges.

Q. What does your new role as Director of Global Delivery Services mean for Experian Marketing Services’ CheetahMail and its clients?

A. My responsibility is to create and deliver programs that enable our clients to connect with their customers and increase the ROI of their email marketing initiatives. Programs will focus on defining and executing sending practices that both respect what the receiving community expects out of communications from their favorite brands, and that also fit within each of our client’s business model.

Q. What about this role interested you the most?

A. There were a number of things that excited me about this role. First of all, Experian CheetahMail has always been known for its exceptional service and if I can help maintain and build on that within the deliverability realm, then it presents a great opportunity for our clients. Secondly, CheetahMail is a global company with offices throughout the world, and to be able to work across regions to help clients understand not only the ISP’s requirements and expectations, but also how customers in different regions approach and use the email marketing channel, is something that I think our client base will find valuable.

Q. How long have you been focused on deliverability?

A. I got my start in 2004 when I began working for a company by the name of Accucast (which was later purchased by Premiere Global Services). Back then there were very few people that actually focused on deliverability as a full time job. A number of folks would simply handle an ISP issue as a one off situation, rather than looking at the big picture and trying to understand the entire ecosystem. I come from a marketing background, whereas (and especially in the beginning), many of those that came into the field of deliverability came from an anti-spam/blacklist type background. Because of my marketing background, I think I have a bit of a unique perspective. I have always tended to take a more proactive approach to delivery issues, versus simply reacting to a situation and often responding after it is too late.

Q. What do you think will be different with regards to the deliverability industry in the next 2-5 years?

A. A lot of what we will be talking about in 2-5 years won’t be all that different from what we talk about with many folks now, just on a much larger scale and with more focus on end-user engagement. As engagement continues to become a determining factor in terms of what messages the ISPs will deliver to an Inbox, deliverability will play a more significant role in an email marketers overall strategy and plan.
Now, that is not to say that there won’t be drastic changes in the way we look at email best practices as a whole in the next 2-5 years. If I were to look back at when I first started in this industry and someone would have told me that there would be an entire business model based on the simple task of emailing their entire list everyday, I probably would have told them they were crazy. See back when I started, no one would have thought this was a good idea, there is something called email fatigue, and brands understood that if you mailed your customers too often they would then unsubscribe and you no longer had the opportunity to make money off of them. And at most, brands were sending one email per week. Today, we have so many different daily deal sites that many in the industry think this level of frequency is the norm. Of course I have always said that it really depends on what works best for your brand, your business model and your customers.

The one thing I don’t think will change is that email is all about relevancy. If you are sending messages to your customers with information/offers that they want, you will continue to see high inbox percentages, open rates and click thrus. But if you are sending them email just to send more, they are less likely to be engaged with your brand and more likely to unsubscribe or complain about your messages.