**Updated**

So if you read my last post you know I am on an automation kick here at D-Tools. Just trying to make everyone’s job a little bit easier. In that post I hinted at a new process that would allow us much more visibility into our email marketing campaigns.

At the time I was pretty excited about this because it plugged a big hole in the Zoho CRM email marketing functionality. That hole being the total lack of any sort of feedback from email sends. To be clear most CRM systems and all bulk email service providers give you a report back after each send detailing which emails were delivered, bounced, opened and clicked on. Important stuff if you want to market as effectively as possible BUT 1 conspicuously missing in Zoho CRM since the start.

That is where the clever folks at Cazoomi come in. They are developing a Zoho CRM to Constant Contact bulk email interface. I worked with them for a few weeks fine tuning the UI and working on the sync to Zoho CRM. Everything was falling into place BUT 2 Zoho CRM still has a broken Campaign functionality that Tim mentioned in this post.

The first Zoho CRM Campaign functionality was kind of a joke, it really was not that useful BUT 3 we dutifully added Campaigns until one Monday we discovered that the Campaigns field was missing. Why Zoho changes fields around without telling CRM admins is another story. Anyway after a call to Zoho tech support to enquire about the missing Campaign field we were pleased to find out that they were re-working the Campaign functionality into something that was vastly more useful to us.

Again, I was excited because the new Zoho Campaign functionality dovetailed perfectly into the Cazoomi Zoho CRM to Constant Contact sync process. Wait for it… BUT 4 the new Zoho CRM Campaign functionality was/is terribly flawed. Tim outlined the specifics in his post. We had a very productive meeting with the Zoho CRM team leaders and made them aware of the specific issues that were causing the new Campaign features to be unusable BUT 5 we have not gotten any feedback as to when these changes will appear in the software other than “soon”.

In the hopes that “soon” means this month I kept pushing on and got the Constant Contact part of this process dialed. After a few test syncs I had what I thought was a good representation of the Leads and Contacts that were in Zoho CRM were now in Constant Contact and the sync process was keeping the opt outs and new additions straight (this is more complex than it sounds). I was pretty happy until I saw the tracking reports from our first send.

Our first send through Constant Contact had a 34.6% bounce rate. Yikes! Understandable though if you consider that we have contacts in Zoho that date back over 10 years and we have not had any real email reporting ability since switching to Zoho CRM. This still seemed kind of high to me so I looked deeper.

Constant Contact divides their bounces between two main categories. “Non-existent address” and “Blocked”. “Blocked” means that someone has actively blocked Constant Contact email server IP addresses so mail will never get through, or maybe the receiving end SPAM filter is blocking the message. But 6 as it turns out, “Non-existent email address” can mean the same thing. I know this because I ran a quick test on these addresses and found 40% of them to be valid. This was confirmed by Constant Contact Tech support. I find it somewhat surprising that a well known bulk email provider cannot tell me with 100% authority which emails addresses are actually good or bad and which emails are being blocked.

In order to get to the bottom of this I exported the entire “Non-existent address” list from Constant Contact and took a random sample of 499 email addresses. I got a free iContact account and imported the 499 emails from Constant Contact. Tim created a similar email Campaign as what was sent through Constant Contact in iContact and it was sent out.

I also took the exact same list of 499 email addresses that Constant Contact could not deliver and re-imported them back into Constant Contact and sent the same message to the same people. So we have two identical email campaigns sent through different email service providers. Should get the same results, right? Not even close. iContact managed to deliver 23% or 116 of the “Non-existent address” emails and Constant Contact delivered a double goose egg. 0% and 0 delivered.

iContact email tracking report

 

Constant Contact email tracking report

When you run all the percentages against our Contact list I get about 1,000 customers of ours have valid emails addresses but no way to reach them through Constant Contact. Tough decision, do I willingly ignore 1,000 customers for better overall marketing visibility?

I am about three weeks into this now and so far I have a CRM System BUT 7 no working Campaign functionality. I have an email service provider BUT 8 it can’t deliver all my emails. So far Cazoomi is the only piece of the puzzle that actually works as expected and even that took 20 hours of my time to get it working as well as it does now.

I am not sure how this is going to end, hopefully someone at Constant Contact will contact me and adequately explain the anomalies we are experiencing and the Zoho CRM team will add the needed features so I can put this bitch to bed.

Update: I spent a fair amount of time with the Constant Contact deliver-ability team going over these bounce numbers.  The main problem we had with the 499 emails we sent through their system a third time was that after two bounces their system will log that specific email and not try and deliver it again.  According to Constant Contact that is the reason for their 0, 0% numbers as compared to iContact.

Also as time has passed the iContact numbers slid a bit.  When we first did the send we had 11 opened, 383 bounced and 105 no info.  Currently they are at 12, 429 and 58.  The big move was from unknown to bounced.  If these numbers stay consistent there may not be much if any difference in delivery rates between iContact and Constant Contact.  The only thing needed to get to true email nirvana is for Zoho to finish their Campaign interface.