Podcast interview with Jakub Olexa

Jakub Olexa is the founder & CEO of the marketing automation platform Mailkit & the transactional and SMTP server Omnivery.

Jakub is also M3AAWG Guides Committee Vice-chair and M3AAWG Champions Committee Co-Chair.

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Video from the podcast:


00:00 – Introduction and discussion on the importance of reputation in email deliverability and the uniqueness of marketing automation platforms.

01:35 – The evolution of social networks and the early days of the guest’s business.

05:21 – The development and features of the marketing automation platform, MailKit.

07:25 – The importance of personalized content and the challenges of email blasting.

09:30 – Different types of marketing automation platforms and their target audiences.

11:26 – The importance of reputation in email deliverability and the factors that affect it.

13:43 – The guest’s company’s approach to email deliverability and privacy.

16:08 – The importance of quality content over volume in email marketing.

17:39 – The process of manual approval for campaigns and the importance of avoiding mistakes.

19:34 – Common mistakes in email campaigns and the need for proper communication with customers.

22:10 – The importance of domain reputation and the complexities of email authentication.

26:19 – The importance of long-term strategy and understanding the functionality of email platforms.

30:09 – The focus on conversions rather than open rates in email marketing.

31:35 – The importance of properly cleaning email lists for better deliverability.

32:25 – The challenges of measuring deliverability and engagement in email marketing.

34:08 – The calculation and significance of the engagement score in email marketing.

38:55 – The detection of non-human interactions and the limitations of black box solutions.

42:36 – The future of email authentication and the ongoing efforts to improve standards.

45:36 – The challenges of DKIM replay and the importance of using your own domain.

48:31 – The ease and cost-effectiveness of setting up email authentication.

53:10 – The need for better communication and processes in email authentication.

55:34 – The importance of deploying DMARC and analyzing reports for better deliverability.

57:27 – The evolving nature of the email industry and the need for marketers to adapt.

58:53 – The limitations of email as a communication channel and the importance of analyzing logs.

60:08 – The value of addressing remote bounces and the timeliness of email delivery.

60:53 – Closing remarks and the extensive knowledge on deliverability.


email deliverability, reputation, marketing automation, MailKit, SMTP server, uniqueness, social networks, chat platforms, news portals, dating services, free mail service, registered customers, automation platform, data processing, personalized customization, email blasts, spamming, selling positions, Mailchimp, simplicity, enterprise features, customer vetting, brand reputation, sender’s reputation, content, IP space, autonomous system, user data, email marketers, email programs, quality content, email platforms, manual approval process, email bounces, engagement, engagement score, email authentication, SPF, DKIM, DMARC, ARC, future of email, domain reputation, sub-domains, email ecosystem, DNS, IT department, email service providers, DMARC reject, mailbox provider policies, evolving email landscape, deliverability issues, remote bounces, timeliness of email delivery





  1. Q: What is the importance of reputation in email deliverability?
    A: Reputation plays a crucial role in email deliverability as it affects the placement of emails in visible mailboxes, such as the inbox or promotions folder.
  2. Q: What are some features of the marketing automation platform, MailKit?
    A: MailKit is an omni-channel platform with deliverability in mind. It offers strong data processing capabilities, personalized customization, and the ability to pull data from various sources, like SQL databases or external JSON files.
  3. Q: Why do some marketers still use email blasts despite the negative connotation?
    A: Marketers often resort to email blasts due to lack of resources and partnerships with companies that pay for product promotion.
  4. Q: What is the business model of Mailchimp?
    A: Mailchimp focuses on simplicity and caters to startups and customers with limited experience in email marketing. They offer free services and prioritize ease of use.
  5. Q: How does reputation impact email deliverability?
    A: Reputation, including the brand reputation, sender’s reputation, and content, plays a significant role in email deliverability. Being on a less reputable network can negatively impact deliverability.
  6. Q: Does MailKit have its own infrastructure and hardware?
    A: Yes, MailKit has its own infrastructure and hardware, ensuring data privacy and avoiding potential access to customer data.
  7. Q: How does MailKit handle mistakes that could impact deliverability?
    A: MailKit’s system detects potential mistakes and sends campaigns through a manual approval process. Support staff review changes and decide whether to approve or reject the campaign.
  8. Q: How does MailKit ensure personalized email automation?
    A: MailKit allows personalized email automation by querying data from various sources, such as weather information from a JSON file, and sending it to the recipient.
  9. Q: What is the engagement score in email marketing?
    A: The engagement score measures recipient behavior over time, including opens, clicks, forwards, website actions, and conversions. It helps evaluate long-term engagement.
  10. Q: How does MailKit handle non-human interactions like bot clicks and opens?
    A: MailKit has been detecting and discarding non-human interactions for the past five years, ensuring accurate engagement scoring.
  11. Q: How does MailKit handle email authentication and domain reputation?
    A: MailKit emphasizes the importance of proper email authentication, such as SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and domain reputation, to improve deliverability and protect the email platform.
  12. Q: What is the future of email authentication?
    A: The future of email authentication lies in increased adoption and enforcement of existing standards like SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and ARC, leading to more efficient email systems.
  13. Q: How does MailKit handle changes in mailbox provider policies?
    A: MailKit emphasizes the need for marketers to adapt to changes in mailbox provider policies and make necessary adjustments to ensure deliverability.
  14. Q: What is the value of analyzing logs and addressing remote bounces in email deliverability?
    A: Analyzing logs and addressing remote bounces helps improve email deliverability by identifying and resolving issues that may have been overlooked.
  15. Q: How does MailKit handle remote bounces?
    A: MailKit processes remote bounces and considers them as valuable information for improving deliverability, even though they may be considered part of the long tail.
  16. Q: What is the impact of misconfigured DNS records on receiving remote bounces?
    A: Misconfigured DNS records can prevent the receipt of remote bounces, leading to missed opportunities for improving email deliverability.
  17. Q: How does MailKit handle email deliverability for different email service providers?
    A: MailKit offers various levels of vetting and integration options to create highly personalized true email marketing.
  18. Q: What is the recommended approach for setting up email authentication?
    A: It is recommended to seek help from someone knowledgeable in email authentication rather than relying solely on online guides, as it can be a complex process.
  19. Q: How can small businesses improve their brand reputation in email marketing?
    A: Small businesses should use their own domain for email addresses instead of generic ones to promote their brand and establish a professional reputation.
  20. Q: What is the role of engagement scoring in email marketing?
    A: Engagement scoring helps measure the effectiveness of email campaigns by focusing on recipient actions like opens, clicks, and conversions, rather than just open rates.


[00:00:18.30] – Sella Yoffe
deliverability is all about reputation, and it’s not only about the brand reputation, the sender’s reputation and the content. But it’s also very much about the reputation of the IP space, the reputation of of the ESP. And that reputation of the ESP translates into how can the ESP help the customer when they have issues.

[00:00:47.00] – Sella Yoffe
Hello and welcome to episode number four of Email Geeks dot show, the podcast where once a month the leading email experts share their knowledge about email marketing, email deliverability, and marketing. My name is Sella Yoffe, and I’m an email deliverability consultant working with global email senders, startups, and email platforms on their email deliverability, email authentication, and strategy, and I’m the host of this podcast. My guest today is Jacub Olexa, the founder and the CEO of the Marketing Automation MailKit and the SMTP server, Omnivery. In a moment, we will discuss why they are so unique. Good morning, Jakub. It’s great to have you on the show.

[00:01:45.29] – Jakub Olexa
Hey, Salat. Glad to be here.

[00:01:48.09] – Sella Yoffe
Almost everything I know about email authentication, I learned from Jakub Alexa, and I’m sure it’s gonna be an interesting show, so stick around. In the email industry, it’s common for people to say they accidentally ended up working with email. Did you also fell into it?

[00:02:09.40] – Jakub Olexa
I started on the on the other side, on the receiving side twenty plus years ago when, we operated a social network in Czech Republic with my colleagues. Back then social networks were quite different than today. Mhmm. So it was essentially a chat, you know, a news portal, dating service, and and all of this together. But, today, it would qualify as a social network because back then, you know, the online chat was was the thing. Today, everybody’s, you know, one to one, but back then, people Yeah. People communicated with each other and, you know, Internet was pretty new. So people were really exploring the possibilities of finding new people and meeting new people. So it was, quite interesting. And, you know, we, after a while, we decided that we we wanna add a free mail service as well to to our clients. And, you know, back then, we had, half a million, registered customers. So, essentially, everyone who had a dial up had an account with us. And, so we we operated a free mail service. And, you know, time went on. The the business has changed. We have sold off, the social network, and Mhmm. We were looking for something new to do. A friend of mine back then from US, he he had an investment company and acquired a PR agency, and they wanted to cut costs, of course, as investors. So we were talking over ICQ again

[00:04:11.40] – Sella Yoffe

[00:04:11.59] – Jakub Olexa
A throwback. And, he asked me if I could find him some tool that would automate all the emails sending and publishing PR articles to the website and sending faxes and all of this that the p PR agency was doing because they had, like, a staff of one hundred people just, you know, sending faxes, emails, updating the websites, etcetera. So I figured there must be something. So I looked around for, you know, some open source solutions that can be customized for their needs. And, I haven’t found anything that would really automate stuff. Back then, there was, Cheetah Mail, which was insanely expensive. And, so I told him, so there’s this one option where we can build a platform for your needs, and we would keep it, and you would have to be a customer of ours for a year. So Mhmm. We built MailKit in about three months. It was all about automation, sending out emails, sending out faxes, pulling in data from remote data sources. So they they could essentially go in, enter the information into their system, and then we would fetch the information and send out the emails and faxes to to the right distribution list. So it it gave us a a huge advantage over the coming years that we’ve built it with all this automation and data processing from the very beginning rather than adding it over time as Yeah. Automation became became a thing.

[00:06:12.00] – Sella Yoffe
So the time went by, and I’m curious to know more about MailKit and what makes it so unique these days.

[00:06:20.69] – Jakub Olexa
So, MailKit is your email marketing platform or not only email because we do SMS as well. Mhmm. And, push channels. It is a true marketing automation where we have very strong data processing. So if you have data, you can you can build anything out of that data Mhmm. And, use our templating engine to create truly dynamic content in terms of per recipient customization. So it’s not just, you know, merge tags where you have, you know, if if there’s this, just replace it with something else. Mhmm. It’s really if you if you need to pull in data from a SQL database, while generating the email or an external JSON, whatever, you know, you want to include weather. Yeah. Just do do a query to a JSON with with the weather information matching the the recipient, and you have it in your email. So it’s really data oriented.

[00:07:38.80] – Sella Yoffe
The term blast in the email industry was associated with spamming. Despite the availability of highly personalized email creation, why do marketers continue to use email blasts?

[00:07:52.39] – Jakub Olexa
There are legitimate as well as a legitimate reasons. The the most common reason is that the companies don’t have the resources. Of course, that’s not true if you use a platform that allows you to set it up once and create the templates properly to do this automation, you don’t need extra resources. But the other aspect is that often marketers sell the email space, the product placement to their partners. So let’s say you have a you you have an Amazon store with computer products, you will likely sell some positions to AMD or HP, etcetera. And they pay you for promoting their products to to your customers, but they they’re not paying you by success. They’re paying you by email sent.

[00:08:56.89] – Sella Yoffe

[00:08:57.89] – Jakub Olexa
And that that pushes the marketers to do the bad practice to send it to everyone to have as big audience as they can get so this partner pays for their mailing.

[00:09:12.89] – Sella Yoffe
There are so many email platforms out there. When comparing different email platforms, are there significant differences between platforms?

[00:09:23.60] – Jakub Olexa
Oh, yes. Of course. The basic difference is it comes from the business model. So if you look at services like Mailchimp Mhmm. You know, their business model is we want a super simple tool that, you know, the one man show company with five hundred customers can easily use. Mhmm. And they have free, free services. You know, it’s self-service, simple assignment. It’s catered to a kind of startup audience Mhmm. Or customers who don’t really have much experience with, email marketing. Yeah. And that, of course, means that their feature set is completely different. They’re, building the application to be as easy to use as possible. And then you have platforms that are more professional that are trying to combine the the enterprise world Mhmm. Where we sit in Yeah. And the Mailchimp world, you know, adding the features from the enterprise, while trying to keep it as, user friendly as possible. And then there’s companies like like ourselves where we don’t have any any sign ups. You you gotta have a contract. You have to pass to our vetting. And if you pass our vetting, then we will be willing to sign a contract with you. But if you just need a platform that, you know, is superb, but you want to send out stuff that doesn’t meet our, standards, then we will not sign a contract with you. And it doesn’t matter what industry you’re from. Yeah. We have turned down customers. We have terminated customers from industries like, finance simply because they were not doing email marketing as they should.

[00:11:43.10] – Sella Yoffe
Many platforms, Sony, perform a simple vetting process such as requesting to see your opt in forms or they might let you send only five hundred records on your first campaign. Many email platforms don’t do vetting at all.

[00:11:59.10] – Jakub Olexa
Yes. I agree that it’s, very rare. But, for for us, it’s,

[00:12:07.50] – Sella Yoffe
That’s that’s your sweet spot, so to speak.

[00:12:10.39] – Jakub Olexa
Yes. But at the same time, you know, deliverability is all about reputation. And it’s not only about the brand reputation, the the sender’s reputation, and the content. But it’s also very much about the reputation of the IP space, the reputation of of the ESP, and that reputation of of of the ESP translates into how can, the ESP help the customer when they when they have issues. Right? So if you’re on a on a less reputable, space, let’s say Amazon, where anyone can go set up their their account and start sending, obviously, your deliverability will be impacted by others on that network. And your path to resolve those deliverability issues will be complicated by the fact that you’re within a certain IP space and certain network with a certain reputation. And our customers don’t have to deal with that because they know that we vet every customer, that we do check the content of the campaigns they’re about to send, that we keep a very, very short leash, on them in in terms of the content. And that we have our own IP space, that we have our own autonomous system. So our network is our network. It’s not part of someone else’s network. And Mhmm. In addition to that, they know that they’re not submitting their data into some global cloud where somebody will, will be able to potentially access their data, but, where they will have to deal with a lot of privacy related issues. We we often get asked when when we’re doing the contracts, like, where’s your list of suppressors? And

[00:14:29.20] – Sella Yoffe

[00:14:30.10] – Jakub Olexa
Our answer is there’s none. We don’t pass your data to anyone. We have our own infrastructure. It’s all our hardware. Everything is ours. Unless you sign a special contract with us as a controller, instructing us to pass the data to a third party, we will not do that. So, for example, if you want to enable the integration with Google BigQuery as many customers do because Mhmm. They just want to push their, their data to BigQuery where they do another analysis. They have to sign a specific contract for that. If they want recommendations, okay, we will pass the data to the recommendation engine, but there must be a specific contract for that.

[00:15:24.60] – Sella Yoffe
A lot of email marketers lack sophistication in their email programs. What do you think about that?

[00:15:31.89] – Jakub Olexa
Yeah. That goes back to, where Mailchimp is and tools like Mailchimp. Mailchimp is great for beginners. Yeah. And if we have a lead that, you know, is asking us to, that they they would want to use Mailkick because because of the references, etcetera, that they want great deliverability. And then they tell us they sent hundred thousand emails per month. And Mhmm. They send four new newsletters a month. You know, every Monday, they they do the send or every Thursday, whatever, to their whole list, and they want to send with us. And our response is usually, are you sure that you you’re ready for a platform like this? You should probably go to Mailchimp because because of your size, simply because of your size and because of what you do. That’s not really email marketing. For from my perspective, that’s, email blasting. That’s not really marketing. Right? I’m not not saying that we don’t have customers who are even smaller. They send, you know, couple thousand messages per month, but those are highly personalized. Right? They they are instead of volume. And we we’re motivating our customers not to rely on volume, but rely on on quality content instead.

[00:17:11.70] – Sella Yoffe
What can email platforms do to safeguard abusers and bad actors from abusing their systems?

[00:17:19.20] – Jakub Olexa
So how do you protect yourself? For us, it’s vetting. For us, it’s, the tools that we have in the system that prevent our customers because not all of them are great marketers, of course. Right? Yeah. Some of them make mistakes. Some of them will try to embed an image into an email from from a a CDN that is banned and blacklisted. So they they do a lot of stuff that would impact their deliverability and, you know, their success. So we have tools in the system that check for all these whether it’s a big mistake or a small mistake, we we check for that and show them the spam scoring. And if if they exceed a certain threshold, we won’t let them send the message. We we need them to fix it before they send it out. Mhmm. Right? And then we have, manual manual approval. So if the system decides that there is something out of the ordinary about the campaign, it has to go through a manual approval process where our support will take the human eye and look at it and see, okay. What what is it that has changed? Did did they upload a new list, which Mhmm. Which is somewhat questionable or or the system perceives it as, you know, something that needs attention or the the the spam scoring is not really bad. It’s still below our threshold, but combined with the fact that it’s a new list or anything or that there was a long gap between SANS, etcetera. They change the frequency of their SANS. All of these things, are evaluated by our by our system, and then the human will look at it and see, okay. I can approve this, or I will reject it. Get in touch with the customer. Tell him, look. This is the problem. This is what you need to fix. It could be could be stuff like very often we have customers who send in many, many different languages to different countries. And, you know, as they’re preparing their initial templates, they they do a lot of work on those templates, but they they forget stuff. Like, they they keep the footer in one language. Right? And suddenly, they they want to all of the email is in Hungarian or German Mhmm. But the food remains Polish or Czech

[00:20:16.40] – Sella Yoffe
I see.

[00:20:16.79] – Jakub Olexa
Or or English. So this is this is where we detect this, and our team will reject the message, let the customer know that they made this type of a mistake, that it needs to be fixed, and then they can just reschedule the campaign to be sent an hour later, right, once once they have it fixed.

[00:20:39.29] – Sella Yoffe
It appears that you are acting like an agency in that situation.

[00:20:43.79] – Jakub Olexa
Yes and no. We’re we’re not an agency. So we’re not telling, and our customers what to do and how to do it and how should it look, etcetera. We’ve decided that we don’t want to be this type of a company. We don’t want to be the ones that are telling our customers what to do and at the same time, charge them for doing it because, you know, in the end, like, our motivation would be to tell them, well, send more. Or, you know, you you shouldn’t do such a segmentation. You know, you should do this. You should add more campaigns. Do stuff that would, you know, we would be incentivized to do that if we were consulting them on on their email marketing strategy. So we we stay on the technical side, and, our support will help them with technical aspects and, you know, the human aspect of Yeah. Email marketing. And they can they can, you know, consult to to the extent, like, my opinion is that you shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t do that. We do not recommend doing this. We recommend doing that. But, we’re definitely not gonna gonna tell our customers how to do email strategy, anything that is related to how the email looks, etcetera.

[00:22:28.50] – Sella Yoffe
The world is shifting more and more towards domain reputation. Sometimes you can see Google Workspace IP with a very low reputation, let’s say a score of thirty four, but still in boxing. So why it is so important to protect the email platform?

[00:22:47.50] – Jakub Olexa
Oh, of course. But, that’s a different story. That’s too big to block. Right? Yeah. But, again, even though the world is shifting towards domain reputation Mhmm. You have to keep in mind that domain reputation comes after the IP checks and IP reputation and IP space reputation because that is simply much easier and less effort to block. If I know that, you know, this IP is questionable Yeah. Then I will block this IP, and I don’t have to worry about domain reputation, content scanning, etcetera. Even though there is a big shift towards domain reputation, it, of course, shifts a lot of lot of weight towards the sending domain. Yeah. But that doesn’t mean that the underlying IP space is not not affected. Mhmm. If I let a bad customer onto our network, they start sending crap. Even if I put them on a dedicated IP

[00:24:05.20] – Sella Yoffe
Yeah. They would hurt your space.

[00:24:07.70] – Jakub Olexa
That bad reputation from that bad IP will trickle down to other IPs, but it will affect Mailchimp’s reputation as a network. So when I have a false positive somewhere and I reach out to Spamhaus, Siren, whoever, with, you know, hey, guys. I I believe this is a false positive. Need help. Me need need mitigation with this. They will be like, hell no. We are seeing all this all this stuff coming from your network. So we are happy to help, but you have to do your job. You have to get rid of the bad sellers. And the fact that the reputation will be on that specific domain will not have an impact. Yeah. Right? So I want to have a clean network, and I want to have a good reputation as an ESP. So when I reach out with with an issue and false positives happen, and they happen all the time. Right? I need to be able to reach out to to the providers and be able to resolve the issue. And it does to me, it’s not a question of whether it affects thirty percent of the traffic or zero point three percent of the traffic. Because, you know, the money is in the long tail. It’s not not only in the in the large, mailbox providers, but a lot of very small ISPs have a lot of users that are generating big bucks for for the brands.

[00:26:07.90] – Sella Yoffe
An email platform can be compared to a car. You can easily see the user interface, the shape, and the color, but the important components are hidden under the hood. What do you think about this analogy?

[00:26:22.90] – Jakub Olexa
Well, it’s difficult. I don’t think it’s like a car. I think it’s more like a plane or you should think about it like a plane because, you know, when you’re you’re buying a car, you care about the superficial, and maybe you care a little bit about what’s under the hood, what type of engine you have, does it have enough horsepower, etcetera. But, usually, you buy a car for three years. Right?

[00:26:50.90] – Sella Yoffe

[00:26:51.79] – Jakub Olexa
Changing an ESP every three years is not really the best idea. Right? So you you shouldn’t be looking at it like this is what I need now. Right now, I need to send emails. But what what is it that I will need in two years, three years? And our customers, our lead time is, like, nine nine to twelve months before we sign a customer. And then it’s another another six to twelve months for them to properly integrate. When somebody calls, like, we have a deliverability issue. We’re sending hundred million emails per month, and we’re a great customer. We just need to change the ESP right away. We’re like, no. Because that’s not how it works. It just cannot be done. You cannot do it that you need to send tomorrow. That’s, like, a big factor in our vetting. Like, if somebody’s pushing for we need to do it right now. If you do it right now, then you’re cutting corners, and you need to blast emails. That tells me you don’t have much of an email strategy because if you want to start sending next week, you’re not gonna set up the data integration to pull the information correctly, the webhook. So so your back end receives the information from us about bounces and complaints, etcetera. So you’re rushing things. Why are you rushing things? This is not something that happens from day to day. Right? So it’s more like a plane. You you really need to have a long term strategy. You’re gonna fly that plane for 10:15 years. Yeah. So you have to know how that fits into your strategy long term. And the black black box solutions where you don’t really know what it does, but it’s, you know, flashy terms. We we have sixteen hundred percent ROI and, you know, and, nine out of ten of our customers have, become billionaires. Like, all of these, flashy sales pitches are really nice if you’re selling a black box to a customer who does not really care about their email marketing. Right? Because they need a tool that will send. Right? But if you have marketing strategy and if you have people that are looking into the results, into actual results of your email campaigns, how efficient is it it is, then those people will be looking at a long tail. They will be looking into not whether your flashy flashy charts are showing thirty percent open rate, but whether those thirty percent that you claim actually translate into Yeah. Conversions. Right? Because it’s, come on, it’s easy to show thirty percent open rates, especially now with Apple MPP. If it opens up thirty percent of emails, you have thirty percent open rate. Like, is that relevant number? No. It’s not.

[00:30:45.09] – Sella Yoffe
What would be your recommendation for marketers?

[00:30:49.00] – Jakub Olexa
It is really the open rate, what what you want. If I was a marketer, I don’t care about the open rate. I care about the sales or, you know, whatever is my conversion. Open is not my conversion. It might be for for a magazine, right? But, still that magazine needs to have some CTAs in their emails to to get the people somewhere. So open rates are really a tricky number. It’s like when when everybody’s claiming ninety nine point nine or ninety nine point nine deliverability instead of delivery rate because it’s it’s very easy to to

[00:31:34.29] – Sella Yoffe
They’re not the same.

[00:31:35.29] – Jakub Olexa
Have just zero point one percent of bounces if you clean the list properly or if you discard bounces, right, and don’t count them in. Yeah. That’s very simple. But deliverability is, you know, the inbox placement or, you know, placement in mailboxes that are visible to the users. So inbox or promotions. Mhmm. And that’s impossible to measure, right. Unless you’re, you have the data from the mailbox provider, you cannot measure that. And there as far as I know, there are two two mailbox providers that provide this data, through their postmaster APIs. There’s one provider that provides it through a partner at, significant cost. Mhmm. So how do you measure deliverability? You know, you can always say, but it’s ninety nine point nine.

[00:32:44.00] – Sella Yoffe
What’s your recommendation for marketeers who are struggling to measure their engagement with Apple MPP, Apple Mail Privacy Protection.

[00:32:53.50] – Jakub Olexa
There are few verticals, that we’ll have to adopt. And I think that they should have adopted a long time ago. Right? Because using email purely as means of, you know, delivering a leaflet instead of using snail mail and dropping the printed paper into your into your mailbox. They use email. I don’t think that’s long term viable. And, in the end, it it leads to blasting nothing else. So these publishers will have a they had a problem already. Right but that’s a very very small small part of of the email industry and email business Mhmm. And I believe in using proper tools to measure engagement. And open rate is just a very small part of your engagement. Right? In MailKit, we have something that

[00:34:08.09] – Sella Yoffe
we call

[00:34:08.80] – Jakub Olexa
engagement score, and Mhmm. It calculates the engagement of individual recipients in in long term. Right? And there are so many factors. There’s there’s the open, there’s repeated open, there’s clicks, repeated clicks, there’s sprints, There’s forwards. There’s website actions, conversions. All of this adds up. There’s like hundred and forty properties that we use to calculate the engagement score. It gets recalculated every fifteen minutes from from the new data. Amazing. And then once a day, it gets recalculated to update the user’s overall engagement score, which we present as a number from zero to five, five being the highest, zero being the lowest, plus a trend, you know, increasing, neutral, and decreasing. But in the background, it’s not a zero to five. It’s, I believe minus three to plus twenty one with three decimals. So it’s very granular and it tracks the behavior of the recipient over time, but it also tracks the the behavior of the sender. So if you’re sending once per month, the engagement of the user, of the recipient has different different values than if you were sending, you know, three times per day. Because if you get Yeah. Your recipients to react to your emails that you send every day or three times a day and they they you produce thirty percent open rates and, you know, click rates, etcetera, then you’re a superstar. Like, those are super engaged.

[00:36:11.09] – Sella Yoffe
Good for you. Right?

[00:36:12.59] – Jakub Olexa
If you if you send once a month and you get the same results, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re super engaged, right? They’re not annoyed yet. So so there’s the difference. And, you know, when NBB started, we monitored it for a week to see whether, you know, what’s the impact and how does it impact the scoring and everything. And, we figured out we we found out that it doesn’t really have any impact on the scores because from from our system perspective, it’s a bot. And we have been, we have been detecting bot clicks and bot opens, so called non human interactions for the past five years. So this is so so there’s a difference. And, you know, when MPB started, we monitored it for a week to see whether, you know, what’s the impact and how does it impact the scoring and everything. We found out that it doesn’t really have any impact on the scores because from our system perspective, it’s a bot. We have been detecting bot clicks and bot opens, so called non human interactions. So this is just another non human interaction that we discard. Mhmm. Right? And you might say, well, you discarded my opens, but I haven’t discarded the engagement of the user because the engagement is the click, is the is the conversion, is the repeated open, etcetera. That’s something where we get the additional signals that are that are of a higher value for the engagement. And, therefore, the the MPP didn’t have the the effect that we were, you know, worried about that it might affect, the engagement scoring. But, you know, the same thing can be said about the standard nonhuman interactions. It’s just that, many, many systems don’t detect those. Yeah. Right? MPP is super easy to detect. Right? Yahoo’s bots are super easy to detect, but then you have all the anti spam and anti phishing systems that are scanning your emails and they’re following the links and generating fake opens, fake clicks, fakes every fake everything and use various user agent strings and come from different IPs, etcetera. So, you’ve always had this error in your statistics. You just didn’t know. Mhmm. So, of course, it’s, from from the ESP perspective, it it looks very nice if you’re showing higher numbers because you’re not discarding these non human interactions. But, you know, sooner or later that customer, unless they’re ignoring their business, they will find out that, you know Yeah. These numbers don’t translate into the conversions they were expecting from these opens or these clicks.

[00:40:09.69] – Sella Yoffe
In addition to MailKit, he also developed another ESP called Omnivary. Can you tell us about Omnivary?

[00:40:16.69] – Jakub Olexa
Omnivary, yes.

[00:40:18.40] – Sella Yoffe

[00:40:18.90] – Jakub Olexa
We’ve all always had customers coming to us asking for a transactional sending platform or SMTP sending, just because it was easier for them to integrate or they had specific tools, specific, you know, user experience platforms, etcetera, that they wanted to integrate with. And Mhmm. MailKit is not really good for that because it’s a platform on itself. And using those APIs didn’t really make sense. So, you know, eventually I decided, okay, We’ll do that. We’ll build a transactional sending platform, but we want to keep the same values that we have in MailKit. So customer vetting, keeping close eye on the customers and being focused on deliverability of the platform. So again, I don’t want a customer coming to us asking why did the email bounce. I want us to tell the customer, hey. This email bounced because of this and that, and we are looking into it. Right? Or we are seeing that your reputation is being affected by your last send. You need to look into this and that. So we built, Omnivery with, this in mind, and we have various levels of vetting in the platform. And at the same time, we we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. So to make the integration really easy, we have APIs that are compatible with existing platforms like Mailgun and SparkPost. Mhmm. So you can easily migrate, and we are working hard on, bringing native integrations with, existing customer data platforms and, marketing platforms that, use third party services to to send.

[00:42:36.80] – Sella Yoffe
This interview was recorded long before Gmail and Yahoo introduced their new sender guidelines. I asked Jakub whats the future of email authentication will be. It’s clear that he got it right.

[00:42:51.90] – Jakub Olexa
Oh, I wish I had a crystal ball. So nothing on the Internet has ever been revolutionary. It’s always evolutionary. Mhmm. So we cannot expect that there will be some golden bullet that someone will, come up with some revolutionary idea, new standard, etcetera, because you would be surprised how many really, really, really, really smart people are behind the existing standards. Right? And they’re working hard to improve those standards. So there was the SPF and DKIM, DMARC, ARC, how to improve these existing standards. You know how to reduce the potential for abuse like DKIM, DKIM replay, etcetera. So there there there’s a lot of people involved in this and working together, and the email industry is very collaborative. It’s not like your competitors. We’re the technical people are in it for the love of email and for the love of technology. So we all work together, find find samples of, how systems are being abused and how to resolve those, how to fix those issues. I’m sure that, the future is in more adoption of Deakin and DMARC and more enforcement from the mailbox provider side of these standards. And once they can leave the guesswork out, they will be more efficient. And it will be cheaper for them because they don’t have to guess. They don’t have to run so many complex, anti spam tests but they can rely on the DKIM signatures and DMARC policies etc. So I strongly believe that the future is in is in DMARC and Mhmm. Email authentication as it is. There might be extensions, additions, you know, you know currently DKIM replay being a big issue. If I simplify it Mhmm. You find a DKIM signature that is valid that you used, that you generated. Mhmm. So let’s say you go to Mailchimp, you create a valid mail sent from Mailchimp.

[00:45:53.80] – Sella Yoffe

[00:45:54.90] – Jakub Olexa
Get the DKIM signature. You use that signature to sign messages to other recipients but not send them through through Mailchimp which would stop you from doing that. Yeah. But you you use your own SMTP at Amazon Mhmm. Wherever.

[00:46:16.59] – Sella Yoffe
Using this DKIM, the same DKIM.

[00:46:19.00] – Jakub Olexa
Using the same DKIM Mhmm. Just by altering the headers in a way that it would not break the Deakin. That’s the very very simplified explanation of the issue. Yeah. Right? Of course, if the the DKIM signature was, not signing headers that it should have. So it was a less secure DKIM signature then it makes it that much easier to replay the DKIM. So that is currently a big problem and a lot of a lot of people are looking to solutions to that problem. How to how to prevent, Deacon replay.

[00:47:06.40] – Sella Yoffe
Before Google and Yahoo implemented the new guidelines, many sender used a Gmail account as their from email address. Now it will be impossible to do so. However, we still see ESPs that allow their clients to use the platform’s shared domain and send emails on behalf of their domain.

[00:47:29.19] – Jakub Olexa
Well, first off, you have to think about domain as part of your brand. It costs nothing, peanuts, to get your own domain. And if you if you decide to start sending and you use someone else’s domain for that sending. Are you getting paid for that for promoting them? Probably not. You’re paying them. It’s the same when you when you send small businesses do that, that they use a Gmail address. Right? Or, you know, whatever free mail, service they use or they have, maybe it’s not a, not even not a free mail, but, you know, it’s by their ISP they have this very generic address. They’re promoting someone else. Yeah. The domain is your brand. So if your, ESP tells you that you cannot use your domain and your your DKIM, just go somewhere else. Yeah. To me, that’s unbelievable because from the technical perspective, especially in the ESP environment, this is very easy to set up. Yeah. This is not something that, will add significant extra costs. It will take time to set it up and automate this but it’s not something that will be, you know, ruining your company. If you’re setting up your own mail servers, you know, still it’s a matter of couple of hours to set up email authentication properly.

[00:49:07.90] – Sella Yoffe

[00:49:08.19] – Jakub Olexa
If you know what you’re doing. Mhmm. But if you don’t, then my recommendation is get a training. You know, go talk to someone who understands the problem. And for Christ’s sake, don’t go online and search for how to set up SPF and DKIM on my mail server. Because while these are guides that will tell you how to technically do that, they are intended to help you do the technical setup. But you will still not understand how SPF works and how DKIM works and what you need to do on the domain setting side. Mhmm. And that’s very important because if you don’t understand that, you can, a, create more problems for you down the road. Second, you can, you know, end up being unable to deliver your messages. So it’s really important to reach out to someone who understands, email authentication rather than trying to understand it yourself and, you know, just hack it together.

[00:50:24.00] – Sella Yoffe
Another authentication question. What’s your opinion about sending all the emails from the main domain?

[00:50:32.09] – Jakub Olexa
There are legitimate reasons to, use your top level, organizational level domain, with multiple, services. Mhmm. So not only your corporate emails, but also other services. But, that’s, you know, it has its limits and you should definitely take advantage of subdomains. And especially if it’s, if you’re going into, you know, a third party cloud service, you don’t want to pollute your organizational level domain. Yeah. Right. You just want to make sure that that one stays as as is and then the subdomain is, you know, something else. Because if you don’t it will make your life difficult down the line. Your SPF will grow, Your problems will grow as times go. Time goes, you will your IT department will forget when you when when the contract is canceled.

[00:51:44.09] – Sella Yoffe

[00:51:44.19] – Jakub Olexa
will leave the IPs, in in in the SPF record and that SPF record will just exceed the limit really soon. Yeah. I think for for email authentication, the biggest problem that we’re facing with our customers Mhmm. Where we’re helping deploying DMARC is that because on on the face of it, email seems like something very simple, you know, Every secretary knows how to send an email. Yeah. Nobody understands the the the complex complexities of the email ecosystem and of sending and authenticating emails. Yeah. That includes the IT people in the companies. So there are no, email related processes. So if the marketing department signs a contract for for an ESP or Mhmm. A CRM system or anything, they will just notify the IT. We need to be this to be done in the DNS. Yeah. And there’s no process in the IT department of recording that information and then revalidating it. Let’s say six months later, Checking back with the marketing or customer, customer support and checking, is this provider still our partner? Do we still need this in the SPF? Right? And that should be a process that is there, you know for everything in the email world. Like set up the DKIMS. Yeah. Oh, it’s done. Well, is there any rotation in place? Is the rotation done by the ESP or the CRM, and we’re making a CNAME record? Or do we have to do the rotation or on our end Yeah. And communicate that to the CRM somehow. Right? These are things that the companies don’t think about. They they don’t even know there there is

[00:54:06.09] – Sella Yoffe

[00:54:06.80] – Jakub Olexa
A problem like this that will become bigger and bigger and bigger. And then, you know, we had a a customer coming that they want DMARC to be put in place. They want to go to DMARC reject. Mhmm. And they had an SPF record that was authorizing, that that had thirty seven DNS lookups, while the limit is ten. I’m I’m like, so you have SparkPost, you have Mailchimp, you have SendGrid, you have Google, you have Office three sixty five. Do you have all of this? You’re authorizing, like, fifty percent of the Internet to send on your app. Right. And they were like, no, those were, those were terminated years ago. Like, why is there an SPF records authorizing them? Like, that’s a liability for you. Mhmm. You can’t go to reject. You know? It will take months to get to reject. Yeah. And then, you know, then when you when you start monitoring the DMARC reports and a lot of lot of people, a lot of the companies say, oh, we have a DMARC record. And I look at it and it’s a DMARC record that only has p equals none. Nothing else. No reporting. Nothing. A worthless record. Yeah. So it’s it’s a pointless record. Why did you put it there? Yes. Because because they read an article. You need to deploy DMARC. So they read, oh, d this is the DMARC record, and that’s it. But it’s about the reports analyzing the value that DMARC provides and implementing the steps based on that information. Mhmm. Yeah. So, yeah, once you deploy once you deploy the reports, you’re suddenly surprised that there are, you know, thirty thirty sources that you had no idea about sending on your behalf because, you know, this branch set up something and that branch set up something and, you know, and this IT guy has a server running from home, sending some some monitoring emails, etcetera.

[00:56:24.30] – Sella Yoffe

[00:56:26.19] – Jakub Olexa
So it’s quite revealing. And then the security people are like, wow. Wow. Just wow. Yeah. That that’s that’s that that’s a really bad practice when there is, you know, a mailbox that nobody reads. Or, you know, we we’ve had someone telling us, oh, yeah. When we have time, we look at it. Like, you look at look at the XMLs? Really? You read it just, you know, for for the fun of it? So, you know, while it might seem like email is super simple and that email authentication is super simple and they’re bunch of guides there, you know, step one, step two, step three, done. You’re authenticated. It’s not that simple. And, avoid these guides, please.

[00:57:21.50] – Sella Yoffe
The email landscape is constantly evolving. I’m interested in hearing your perspective.

[00:57:27.90] – Jakub Olexa
You know, one day, your your your deliverability drops and you suddenly stuck suddenly start seeing errors, it could be it could be that you something got misconfigured, on your end. It could be that some mailbox provider changed their policies. They they suddenly consider something, as as spam and it hurts your reputation. It’s a lot of things and that’s changing every day and, you know, systems are getting more and more, automated, and that also leads to to problems and and mistakes in those Right. You know, it’s one thing to to be in this industry for fifteen years, but that industry changed a lot. It changed a lot in the past year. Right? As more and more systems are using more advanced AI for spam filtering and new reputation systems are being built, This is changing the the email landscape in a way that the marketers don’t see, but we on the deliverably side of things, we’re seeing this. We we need to adopt, and, we need to make changes. Email by default is not a guaranteed channel. It’s not something like I send an email, it will be delivered. No. It was built for for the nuclear a nuclear war. Yeah. So it tries to get delivered as much as possible. Right? But it’s stateless. So once you send it, it tries to find a way to the destination. But what it does at the very end is a different story.

[00:59:31.90] – Sella Yoffe
Thank you very much, Jakub. It’s been a pleasure and very educating.

[00:59:37.00] – Jakub Olexa
I’m happy I had the chance to talk to you. Happy to to come anytime and and talk, email marketing and deliverability. There you know, some of the topics I could talk about for hours

[00:59:50.69] – Sella Yoffe

[00:59:51.19] – Jakub Olexa
Like, anti abuse and, you know, deliverability and looking you know, analyzing logs and looking into, you know, how to get stuff delivered, because quite often people think, you know, delivered is delivered. Mhmm. But it’s not only about whether it got delivered and didn’t bounce, but it’s also about, you know, maybe there was a remote bounce that was ignored. A lot of ESPs don’t bother processing remote bounces. Or you might have misconfigured your DNS records and the remote bounces are not coming to you. Stuff like that. And there’s a ton of valuable information in that, even though it’s the long tail, but it’s an important long tail. And also, it’s not only about whether it was delivered or not, but also about, you know, how soon was it delivered. Did it take five minutes? Did it take five seconds? Yeah. Did it take five hours? So there’s, the, you know, there are big differences in what deliverability means and what the differences between the ESPs in this, on this side of things and how monitored it is and, you know, how engaged the ESP is in making sure that it’s five seconds rather than five hours.

[01:01:30.90] – Sella Yoffe
You know, I can spend ten hours just talking to you about deliverability. Yeah.

[01:01:37.40] – Jakub Olexa
You would get bored. You would get bored.

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