Groupon Taps Unica for Four-Pronged Email Optimization Approach

Launched in November 2008, Groupon is a local shopping web site offering unbeatable discounts on the best things to eat, do, see and buy in a variety of cities across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America. The company is growing rapidly, as its U.S. database has grown from 1.2 million U.S. and Canadian email subscribers in October 2009 to nearly seven million in June 2010. Groupon sends nearly 150 million emails each month, which ultimately translates to nearly 1.5 billion emails per year.

So far Groupon is offered in more than 150 cities worldwide. Each email list is cohesive to a particular market that Groupon serves, and each member receives emails featuring the day’s deals for that particular locale. Most of the markets are sent an e-mail every weekday, though some receive e-mails seven days a week. Leveraging the urgent nature of a daily deal, each offer is transmitted at 5 a.m. local time, and ends at midnight. So it’s imperative that the emails are transmitted and received efficiently. With such a high (and growing) volume of email communication to manage, Groupon needed a solution to optimize its deliverability and rendering.


“We have almost seven million emails to deliver in a four-hour period,” said Andrew Kordek, Groupon’s Manager of Email Optimization. “We need to make 100% sure that we are getting the most out of our deliverability.”

Kordek manages various aspects of the email program.  He joined Groupon in October 2009 and tapped Unica for its email deliverability and optimization tools. Kordek utilizes the company’s eDesign Optimizer to ensure that all emails render properly across Groupon’s client span and eDelivery Tracker to monitor deliverability.

The tools offer Kordek reports from the solutions on an as needed basis, and he can act accordingly based on the data. Kordek works closely with Unica to analyze and assess deliverability and rendering issues. Groupon can see how changes in transactional or other emails render across all types of platforms.

“I use a variety of different tools to assess our email deliverability,” Kordek said. “I get deliverability reports and MTA queue reports each hour and bounce reports every three hours. If I start so see specific issues, I’ll immediately trigger a test to identify if it’s a deliverability issue, and if so, what kind. You’re talking more than 70 different cities and more than 70 different creatives, so it can be like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Kordek said he uses a four-pronged approach to pinpoint issues with Groupon’s email communications to keep the process streamlined and efficient:

  1. Hourly Reporting: Every hour on the hour Kordek gets an MTA queue report sent from ExactTarget, Groupon’s Email Service Provider (ESP). It tells him across all the different IP addresses emails that are connecting to each of Groupon’s top domains.
  2. Bounce Rates: If Kordek starts to see backup in the MTA queue, he waits to get a report on bounce rates. Based on the hard and soft bounce rates, he can assess what issues certain cities and/or lists might be having.
  3. Test & Tweak: Kordek then executes a test to ensure that deliverability is in check across all lists, include Groupon’s seed list.
  4. Optimize & Streamline: Kordek then pushes that information through Unica Pivotal Veracity to determine the issue and isolate the problem. This is all done before 10 a.m. each day.

Kordek said through this approach Groupon sees a healthy 97% inbox placement rate, which could change daily, based on the aforementioned reports.


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