Site Map

Friday, June 1, 2012

Email Marketing Services - Inbox Delivery Optimization Techniques - Dos and Donts

There is a misconception with marketers and providers that email marketing software is a bulk mailing solution. When the emails are blasted out of a bulk mailer, they are assured that it will reach the recipient’s inboxes.

Is that so simple?

Does your email marketing software or service provider guarantee email delivery optimization?

Certainly most do not!

There is a misconception with marketers and providers that email marketing software is a bulk mailing solution. When the emails are blasted out of a bulk mailer, they are assured that it will reach the recipient’s inboxes. Is that so simple?

Let us look at some of the email deliverability myths that most marketers seem to have.

  1. We don’t spam!
  2. We send emails only to opt-in lists
  3. Someone has blacklisted us for no reason
  4. ISPs (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL) treat us badly
  5. If our emails reach recipient’s junk folders, we will request recipient to add us to safe lists

We don’t send Spam!

The marketers first need understand the definition of Spam! It is not just the Viagra or the porn stuff! Any message that doesn’t suit the need of the customer is spam, whether it is the message subject line, content, broken or dodgy HTML code, relevance, frequency of the emails, etc. Moreover, messages that do not comply with CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003) act may be classified as SPAM by receiving ISPs.

Marketers have to stop sending messages that are boring, mundane and uninteresting. Marketers need to check if their messages are CAN-SPAM compliant. Marketers have to monitor their campaigns reports like opens, clicks, spam complaints, and abuses from their customers and ISPs. If they don’t, they may be surprised to see sometime later, their messages are being categorized as SPAM and lying in junk folders or being blocked by ISPs.

We send emails only to opt-in lists

Sending email campaigns to opt-in lists is a good practice, because you are assured of good deliverability. But have you given control to your opt-in customers, the power to opt-out or unsubscribe in each campaign? If you haven’t, start doing it now. Even if you have given the power to opt-out or unsubscribe, are you acting promptly within a reasonable time (with one week) to stop sending further email campaigns? Have you opted them again, after a reasonable amount of time through another promotional campaign? Are you acting on bounces and taking action to get your list cleaned out of bounced email addresses? Are you educating your opt-in subscribers, to opt-out instead of complaining to ISPs about abuses from you? Are you capturing the opt-in subscriber preferences to send relevant campaigns that suit their interests and the frequency of email campaigns in a given period?

The success of keeping your list clean and emails reaching out to your opt-in customers lies in understanding the needs of the opt-in subscribers, measuring the success of each email campaign and working to address the issues above. If you don’t, even your opt-in customers will soon be opting out or complaining you to ISPs on email campaigns as SPAMs.

Someone has blacklisted us for no reason

Emails Marketers have to understand that email communication is being heavily abused by spammers around the world. For every genuine email sent, there are 90 others which are spam. Most of the email service providers and companies are putting tough measures to block spam emails reaching their infrastructure or for processing and storing Spam emails and damaging their employee productivity. There are service providers who constantly scout for spammers, monitor their activities on the web and maintain a list of their IP addresses and domains (blacklists). They provide various companies the blacklisted IPs and domain names, to block the email senders from those IPs and Domains. The black list service providers employ various complex and advance techniques to monitor increased email sending, patterns, and their web crawlers checking various things on their servers, and etc. to collect lot of statistics to classify them into the blacklists.

Hence Marketers need to understand the challenges if they are using their own bulk mailing solutions and constantly monitor if their IPs or Domains are blacklisted by any service providers. They should take immediate action, if needed with those service providers and get their IPs an Domains white listed.

ISPs (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL) treat us badly

Most of the opt-in customers have their email addresses on the major 4 ISPs Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. Hence Marketers will be sending a bulk of their emails to these 4 ISPs. They have to ensure that their emails are getting delivered to recipient’s inboxes on these ISPs. Why should these ISPs block the marketer’s emails? They have several reasons and some of them have been stated earlier. Most of the ISPs provide free email infrastructure to their customers and hence they need to optimize their email infrastructure. They have to protect their recipient’s privacies and their reputation as the best ISP in the world.

The emails in those ISPs may also bounce for various reasons like account deletion, inbox full, etc. The sender email server or the email service provider has to remove these bounced addresses from the next mailing; else the ISPs may treat you as a spammer and deny service.

Major ISPs such as Google, AOL and MSN/Hotmail provide their users to complain on the sender of the emails or domains. The ISPs also have strong authentication and dynamic filtering mechanisms that your email software and service provider have to deal with.

If your email marketing software or email service provider doesn’t implement the authentication response mechanisms, adjusting to the filtering policies of the ISPs and dealing with the abuse complaints, there is no reason to complain against their unfair treatment!

If our emails reach recipient’s junk folders, we will request recipient to add us to safe lists

This is a myth that marketers have! If they request the recipients to add the sender email address into the recipient’s safe list, then the messages will be reaching the inbox. While this may be true, it still doesn’t address the deliverability of the sender emails.

ISPs will deliver the email to the recipient’s inbox after their server has successfully received the email, passing through white listed sender IP reputation, authentication mechanisms, dynamic filters (which are changing every moment).

Then there are other questions that marketers need to understand.

  1. Does the marketer always use the same send email id for sending different promotions? Is there a need to use different email ids for different e-mail communications like newsletters, campaigns, promotions? What about from different brands or departments in the company?
  2. Do you see a recipient adding every marketer’s email ids into the safe list? What is the guarantee that you will not start sending irrelevant and innumerable email communications to the recipient?
  3. If you don’t have answers for most of these questions, then this trick will not work in most of the cases. The marketer is back to seeing his email moved to junk folders and soon deliverability takes a hit.

Email Marketing is a disciplined process and in order to get it right and realize the benefits, Marketers have to work with companies and agencies who really understand the science and art of email marketing.

If not, there will no differentiation between your marketing campaigns and the spammer’ campaigns.

Ultimately the recipient’s and the ISP’s are the better judges.

Hence it is very important to measure the success of each of your email marketing campaigns and fine tune your email marketing stategy not to blast, but use it to engage with your subscribers with relevant offers and deals.

No comments:

Post a Comment