Deliverability is still seen as a mystery. The stats for deliverability make ominous reading. A staggering 88% of marketers have no idea how much budget they lose through non-delivery, a figure that is getting worse year on year.
Last Tuesday at our Summer Roundtable we covered some of the critical factors that need to be understood by marketers in order to demystify this topic somewhat. Below are the burning questions that were discussed and a summary of answers from Adestra’s Director Steve Denner who ran the table on deliverability:
Does data cleansing help?
ISP’s will look at the data quality of each sender. They will even keep old email accounts purposely to see who sends to them. Having a regular data cleansing exercise to remove addresses that have not had recent activity with your emails is extremely important to keep your deliverability as high as possible.
How recent is ‘recent activity’?
When people are not active on your emails how far back do you go to look for recent activity? There is no hard and fast answer to this question. While one sender may find that the engagement on their lists is relatively short, others will find that recipients open their emails consistently for many months, even years.
The answer lies in testing. Start by splitting your lists down by periods of activity – last three months, last year and so on – and look for when the reads/clicks/conversions drop off. Send regular emails to the most engaged and willing audience and attempt to re-engage the rest of your data with (ideally) automated ‘what did we do wrong?’ style emails.
What increases vigilance over a specific IP address or domain?
Most ISP’s consider the complaint rate as the main reason to increase vigilance. Various email providers will have different algorithms, methods and thresholds of determining when your emails should be temporarily or permanently blocked so it’s difficult to gage how often and what volumes should be sent. Yahoo for instance will have a hard number of complaints before it will start blocking emails from the sender whereas yahoo will use a ratio algorithm. Best advice is to have a steady stream of emails and sometimes the more frequent emails, the more chances of being considered a valued sender by ISP’s.
Can I still not use the word “FREE” in my emails?
In the past, spam filters would isolate any spam words like “FREE”, “Buy”, etc in the content or subject line and direct them straight into the junk folder. Nowadays spam filters are much more sophisticated and use more complex algorithms to determine whether an email is indeed spam. For instance, if word “Free” is used 5 times in a one paragraph email then it is quite likely to get junked whereas if “Free” is used once in a larger paragraph then it is unlikely for the email getting into a junk folder.
What is more important IP or Domain reputation?
Most major ISPs now include both IP and domain reputation in their filtering processes, so both are very important these days.
What do I do if I’m having delivery problems with Yahoo! and other major ISPs?
We discussed how differently Yahoo! approaches deliverability to other ISPs. The conclusion was really to look first at the complaint rate the email campaigns were getting and always consider that sending regular, consistent volume with low complaint rates will achieve the best inbox placement. If the complaint rate is too high, then the likelihood is that the content is irrelevant or the data is too old.
Is my complaint rate high?
Every marketer should have a good idea of the breakdown of different domains on their email lists. As a very rough guide, if you know that your lists is mostly made up of Yahoo!, Hotmail/LiveMail, AOL and so on, then watch your complaint rate in comparison with your unsubscribe rate. The complaint rate should be lower as a general guide.
How do I know what’s causing me to be junked?
Sometimes the answer is obvious and a piece of content or a high complaint rate is the culprit. When content is the issue, testing is the tried and trusted route to getting rid of the problem. Test into as many email clients as you can and don’t be afraid to start your copy from scratch. Look for areas of text where you may be repeating ‘salesy’ phrases. What’s the balance between words such as ‘offer’, ‘free’, ‘hurry now’ and more general ‘proper’ copy?
Also, the domain make up of your list is important to bear in mind. If you’re seeing the email junked in your local copy of Lotus Notes, and yet your list is predominantly B2C (i.e. webmail email browsers), then this gives you a guide on how much time to spend on resolving the probem.
The push for relevance… Looking at email marketing practices, since last year, the use of basic segmentation is down. Regular list cleansing and re-marketing are also lower than last year. This is surprising because, for emails to be relevant, segmentation and targeting are key to providing the right content for your audience. Other simple processes that our clients do on a regular basis are also down on last year. Re-marketing, for example, is down 13% since last year, yet it can provide excellent returns.
Last Tuesday at our Summer Roundtable we covered some of the critical factors that need to be understood by marketers about creating relevant content. Below are the burning questions that were discussed and a summary of answers from Adestra’s Account Director Andrew Abram who ran the table on social relevance:
Is relevance just content?
Relevance is so much more than just content. It can be:
How can I increase relevance?
Preference centres are key to understanding your audience but it is not the only way. Look at your email reporting and analytics information – you have a lot of your subscriber info at your fingertips. A good way to push a preference centre is within reactivation campaigns. If they haven’t opened in a while an email asking them what they are interested in could be a good prompt.
Does relevancy affect deliverability?
Relevancy is becoming more important with webmail clients monitoring engagement as a factor of inbox placement e.g. Gmail Priority Inbox. Engagement is key to your placement within inboxes and increasing engagement is all down to increasing relevance. Also ensure you are maximising on opportunities to send welcome emails, order confirmations etc as the more engaged the client is with your emails the better your placement is.