Email marketing is a powerful way to connect with people with many marketers still counting it as their primary channel for lead generation. In fact, there are 658 billion emails sent worldwide a day and 7.6 million emails sent every second. However, how many of these emails are engaging, relevant and drive a CTA?
The latest Responsys customer User Forum tackled this very subject hearing from Oracle Marketing Cloud experts on email marketing in today’s environment. Kim Barlow, Director of Strategic & Analytical Services EMEA at Oracle opened the day by stating life is getting harder for the marketer as they strive to remain a legitimate brand that provides compelling content and a CTA, rather than settling for irrelevant bulk emails that hit the spam filter.
Creating email marketing content that successfully engages your audience is no mean feat. Especially when you consider one of the biggest challenges is deliverability. The process from launching a message to getting a customer’s inbox has significantly evolved over the past 10 years from batch and blast to hyper-personalisation.
“What is important is that over this time a marketer’s ability to reach prospects’ inboxes has become tied to reputation and engagement,” as Kevin Senne, Senior Director, Global Deliverability and Justin Crivelli, Senior Manager, Global Deliverability at Oracle shared.
And ISPs now play a crucial role in reputation. They are working hard to make the inbox a great experience and have an active role in protecting their customers from receiving unwanted or unsolicited emails. What is interesting is that each ISP has their own way of calculating what reputation means to them. However, if there is doubt about a brands reputation, this results in deliverability problems where ISPs can temporarily block emails. And this can take 2 – 3 weeks to resolve.
ISPs use a variety of tools to process and track all inbound emails – both on an IP and domain level. However, there are key factors ISPs look for when it comes to reputation and deliverability in the inbox:
They now look at a brand as a whole. So while your department may be doing the right job, another department may not and this will still damage your reputation
Key reputation indicators are spam traps, volume, complaints, bounces and engagement
When it comes calculating reputation, each IP address receives its own reputation and new IPs are treated with higher scrutiny due to lack of history and deliverability
Consistency is key as ISPs measure reputation over time
ISP’s factor in an individual recipient’s interactions like opens, clicks, scrolls, and filtering
While there is still no way to know what a brand’s specific reputation is at any ISP, we know that reputation measurement will continue to evolve. ISP’s like Google will put more and more data together including traffic from your website, SMS messages and social presence - Gmail recently allowed users to setup non-Google email addresses using IMAP.
So how do marketers achieve a good reputation and what are the practical building blocks of a strong deliverability strategy?
Implement a rigorous and ongoing regimen of reviewing the quality of lists and databases. The biggest single contributor to deliverability success for this is the opt-in process which will exclude invalid email addresses and spam traps, qualifying new subscribers.
Offer customers a preference centre to manage subscriptions to fine tune content of messages and prevent churn and email fatigue by offering frequency control options.
Consistently review send patterns as a sudden increase in email volume could be an indicator that your mail server has been compromised by a spammer.
Focus on email design and structure. Always above the fold, every recipient should be able to answer the following three questions whether or not images are blocked - Who are you? What do you want me to do? Why should I do that?
Less content, less size – more focus, more relevance. Keep your subject line between 35 to 50 characters long, avoid spam keywords and include 2 - 3 CTA’s in the email.
Regularly monitor deliverability and audience engagement. Do not ignore engagement patterns in your base and monitor unique open rate by ISP, hard bounce rate, soft bounce rate, spam compliant rate and inbox placement rate.
Test, test, test – the mantra of user-centric marketing.
In todays’ environment, marketers understand that they have 2 – 5 seconds before a customer decides if the email is relevant. As Markus Frank, Head of Strategic Services, DACH at Oracle concluded at the User Forum “Deliverability is all about whether you are a modern customer-centric marketer.”
Download this Email Deliverability Guide for Modern Marketers for more pro tips on orchestrating and delivering marketing messages that are relevant to individual preferences and behavior.