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What Email Marketing Acquisition Best Practices and a First Date Have in Common

Thomas Senne
Senior Director of Global Deliverability

When you build a house, the first thing that is built is the foundation. That exact same foundation is the most important thing as you are building your email marketing program. The how, where, and when of acquisition are as critical a factor in the success of that email program as anything else you can create. A relevant and engaged audience is of course crucial to deliverability success, and having the right audience is a good start. 

Good email deliverability starts at the beginning when you acquire an email address. And asking for permission and setting expectations are two basics when it comes to email acquisition. It's like going on a first date. Before you can go on that first date, you have to get his or her phone number, right? It’s the same principle at work here.

The most significant deliverability problems are the result of problems with the email signup process. While a particularly acute problem for retailers collecting addresses in store, the signup process can cause trouble for any business collecting addresses. New signups can introduce major problems into your otherwise well-tended email list.

Back to the analogy of the first date. You first have to ask permission to get his or her phone number. It’s no different here. You need to ask permission to acquire someone’s email address. Like setting expectations for that first date, you want to do the same thing with your email database. You want to set expectations about what they will be receiving from you going forward.

Tread Carefully with New Signups

Experts say sending email to new signups always carries an elevated risk of triggering spam filters, due to the unproven nature of the new email address. For this reason, it’s very important to stay current with your welcome campaigns. The risk of triggering spam filters is compounded if you ever find that you have a backlog of new email signups.

Stay Away from Appends, Rentals, and Purchased Lists

These tactics erode brands and create major deliverability issues. The address segments are characterized by a lack of response—very low open and low click rates. And because these users had never expected to receive email from the sender, the lists can generate many spam trap hits, higher bounces, unsubscribes and complaints. That puts the sender’s deliverability reputation at risk and requires a great deal of effort to restore.

Create a Strong Welcome Program

When a subscriber is first added to your list, it is a good idea to send them a series of emails welcoming them to your program. With these emails, you should clearly communicate your opt-in/permission policy and set expectations for what is to come in future emails. You should also use this opportunity to let them know how often they can expect to receive your emails and how to opt-down or change their preferences if necessary. A simple welcome campaign can go a long way in establishing a good relationship with new subscribers.

Acquiring new email addresses is of course the golden goose for marketers but experts point out that there are inherent dangers: New signups risk a Spamhaus listing because emailing multiple times to a new registrant who never opens or clicks is a high risk gamble. This newly acquired email address can likely be a spam trap, and repeated emailing to it can trigger a blacklisting.

Download Email Deliverability: Guide for Modern Marketers to learn much more about acquisition and many more important deliverability and marketing strategies to make sure you are using your time, money, and effort wisely.

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