email deliverability

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Email deliverability is on a lot of email marketers minds during the holidays because of increased volume from almost all senders. Although delivery is important for seasonal email campaigns, delivering smarter is vital all year round. Its more important than ever to make sure your messages not only get delivered, but also make it into the inbox where they can be seen and acted upon. Following are copious notes about the recent shakeups at Gmail and Yahoo, as well as everyday delivery challenges. Inside this notebook are ideas and best practices for optimizing your inbox placement during the holidays and all year long. Included: Changes at Gmail and Yahoo What changes took place How they affect you (and the email industry) Whether you should react and how Engagement as the key to the inbox How personalization and targeting improve delivery rates The effect of user engagement on your deliverability When its time to say good-bye

TRANSCRIPT

INSIDE:

Gmail tabbed inboxYahoo! deactivationThe key to the inboxand more!

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

Email deliverability is on a lot of email marketers minds during the holidays because of increased volume from almost all senders. Although delivery is important for seasonal email campaigns, delivering smarter is vital all year round. Its more important than ever to make sure your messages not only get delivered, but also make it into the inbox where they can be seen and acted upon.

Weve taken copious notes about the recent shakeups at Gmail and Yahoo, as well as everyday delivery challenges. Inside this notebook, we have ideas and best practices for optimizing your inbox placement during the holidays and all year long.

Heres what well cover: Changes at Gmail and Yahoo

What changes took place How they affect you (and the email industry) Whether you should react and how

Engagement as the key to the inbox How personalization and targeting improve delivery rates The effect of user engagement on your deliverability When its time to say good-bye

Theres no guarantee your emails will always get into the inbox. However, by understanding the way ISPs look at emails and following evolving deliverability best practices, theres an excellent chance your emails will make it into subscribers inboxes!

What if your email never reaches the inbox?

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

Whats inside

4Gmail Tabbed Inbox

11Yahoo! Account Deactivation

13The Key to the Inbox

21Q&A with a Deliverability Expert

25Deliverability Definitions

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

CHAPTER 1

Introducing the Gmail Tabbed Inbox

In early June 2013, Gmail quietly announced the addition of tabs to its inbox. What this meant was that from now on, emails would be automatically sorted into tabs.

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

Primary Tab: The tab automatically displayed when a user opens his or her Gmail account, the Primary tab displays emails from people users know, as well as emails that dont fall into the other tabbed categories. By default this also includes any starred conversations.

Social Tab: Facebook friend requests, Twitter DM notifications, Pinterest invites all these emails and others like it get sent to the Social tab in Gmail.

Promotions Tab: This tab mostly contains promotional or marketing emails.

Updates Tab: Emails from financial institutions and things like order and shipping confirmations will usually end up here.

Forums Tab: (user-added) If youre following comments on a form or forum, the Forums tab is where Gmail will reroute notification emails.

The Tabs

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

Gmails recommendations come via:

Behavior: Basically, Google crowd sources emails. How other people categorize certain emails affects the way Google categorizes emails into tabs. For example, if most people open your emails and move them to the spam folder, thats where Gmail will most likely send your emails.

Google algorithms: Gmail has been close-mouthed about the details of the tabbed inbox, including how its algorithms work. Just because you dont understand something doesnt mean it doesnt exist, though. What is known is that the algorithms are based on Gmail data, to which no one except Google has access. Not to worry, though, as there are still ways to improve your chances of inbox placement. Well discuss a few of those later.

Your emails are filtered based on Gmails recommendations.

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

Gmail Tabbed Inbox is Here to Stay

After slowly releasing the tabbed inbox to some Gmail accounts, in July 2013, Google went whole hog and released the new feature to everyone. Not only did desktop accounts see the change, but tablet and mobile devices using Gmail apps were also updated with the new tabbed interface.

What happened to the messages email marketers sent? Since most commercial and marketing emails are routed to the Promotions Tab, not the Primary tab, many marketers assumed their messages were doomed. It seemed like the end of the world for open rates.

The not-so-good news is that yes, some open rates have been affected by the Gmail tabs feature. The good news is the decrease is so slight, it probably hasnt impacted your email marketing overall. On average, digital marketers reported only a one to three percent decrease in opens. In fact, a few individual senders have reported slight increases in opens.

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

Some marketers have sent emails asking readers to move their emails to the Primary Tab. Maybe youre one of them. Or maybe you didnt send one of those emails and are still wondering if you should.

As with most ideas in email marketing, there is no right answer.

Sure, industry data can certainly give you a baseline to work from. If companies similar to yours have seen open rates soar after sending a specific move-our-emails-to-the-Primary-tab email, perhaps you should consider it.

However, your own open and conversion rates should be the driver of any decision you make in email marketing.

Pinpoint your motivation for sending a notification email to subscribers about Gmail tabs. If your emails arent seeing a negative impact from this feature, dont send a special message. Its a privilege for you to send subscribers emails; make sure you dont abuse that privilege by sending unwanted or pointless emails.

Your own open and

conversion rates

drive any decision

you make in email

marketing!

Should you take action?

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

If your metrics indicate you should send an email to subscribers encouraging them to move your emails to the Primary Tab, include concise, correct directions for doing so.

Drag and drop: Encourage users to drag and drop emails from one tab to the other. Gmail will prompt the user to allow all future emails from your email address to be rerouted to that tab. This prompt allows subscribers to move your emails ONCE or ALL. If its not apparent, encourage subscribers to choose ALL.

If You Send that Email

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

The prompt asks if a person wants to move emails based on your email address, so make sure its the same for all the emails you send. If you have different email addresses for different mailings, Gmail users will have to go through the prompt several times to move all your emails to the Primary tab. Thats a hassle for readers its probably best to avoid asking them to take this action.

Star a message: Another way to get a message to display in the Primary Tab is to star it. However, stars only apply to that specific message. It will not move future emails to the Primary Tab. Its a manual change similar to flagging a message in Outlook.

Use a consistent from address in all your emails.

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

About the same time Gmail introduced its tabbed inbox, another ISP dropped a bomb on email marketers. In June 2013, Yahoo! announced it would be deactivating any account not accessed in 12 months. Yahoo! also said it would allow users to request the deactivated usernames, which would be reactivated just one month later.

Concerns skyrocketed about increased hard bounce rates for deactivated accounts, as well as spam complaints for the reactivated accounts. Yahoo! repeatedly asserted there would be little to no impact in these areas. They stated the deactivation would affect only a small amount of Yahoo! mail users; most of the affected accounts were other types of Yahoo! accounts.

The deactivation date rolled around on July 15, 2013.WhatCounts: Our users saw no significant increase in hard bounces.Other sources: Most marketers reported little or no change in hard bounces.

On August 15, 2013 Yahoo began reactivating requested accounts.WhatCounts: Our users saw no significant increase in spam complaints.Other sources: Reported scattered complaints of users receiving emails not intended for them.

CHAPTER 2

Yahoo! Account Deactivation

If youre following email marketing best

practices, youre running re-engagement

or win back campaigns that get rid of

inactive subscribers. Or youre tossing

out subscribers after one hard bounce.

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THE EMAIL DELIVERABILITY BEST PRACTICES NOTEBOOK

In theory, someone who reactivates an old Yahoo! email address could log into a site like Facebook and ask the social media site to send them a reset password link. The new user would then be able to access the old users Facebook account. This potential issue could affect many social networks and even financial institutions using online log-ins.

Yahoo! worked with Facebook to create a special header for senders with sensitive data who use their email addresses as login keys. If you send sensitive and/or personal data in your emails, implementing this header is a good idea. This Require Recipient Valid Since header requires the recipient to confirm owning the email address before the deactivation (June 2013).

Yahoo! also rolled out a this is not me button to benefit those who requested and were given a reactivated account. If these subscribers receive any emails intended for the old recipient, they can click this button a