email marketing inbox deliverability: pov

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POV Email Deliverability

POV: DeliverabilityFor Consumer Email Campaignsby Josue Sierra


This Point Of View provides best practices & recommendations for optimal email campaign deliverability.

History of Email Deliverability: Adapting3

2002200320042005200620072008200920102011+Negative benchmarksBouncesVolumeConnection limitsCrude filtering technologiesTraditional filtering technology resulted in to many false-positive. This problem gave rise to more sophisticated spam toolsComplaint mechanismsReport SpamPhishingFeedback LoopsBayesian and other adaptive filtersNot-Spam functionalityBad-link monitoringAuthentication (SPF, Sender ID, Domain Keys)GoodMailInactives (AOL)Customer engagementIn recent years, ISPs are shifting more toward rewarding good emails rather than just filtering the bad. As a result, major ISPs including Gmail and Yahoo! are placing significant value on:OpensClicksNot spamAnd, of course, spam complaints continue to remain a major factor.

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Email engagement is now more important than ever!


Sender reputation/score:Return Path reports that83% of the time an email is not delivered to an inbox, it is due to a poor sender reputation. Poor reputation can be caused by poor list hygiene, low engagement, or high spam complaints.

Unpredictable Increases in Volume: The two most important factors that are considered in the volume metric are consistency and frequency. In order to not lose any points for volume, ensure your target list is clean, send mail on a more regular basis with a gradual increase in volume. ISPs are wary of IPs that are sending unpredictable mail streams and favor senders with consistent mailing patterns.

Spam filtering:Always check for spam triggers in email body content copy as part of your regular process. Even though ISPs are relying on Spam filtering in a lesser degree, you will want your AOR copy writers to use best practices to ensure your emails are not impacted. Smart Inboxes:Recently the impact of Sender Reputation upon email delivery has been increased further through the launch of new Smart Inbox features. Gmails Priority Inbox, which measures how users interact with emails from different senders, and decides whether or not those emails should be considered as priority, is the most notable example. Typically, emails from friends and colleagues are flagged as priority emails, and appear at the top of the inbox. Other ISPs such as Hotmail, Yahoo! and AOL have all followed suit, with inbox placement / prioritization techniques that reward known sender status and/or positive engagement (clicks, opens, etc) behavior.

Blacklist operators:Blacklists contain records of e-marketing activity that has been identified as spam-like in nature. ISPs, spam filter vendors, and domain administrators will use this information as a guideline to determine whether they will process or reject incoming emails. Many spam filter vendors also operate their own individual blacklists.

Usually, major Enterprise email sending services have a Deliverability Management team that can work to ensure your emails stay off of any blacklists, and monitors these on an ongoing basis. Deliverability Problems Root Causes:* Email service providers are constantly innovating and updating their tool sets to prevent spam, so best practices continue to evolve over time.


What is sender score?A service of Return Path, the Sender Score algorithm rates the reputation of every outgoing mail server IP address on a scale from 0-100. Gathering data from over 60 million mailboxes at big ISPs like BellSouth and Comcast, Return Path records if people frequently unsubscribe or report spam from certain email senders, and then assigns you a Sender Score based on that monitoring.

Your Sender Score will continue to change depending on email sending practices and the responses of email recipients.

It is an important number to stay on top of, because mail servers will often check your Sender Score before deciding what to do with your emails. The lower the Sender Score, the harder time email marketers will have getting into someone's inbox.

There are plenty of things that can impact thedeliverability of your email, but Return Path reports that83% of the time an email is not delivered to an inbox, it is due to a poor sender reputation.

The Impact of Email List Hygiene on EmailPoor email list hygiene or acquisition practices will impact marketers ability to deliver essential communications to working, opted-in, contactable consumers.

When deliverability goes down, our customers do not get our emails (even those who want to receive them).

The more we target and attempt to send emails to bad addresses or to un-engaged emails, the more good, contactable emails are blocked or sent to the spam folder (overlap).7Good emails that get blocked or sent to the spam folder.

Targeting older acquired or unengaged emails increases the risk of targeting spam traps, which results in lower sender score & increases the risk of an ISP block.


Deliverability Recommendations:List Hygiene & Spam Words

Consumer Email List Acquisition Best PracticesWelcome Message / First touch: We often see high bad address rates in association with welcome messages or similar first-touch email communications. This is caused by consumers that miss-type (fat-finger) their email address, or are intentionally entering an address they do not currently use or have access to.

Best Practices & Recommendations: Never purchase or acquire email lists (appends) for use in DTC campaigns. The risks and damage this practice does to sender reputation is near-impossible to overcome.Make sure paper forms are designed for optimal clarity in writing the email, and provide explicit directions to improve handwritten entries.Provide and communicate an incentive or value giving the consumer a reason to enter a valid, working email address.Set up triggered confirmation emails that are sent as soon as the consumer submits their information. This will allow for a quick identification of bad addresses that can be flagged/scrubbed/suppressed from regular marketing campaigns.Explicitly set expectations and communicate to the consumer that they will be receiving an initial email to confirm their opt-in (and to check Spam folder if they dont see it in their inbox). This will help drive not spam clicks to ISPs, improving sender reputation and increasing consumer engagement.Set up a separate warmed IP for first touch campaigns, so that any bad addresses that slip through do not harm the sender reputation score for other ongoing consumer email marketing.Regularly schedule an Epsilon List Cleanse Solution across your targeted emails to ensure list quality.9


Spam Keyword ConsiderationsAs indicated earlier, ISPs have shifted more toward rewarding good emails rather than just filtering the bad or searching for keywords. That said, if youre concerned about a possible spam keyword in your subject line causing problems, here are some recommendations:Recommendations:Most email sending services have built-in Spam Check tool to check email body copy for potential issues.You can check out this Spam Word list from Hubspot (and share with your AOR). Remember that not all of these words will be a potential threat to your reputation, and ongoing sender reputation monitoring is essential. It is essential that you test any specific wording for actual impact and results.Clarity and accuracy is more important than whether you use any given word. Most email service providers have matured beyond spam words, so best practices are significantly more important than the use of words that might be considered spammy.



Email Marketing Best Practices:Because ISPs value engagement to determine inbox placement and deliverability, email marketers should strive to follow Email Marketing best practices to maintain good sender reputation & help increase engagement.

60% of readers open email based on sender name 55% open based on Preview pane 53% open based on Main title / Headline 33% open based on Subject line 30% open based on Pre-header text

*Lyris, 2010 What contributes to an email open?

The subject line copy should support the Friendly From line

The From information can be as important as the subject line. As a best practice, the From, Subject line and pre-header should work in tandem. The From line should communicate who you are as the sender and can help drive relevance when the recipient recognizes who the email is from.

As much as possible, this entry should not change and should concisely convey who you are. As always, use AB testing methodology to determine the optimal FROM line, and occasionally test new from lines to ensure youre still using the right one.Sender Name: From Friendly Text13

Sender name examplesPage 14

SupplementalRecognizablePoor use of sender name and address

Keeping it short: Before & AfterBeforeAfter


Traditionally, subject lines (SL) should be 48 characters or less

Shorter subject lines generally have higher open rates than long ones. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sometimes truncate subject lines, so keeping them under 48 characters will help you avoid getting cut off. Make sure you front-load the subject line so the key information appears first, in case it does get truncated. Make sure your subject line complements your pre-header text (see page 16).

Subject Line Optimal Length15

Subject lines should be considered within your overall branding & messagi