Navigating your way to the inbox during a Pandemic

Tim Roe | Compliance and Deliverability Director
Computer screen looking at spam folder
I’ve got to admit, as I wrote down the title to this blog, it stuck me as strange. Going back six months, I cannot imagine that a title like this would have popped into my mind under any circumstances. Strange and unfamiliar times indeed, but times in which the online channel has been brought sharply into focus.

Non-essential shops shut, those that stayed open, faced long queues, in effect, the already struggling high street, shut up shop. Surviving commercially for many businesses, now depended on online sales and the success for the principle driver for revenue generation; the marketing email.

 

The rules of the game haven’t changed

This intense pressure on the channel, spikes in volume, sending old data to increase list size, has understandably caused some issues. The rules of the game haven’t changed, if you use poor sending practices, it’ll damage your sending reputation, cause deliverability problems, damage sales and ultimately revenue.

So what does the marketer need to do, to make the most of email in these challenging times, how do you stay in the inbox, when every day is like Black Friday?

 

Experiences mirrored by many

I recently had the pleasure of speaking on a webinar alongside Charlotte Freddi, CRM Marketing Manager for the domestic technology business Gtech.

Charlottes experience during the pandemic mirrored many of the issues other businesses were having as the increased reliance on email (and great response rates) meant that sending volumes were increasing, causing the reputation with some ISP’s to drop.

So, what damages reputation, what triggers the red flags at an ISP?

 

Traps

Trap addresses, either email addresses that have never been live, or dead email accounts that have been reactivated by the ISP (secret seeds).

If you have some of these in your marketing list, it tells the ISP that you have poor data hygiene processes and makes you look like a spammer.
 
 

Spam complaints

This is feedback sent by recipient, to the ISP, that allows the recipient of an unwanted email, to tell the ISP that they consider it to be spam.

The more complaints you get, the greater the likelihood that you will de-prioritised for delivery to the inbox, causing delays on your email delivery and junk box placement.
 
 

Ignored emails

If recipients continue to ignore your emails, they are likely to eventually end up in the junk folder, if the recipient doesn’t move them back to the inbox, your reputation could take a hit, impacting on your overall inbox delivery.
 
 

Blacklists

There are many publicly available blacklists, that allow ISP’s and other email receivers/ spam filters to access databases of emailers who have hit trap addresses or experienced high complaint rates or have been manually added as they are known spammers.

Some blacklists are more important than others, the impact ranging from mildly annoying, to the loss of 50% of your deliverability.
 
 

Inconsistent volumes

One of the behaviours that a sever infected by a spam bot tends to exhibit, is that it will start to send low volumes of email spam initially, then increase the volumes considerably. If you are inconsistent with the numbers of emails that you send, you can look like a spammer.

90% of deliverability issues are self-inflicted by the brand sending the email. Either through poor sending practices (frequency, volume) or by bad data practices, all of which can be avoided.

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Send emails that are wanted by the recipient

It’s not only about avoiding the mistakes either, using clean data is only part of the story. To make the most of the email channel, you need to send emails that are wanted by the recipient. This can be done, by leveraging customer knowledge in the form of the behavioural data.

This data can be gathered from the website behaviour of the visitor and which email links they click as well. The data can also be found in how many emails they open and click and what they have previously brought and when and sometimes how often they have previously purchased.

Segmentation relating to engagement, and transactional RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) can be used to identify those people most likely to purchase soon.

Using this customer knowledge, not only reduces the chance of spam complaints and recipients becoming emotionally disengaged with your email and ignoring it, but it will help you stay in the inbox for when the recipient is in the buying mood again.
 
 

Data and segmentation has to underpin your email strategy

During our webinar, Charlotte, demonstrated that data had underpinned the email marketing strategy for Gtech, driving the targeting and informing the decisions and turning the initial challenges to measurable success.

The current situation has caused unprecedented disruption to commerce, especially to ecommerce, where the online shopping is welcoming a whole bunch of new customers, some of which may carry on being online customers in the future too.

Use customer knowledge to keep them engaged with your brand and don’t drive them off and into the hands of your competitors.  

Here at RedEye, our deliverability team work very closely with both ISPs and partners, such as Validity, constantly ensuring our clients' domain and IP reputations remain healthy. Inbox placement is a core service we devote much attention towards and pride ourselves upon. It's not the glamourous side of email but it's the strong foundation that underpins the entire email marketing strategy. 
 
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