Engaging recipients critical for delivery

One of the issues I have touched on repeatedly is the changing face of blocking and filtering at ISPs. Over the last 12 – 18 months, large, end-user ISPs have started rolling out more and more sophisticated filters. These filters look at a lot of things about an email, not just the content or the sending IP reputation or URLs in the message but also the recipient profile. Yes, ISPs really are measuring how engaged recipients are with a sender and, they are using that information to help them make blocking decisions.

There were two separate posts on Friday related to this.

Mark Brownlow has a great blog post speculating about a number of things ISPs might be looking at when making decisions about what to do with an incoming email. He lists a number of potential measurements, some of which I can definitively confirm are being measured by ISPs.

  • recipients never click on a link in the email
  • emails are never moved to a folder or archived (”trash” or “junk” folders don’t count)
  • recipients delete the email
  • the emails are never rescued or opened when delivered to the junk folder
  • recipients never scroll down the email
  • recipients don’t forward the email
  • recipients don’t use the interface’s print facility
  • recipients over-use unsubscribe links
  • recipients never unblock images or add sender to address list

Successful email marketing is no longer simply about permission. Senders must send engaging, wanted email. Not only does this improve recipient response and ROI, but engaging users is vital for getting delivery in the first place. As an aside, a buddy of mine who works at an ISP was very, very pleased with Mark’s post.

DJ over at Bronto blog posted Friday about a re-engagement campaign done by Shop.com. This was a 2 email campaign specifically designed to engage recipients. The takeaway:

Shop.org was so so close to a perfect execution of an email re-engagement campaign. Timing, subject line, copy, creative, calls-to-action, welcome message – all were brilliant. But…the initial dead links may have lost many. It’s hard to tell if this was a temporary issue or one that was going on for some time. How many potential reactivations did they lose? Overall, I’d consider Shop.org’s reactivation campaign a raving success. Well done Shop.org!

Engagement is no longer simply about getting a recipient to respond. Campaigns with engaged recipients are campaigns that have good delivery. Senders who ignore recipient preferences more and more see their mail trapped in a maze of delivery problems. Send good mail that recipients want and delivery problems melt away.