Slowly engaging the engaged to engage IP addresses

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On the back of my recent reflection and appreciation for a Return Path article about IP warming “Engaging the engaged to engage IP addresses”, I found that Mike Yillyer also had the same idea. It would have been rude not to also add a tribute to Mike’s work too.

This one is particularly useful in that it speaks more about the implementation, obviously from the front line, this obviously backs up my original “Dedicated IPs are Good advice”.

Great advice putting weight behind closely monitoring your volumes through a new IP as well as ISP reactions.

This also reiterates the importance of only sending to the engaged through the new IP because the negative reactions from the less engaged (or surprised recipients – tut-tut) will carry a lot more weight and be hard to come back from.

Keep hold of this page “Technical Considerations for IP Warmup” or keep an eye on my IP warming page so you can always have somewhere to check.

Any one who is book marking any of these pages should also bookmark Laura’s ISP Summary Information which also features on her site, Word to the Wise.

Dedicated Domains are Good

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What about my own email address?

Your tracked email should not go out from your own personal email address. Or anyone’s actual email address.

A marketing email from Apple to people who wanted to know when the iPhone 5 is out, might say it comes from Steve Jobs but won’t actually come from his work email address.

The main reason for this is if you send bulk email from a person’s actual address all of the auto-replies including a good chunk of bounce reports will flood your inbox, if you have a list of more than 50 people, it could be a long day.  Also those bounces will not be suppressed for the next send unless you manually sort them.

So… what should I do?

What you need to do is a set up a branded ‘from domain’ for your marketing emails that is hooked up to your ESP or emailing software. This will mean that all replies go back there and the ESP/software can filter out the real replies and forward them onto your own address.

Your have two options:

  • Set-up a sub-domain for your web-domain and delegate that to your ESP,
    • eg: email.yourdomain.com
  • Buy a brand new domain
    • eg: email-yourdomain.com.

Tracking

When an ESP tracks your links, they swap them for a special link that sends the clicker to the desired page, via their software. This will then enable the ESP to track who clicked what and when.   These links will need a domain and this domain will be linked back to your ESP.  By default they will be unbranded but when you set-up your branded from domain, this same domain will be used to track your links.

Also this same domain used to track your links and be your from address will be the same domain used to host your campaign management landing pages, i.e: unsubscribe & social share pages.

Which is better, a sub-domain or a new domain?

Short answer: a sub-domain is slightly better

A sub-domain is more brand compliant because is directly connected to your web domain (by a dot) so it is already an existing entity and recipients are already accustomed to seeing that domain in the browser. A sub-domain can also be used more quickly after set-up, however do bear in mind that  they are often harder to set-up especially when it comes to large brands where the domains are closely guarded.

ISPs and spam filters in general are very suspicious of new domains sending large volumes of email. Subsequently you will not be able to use your new domain straight away after buying and delegating it.  You will be able to use your sub-domain straight away because your web-domain has been around for ages and already sends emails.

Domain registration

The domain sending the emails has to be registered to the brand sending them, for the same reasons as you have to put your company registration details in the footer of your emails. So if you go down the route of a new domain, make sure it is registered to the brand sending the emails. This way if someone is suspicious about an email from you and they look up your sending domain, they can find the brand and trust it.

Why should it matter if the ‘from domain’ is different from the link domains?

Short answer: Trust

The level of brand consistency always makes a difference, especially to anyone who is umming and erring over whether to trust your email. Of course if you have a decent welcome programme and give a good experience and engagement from the start this makes less of a difference.

When you are sending tracked emails, make sure you brand the domain, preferably with a sub-domain but if this not possible then buy a new domain as soon as you can.

Incidentally steve@apple.com is not his email address, it is a honey trap. If you find it on your list, your opt-in experience needs a bit of work, give me a shout and we can talk it through. And don’t email it!

Engaging the engaged to engage IP addresses

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On the 18th of Feb, Tom Sather wrote “Warming Up IP Addresses: 5 Steps for Faster Inbox Placement” for Return Path. This adds weight nicely to my “Dedicated IPs are Good” post a little while ago. It does of course finish with the usual sales pitch but on this occasion it is well earned.

The main points which need attention are 3 & 4: Segment and mail your active subscribers & Monitor.

This is something that I find marketers are not remotely inclined to do unless their ESP has “a button for it”.  Even if the benefits are obvious, and the logic that the people who are engaged are so more likely to spend money than people who are ignoring them. Without actually trying it, it’s hard to get buy-in and people don’t want to risk their results. The size of the list is still perceived as more important than the existing ROI being achieved.

This could be because if their results go down they are out of job and they are only protected by achieving as much or more than their predecessors. They will of course never over achieve because the existing method is flawed and in a downward spiral of failure. Also the fact that many people in charge at the top only see the money and cannot perceive or care about consequences or risk losing the zombies off the list to help connect with the engaged. That could be where the battle is!

Hopefully with Return Path being a well respected authority on this kind of thing, some significant weight will be added to the cause.

Although there is always the possibility that even with a consequence and brand that does not care would just move between ESPs flashing the cash and starting over.

Maybe once IP V6 is out more will be done to pin a sender down. Maybe there will be away of forcing senders to register the DKIM of their home domain to their sending domains, so they carry their reputation with them everywhere. Like a web-reputation linked to the company registration. However I have no idea how that could be implemented, it’ll probably cost too much money.

To read the full article on Return Path…read on

There is of course some hope!

Kelly Lorenz of Bronto wrote a fantastic piece Making the Case for Permission which gives me hope and even more tools to add to my on going  ‘pressure for permission mission’.