Get the TINS in

Yes spam is an enegry drink

Hitting the “Not Spam” button does great things for your deliverability reputation and subsequent inbox placement.

Global Leader in Email Intelligence, Return Path, have recently rolled their latest TINS report:

This Is Not Spam”

This is a really really great report, they use their accurate figures from their many sources of anonymous inbox usage stats. Return Path have analysed the numbers of people who have hit the TINS button in their junk folder and compared these stats with other stats they gather.

Findings

The main and obvious thing we find is that good senders get good TINS rates.

Inbox Placement

Senders with higher inbox placement have a high TINS rate.

So more people are rescuing emails from the junk folder from brands who get to the inbox more.

This would suggest that senders which usually go to the inbox are missed when they do not and are frequently rescued by their recipients.

Read Rate

One of the lesser understood engagement metrics is read rate. This is not as loud as a TINS action, it tends to be measured over time and would count less than a reply or a forward.

It is also something that most marketers do not get to know. This is because email tracking only shows a reaction to the email’s content: when someone simply clicks/taps the subject line in their inbox to open the email, until the images are loaded or a link is clicked, email tracking cannot report back an action. Return Path’s technology does not plug into the emails you send, they are not an ESP. Return Path have a route into many inboxes themselves and have anonymous counts of the “read rate”.

As we could have expected, brands which get a high read rate also earned a high TINS rate; this is down to the fact that more people want the emails, enjoy them and miss them when they are not in their inbox.

Forwarding

Even though many brands might put put a send to a friend link in their emails, it is a fairly dead tool unless it is incentivised. If a message is worth sharing with friends over email, someone is far more likely to just forward and maybe delete the unsubscribe link if they care.

Subsequently forwarding is another great effector for a senders’ deliverability reputation, it tells the inbox that the sender’s emails are not only wanted and valued but they are also remarkable enough to share.

Again the stats supported the logic and senders which had their emails forwarded more would also be rescued from junk more.

Lessons from the TINS report

Most of this is about branding; The strength of the brand with each recipient makes the difference of whether they will rescue it from the junk folder or not.

People with a good rapport with a brand where there is engagement and trust will see this junking as a false positive and act to correct that.

Where a brand does not have a strong rapport with a recipient, they might not be missed and might not be rescued the next time the junk folder is checked.

Often part of this reason for the original junking would have been lack of engagement in the first place, so the lack of inclination to rescue them is no surprise.

What to do

If you think you are getting junked or you are worried that you might get junked – it can happen to almost anyone – what can you do?

Welcome Messages and the momentum of engagement

There is very rarely a point when someone is more likely to go that extra mile for you than just after they have already gone all the way to sign-up on your web-site. This is the time to ask:

On the landing page after submitting the form

  • Tell them you have sent them an email
  • Tell them who it is from
  • Tell them the subject line to look for
  • Ask them to add them to the address book and choose to always show images
  • Ask them to check their junk folder and hot not spam.

In the Welcome message

  • Ask them again to add you to their address book
  • Ask them to choose to always load images.

Other channels

When you send an email out call it out on your other channels, Facebook, Twitter, etc. People can go and look for it, if they don’t see it they are more likely to check their junk folder if they are looking for it.

Your web-site

Encourage them to value the content you email them. If you have voucher codes, special offers, benefits, tell people they will be emailed upon request, market your own marketing emails on site. If they request something, have the site email it to them and tell them to go get it. If it goes to junk they will rescue it because they want it.

Treat you recipients very well

Email has the largest ROI of all marketing mediums because their inbox is that much more personal, being given access to their email address is a privilege, so you cannot abuse that trust. Send them emails they want, be honest, continue to earn trust, don’t always try to sell something, build a rapport.

You can get the full report from Return Path site here.

Yes, Spam Energy Drink really exists! Image courtesy of Hardeco Findland Oy

Best deliverability check list yet!

Email deliverability checklist: Sending email is not the same as delivering.This popped up on Jordie’s Email Vendor Selection recently and is a must read and bookmark bit of content!

Email deliverability checklist: Sending email is not the same as delivering
by Linda Misauer

This is a fully comprehensive deliverability check list. Linda has kindly split it up into 5 sections so marketers can look at the relevant section to them them depending on their role:

  1. Email Deliverability
  2. Sender Authentication & whitelisting
  3. Email deliverability and Content
  4. Email deliverability and Testing
  5. Email deliverability Reporting and Monitoring

Have a quick read now, definitely book mark it, refer to it when ever you do a campaign and make sure you can tick off as much as physically possible – especially second 2: you might be surprised how many of these get over looked and the difference they can make to your overall inbox placement.

How did Steve Jobs subscribe to my emails?

For a little while last year I kept getting Spamcop reports triggered by emails to steve@apple.com and stevejobs@apple.com.
Of course there is always the chance that Steve Jobs himself had signed up for updates on used cars in Hampshire, however unlikely that is, a few later occurrences were impossible due to being after October 5th 2011.

As I would usually, I spent the time tracing that email address’s route to the list sent; on one occasion, the used car one, everything had been collected by the same form on their own web-site. It appeared that the way the form was structured made it look like people had to enter in an email address in order to get their used car quote, when in fact it was completely optional. So people who wanted their quote would not see any relevance in supplying their email address and due to being forced to enter it, felt they would get on some sort of spam list, subsequently they just made an email address up.

dr-evil-spamThe same thing occurred for a few Airports who have rolled out free WiFi but force you sign-up for emails in order to use it; according to many lists, the late Steve Jobs got around a lot after his untimely death.

My favourite example is Credit sites, where they need to do a credit check on your to approve you for a loan or something. They all ask you for your mobile number and your email address; They don’t need an email address or mobile number to get your credit rating and see if they can approve you, they ask because they want to force you onto their list so that can make loads of cash flogging your contact details, which would then have 3rd party opt-in for ever.

Essentially, not all list building practices that sound like they will build your list may build the list in a good way. Some strategies have people are forced or sneaked on to lists through mandatory email fields without relevance or hidden Ts and Cs on pages giving something for nothing. This would be because some people think that the number of records is more important than the quality and engagement levels of the list.

Not all people are tricked by this and make up email addresses to get to the next page and not be ‘spammed’… if your lists has addresses like:
asdf@yahoo.com, spam@gmail.com, junk@live.com, nothanks@yahoo.com, no@hotmail.com,
me@privacy.net, thefield@home.com, sdfsdf@sdfsdf.com, 123@123.net, qwerty@com.com:
It means someone has made up an address to quickly get what they want without consequence. You might notice a repeat of “sdf” this is because most people are right handed and use their right hand for the mouse, so the left hits the 3 easiest characters which are ‘s’, ‘d’ & ‘f’. There are many more frequently used patterns of address and these are some of the most common.

ISPs and spam protection software companies know this too and many of the common ones are spam traps. They know that these addresses are not owned by people but get hit a lot and why, they then monitor some of them like spam traps so emailing them can either hurt your reputation or just get you blocked.

Some of the common domains used are owned by spam protection software companies to further help them blacklist IP and domains.

So the moral of the story is: consider how people get on your list, consider the relevance of the emails you send them based on how they got on your list. If you have obvious signs of forced sign-ups re-think that sign-up experience. Also have a look at your existing list and consider cleaning off the forced addresses that will have never opened an email from you.

Above the fold – two emails in one

[tweetmeme source=”getintheinbox” only_single=false]

Above the Fold?

You may have heard the phrase above the fold in more than one context, in this context, I am talking about the section of the email that is visible when the email is first opened;

In Outlook, Thunderbird and Gmail, for instance, this is the preview pane (if you have it enabled); on all other inboxes, without a preview pane it is simply the content that is first visible. This will different for each inbox and the top of the email will be positioned at different places on the screen, eg: Outlook’s will probably be nearer the middle, whereas Hotmail will be higher on the screen.

So that bit of the email is the bit above the fold.

Two Emails?

When someone gets an email there are 2 initial touch points: the inbox view where they see the ‘from name’ and the ‘subject line’ (plus the inbox snippet preview on the iPhone and Gmail etc.), then the email itself when they open the email.

They then have to decide what to do depending on their impression of the content in front of them and their opinion/rapport with the sending brand.

This means is that that rest of the email ‘below the fold’ is not visible at all at this point and one of the decisions the recipient has to make is whether or not to scroll down.

Other decisions include: load the images, view in a browser, click through etc.

Once someone has gone as far as scrolling down the email, you should be able to fairly safely assume that the images are already loaded so there would be fewer barriers to engagement with the content at that point.

Subsequently the content segment that is visible to the recipient upon opening could or should be looked at differently than the rest of the email or more importantly more than the entire email as a whole.

Content above the fold needs to achieve the initial engagement, based on the goal of the email.

  • If the goal is to do one thing, it should hold at least one call to action.
  • If images are present and especially if an image plays a particularly important part in the conversion, it must get the images loaded or the browser view link clicked.
  • If the email is fairly long it would also be responsible to getting the scroll, so it should tease towards content further down the email as well.
  • To ease future engagement, why not ask for images to be always loaded?

Once the engagement is achieved, you have far more of a free rein over your content and you can then take the recipient down the path you make for them.

I originally wrote this for Pure360: “Above the fold – two emails in one

– – –

There is also another very cool blog on Email Critic called: “Email Marketing Above The Fold: Four And A Half Things To Include” which also mentions adding an unsubscribe link. I’m all for it if you are having problems with spam complaints and/or if your rapport with your audience or your audiences’ rapport with that email is poor. In those situations people might find themselves moving the mouse towards the spam button in order top optout without registering a click with the email.

Having an unsubscribe link in the top right of the email means that the user will pass that link on the way to the spam button in many inboxes and might just hit that instead and save you from complaints. This will help your reputation, or at least lessen a negative affect.

If you are not having a complaint problem by putting an unsubscribe link in the top you could make it easier for some of the lesser engaged people, who might be on the way to being zombies, to optout, meaning you will lose the ability to convert them later. Instead you should be segmenting your list by engagement, so people who are less engaged can have content and a call to action that is more suited to that rapport.

Email Vendor Selection: Must haves for a mobile savvy email marketer

[tweetmeme source=”getintheinbox” only_single=false]For Email Vendor Selection Is write “Must haves for a mobile savvy email marketer” where I list the 4 chief tools that your ESP should provide to be kitted up for mobile recipients.

I also discuss the basic differences between desktops and mobiles in technical terms and the user experience before delving deeper into the mobile requirements and some easy method to optimise the desktop version to mobile recipients… read on

+ Big thanks to Jordie for rearranging the contents, it reads much better this way than the way I originally wrote it 🙂

Basic Creative Optimisation Tips

[tweetmeme source=”getintheinbox” only_single=false]I wrote this at the end of the report did for a customer, thought it was blog worthy…

Deliverability and Brand Rapport

Try to invite replies to the email, this not only gets you in their address book, it will also tell each inbox that you are a trusted sender so deliverability will be easier. Also allowing your recipients to converse to you will bring them closer to the brand.

Preheader

To ensure an optimal experience before the images are loaded on desktops, having a 2 line preheader to tease for the snippet preview and get the images loaded permanently can not only improve the engagement and subsequent conversions of this email but all future emails once the images are permanently loaded.

  • Left aligned
  • 10px
  • Top line as teaser
  • 2nd line imager loader / view in a browser
Preview Pane

The preview pane content and the rest of the email could be thought of as two different emails, where the preview pane view is built for optimal engagement and conversion and the rest of the email is freer because anyone who gets that far would/should have loaded the images of hit the browser view button.

  • Avoid large images spanning the whole width
    • Can break one up into more than one image
    • Some will be hidden with Responsive Design.
  • Where you have text, use actual text
    • rather than text in an image, where possible
  • Needs some text that grabs attention in the top left
    • Also a great spot for personalisation, like first name
    • Try using HTML buttons for calls to action
      • Rather than image buttons
      • The latest CSS3 features can add rounded corners, shadows and glows depending on the email client used.
Mobile Responsive Design

As per the piece earlier in this review responsive design is the best way to build an email because each recipient should then get the best experience depending on their device.

  • Ensure you have the ability to shrink the width from 600px to 300px.
    • Two main columns
    • Be happy to lose the far right if needed
    • Full width banner images can be shrunk or sections hidden (split the images)
    • Learn how to force right hand content to underneath the left column.
  • Make sure the normal text is still readable once zoomed to the width
    • 14px Arial
    • 12px Verdana
    • HTML Call to Action Buttons
      • Use CSS3 HTML buttons that can be made easily ‘tappable’ on a mobile
      • On the iPhone, this can even be given a pulsing glow!
  • Hide the preheader
    • Mobile devices don’t really need the preheader text as long as the images are loaded.
    • You may still need a browser view link for iPhones will no images – but they are so few it might not be worth the effort.
    • The teaser text will still work in the inbox preview.
    • Consider leaving and optimising the call to action depending on the content goals.
  • Test the email length to ensure the length does not harm engagement.