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.

Recent Deliverability challenges & getting in the inbox

[tweetmeme source=”getintheinbox” only_single=false]

Deliverability is always a hot topic, often due to its immense ambiguity.

Working or an ESP where I make it our business to know about this and have produced blogs, guides, infographics and webinars on the subject to continue with our part in “Improving Results together” but it is a consistently evolving area and recently Inbox Placement has got a little harder again.

Some of you may have noticed increased junking or delayed delivery to the big four consumer email providers: Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, AOL on and off since the start of the 2012 this is down to changes that have been going on in email this year.

Gmail

You may have heard that Google has been rolling out updates to Panda this year, they have also been rolling out updates top their junk filters on Gmail.

Gmail has always been more responsive to their users’ activity with their emails as per their Priority Inbox and Smart Label tools.

Recently Gmail has started to tell us why an email is in the junk folder. This appears to have increased the sensitivity of their filters to further increase the priority of emails which each user has shown positive engagement with. As a bi-product emails with less positive engagement has found itself increasingly junked.

The two most common false positive reasons I’ve seen are:

  • It’s similar to messages that have been detected by our spam filters
  • We’ve found that lots of messages from [email] are spam

Some of the false positives include Gmail’s own Calendar reminders.

However the change occurred senders want their emails back into the inbox, so there are a few things you can do to help them on their way and to increase your reputation with Gmail:

  • Ask for white listing
    • Ask your recipients to add you to their contacts list
      Being in the address tells the inbox provider that the sender is a trusted contact, so it has an easier time getting to the inbox.
  • Ask for images to always be loaded
    • Images are blocked for security reasons, so telling the inbox to always load the images is a sign that it is from a trusted sender.
  • Invite replies
    • Once someone has replied to an email twice, Gmail will auto-load the images from then on, knowing that their emails are from a trusted contact due to the conversation.
  • Get Forwarded
    • As you may have heard, send to a friend is kind of dead and sharing emails to social media rarely done by recipients. They will forward the emails and share the landing pages.
      So the inbox knows that if you are forwarding an email to one of more people, you are most likely to be sharing good and interesting content that is not only relevant to you but also so remarkable you are sending to other people because think it will be relevant to them.
      This is a good sign and helps reputation
  • Get marked as not spam
    • If you are in the junk folder and a recipient goes in and marks your email as not junk, that is the loudest noise someone can say about it.
      They are telling their inbox that they have made a false positive and not to do it again.

The best time and place to do this is at the point of sign-up on the thank you landing page.

There’s no shame in asking people to check their junk folder for the email. Tell them the from name, tell them the subject line, ask them to safe list it. Then in the email ask them to load the image images. This is the point where they are very engaged and are most likely to do these things, so make sure you ask them.

Yahoo & AOL

Historically Yahoo was the first of the old Big Three (Hotmail, Yahoo AOL) to publically adopt reputation monitoring but the only recently got a feedback loop, whereas AOL and Hotmail have had one for a very long time.

Historically AOL had the largest and for many people, the best email support with the largest postmaster team.

However, with technology being able to do more and more postmaster teams have shrunk significantly and free inbox providers are less engaged with the bulk marketing senders and more on their users, who essentially pay the bills, which is understandable.

This means that senders have to work harder to stay in the inbox, they have to stay relevant, make clean emails, design with mobiles in mind and most importantly collect addresses organically through sign-ups rather than purchase or forced and sneaked opt-in.

Spam Traps

This year, a lot of new spam traps were created by inbox providers and spam protection agencies like Spamhaus.

Some of them are not the typical traps to catch scrapers either, a fair few of them were “zombie traps”; these are addresses that have been dormant for over 10 years.

They may have signed up for emails over 10 years ago but have not, apparently, taken any actions with an email for 10 years until recently, when they have been blacklisting people.

They have all done exactly what they are there to do: catch people who are not cleaning lists properly or people who are buying lists, particularly old lists of very poor quality, possibly even scraped.

At the same time the importance of avoid spam traps from the free inbox providers seems to have increased, thus reducing the reputation of senders hitting them even more.

So it is vitally important that your data acquisition process is safe, if do anything other than an explicit opt-in to your brand, ensure you can track the address back to the owner filling out a form in the five years. If you do any affiliate or co-reg work, make sure people are not being forced to enter an address for no relevant reason and that your partners can prove to you the sign-up was from the owner in the last 5 years and they know what was going to happen.

Sending Speeds

One of the biggest reactions to poor reputation from a large inbox provider is to reduce the amount of email they will accept from you in a short space of time.

So if you are experiencing junking, try sending slower.

Content

Another symptom of poor reputation is less tolerance of content. By changing your creative and trying to reduce potential spammy phrases, you could find yourself back in the inbox. Common tolerances include: “% Off”, “Sale”, “Discount” etc. Also: anything about winning and financial aid like loans, approval etc.

This would then get you back in the inbox where your preheader could ask for ‘always show images’, ‘add to contacts’, ‘reply to this email with any feedback or questions’ etc. then as your inbox placement increases you will have more freedom with your content.

Senderscore Certification

Our partners ‘Return Path‘ have some cracking tools on measuring and assuring deliverability as well as a very effective anti-phishing tool.

As far as getting emails delivered is concerned, if you are Senderscore Certified you do not have any volumes throttling to providers like Yahoo and Hotmail and your images load automatically upon opening the email.

The service is not free but not expensive and when you see the inbox placement results you’ll see it’s worth every penny.

It’s not available to everyone, only full organic opt-in senders are likely to qualify but we and Return Path together can offer the support and advice you need to achieve Certification and make deliverability issues far less of a consideration.

Originally written for Pure360 “Deliverability challenges & what to do to get in the inbox

New IP Feedback loop from mail.ru

Mail.ru have just released their FBL.

This is a DKIM based FBL, like that of Yahoo and other Return Path based FBLs.

Laura at Word to the Wise tells us that it is likely there will be an IP based one in the near future for ISPs but no further details yets, I’m sure Laura will be one of the first to know.

At the time of writing Laura said that there was not an English language version, while the page we are directed to appears to have an English translation for set-up, there is a chance that the actual user stats are still not available in English.

Another one to add to the list though: http://postmaster.mail.ru/?lng=en_US

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.