Deliverability 2008 by Exact Target

The number one thing a marketer can do to ensure maximum email deliverability is maintain a good reputation. The vast majority of ISPs decide which mail to accept based on the reputation of your sending IP address. If you are sending mail to names outside of permission; if those recipients don’t expect to hear from you; if you’re continually mailing the same, tired old list for years; these and many other factors can drag down the email reputation of your IP address, increasing the chances of your mail going to the bulk folder (or being blocked outright).

What you’ll find new on this front in 2008 is that ISPs are clamping down more than they’ve ever done before. They’re automating their spam filtering and becoming faster on the trigger. They’re now blocking more quickly, and declining to unblock more often. They’re outsourcing more of their mail delivery choices to third parties. For example, comcast is working with Return Path. And Yahoo now uses the Spamhaus blacklists.

That’s why it’s becoming more important than ever to proactively ensure maximum deliverability through adherence to permission. If you don’t, you could easily find yourself trapped in a deliverability quagmire that you can’t easily resolve – even though it’s a practice that you received no negative feedback about previously!

ExactTarget has excellent technical tools to help you maximize your deliverability. Our automated feedback loop processing, bounce mail management, and mail server fine-tuning all work together to get as much as your mail to the inbox as possible. Our dedicated deliverability services staff stands ready and waiting to reach out to ISPs as needed to help resolve issues. But, even with all of those steps, reputation and permission remain the true, primary governors of email deliverability success.

My 2008 Email Wish List: Grasp Reality

The Christmas wish lists at my home have been fulfilled: a Wii for my daughters, a remodeled kitchen for my wife, Guitar Hero for me — er, the girls, I mean. Now, here’s my wish list for the email industry in 2008:

  • ISPs require authentication. You might groan at having to jump through another coding hoop, but email authentication is good for the industry because it cuts down on phishing and enables ISPs to do a better job identifying fraudulent senders.

    The problem is, the ISPs have not yet made authentication a requirement. Thus, a legitimate sender who has authenticated is not rewarded for its efforts but in fact is penalized if the authentication records are set up incorrectly.

  • Marketers finally face inbox reality. I’ve been preaching the need for email marketers to redesign their emails so that they are more usable and enable subscribers to scan and take the action you want, regardless of email client, preview pane and image blocking. But so many companies continue to ignore the most basic of inbox rendering practices, out of either ignorance or laziness.

    Just the other day an email from my favorite well-known jewelry store arrived in my Gmail inbox with the Google ads on top of the email instead of along the side. The email was simply too wide — this company ignored the most basic of rendering best practices.

  • Email marketing manages all corporate email processes. Most companies divide up outbound email among departments: IT (transactional emails); customer support (customer-focused newsletters); and human resources (employee newsletters).

    I wish corporate departments would relinquish control of these and other email programs to their internal email marketing experts to ensure emails are coordinated across the enterprise, designed and managed for deliverability, support the brand strategy and achieve better results through a higher level of execution.

  • Batch-and-blasters do the right math. I’m tired of hearing the cliché that batch-and-blast works because email is cheap and the ROI can be high. Let’s finally acknowledge that email is not digital direct mail. The rules and the math are different.

    Pounding away at your list might actually cost you money. When you factor in list churn (increased spam complaints, unsubscribes and bounces), more disaffected subscribers and the cost to reacquire these lost customers, your short-term revenue increase could turn to a deficit in 12 to 18 months.

  • Email senders see deliverability as an opportunity, not a challenge. I wish marketers would stop complaining about deliverability challenges and embrace deliverability as an opportunity to get a leg up on their competitors. Correct the problems that get your emails blocked or diverted to the spam folder. Your reward is a place in the inbox, a spot denied to competitors who don’t clean up their email acts.

  • Email and/or marketing associations work together to solve big-kahuna issues. The email marketing industry is chock full of acronym-laden organizations: DMA, DMA-EEC, ESPC, MAWWG, AOTA, etc. I wish a cross-association working group would form to enable these associations to agree on some common charters and focus areas. We would be more effective by working together on a couple of broad issues, then divide and conquer on the smaller issues.

    The first project could be the next item on my list:

  • The email industry reaches consensus on email standards This encourages self-regulation to boost our reliability and reputation among consumers, ISPs and lawmakers. While I believe the CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S. has been an important element of the industry’s continued health, it probably did not go far enough.

    Regardless of your views on regulation, the best way to stave off onerous legislation is to clean up our own act. Stopping large-scale spammers and phishers will continue to challenge law enforcement and IT innovation; I’m more worried about large-scale marketers who deploy questionable tactics under the guise of getting a solid ROI and who hurt email’s reputation for those that do understand that customers are, in fact, in control.

  • Press Release: Pure and Rightmove show marketers the measure of email success

    Pure and Rightmove show marketers the measure of email success

    Release Date: 29 November 2007

    The UK’s leading property web site Rightmove’s continued success in generating traffic and return on investment from email marketing was the talking point at an industry showcase earlier this week.

    Rightmove, along with email marketing company Pure, presented a case study to brand marketers on creating successful email strategies.

    Pure’s Account Director Marc Munier presented with Robin Wilson, Business Development Manager at Rightmove, on how the online property portal’s sophisticated use of the PureResponse email platform and Enterprise eMarketing Toolset has resulted in a huge uplift in the commercial value of Rightmove’s email marketing strategy. The case study also demonstrated how improving relevancy of email marketing has provided a healthy return on investment for Rightmove.

    “Rightmove puts a huge emphasis on account management and reporting, and continues to make effective use of Pure’s expertise,” said Marc Munier, Account Director at Pure. “The company is one of the top brands within our major accounts division.”

    The talk focused on measuring consumer behaviour, and included tips on how to improve the content of email campaigns

    Online publisher Mad.co.uk’s ‘Email Marketing for the Real World’ conference took place at London’s Kensington Close Hotel on Tuesday.

    About Pure
    Award-winning Pure (www.pure360.com) is one of the top email and SMS marketing companies in the UK*, and the eleventh fastest growing new media company in the country**. Founded in 2001 by Darren Fell, Pure provides big brands and small companies with the technology, know-how and support to run effective email marketing campaigns that have a measurable, positive impact on business. Pure’s email platform, PureResponse, was created by marketers for marketers – it’s used in 40 countries by over 1,200 people. Pure counts innocent drinks, Rightmove, Truprint, EMAP and the FT among its stable of over 700 clients. Brighton-based Pure also publishes the Email Marketing Manual (www.emailmarketingmanual.com); a best practice web site and newsletter featuring brand case studies and expert comment from high profile digital industry faces each month, including journalist and industry guru Mark Brownlow – author of Email Marketing Reports.

    *As featured in respected online marketing publisher E-consultancy’s Email Marketing Platform Buyers Guide 2007

    **GP Bullhound’s Media Momentum awards, March 2007.

    About Rightmove.co.uk
    Rightmove.co.uk is the UK’s number one property website, displaying details of homes for sale or rent in the UK and overseas to the largest online audience. It has around 80% of all properties for sale and at any time displays a stock of over 1,000,000 properties to buy or rent, worth around £170 billion. The Rightmove.co.uk site receives over 25 million visits every month and is regularly ranked in the Top Ten most viewed UK websites (source: Hitwise).

    For further information please contact:
    Claire Armitt
    020 7754 5507
    07985 297842
    claire.armitt@no-flannel.com

    How Not to Deal With ISPs

    Online political group Truthout.org cried foul recently after Hotmail and AOL blocked its e-mail. At the same time, Yahoo! apparently has been shunting Truthout’s messages into subscribers’ junk folders.

    But rather than conducting an internal assessment of its e-mail program to find out why it’s having delivery troubles at the three largest e-mail inbox providers, the organization’s executive director Marc Ash called on subscribers to pressure the ISPs into delivering their mail.

    “NOTHING works better than public pressure,” he said in a post on Truthout. “They can ignore us; they can’t ignore you.”

    There’s a lesson here for marketers: Ash’s approach couldn’t be more wrong-headed.

    Large ISPs don’t block e-mail arbitrarily, and certainly not because of the messages’ political content.

    “In all my years at AOL, I can tell you that AOL never intentionally blocked an organization for their political views. I would not have allowed it,” wrote Carl Hutzler, the former head of AOL’s anti-spam team, in a blog post commenting on the matter.

    AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo! use spam-complaint rates — the number of people who press the “report spam” button — as the No. 1 gauge to determine whether to block incoming messages. By all accounts, a complaint rate of more than 0.5% will cause delivery problems.

    E-mailers who send to too many bad addresses can also find their messages blocked. Sending to dead addresses is classic spamming behavior.

    That two large ISPs are blocking Truthout’s messages independently of one another is a sure indicator that Truthout’s spam complaints are too high, that it’s mailing too many bad addresses, or some combination of the two.

    “These ISPs are competitors. They’re not sharing this kind of data back and forth,” says Al Iverson, director, privacy and deliverability for e-mail service provider ExactTarget. “It’s a technical issue. In the case of AOL and Hotmail, there’s a big sign on the door that says if you want to come in here, you have to do ‘X,’ ‘Y’ and ‘Z.’ ”

    According to Iverson, Truthout could easily clean up its act by doing the following:

    1. Sign up for feedback loops — programs that provide spam-complaint reports — at AOL and Hotmail.

    2. Make sure it unsubscribes people who complain.

    3. Ensure that bounced addresses get unsubscribed automatically.

    4. Apply for whitelist status at AOL.

    Or, he said, Truthout could move to a service provider where these processes are handled automatically.

    Ash didn’t respond to an e-mail asking if he’d taken steps to clean up his group’s e-mail practices.

    W

    Magilla Marketing, Ken Magill’s weekly e-mail newsletter, is archived at http://directmag.com/magill/.

    Five Factors to Optimize the Marketing Potential of Transactional E-Mails

    There’s been a lot of hype around the potential of transactional e-mail
    to deliver marketing messages — and it’s well founded. Nothing is more
    potent than delivering a cross- and upsell message that’s tightly tied
    and perfectly timed to consumer behavior.

    With spam filters
    wreaking havoc for e-mail marketers, the convergence of marketing and
    transactional e-mails isn’t surprising. Unlike bulk marketing e-mail,
    transactional messages stand a better chance of reaching the inbox and
    being opened since they contain valuable consumer information that is
    desired and expected.

    Yet, realizing this potential takes more
    than slapping a pretty face (HTML) on your plain text transactional
    e-mails. It also takes more than balancing your transactional and
    marketing content, satisfying CAN-SPAM requirements and applying other
    best practice tips.&

    The core challenge comes down to whether you
    have the right infrastructure to generate transactional e-mail with the
    right marketing message in the first place.&

    To that end, here are five factors you’ll want to consider:

    Integration.&
    Your first priority should be to ensure that your e-mail infrastructure
    is tightly integrated with your backend business processes and data
    sources.&

    By doing so, you’ll be able to effectively trigger
    e-mails, customize messages to customer preferences and behaviors and
    ensure a consistent customer experience across multiple touch points.

    Without such integration, you simply won’t be able to leverage the marketing opportunity that transactional e-mail affords you.

    Relevancy.&
    Having achieved the right level of integration, you’ll then need to
    have a dynamic content engine to actually assemble and generate
    relevant messages.

    This is especially critical for transactional
    e-mails, since customers have the expectation that you know them.
    Sending them a generic marketing message is not only a wasted
    opportunity. It could relegate your transactional e-mail to the same
    fate as your bulk marketing e-mail – the junk folder.


    Immediacy.&
    Transactional e-mails are business-critical communications that require
    expedited delivery. Any delay can erode profits through an increase in
    customer service calls.

    Consequently, you need to ensure that your
    marketing messages can be automatically inserted into your
    transactional e-mails and sent promptly and securely to your
    customers.&

    Anything less and you run the risk of negating the
    advantages provided by marketing-orientated transactional e-mails and
    potentially diminishing the value of your brand.

    Reporting.& Sending out customer e-mails without any insight into their deliverability or open and click rates is akin to flying blind.

    Accurate,
    detailed and real-time reporting is essential to properly manage your
    transactional and marketing activities. Without such information, you
    give up the opportunity to default to alternate channels in delivering
    your important transactional messages or to capitalize on the most
    successful marketing messages associated with them.

    Flexibility.&
    In order to be successful with your marketing efforts, you need the
    flexibility to test different creative approaches and quickly adjust
    your templates and content blocks accordingly. If you’re locked into a
    rigid process, or one that’s costly to change, you’ll be powerless to
    take advantage of new learnings.

    Taking advantage of transactional
    e-mail is more than just adding offers and graphics. You have to do it
    right, and that’s only possible with an e-mail infrastructure that can
    accommodate the factors discussed above.

    If your current e-mail
    infrastructure comes up short, you’ll need to select a new solution
    that can deliver on all five fronts while accommodating future growth.

    With
    the right solution in place, you can quickly realize the marketing
    potential of transactional emails.& It’s really not that complicated,
    but you do have to think before you transact.

    Hotmail Feedback Loop update

    Our attempts at joining the hotmail feedback have been delayed due to lack of foresight, mainly on my behalf. we attempted to sign up for Pure, Loudvision and Betzoom all at once, this proved too complected for Microsoft who do not seem very organised.
    The actual form itself is not clear either which is really inconvenient as we expected more clarity from Microsoft, especially in comparison to AOL.
    I have since sent many emails trying to get a response but they are not in a rush.
    We may have to re-apply three times but I am waiting for an email reply from them.
    I have tried to phone them but after over 6 hours on the phone to America last week I have given up.