E-Marketing Deliverability Issues


Does it seem to you that when you view "openings" within your statistics, that fewer recipients seem to be opening your campaigns?...

Where: There are 3 places your email can go once you have hit 'send' on your latest e-marketing campaign:

1. The Inbox. Safely delivered (and hopefully read!)

2. Junk Mail Box. This has negative implications on:

a: Brand image

b: Decreased profile

c: Inaccurate campaign reporting

3. Undelivered. (?or are they?)

Why: The 3 main reasons why your statistics show less recipients are opening your campaigns:

1. Filters.

2. Fallen out of favour.

3. Statistics not accurate.

How: Let's talk about how we can improve both the deliverability and the statistics of your campaign:

1. Filters. When an email is wrongly filtered out as Spam, this is known as a "False Positive". Here is a list of the most commonly used filters.

a) Community: This is based on the community joining together and installing the filters, then reporting any occurrences of Spam. False Positive occurrences should be low, but in reality they aren't. This is due to a couple of reasons: The first being the weed theory. What one person regards as a weed, another may regard as a flower. We all have different opinions. The other is that many people are now reporting once wanted email as Spam instead of unsubscribing.

b) Blacklisting: ISP's generally use their own proprietary lists of known Spammers, created by themselves. Third party blacklisting companies also publish databases of Spam senders. False Positive's are extremely high, as these third party blacklists have no accountability. In fact anyone can report an IP Address as a Spammer and do not have to qualify their reasons.

d) Trapping: The filter company plants email addresses all through the Internet to attract Spam Harvesters. Once the false addresses receive Spam, the source of the Spammer is identified; the sender is then blocked immediately across all users of the filter. False positives are extremely low.

e) Challenge-Response: This white listing concept is based on all emails being Spam and the sender having to prove otherwise. Before an email is delivered, the ISP or PC that uses the filter challenges that a human sent the email. The sender has to then manually click the link and then they are added to the subscriber's permissible list. Any auto-responses such as Double Opt in responses do not work well with this type of filter.

g) Bonded Sender: Email markers gain status as a non-Spammer through these bonder senders and are therefore permitted through the filters.

h) Volume Blocking: Spammers are known to send high volume emails without thought to speed, volume or list cleanliness. The ISP sees the large amount as well as the other problems and terminates the connection.

i) Probability: Using rules, this filter "learns" the user's definitions of Spam and decides what may be regarded as Spam. False Positives increase as rule-based Spam is reduced.

To combat these filters and to work towards not being a "False Positive", you should make sure that your Email Service Provider:

1: Manages delivery list hygiene and opt outs (or provide tools for you to do so and automate opt outs etc)

2: Manages ISP relations

3: Provides Anti Spam tools and testing functionality

4: Provides Copy advice or tools

5: Provides Copy rework and testing cycle

6: Separates your campaigns from everyone else's i. e sends them separately

7: Monitors delivery outcomes

8: Check blacklists often

You should also ensure that:

* Your recipients want to receive your emails

* You only send emails meeting the permissioned purpose

* You are explicit-what, when, how often

* You provide easy to use unsubscribe links

* You invite recipients to add you to known senders list

2. Fallen out of favour, but not unsubscribed. An unfortunate trend nowadays is for recipients to report as spam or assign to the junk box, rather than to unsubscribe from the newsletter. For this reason alone, make sure your unsubscribe action is easily achieved. According to Jakob Nielsen's Newsletter Usability Report, the 3 main reasons for newsletters falling out of favour are:

1) Too frequent

2) Irrelevant Content

3) Not signed up

If your statistics are showing less openings, then reviewing your list, your content and your frequency maybe applicable.

3. Statistics not accurate. This can be caused by 3 main reasons:

1) An increased amount of text only recipients. Most ESP's deliver using MIME Technology, which ensures the recipients receive the correct format for their requirements. Increasingly more recipients are able to receive HTML, although with "text only" email providers such as Gmail coming on this scene, the balance maybe maintained.

2) Delivered to Junk mail box. Emails that are read by the recipient in the junk mail folder may not produce any response or statistical information and so can affect the accuracy of the campaign report.

3) Image blocking, which means that the campaign 'opens' cannot be tracked, hence giving you an incomplete report. This is one reason to educate users about the need to add trusted senders to their address books, as AOL and MSN (Hotmail etc) don't display images in e-mail from unknown sendersby default. However, if you can convince your recipient to add you to their address book, thereby 'whitelisting' you, the images will display by default and they will receive your HTML email as it was intended to be seen.

A solution to this is to run an "Add to Address Book" campaign. The aim is to get subscribers to add senders to their address books. Add this text to the Thank You page after a new subscription is collected, add it to a Confirmation Message and the Welcome Message, and add it to the top of the HTML and Plain Text versions of the email. Make it part of your template, add it near the top of your template as well as near the unsubscribe link. Some examples are:"Want to unsubscribe? Click here!" "Want to make sure that you keep receiving our valuable publication? Be sure to add [insert your sender address here] to your address book!").

Hopefully these hints and tips will better equip you in getting your campaigns delivered into your recipient's inboxes.

Kath Pay is Marketing Director of Ezemail, a web-based e-communications tool, which enables you to create, send and track your email marketing and SMS messaging campaigns.


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