By Ross Kramer
Special to the eTail Blog
The email delivery landscape is changing every day. What may have worked a few months ago no longer works today. Return Path’s latest Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report found that it’s becoming more challenging to reach the inbox than ever before, with worldwide inbox placement rates (IPR) declining from 81 percent in the first half of 2011 to 76 percent in the second half of the year. Consider the following four reasons that could be the cause of your marketing email to be deprioritized, bulked, or even blocked altogether, along with some tips on how to fix your deliverability issues. With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s important to address these issues now.
Problem 1: Low Response Rates
Inactive subscribers are a problem for all email marketers. They damage deliverability, which drops response rates, and in the end, the email program doesn’t generate the desired revenue. Some marketers understand that suppressing inactive subscribers will make an impact, but the executive team may try to solve the problem by sending to a larger list that may contain the same percentage of inactive contacts. This is not the correct path.
How to Fix It: If you are having trouble with a specific mail provider, the first step is to stop doing the things that are hurting your metrics: Remove all bounces immediately and stop sending emails to subscribers that haven’t opened in the past six months.
Problem 2: You Aren’t Sending Triggered Email
Implementing triggered email solutions, such as cart abandonment re-marketing and post-purchase campaigns, can also remedy some of the deliverability trouble you’re experiencing. Again, when subscribers open and click on a triggered email solution your engagement score increases immediately. Later, when you send a promotional email to the entire list, the positive engagement works in your favor.
How to Fix It: Engage in a triggered drip campaign that offsets the days and times you send an email, vary the format, and change up the content.
Problem 3: Your List is Dirty
Remember that spammers don’t care about the quality of the lists. Perhaps you acquired a list of subscribers that did not explicitly provide opt-in permission to receive your mail or you are still automatically subscribing email addresses obtained through trade show giveaways or other promotions. Now you’re hitting spam traps. If your invalid addresses exceed 20 percent of your list, your ‘Abuse Rate’ grows. Then you’re in trouble, and you need to fix the problem before a major email domain blacklists you.
How to Fix It: Keep your list in great shape by setting up a re-engagement campaign to non-openers. The first email should include your very best offer and use a subject line like, “We miss you and want you back!” A second email might ask, “Would you like to continue receiving promotional emails from us?” and include the option to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and a feature to change the frequency of messages. The last message is your “Breakup and Goodbye” telling them that you’re sorry to see them go and provide a way to re-subscribe.
Problem 4: Your Reputation is Trashed
Although content can play a part in email delivery, the majority of delivery issues occur because of the sender’s email reputation. When looking at email inbox delivery failures, it is important to think beyond quick content fixes. Email receivers have become sophisticated enough to look at reputation indicators such as subscriber engagement, email volume, email infrastructure (including authentication), list quality (like unknown user rates), complaint rates, spam trap hits and listings on public blacklists and whitelists when framing their opinions about particular senders. Focusing on improving those areas of an email program will have lasting positive impacts on email delivery rates.
How to Fix It: Target your best customers and ask them to help you rebuild your reputation. Entice them to click links, and ask them to click the “Not Spam” button with an emotional call-to-action. Try subject lines like, “We’re in trouble and need your help!”
Ross Kramer is the CEO of Listrak, a leading email marketing technology provider.