The Challenge: Major email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL have implemented new algorithms for email deliverability based on "engagement." If your emails are not triggering sufficient interaction, they are likely not to be delivered.
Recently, most email service providers have converted to a new customized algorithm that calculates deliverability using a combination of the original email delivery rules plus new "engagement" factors: open rates, clicks, unsubscribes, and complaints. With these new human behaviors factored into the equation of deliverability, future emails that you send may be considered SPAM or not delivered at all, even to subscribers who signed-up to receive your emails. Email marketing service MailChimp explains an even more damaging point "if enough recipients click the 'spam' button on your email, the providers assume that no one else would want that email either." Read Google's white paper on deliverability and the Priority Inbox.
What can you do to improve engagement? Here are five tactics:
1. At a minimum, follow basic list management best practices, such as keeping your list opt-in only, honor unsubscribe requests and remove undelivered emails from your list. MailChimp suggests using a double opt-in method to further improve engagement metrics.
2. Motivate new customers to engage with you. Silverpop recommends a quality welcome series.
3. The strategists at Econsultancy suggest "Combining behavioral data and RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary value) creates Engagement-RFM (eRFM). Using this methodology can improve the accuracy of segmentation, strengthen influence and engagement, and lead to an increased ROI."
4. Use personalization and dynamic content. Leverage this information to deploy personalized communications for significant events such as customer appreciation messages, unexpected "surprise and delight" communications, birthdays, post purchase "thank-you's", and dropped cart messages.
5. Reward email actions like opens, clicks, and shares. Marketing Profs highlights how companies like GameStop and Southwest Airlines are experiencing success with engagement by tracking subscriber's interactions and awarding loyalty program points.
1. Sending "spray and pray" emails will damage your brand, hurt your reputation, and compromise future deliverability of legitimate emails.
2. Provide value-added information. Per recent findings from recent Voice of Customer research conducted by our firm, customers are willing to provide in-depth information in exchange for receiving value-added information. For consumers, the rationale for providing preference information is to receive increasingly relevant offers, communications, and experiences.
3. Segmentation is more essential than ever. Develop increasingly specific customer and prospect segments so you can send highly targeted emails that are of interest to each recipient in your sub-segmented groups.
Ernan Roman is recognized as a Customer Experience innovator and was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame for creating three transformational methodologies: Voice of Customer Relationship Research, Integrated Direct Marketing, and Opt-in Marketing.
He was also named by Crain's B to B Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in Business Marketing".
His latest book on marketing best practices is titled, : Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the author of the widely read blog, "Ernan's Insights on Marketing Best Practices", (www.erdm.com), and author of "Opt-in Marketing" and "Integrated Direct Marketing".
ERDM's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, NBC Universal, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Symantec.
As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based strategies, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with customers and prospects of these clients to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high value customer relationships.