3 NEW Things Direct Marketers Need to Know In Order to Enter—and Stay in—the Inbox
3. Reputation. Ward says engagement is what prevents "reputation-killing spam complaints." So segment, so messages are relevant to the recipients, he says. This is no longer a frill.
And watch the frequency, Ward says. "Focus on quality over quantity," he says.
Lewis suggests investing in technology that allows marketers to react in real time to complaints, bounces and blocks so that delivery rates don't drop, especially in the case of campaign mistakes. Sather says Return Path's certification program, for instance, helped Citrix Online's inbox placement rate reach 95 percent—far above the benchmark report's finding of 80 percent of B-to-B emails reaching the inbox.
Dayman says: "Relevancy matters even more with today's webmail providers, like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft [Windows] Live who all have launched systems that measure not only complaints, but also how users interact with email. Receivers now know when a user opened an email, how long it took them to open it from the time of delivery, if they ignored it, if they folder it, etc."
Also no longer luxuries, preference centers have to happen, Bonura says. More than knowing which channels customers prefer, marketers need to know which content they prefer, Ellis says. "Email marketing works best when the content provides solutions to specific problems," Ellis adds.
Opt-ins have to happen. DePasquale says: "An opt-in, or permission-based list will have fewer issues because your email will be expected, lowering your potential to be marked as junk or spam." Because of that accrued trust from an opt-in list of customers, DePasquale says Port Washington, N.Y.-based business coaching firm Powhattan Coaching was able to start a second e-newsletter, delivered on Saturday mornings, that saw an 18 percent open rate and a 15 percent clickthrough rate.
Optimizing for mobile devices has to happen, Bonura says. "Use alt-text for images, summarize the message in the subject line, use pre-header text, leave enough padding around links so subscribers can easily click on them with their fingers and be sure you include the call to action early for mobile users who only see a small portion of the email. The width should be 640 pixels or less. And keep in mind that the screens of most smartphones are between 320 and 480 pixels, which means the message will be seen zoomed out 25 percent to 50 percent."
Ulmi points out that client Western Leisure takes proactive measures—sending test emails before a campaign.