E-commerce Link: Don’t Tarnish Your Reputation!
Email deliverability is still a major challenge for marketers. If emails are diverted to a junk folder or just go missing, a marketer loses the opportunity to engage the recipient or generate transactions. In the old days (maybe a year ago), the emphasis was on content filters and we vetted subject lines along with our creative to make sure emails would make it into the inbox.
We were careful about our bounce processing, because we knew that ISPs evaluated list hygiene and might either block emails that had high bounce rates or deliver them to a bulk folder. We sent emails from a dedicated IP address so we had better control of our deployments. In addition, we applied for feedback loops so we would be notified of spam complaints and remove them from our lists.
Most marketers also used one or more methods of authentication to create a valid identity that would be recognized by ISPs and large corporate mail handlers. While SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and Sender ID were the easiest to implement, many of the email service providers made it relatively easy to deploy DomainKeys and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail).
We thought all of these initiatives were complex. They took time and effort to implement. Now, the rules of the road are changing.
The New Email
The newest wrinkle is that user behavior can affect deliverability—particularly for consumer mailers.
Many ISPs now calculate a mailer's reputation based on how many email messages are opened and/or clicked. If too many recipients do not open or click, your email may be routed to a bulk folder even if you are white-listed. Conversely, even if you've had higher spam complaints, your email may be delivered to the primary inbox if your opens or clicks are strong.
Here are some examples, although ISPs are constantly changing algorithms and these may already have changed:
- AOL looks at when the customer last opened an email from sender.
- Yahoo! uses opens and clicks as the primary criteria. If opens are less than 8 percent, a mailer is likely to be blocked.
- Hotmail and Windows Live Mail use opens, time spent on the email and whether the message was deleted without being read.
This means that marketers must strive for relevancy. If recipients ignore emails, this can affect your effectiveness, your reputation and your inbox placement.