Deliverability Dilemmas Solved: How Hotmail's Changes Will Affect Your Marketing Programs
Q: I’ve read that Hotmail is making changes that will allow users to more easily avoid marketing messages. Is this true? And if so, what can I do to be sure my messages get to the people I’m trying to reach?
A: Yes, Hotmail is launching a number of new features that makes it easier for its customers to manage their inboxes. In fact, officials at Microsoft are talking about helping people manage “graymail,” which it defines as messages that at one time might have been wanted but have lost relevance for recipients.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most talked about features:
Sweep: Subscribers will be able to quickly choose groups of messages and “sweep” them out of the inbox and into the trash or a designated folder. With one click, subscribers can choose to have future messages swept out of the inbox automatically and permanently.
One-click filters: While not designed to remove marketing messages, this feature allows users to only see messages from contacts or alerts from social networking sites.
Prompted unsubscribe: If users repeatedly delete your message unread, Hotmail will proactively suggest that they unsubscribe from the message.
While this might all sound like doom and gloom, these features have some clear upsides for marketers. The sweep button, for example, will appear in the interface alongside the delete and “report junk” buttons. One of the biggest complaints from marketers about the junk or spam button in internet service providers’ interfaces was that subscribers used to it to unsubscribe from mailings. When subscribers report email as junk instead of unsubscribing, the senders’ reputation takes a hit. Subsequently, mail intended for recipients who want to read it has a higher chance of being delivered to the junk folder or outright blocked.
Both the sweep and prompted unsubscribe options should cut down on the number of misguided reports of spam, restoring the reputations of marketers with good mailing practices through lower complaints. Additionally, these features should cut down on inbox clutter by giving subscribers more control of what they want to read, when they want to read it and where they want it delivered.
Related story: 3 Key Email Deliverability Practices for 2010