Are You Loved? Check Your TINS.
How much do your customers love you? This is not a metaphysical question. Smart email marketers can answer it easily, with a quick glance at a once-obscure engagement metric: TINS (This Is Not Spam). This simple indication of how engaged your email subscribers are can tell you a lot about the health of your customer relationships, in general.
When customers love a brand enough to rescue its email from their spam folders, and to demand red-carpet, direct-to-the-inbox treatment for future messages, they hit the "not junk" or "not spam" button and a TINS report is sent to their mailbox providers. Marking a message as "not spam" isn't common; but when it happens, this metric is remarkably influential. (Having mail delivered to the spam folder is common, by the way. Every brand winds up there from time to time, although not every brand gets out.)
When Return Path studied the TINS rates of roughly 1,000 top brands, we found that the frequency at which spam-delivered mail gets rescued correlates with virtually every important indication of customer engagement, including read rates. As the chart shows, mail subscribers read is rescued from spam far more frequently.
As mailbox providers pay more attention to how their users respond to marketing email (often referred to as "gray mail"), senders with highly engaged audiences are having an easier time reaching their subscribers' inboxes; which, in turn, is helping them develop stronger relationships. Meanwhile, less engaged senders are finding it harder to reach the inbox, and their relationships are weakening. It wasn't surprising to find many of the most recognized and loved brands in the world among the TINS leaders in our study.
Engagement is not a new term in the email marketing world, but its meaning has expanded since the days when it referred to opens and clicks. Email engagement now incorporates how subscribers interact with email at the inbox level. TINS is one of a number of metrics that marketers and mailbox providers now use to measure engagement. In addition to read rate, others include how much mail is deleted without being read, forwarded and complained about (TIS, or This Is Spam).
And, of course, engagement has specific implications for email marketing programs. But a look at the brands with the highest engagement levels offers a hint at the broader impact of connecting with subscribers: From Apple to Zappos, the most-rescued, most-engaged senders are also the world's most valuable, most-loved brands.
Serious email marketers are measuring their relationships with TINS and other engagement metrics, and the leaders' programs are outperforming the competition by a wider margin every day. They're growing their lists faster, reaching the inbox more often and driving more revenue; but they're also building loyalty and brand recognition and helping their companies reach milestones outside the email channel. TINS and other engagement indicators suggest the top brands are pulling ahead and making it harder for everyone else to keep up.
Want to see whether you're keeping up with the best-loved brands in your market? Check out your email engagement, and especially your TINS rate. One quick glance and you'll know how loved you are.