Making E-mail Deliverability a Nonissue Through Great CRM
Deliverability is a complex issue. One reason is the changing nature of how ISPs measure customer attitudes through concepts like reputation. The good news, however, is that ISPs want to ensure their customers receive the e-mails they want. Sounds similar to what marketers want to achieve, doesn’t it?
By taking a look at deliverability from a different perspective, I hope to give you some ideas about achieving a win-win situation by improving both deliverability and customer relationship management simultaneously.
First, let’s look at what good reputation means for a legitimate sender from an ISP perspective. The two key metrics that sway a sender’s reputation are bounce and spam complaint rates. Since this is a CRM-focused article, we’ll focus on spam complaints.
ISPs judge the legitimacy of senders by asking their users, of course. Spam complaints happen when users hit the spam button in the e-mail interface on e-mail messages. Too many users reporting messages as spam results in a bad reputation with ISPs, which leads to messages getting stuffed into bulk folders, slowed down, or rejected.
Here’s where a CRM strategy comes into play. Why would people who gave you permission to contact them turn around and complain about your messages? There are several reasons, and they center around clarity of communication, managing expectations and staying relevant.
Clarity/recognition. Most spam gets filtered out by ISPs and diverted into bulk folders, but some of it makes it into inboxes. If your messages are buried in a bunch of spam — and your recipients can’t easily recognize them — consumers will likely shift-select all of the e-mails and report everything as spam. We’ve seen consistency and branding in both from and subject lines make noticeable differences in complaint rates. If your recipients recognize your message, they’re much less likely to report it as spam.
Expectation management. Many e-mail recipients often don't receive what they expected to receive. Set appropriate expectations up front, and let recipients know on your opt-in pages what they’re going to receive and how frequently.
Also, send welcome or confirmation messages to new subscribers as soon as possible. These messages further reinforce the value of the subscription to your online programs and highlight user controls such as preference centers, subscription management links and privacy policies.
Frequency of e-mail is often cited as one of the main concerns for recipients. If expectations around frequency aren't appropriately managed, recipients are much more likely to either unsubscribe from your messages or report them as spam.
Relevancy. Why do people who’ve been on your list for a long time all of a sudden complain? Some call it list fatigue, burnout or churn. We’ve found in a lot of cases it’s simply that the messages aren't relevant or compelling enough to the recipients, and they decide to simply make them stop.
A great example of relevancy is Amazon.com. It would be unwieldy and unprofitable for the site to promote hundreds of books arbitrarily to users. It must rely on its relevancy engine to figure out what each user would most likely want and use that data to intelligently populate its marketing materials, such as Web and e-mail. The same concepts apply to other marketers.
In conclusion, if you’re promoting products, identify which users tend to prefer which products. This can be done directly by asking them via preference centers, or indirectly by tracking clickthrough rates on specific products and browsing behavior. Likewise, take a look at your past complainers, and see if you can find commonalities in their activities, or lack thereof.