In October of last year, I wrote Part 1 of this article, covering the basics of running an effective and efficient email marketing campaign and strategy. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and focus our attention on the vital components involved in getting your message delivered. The fact that email is nearly ubiquitous means that deliverability to the inbox is more difficult than ever before. If your message isn’t even reaching your recipients, what’s the point of launching a large-scale email marketing campaign? Without proper delivery of your message to your intended recipients, you will be spending your weekends sulking in the reality that the time, energy, and money spent on campaign planning and execution was a complete and utter waste.
Deliverability comes down to having quality data and quality IP addresses used to send your newsletter or promotional offers. Even if you have crafted a quality email creative with a strong call to action and attention-grabbing subject lines, delivery to the inbox is never guaranteed. Simply put, you cannot avoid spam filters used by all major ISPs that send your email message directly to the junk folder.
Having said that, there are email marketing “best practices” out there that will maximize deliverability to the inbox and safeguard your sender reputation. Given that your sender reputation is similar to your brand reputation, you know that it requires constant attention and nurturing in an effort to preserve and maintain it over time. Email addresses can be live one moment and dead the next. In fact, approximately 30% of all email addresses become inactive or abandoned each year. In the world of email marketing, it often requires the strategic investment in email list validation to strip your list of bad domains, habitual complainers, spam seeds, BOTs, honeypots, duplicate, and invalid email addresses.
Most ESPs and ISPs will take action if your email deployment results in more than a 5% bounce rate. This becomes an easy threshold to reach, even if you take the proper measures to collect an opt-in list over time. Oftentimes, the email addresses were collected over a number of years or were entered into the database by fumble-fingered data entry people. When you take a risk and send your offer to this list, your IP reputation is in jeopardy. Not to mention the fact that you are paying to send emails that aren’t even being delivered.
You can have a great promotional offer that provides a value-added opportunity for your target audience. However, your IP reputation is among the most influential variables that affect overall performance and ROI from your send. The goal is to work harmoniously with ISPs to ensure that your database of both current and prospective customers are not plagued with unwanted or unsolicited email, better known as spam.
If you think there’s some Big Mystery Behind Effective Email Marketing, there’s not. You live and die by your IP reputation. That’s it.
This is the second article based on: An Email Marketer’s Guide to the Universe, Part 1
I hope that, in light of Jim Jones’ role in the tragic suicide deaths of 913 members of the People’s Temple Cult, you’re answer would be, “Heck no!”
What started out as a seemingly harmless mission for the sick, underprivileged, homeless, and jobless inhabitants turned into an inhumane genocide now known as “The Jonestown Massacre.” In response to the criticism embedded in a few negative press reports, Jim Jones, the leader of the People’s Temple Cult, convinced his followers to relocate to a remote community in the South American jungle called Jonestown, Guyana. The instant that he felt he was losing his control over his previously subservient “flock,” he forced them all to drink Kool-Aid spiked with a fatal dosage of potassium cyanide.
It’s no surprise that humans oftentimes fall into the control of those who appear to be credible, honorable, and trustworthy on the outside, yet have a hidden agenda that is exposed only after it’s too late. To the dismay of most, we encounter companies like this every day. Maybe their hidden agendas do not mirror the devious schemes of notorious Jim Jones, but that does not mean that they should be overlooked.
As an Email Service Provider (ESP), we receive an influx of calls from those who are disappointed with the results of their email deliverability and come to us for answers and for other email marketing software solutions. About 99% of the time, we can directly link the reason for their poor deliverability to the credibility rating of their current Email Service Provider.
The story is always the same. A beginner in the field of email marketing searches for an outwardly “reliable” company to handle their email deployments on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. However, that beginner is, in most cases, far more enticed by the cost savings of the cheap software providers that put on the face of credibility rather than the real players in the game who have devoted their entire careers to achieving unparalleled deliverability.
If you find a provider of email marketing software solutions that is willing to mail 5 MM emails a month for, let’s say, $400.00, you might as well just take a match and set that pretty penny on fire. You’re IP addresses will be managed improperly, and you will be blacklisted just about everywhere. No wonder you’re getting a 0.001% open rate. And, to top it off, the IP addresses are completely worthless and would be better off if they were flushed down the toilet.
A reputable email software provider will install and configure your mail server and DNS properly to enable you to deliver email in bulk with great deliverability, manage your IP addresses so that you achieve enhanced white listings with all major ISPs, and provide free technical support so that none of your questions remain unanswered. Email Answers provides businesses with its eList Manager email marketing software for enterprise mailers. This software solution is available for lease or as a turnkey hosted system with a dedicated support team to give you expert guidance on sending successful email campaigns.
While price is not always a clear indicator of product or service quality, you should always be skeptical of those that cost significantly lower than the rest. The bottom line? You get what you pay for. Invest in something that is going to get you results, not drive you to your grave. Don’t be tempted by the free Kool-Aid, because you never know what you are going to get.
If you are considering investing in email marketing to promote your services and drive traffic to your website, email deliverability should be your primary and utmost concern. Realistically, how could you expect a bull run of sales leads when your emails are being blocked and are not even being delivered to your prospective consumers? And, if I tell you that there are companies out there that guarantee 100% deliverability if you subscribe to the services they offer, does that surprise you? I sure hope not.
We are all guilty at one point or another of believing what we read, hear, and see, especially if it puts a few extra bucks in our pockets. It’s often tempting to take shortcuts in life and pay less for services that promise 100% when in actuality, companies are telling you what you want to hear in order to rake in your business. When salespeople have you on the phone, sometimes that little devil on their left shoulder overrides the angel on their right. All of the sudden, the word “commission” takes priority over your business goals and objectives and common sense goes out the window.
Email deliverability is not as black and white as it may seem. There is no formula or algorithm that spells out exactly what you need to do to ensure that every single email you send will reach the inbox of your target market. Sure, there are certain services that may help improve deliverability, but there are no guarantees.
List cleaning and validation is a service that will definitely help in maximizing deliverability. However, if you stumble upon a company that promises that a small investment in email verification services is the only component involved in ensuring 100% deliverability, I suggest you run for the hills. The truth is, if you have the best data, but a terrible IP reputation, you can kiss the money you spent on your email marketing campaign goodbye.
The answer lies in finding the right Email Service Provider (ESP) that has experience in managing the reputation of your IP addresses and in guiding you through the industry “best practices.” Among other things, a good ESP will configure your mail server and DNS correctly to enable you to deliver email in bulk, will provide free technical support, will clean and validate your email database, and will give you advice on sending out successful email campaigns.
Disregard the little voice in your head that says you can do this entirely by yourself without a hitch. Swallow your pride. I can assure you that, as a beginner to email marketing, you will drive yourself into the ground with the unnecessary hassle.
Contact the experienced email marketing professionals at Email Answers, and let us become your partners in success.