by:John Landsman, Director of Strategy & Analytics

Deliverability is the crucible of email marketing. Nothing good can happen when your email doesn’t even get to your customer’s inbox. eDataSource tracks and reports on deliverability with its Inbox metric, which nets out spam events against mailing quantity.

eDataSource sees the full range of Inbox Placement performance, based on our visibility into the email activity of 53,000 brands and their customers engagement with those emails. Email marketers who’ve achieved Inbox Placement rates of at least 95% are thought to be doing pretty well. Still, we often see Inbox Placement rates in the 80s for overall brands, and in the 20s, or even less, for certain individual campaigns.

You can see why this number matters so much. If you send 100 million emails, for every 1% you improve your Inbox Placement rate, that’s 1,000,000 more emails getting to your customers’ inboxes, and that many more opportunities to engage your customer and make a sale.

What can you do? Managing email deliverability is an industry, and its best practices fill many large books. A one-pager can barely scratch the surface. But from a purely marketing standpoint, here are the top three basic considerations in maintaining high Inbox metrics:

ACQUIRE SMART
– Use a hard email opt-in: your subscriber should knowingly elect to receive your email. Avoid pre-populated opt-in boxes. It may be legal, but don’t just automatically send marketing email to customers if they’re not formally opted-in.
– Identify individuals who’re already interacting with you as customers or website browsers, and leverage them for email opt-in. You can do this, among other means, with website prompts, and by using space available in transactional emails; e.g., order/ship confirmations.
– Use “Welcome” messaging for new opt-ins. This messaging helps confirm and activate the new relationship, and it can also uncover mailability problems before they affect your inbox reputation.

MAINTAIN SMART
– Keep the email list clean. We all know that people change their email addresses a lot. So, use ECOA at least annually. Purge subscribers who haven’t opened for 12 months or more, or remove them from mailable status. Never send marketing email to long-dormant customers without first attempting to re-opt them in.
– Make it easy for subscribers to change their email addresses. You should also incorporate a change of address prompt into your unsubscribe protocol. Many email unsubscribers are really only trying to change their email addresses.

MAIL SMART
– Relevance drives email engagement. This means targeted email based on customer preference and behavior, with personalized content/offers to match.
– With mobile devices now comprising over 70% of retail email opens, all your email needs to be mobile-optimized. And so does your website.
– Optimize your email contact frequency. Over-mailing creates serious retention risks.

Pretty basic, yes. And also widely practiced by mailers with the best Inbox rates.

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