Deliverability: Optimizing Your Marketing Strategy. Version : September 7, 2008 Presented by: Angela McKay CRM Business Analyst

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1 : Optimizing Your Marketing Strategy Version : September 7, 2008 Presented by: Angela McKay CRM Business Analyst

2 Version Table of Contents Table of Contents... 2 About this Document Marketing Marketing Strategy and Planning... 3 List Fatigue and List Management... 4 Sending Creation... 5 Appendix A Lasso s Mass Mail Details Report Marketing Glossary Marketing Glossary Marketing Glossary... 8 Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Confidential Page 2

3 About this Document This document has been developed based on current best practices for marketing. The intention of the document is to provide ideas and strategies to improve Mass Mail effectiveness and deliverability within your organization, utilizing Lasso s Mass Mail functionality. If you require assistance with Lasso s Mass Mail functionality, please contact Lasso Client Support at or Monday to Friday, 7:30am 5:00pm Pacific Time. Marketing Businesses engage in marketing because it works. In a December 2007 survey of internet marketers by MarketingSherpa, marketing was selected as having one of the highest ROI, second to Search Engine Optimization. marketing allows targeting and it building relationships, loyalty and trust. Every campaign generates actionable data you can use to enhance sales. Marketing is a significant component to Real Estate Project Marketing Strategy. It is an easy way to communicate relevant information to both prospects and brokers in an efficient and cost-effective manner. As an marketer, you face many challenges to see continued growth in your programs. As we can attest to our own growing inboxes, in addition to the fact that many now have several addresses and hence multiple inboxes to stay on top of, there is competition to get your message delivered, into the inbox and ultimately opened. Competition to create compelling content and keep recipients engaged can be a challenge. Getting the highest percentage of delivered to the inbox instead of bouncing back or getting blocked by an Internet Service Provider is an ongoing challenge. A report in late 2007 stated that only 75% of legitimate makes it to the inbox. 1 Deliverability is the responsibility of the marketing team. No service provider can guarantee delivery to the inbox. They can provide tools and guidance but it s up to marketers to follow best practices. The following will provide some helpful suggestions and ideas to improve your Mass Mail strategy and hopefully result in a more engaged and qualified prospect. From the start of an campaign to clicking the send button, there are best practices to follow to improve results. Lasso s marketing functionality provides you with the ability to send relevant and engaging to your prospects, while at the same time providing positive measures to increase deliverability to the inbox. For more information regarding Lasso, please refer to the following: Lasso s Marketing Release Notes Spring, 2008 (link) Lasso University Online Training Opt-In Functionality, Custom Lists and Marketing found in Lasso Sales Center Appendix A Understanding Lasso s Mass Mail Reports Appendix B Image Blocking Marketing Strategy and Planning Most companies put considerable time and effort into planning for their Sales Center Launches, Media Spend and any direct mail campaigns; however, marketing plans are more spontaneous and often are not included on the marketing calendar. Mass Mail is easy create an , compile a list of recipients and send. Because it s so easy, often there is no plan or strategy created for an campaign. Ask yourself what are you trying to achieve? How many new Registrations did you get after your last campaign? What could you do differently to generate a higher return? The following are strategy and planning tactics for marketing: Construct an marketing calendar to ensure that s are sent out in a timely manner and that other events are taken into consideration. When planning a calendar, you should consider both internal and external events, seasonality and your prospects characteristics. Also consider the schedules of other projects. Create a calendar that includes all projects. Many Registrants, including Realtors/Brokers are associated to multiple projects. Someone may receive multiple s in a day. Consider sending out one to investors and brokers that includes information about multiple projects. Centralize your sending. All mass mails should be managed by a central marketing group. Not only does this ensure that proper branding guidelines are followed but it helps frequency controls, as well as improving message relevance to the Registrant. 1 Lyris Technologies Advisory Report Card, 2007 Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Page 3

4 Keep your from name consistent. This is the basis of your relationship with the Registrants if they don t recognize it, they may delete the message. It s often said that a recipient will decide whether or not to delete the message by looking at the sender name and whether or to open the by the subject line. Frequency keep in mind that each audience segment is different. Towards the end of a project, purchasers may want to receive daily to provide updates and information regarding move-in, but daily s to the Realtor/Broker community during a project launch is too frequent and will result in complaints and unsubscribes. List Fatigue and List Management Is your database getting old? It s certainly a selling feature for Sales and Marketing organizations to have databases of 1000 s of Registrants, but how old is this list? If you ve got Registrants that date back a few years, how do you know they are still interested in Real Estate? Perhaps they already made a purchase and aren t interested in receiving information about other properties. Or, they move away and are no longer interested in a particular region. This type of list churn happens. It is a simple fact: people change over time. No matter how great your s are, the topic just may not be relevant; registrants needs change. Hopefully, your lists are also growing with new prospects registering at project website. There are some preventable ways to reduce list fatigue: 1. Follow subscription best practices. Utilize an Opt-In process that is quick and easy. Confirming that your subscribers want to join your lists through a double opt-in process can increase activity by 20 percent or more and greatly extends your retention rate. 2. Remove inactive subscribers to help you report more accurately on your campaign results. metrics are measured against the number of messages delivered. If 10,000 messages are delivered and 2,500 are opened, you have a 25% open rate. If you only send 8000 messages to active subscribers and 2,500 are opened, your open rate is 31%. 3. Follow creation best practices so your audience remains engaged. For example, if branding is weak, links don t work, subject lines aren t interesting, or the format isn t eye-catching, subscribers could begin to ignore your Ensure that your message is relevant. If each and every message does not capture the attention of your subscribers and provide useful information to them, they will quickly stop listening to you and ignore the messages. It s estimated that 20-30% of addresses changed each year. Many ISPs offer free accounts making it easy for people to abandon or change their address and nowadays people change jobs more frequently and corporate addresses change. One recipient of a regular e-newsletter commented that the company she worked for had changed their domain name three times in two years due to mergers and acquisitions with other companies. It s important to keep lists up-to-date and current as sending to bad addresses not only skews your results but it is used by ISPs/Inbox providers to determine whether ongoing is delivered to the inbox or to the junk folder. It s important to manage failed s and determine whether the Registrant is still interested or should be removed from your mailing list. A telephone call from the sales rep. or a postcard sent to them asking to confirm their interest by registering on the project website is helpful. The following are some List Management tactics: Update your list each time you send an . Clean your lists! Bounce and complaint rates are the most significant factors in the qualifying equation for deliverability. Remove unsubscribed recipients as well as those with invalid s. You can go one step further and review those who haven t opened s. Do you want to continue sending to these Registrants? ISPs do monitor open rates and can filter messages to junk if open rates are low. Bigger isn t always better! A smaller, segmented list will bring higher results than a broader, unqualified list. Building your List: Make it easy for your prospects to register. Ensure that the Register Now link is visible on all pages of your website. Ensure that you are capturing all pertinent registrant information from Walk-ins to the Sales Centers. Have them register at a Kiosk or ensure that Sales Reps are gathering all their information... especially their address. Utilize Lasso Opt-In functionality and remind Registrants that they will receive a follow-up requesting that they opt-in to receive ongoing information about the project. Remove inactive subscribers. If someone is going to delete your message, why should you send it to them in the first place? Use your other marketing channels to keep your brand in front of them and when the time is right and they are interested again, they ll reactivate. Consider having Registrants enter their address twice on the Registration page to confirm accuracy. Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Page 4

5 Remove distribution accounts such as or on your lists. Many ISPs factor this into reputation. This is likely to create spam complaints Sending Sending a mass mail with an error in it happens to the best of us - An important link could be broken, a spelling mistake in the subject line, or perhaps an image that doesn t load properly. It can happen and it does happen daily. Following these tips can help ensure your recipients Test your ! Send it to yourself as well as a test list of s from various ISPs. Setup free accounts with Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc and test it. You ll see what potentially could land in junk mail as well as how it renders with other ISPs. Always send from the same address using a project or corporate address. Ask to be put in the recipient s safe list (refer to Lasso s document with instructions on white-listing). Always include a means to unsubscribe in the . Frequency: how often you your list plays a role in your reputation. If you send too often, recipients are likely to hit the spam button to stop the deluge of messages. If you send to infrequently, your Registrants may forget who you are! Don t over . Stick with a number that your recipients expect Check how messages render in preview panes and with images turned off. By default, most of your recipients will receive the with their images turned off. Ensure that the message can still be understood with images turned off. View messages in various clients and provider interfaces such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL, Outlook Confirm that your sending domain has been authenticated: authentication sets the stage for improved delivery and defines who can send for a specific domain it s not the silver bullet that will instantly increase your success. A holistic approach combining authentication, reputation, relevancy and marketing strategy is more important than ever to ensure positive results. Authentication is key but you must send targeted messages with content that relates to your audience in a consistent and responsible manner. Be consistent. Send from the same sender and try to send at the same time each week or month. Tuesday-Thursday have traditionally been good times to send ; however, don t be afraid to test on weekends or on Fridays. Some have found that since Friday s are sometimes quieter days, it can be a good time to send. Weekends can be positive too as this is when a prospect may have more time available to read your . Keep it legal. Ensure that you are following Can-Spam Compliance or any specific Marketing Act that is specific to your region. Another factor that ISPs use to determine your reputation is the number of complaints they receive about your message. It s easier for some recipients to report an unwanted as unsafe or junk than to unsubscribe. This can tarnish your reputation and send to the junk folder. AOL, for example, indicates that complaints higher than 1 in every s can send to the junk folder. Creation Use image Alt tags. Most ISPs, by default, block images. If you ve titled the image, the recipient can at least read what the image is without seeing it. Link to a web version of the . Validate the HTML code (ensure that links and code aren t broken). Keep HTML s to no wider than 600 pixels. Avoid the use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) (it can cause incorrect rendering and some ISPs strip away the code.) Choose your words carefully both for the subject line and the body of the . Include your company name or project name in the subject line to create some familiarity when the recipient sees your . Avoid words in upper case. Don t use excessive exclamation marks, question marks, special characters. Avoid use of such words as click here or strings of words such as limited time offer. Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Page 5

6 Focus on the subject line and the from once you are in the inbox it is instant recognition and value if the Registrant doesn t immediately recognize the WHO and the WHAT then your campaign might as well have not been sent. If you choose to use images in your mass mail, ensure there s a good balance of text and images. Remember, images are often blocked by the Registrant s . Ensure that the message can still be understood even if the images are not visible. Messages with the company name or brand in the subject line tend to have a higher open rate than messages that don t Place the call to action above the fold, meaning in the top half of a monitor. Think about what your recipients will see in the preview window of their client. Use a good balance of text and images Outlook 2007 disables background pictures in . This can be an issue if the text is in white! Many have learned from this mistake. Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Page 6

7 Appendix A Lasso s Mass Mail Details Report The Mass Mail Detail Report shows the following details: 1. Sent to the Registrant that was sent the and the result of the to that Registrant 2. Sent by the address as the sender or the FROM in the 3. Status there are three statuses for an a. Sent the was sent and delivered to the Registrant b. Failed the failed to be delivered to the Registrant c. Pending the is still in the queue to be sent 4. s the Registrant s address 5. Viewed yes or no, whether the Registrant opened/viewed the 6. Forwards yes or no, whether the Registrant forwarded the to someone 7. Failure Reason - there are 10 failure reasons why an did not get delivered (see below) 8. Assigned Sales Reps the assigned Sales rep(s) in Lasso for that Registrant The report can be sorted by each column header. For example, if you click on Failure Reason, you can see the different failure reasons for your mass mail. By clicking on the Registrant name, you can view the Registrant Detail and update their address, if required. Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Page 7

8 Failure Reason Hard Bounce Hard Bounce (Suppressed) Soft Bounce Invalid Address address has been opted-out Registrant had no address Registrant has chosen not to receive Technical Block Duplicate Address Address has been Opted-Out Explanation attempted. Registrant address does not exist. Suggested Client Action: Contact Registrant to obtain new address. address has hard bounced in the past and therefore is suppressed from future mass mails. Suggested Client Action: Contact Registrant to obtain new address. could not send due to an issue with the Registrant s mailbox (e.g. mailbox is full). Suggested Client Action: If the consistently soft bounces, contact Registrant and ask for an alternate address. address has syntax errors (e.g. Suggested Client Action: Correct error in Registrant address. Registrant has Opted-Out or unsubscribed from Mass Mail for this project. Registrants will not receive any mass s for this project. Suggested Client Action: Contact Registrant to determine project interest level. Registrant should be removed from Custom list and/or Group No address in Lasso. Suggested Client Action: Contact Registrant to obtain address. Adjust Custom List criteria for Mass Mails to exclude Registrants without an address. Contact preference in Lasso is No Contact or No across all Client Projects Suggested Client Action: Registrant should be removed from Mass Mail Custom List and/or Group. cannot be delivered to the address because of technical difficulties (e.g. Network error, or a Data format error). Note: in some cases, the addresses have incorrect domain names (misspelled) or typos. Suggested Client Action: Update Registrant address. Contact Registrant to confirm . Mass Mail is being blocked because your domain name or IP address is on an ISP/Inbox Provider internal blacklist. Suggested Client Action: Follow-up with specific Inbox Provider to see why you re being blocked. Duplicate Registrant address within a Mass Mail (Lasso only sends to an address once). Suggested Client Action: Manage Duplicate Registrants at either the Client Administration level or merge Duplicate Registrants at the project level in Sales Center. Or, use the Registrant search feature to search for all Registrants with a specific address. Registrant has unsubscribed/opted-out from Mass Mail for a project. Suggested Client Action: Registrant should be removed from Mass Mail Custom List and/or Group. Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Page 8

9 Marketing Glossary Authentication Protocols: authentication protocols help Inbox Providers avoid messages from anonymous bulk senders and, even worse, messages from those who attempt to spoof the identity of legitimate senders. By allowing Inbox Providers to verify the purported identity of senders, these protocols also serve as a first step in reputation systems. Blacklist: The practice employed by Internet Service Providers of blocking an IP address or series of IP addresses to prevent the receipt of messages from a server that is suspected of transmitting SPAM. Many companies use blacklists to reject inbound , either at the server level or before it reaches the recipient s in-box. Block: A refusal by an ISP or mail server not to forward your message to the recipient. Many ISPs block from IP addresses or domains that have been reported to send spam or viruses or have content that violates policy or spam filters. Bounce message: Message sent back to an sender reporting the message could not be delivered and why. Note: Not all bounced s result in messages being sent back to the sender. Not all bounce messages are clear or accurate about the reason was bounced. Bounce handling: The process of dealing with the that has bounced. Bounce handling is important for list maintenance, list integrity and delivery. Given the lack of consistency in bounce messaging formats, it's an inexact science at best. Bounce rate (also known as Return rate): Number of hard/soft bounces divided by the number of s sent. This is an inexact number because some systems do not report back to the sender clearly or accurately. Bulk folder (also known as Junk or Spam folder): Where many clients send messages that appear to be from spammers or contain spam or are from any sender who s not in the recipient s address book or contact list. Some clients allow the recipient to override the system s settings and direct that mail from a suspect sender be sent directly to the inbox. e.g., Yahoo! Mail gives recipients a button marked Not Spam on every message in the bulk folder. Challenge-response system: An anti-spam program that requires a human being on the sender's end to respond to an ed challenge message before their messages can be delivered to recipients. Senders who answer the challenge successfully are added to an authorization list. Bulk senders can work with challenge-response if they designate an employee to watch the sending address' mailbox and to reply to each challenge by hand. Churn: How many subscribers leave a mailing list (or how many addresses go bad) over a certain length of time, usually expressed as a percentage of the whole list. DomainKeys: An anti-spam software application being developed by Yahoo and using a combination of public and private "keys" to authenticate the sender's domain and reduce the chance that a spammer or hacker will fake the domain sending address. Double Opt-In (also known as Confirmed Opt-In): A process that requires new list joiners to take an action (such as clicking on an ed link to a personal confirmation page) in order to confirm that they do want to be on the list. Enhanced white list: An example is AOL s enhanced white list for bulk senders who meet strict delivery standards, including less than one spam complaint for every 1,000 messages. senders on the enhanced white list can bypass AOL 9.0 s automatic suppression of images and links. Hard bounce: Message sent to an invalid, closed or nonexistent account. Hard bounces should be removed immediately. To avoid this pitfall, heed best practices like proper list hygiene to keep your list fresh and build a double Opt-In mechanism into your registration process. ISP ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. An ISP provides access to the Internet for others via some connectivity service(s). Examples of ISPs include Shaw, TELUS, Earthlink, Mindspring, and WorldNet to name a few. List fatigue: A condition producing diminishing returns from a mailing list whose members are sent too many offers, or too many of the same offers, in too short a period of time. List hygiene: The act of maintaining a list so that hard bounces and unsubscribed names are removed from mailings. Some list owners also use an change-of-address service to update old or abandoned addresses (hopefully with a permission step baked in) as part of this process. List management: How a mailing list is set up, administered and maintained. The list manager has daily responsibility over list operation including processing subscribes and unsubscribes, bounce management, list hygiene, etc. Opt-In: A specific, pro-active, request by an individual recipient to have their own address placed on a specific mailing list. Many list renters and buyers now require list owners to provide proof of Opt-In, including the actual or IP address date and time the request was received. Opt-Out: A specific request to remove an address from a specific list or from all lists operated by a single owner. Also, the process of adding an addresses to lists without the name's pre-approval, forcing names who don't want to be on your list to actively unsubscribe. Segmentation The practice of dividing Registrants into Custom Lists or Groups based on profile information such as geographic location, product interest, Rating, etc. Sender ID: The informal name for a new anti-spam program combining two existing protocols: Sender Policy Framework and CallerID. SenderID authenticates senders and blocks forgeries and faked addresses. Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Page 9

10 Sender Policy Framework (SPF): A protocol used to eliminate forgeries. A line of code called an SPF record is placed in a sender s Domain Name Server information. The incoming mail server can verify a sender by reading the SPF record before allowing a message through. Soft bounce: sent to an active (live) address but which is turned away before being delivered. Often, the problem is temporary -- the server is down, the recipient's mailbox is over quota, or an out of office reply. The might be held at the recipient's server and delivered later, or the sender's program may attempt to deliver it again. Soft-bounce reports are not always accurate because they don't report all soft bounces or the actual reason for the bounce. Spam: Spam is any message, regardless of content, that is sent to multiple recipients who haven t specifically requested the message. Other common terms for spam include: junk mail, unsolicited commercial (UCE), and unsolicited bulk (UBE). However, some recipients define spam as any they no longer want to receive, even if it comes from a mailing list they joined voluntarily. Spamcop: A blacklist and IP-address database, formerly privately owned but now part of the vendor Ironport. Many ISPs check the IP addresses of incoming against Spamcop s records to determine whether the address has been blacklisted due to spam complaints. Throttling: The practice of regulating how many messages a broadcaster sends to one ISP or mail server at a time. Some ISPs bounce if it receives too many messages from one sending address at a time. Unsubscribe: To remove oneself from an list, either via an ed command to the list server or by filling in a Web form. View Rate The number of recipients included in a Mass Mailout that viewed the intended message. Web bug (also known as Web beacon): A 1 pixel-by-1 pixel image tag added to an HTML message and used to track open rates by address. Opening the message, either in the preview pane or by clicking on it, activates the bug and sends a signal to the Web site, where special software tracks and records the signal as an open. White list: A list of senders, most often by IP address, considered, by the list compiler, to exhibit exemplary sending behavior and therefore to be worthy of preferential treatment in the recipient system, which allows messages to be delivered regardless of spam filters. Lasso. Software that Sells Real Estate. Page 10

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