Increasing deliverability: Getting to the inbox!

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1 Increasing deliverability: Getting to the inbox!

2 Welcome As marketers know too well, deliverability remains the biggest challenge faced today. That being said, deliverability is the one area where businesses are still in control, because the success components that effect deliverability can be directly influenced by the business choices you make. This insightful white paper aims to make these choices just a little easier, by providing businesses with a clear overview of the main obstacles that prevent from reaching the inbox; and the simple tactical trends that can be implemented to avoid them. Remember, the first step towards any chance you have of spurring a recipient into action is making sure their mail gets to where it s intended that all-important inbox. This white paper is a great tool to help you get a jump start on the complex task of increasing deliverability performance. We hope you find it valuable. Campaigner powered by Protus 2

3 Contents Introduction The obstacle course Filtering the noise ISP filtering: Tactics for success Authenticate Outsource Desktop filtering: Tactics for success Whitelist Keep it clean Leverage your assets Human filtering: Tactics for success Relevance From field & subject line Trust your instincts Conclusions About Campaigner Campaigner powered by Protus 3

4 Introduction When it comes to online marketing, the metric businesses traditionally use to determine an program s overall success is deliverability. Without high deliverability, businesses cannot move beyond the basics to build customer relationships, grow robust opt-in lists, scale programs and generate new revenue. This white paper provides a quick and compelling roadmap for discovering new tactics to increase delivery performance rates. Let s define deliverability: Deliverability in communication is all about reputation, more specifically a business reputation. Understanding the many reputation-based obstacles your communication will face on the way to its destination is critical to boosting deliverability rates. The obstacle course Obstacles can take the form of automated spam filters at the Internet service provider (ISP) or desktop level that rate and filter through only that meets a certain set of criteria. However, obstacles are more and more taking the form of Human filters recipients, who feel a message is not relevant to them, and therefore block communications or report the culprit to their ISP. With AOL, Hotmail, Outlook and Yahoo! taking up most of the space, businesses cannot afford complaints to ISPs. With all of these obstacles in the way, delivering your message becomes even more difficult. And if this weren t enough as even the most diligent know too well filters that keep out real spam also block good from reaching its destination. By recent estimates nearly 21% of all permission-based sent suffers from false-positives (diligent permission-based flagged as spam) and never reach the intended inbox. While industry analysts agree the numbers are finally starting to trend in the right direction, they still remain significant enough to cause concern. For many the reality is still not having the time, budget, resources or expertise to understand the complexity of the evaluation process to ensure their next campaign gets to the inbox. Filtering the noise More and more consumers are adopting new technologies to help them box out the excess noise. As a result, spam filters have become a mainstream across nearly all marketing channels. A Forrester Research study found that 57% of US users have filters built into their Web-based applications and 55% into their ISP or workplace applications. That s a significant number of consumers trying to box out your message. What s an marketer to do? Assuming you have a well-managed subscriber list here are a number of high-impact tactics sure to help your organization elevate your reputation and increase deliverability performance. Remember, do onto others as you would have others do onto you, may sound like a cliché, but when it comes to the most important factor impacting marketing today, it couldn t be more relevant. Campaigner powered by Protus 4

5 ISP filtering: Tactics for success With anywhere from 20% to 60% of a typical list made up of AOL, Hotmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! customers, optimizing communications with ISPs has long been a top challenge for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers. Paying attention to the high-performance best practice tactics below can have a significant impact on your deliverability rates. Authenticate You may want to start by making sure your program is compliant by ensuring a valid identity on an through authentication. This can be done by using one of the popular protocols mandated by your ISP. Why authenticate? ISPs use authentication to identify a sender to better protect their users from unwanted spam. By being authenticated, s avoid some filtering and reduces the chance for false-positives. There are two forms of authentication; IP based Sender Policy Framework using Sender Identification (SPF/Sender ID) and cryptographic based Domain Keys and Identified Mail (DKIM). The first combines Microsoft s Caller ID for proposal and Meng Wong s Sender Policy Framework. The second is a signature-based approach supported by Yahoo! and Cisco. Either of the methods above will help an organization s deliverability rate, and combined work even better. Unfortunately to date, there is no universal authentication system in place. But competing standards follow similar principals. How do you become authenticated? You must modify your domain name records to indicate which IP addresses are allowed to send on behalf of your organization s domain. This allows ISPs something to refer to when attempting to authenticate your . Third party IT costs associated with domain modification can be steep, but the severe repercussions a suspect domain/ip Address can have with major ISPs can be higher. So altogether now let s all call for protocol! Outsource Outsourcing your communications to a leading ESP ensures your organization leverages the critical deliverability success component of reputation. Leading ESPs ( Service Providers) have positive relationships with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and adhere to strict industry best practices to stay top-of-class. They provide their customers easy access to on-demand top-tier solutions that increase your ability to send one-to-one relevant s recipients want. In addition, they reduce system-based flags that could prevent s from not reaching a recipient s inbox; as well as provide third-party spam scoring value added services so customers can quickly identify and remedy any problems before s are sent. What s more, many leading ESPs are Whitelisted at the ISP level and have a dedicated postmaster team working on delivering messaging around the clock. This lets business owners focus their attention on core competencies and leave their marketing efforts to the professionals. Campaigner powered by Protus 5

6 Desktop filtering: Tactics for success As ISPs continue to implement new spam combating mechanisms more and more consumers are following suit. As a result, diligent permission-based is often caught in the cross-fire. To ensure your next campaign is not deleted by the overzealous finger of a recipient, you must realize that your challenge lies not only in creating campaigns but ensuring deliverability. Long overdue, these proven tactics when implemented properly can spike an organization s deliverability rates fast. Whitelist Encouraging recipients to add your organization to their address book or safe sender list can make all the difference between high impact campaigns and a wasted investment. Why? Whitelisting is the best way to avoid client filters and guarantee your communications are delivered. When sending your next campaign ask (often & prominently) recipients add your organization to their personal whitelist and in the process fast track your to their inbox and not their junk folder. Make it as easy as possible, include a link to whitelisting instructions. You d be surprised at how many will comply. Unlike paying an ISP to whitelist, asking a recipient is absolutely free. deliverability fast food for thought: 50% of all measured is considered spam (Brightmail Probe Network) 10 out of 12 messages reviewed are considered spam (Postini.com) an average user now receives 42 unwanted pitches a day (Jupiter Research) Keep it Clean A good marketing program starts with a good list collecting the right attribute and opt-in information and keeping that data fresh & clean. You should start by automating your opt-out suppression each quarter to cut stale names from mailings that have become inactive or disinterested. Then verify data every month to ensure the list remains healthy. Yes, the list will get smaller, but when we re talking about deliverability, name quality prevails over name quantity every time. Happy recipients open their . And that translates into higher deliverability rates. Unhappy customers only boost complaints to ISPs. In a recent report on methods used to clean lists, MarketingProfs notes that organizations used a variety of techniques to keep their lists clean, the most common of which was to delete persistent bounces. So keep it simple. Don t teeter on the edge of legitimacy, always take the high road ask permission to send early & often and keep lists clean from the get-go. Maintaining an up-to-date list is an essential ingredient of deliverability success. Leverage your assets Businesses should leverage the strong relationships they ve built with prospects, customers and members by including details about the recipient s own registration in s. This reminds recipients they ve in fact opted-in for the communication. Next, provide the date of sign-up and how the recipient originally subscribed. Consider including unsubscribe instructions at the top of all s as well as the footer. This practice will allow recipients to easily click an unsubscribe button rather than a report spam button, just because they didn t scroll down your entire message to find the appropriate link. It s a quick fix that could potentially eliminate the headache of an unnecessary complaint the number one driver of all ISP filtering. Consider the following statistic from PC Magazine: there are 250,000 spam-related complaints reported every day at AOL alone. Campaigner powered by Protus 6

7 Human filtering: Tactics for success Businesses are finally realizing (the hard way) that their content determines their reputation and good content is relevant, targeted messaging where the recipient trusts the sender. From the way you build and collect information in your opt-in lists, to the way you manage campaign segments by defining attributes, to the content that is then displayed Relevant targeted messaging is the critical success component that allows to make it past the human filters into the recipient s inbox. Here are some powerful tactics that take the mystery out of achieving high deliverability rates. Relevance By infusing credibility into s sent recipients don t feel like an open inbox anymore simply because they opted-in. Why? Like it or not, today s definition of spam has changed from I didn t give permission to It doesn t interest me or I don t know who it s from. Today Internet users can easily tell the difference between spam and opt-in . In fact, a recent study of online behavior revealed that 93% of Internet users can tell the difference between a spam and an opt-in and they won t open spam s at all. But, 82% won t open a message from a sender they know if the information is not relevant. And while nearly no one will waste time on spam, many recipients won t even open a message from a sender they do know if the information is not relevant. This is where collecting opt-in recipient profiles & preferences, and using this information to target content comes in handy. If you can personalize your messages to individuals, and tailor content in your s to suit the specific demographic, psychographic and buying profiles of recipients, you are more likely to be a welcome, credible sender. By respecting preferences and thresholds regarding frequency and timing of sends, you are sure to impact your delivery rates significantly. How significant? The ROI gains can be over 10% for a complex, highly relevant, one-to-one, targeted campaign over a one-to-many, untargeted, broadcast campaign. The key factor in a consumer s willingness to respond to is relevance, relevance and more relevance. From field & subject line First impressions are worth their weight in gold. It s the primary target that spam filters flag and the initial visual a recipient scans to decide which messages not to delete. Recipient s are putting more weight than ever before on who the is from than any other item when choosing which s to open. Start by - and always stick to - using the same name in from name, from address and subject line. This brands your organization s subject lines so the recipient instantly knows who you are and that your message is credible and important enough to open. Changing it may cause your next to be filtered again. Next, use language carefully to avoid any spam-catching phrases or special characters. For example, avoid using words and phrases like: free, you win, time-limited, guaranteed, etc. in a subject line. Finally, writing is all about re-writing, don t be afraid to re-work subject lines until you come up with the best approach to ensure your is opened. Simply put mediocre messaging won t cut it anymore with most recipients, it makes you appear untrustworthy and trust is an important factor in boosting deliverability rates. Without trust, it diminishes the chances that an will be opened. Trust your instincts Strange as it sounds the concept of trusting your instincts is still foreign to many. Take advantage of this pain point and run with it. For example, if your content looks spammy (loud colors, unprofessional fonts, all capital letters, multiple exclamation points) there s a high probability the ISP will agree and flag it. Next, avoid sending unexpected to recipients and never send late at night when spammers regularly mass blast. Finally, stay away from message overkill (high send frequency) or s that conflict with opt-in preferences like hard-sell messaging to a reader who has opted-in to a hints & tips newsletter or service bulletin. Don t ignore your internal spam rater. Trust your instincts! And there you have it proven best practice tactics you can implement that are sure to elevate your organization s reputation and increase deliverability rates. Campaigner powered by Protus 7

8 Conclusions Compliance with ISP policies, maintenance of positive ISP relations, sender content, mailing history, list hygiene, relevance, reputation, etc Yes, deliverability is a complex problem but one that is controllable with the right knowledge and procedures in place. Start by understanding the reputation standards and systems in use (ISP-Desktop-Human) on which you will be judged, and then implement actionable best practice tactics to overcome those obstacles. In doing so, you can easily move your organization beyond the realm of creating and executing campaigns to sending high impact communications that are READ! Next, with so much complexity in today s deliverability field outsourcing of programs is becoming more and more crucial. Leading ESPs like Campaigner provide customers with access to award winning on-demand top-tier solutions and affordable thirdparty spam scoring services like Return Path Campaign Preview that maximize your spend. Finally, one thing s for certain, every business sending today wants to make that mail more deliverable. But without a solid reputation even the most diligent will fail to deliver results. As Benjamin Franklin so aptly put it Glass, china, and reputation are easily cracked, and never mended well. Good senders be on your best behavior and heed his advice! About Campaigner Campaigner is an industry-leading marketing service that makes it simple for small businesses and organizations new to marketing to create sophisticated one-to-one campaigns that result in profitable relationships with customers. Campaigner s proven marketing functionality includes list segmentation, personalized messaging, automation, and Salesforce integration. Campaigner improves marketing ROI and performance by helping small businesses create and send professional e-newsletters, grow opt-in lists, and improve permission-based marketing results. Campaigner includes automatic CAN-SPAM compliance and on demand online access for a low monthly fee. Campaigner resources Campaigner offers a variety of educational materials for the public. Find recent articles, tips, online product and educational webinars, customer case studies, and more. Additional information for Campaigner is available at Toll-free: International: Protus IP Solutions. All rights reserved. Protus, MyFax, my1voice, Campaigner are trademarks of Protus. Other trademarks referenced in this document are the property of their respective owners. Customers are solely responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance. CPWP0209 Campaigner powered by Protus 8

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