10 Ways to Improve B2B Deliverability:

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1 From First Click to Lifetime Customer 10 Ways to Improve B2B Deliverability: Expert Insights on How You Can Better Deliverability

2 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE B2B DELIVERABILITY: Expert insights on how you can better deliverability Today, most B2B engagement marketers recognize how important is to their overall marketing mix, how it can increase revenue, and how it can improve customer relationships. In fact, according to a report by Forrester Research, now ranks as the third most widely used B2B marketing tactic, next to public relations and direct mail. 1 And nearly eight out of 10 B2B marketers say the impact of is increasing. 2 But while B2B marketers realize that engagement marketing can generate leads and boost sales revenues, the dark cloud on their horizon is deliverability. Despite what you might think, B2B s face deliverability hurdles as daunting as their B2C counterparts. In fact, B2B deliverability issues are in many ways more complex. B2B marketers not only face many of the typical challenges of engagement marketing, but also have the added task of clearing numerous corporate filters. Not only must you get messages through the spam filters of major Internet service providers (ISPs), you must also contend with thousands of corporate domains, anti-spam firewalls and the widespread use of blacklists. And the hurdles that B2B s must jump in order to land in the inbox are increasing, with virtually every company in the United States now employing some sort of filter or blacklist. According to MarketingSherpa, 2 corporations employ the following to filter spam: Commercial filtering applications or appliances 80 percent Client-side filtering applications (e.g., Norton, McAfee, etc.) 58 percent Private blacklists maintained by the organization 41 percent Public blacklists maintained by people outside the organization 35 percent Open source filtering applications (e.g., SpamAssassin, etc.) 14 percent Nevertheless, there are things you can do to dramatically improve your chances of hitting the inbox. The following 10 steps can help you get the upper hand on deliverability. 1. Start with the Basics Although B2B marketers face unique deliverability challenges, the basics applicable to all campaigns still apply. You should revisit these regularly and make sure you are covering all the bases. Mail regularly. Most marketers worry about ing too much, but sending too little can be as big a problem. To keep bounces at a minimum, be sure to everyone on your list at least once every 90 days. addresses churn at an incredible rate, and infrequent mailing can raise overall bounce rates to undesirable levels. If it has been six months and you haven t ed someone, consider resoliciting permission. Check content. Always run your outbound through a content check, such as SpamAssassin, to reduce the chance it will get tripped up by filters. Use your brand. Make sure recipients recognize your messages. Put your brand in the from field and subject line, and make sure your brand and logo are viewable in an preview pane. Proper branding of your messages helps ensure that even if recipients don t remember opting in, they are more likely to opt out rather than report your as spam. Test renderability. Always test your message to ensure it will render properly for different recipient clients. Also, because a lot of clients block images, try turning them off for a test to see how the message looks and whether it still communicates meaning with the graphics disabled. 2. Get Authenticated Authentication is among the most promising tools for improved deliverability. It enables ISPs and network operators to verify that s actually originate from the Internet domain associated with the message. ISPs use authentication to decide if a message should be delivered and if it should bypass the junk folder and make it to the inbox Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 2

3 The three major authentication standards you should be aware of are Sender Policy Framework, Sender ID and DomainKeys Identified Mail. Sender Policy Framework (SPF). SPF was created in 2003 by a group of volunteers that wanted to close loopholes in delivery systems that allow spammers to spoof or steal addresses to send spam. With SPF, you publish the mail servers that are allowed to send from your domain. ISPs and administrators use this to validate that the incoming message is coming from a server that is authorized to send for your domain. Sender ID. Similar to SPF, Sender ID verifies that a message originates from the Internet domain from which it claims to have been sent. To implement Sender ID, you must publish all of the IP addresses used by your outbound servers in the Domain Name System (DNS). DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). Also aimed at authenticating senders, DKIM uses digital signatures to verify messages. It basically allows you, as a marketer, to add a digital fingerprint to your outgoing messages based on your domain name. More than eight out of 10 (85 percent) of ers now use one or more of these authentication methods. 3 And, these standards have all been adopted by virtually every major ISP, so if you haven t already done so, implement an authentication schemes in your program. It could mean the difference between delivery failure and success. 3. Carefully Control Reputation Outside of a sender s domain and the content of the , a lot of filters rely on reputation. Because B2B marketers may be dealing with a hundred different filters, each with its own filtering rules, reputation is of paramount importance. reputation is just what it sounds like it gives a clear picture of your sending history and ensures the corporation or ISP accepting your message that you exhibit best practices and are sending legitimate . Some of the things that contribute to a bad sending reputation include recipient complaints, sending to spam-trap addresses or to old addresses. As an marketer, you are largely in control of your reputation. Some things you can do to ensure a solid sending reputation are: Keep your messages relevant. Too many subscriber complaints can contribute to a poor reputation. Practice good list hygiene. Keep your lists clean and promptly honor opt-outs. Sign up for feedback loops. Offered by many ISPs, they keep you informed when one of their subscribers issues a complaint about you. While you won t be able to avoid all complaints, that should certainly be your goal. Some ISPs set guidelines for complaint rates as low as one-tenth of 1 percent of your sends. Exceeding that number can lead to blocked s. If you are unsure of your reputation, you can turn to an reputation service such as Sender Score (www.senderscore.org), which compiles detailed information and vouches for companies with the best reputations. They can often tell you what ISPs and other recipients think about your messages and help you make improvements. Endorsements by a reputation service may help you make it past some corporate firewalls. 4. Avoid Blacklists Blacklists are compilations of IP addresses suspected of sending spam. These lists are generated and maintained by ISPs and independent organizations in an effort to decrease unsolicited . Most ISPs maintain their own blacklists, but many corporations also rely on third-party blacklists in deciding whether to block senders. Companies access these lists and create filters based on the information they contain. In addition, some ISPs and corporate system administrators keep their own private blacklist based on complaints from subscribers or on criteria such as misconfigured Sender ID or DomainKeys. According to a recent survey of companies with over 500 employees, all used some type of filtering or blacklist. 4 Because even legitimate B2B senders can end up on a blacklist, they can significantly impact deliverability. However, there are steps you can take to decrease the chances of being blacklisted. Provide for easy opt-outs. Make sure the unsubscribe or opt-out button is prominently displayed in the message, giving the recipient a clear option other than reporting your message as spam. Stay true to your word. Send recipients only the content they registered to receive. If opt-ins sign up for white papers and end up receiving promotional s, they will likely start deleting your messages. But some will also likely hit the spam button, making your chances of getting reported as a spammer increase substantially Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 3

4 Keep your lists clean. If you continue to send to someone who has opted out or to an address that doesn t exist, you will likely end up on a blacklist. If you do land on a major blacklist like Spamhaus or SpamCop (and become aware of the situation), be prepared to put in some extra effort to be removed. Getting removed from a blacklist can be very time-consuming and complicated. Ultimately it s best to keep your lists and engagement-marketing activities above reproach to avoid blacklists in the first place. 5. Explore White Lists White listing is a process that an ISP or inbox provider uses to distinguish the best senders from the merely good, mediocre or downright bad. Senders who pass rigorous requirements that vary across ISPs or corporations can get their IP address placed on a white list. This special status confers deliverability advantages, such as bypassing some spam filters and increasing allowable send volumes. It dramatically improves the chances that messages will be placed in the inbox versus being blocked or routed to junk or spam folders. The first thing you will need to do is determine if the ISP or corporation you are sending to uses a white list to authorize . Once you confirm the existence of a white list, you must convince the ISP or inbox provider that your good sending practices merit white list inclusion. Some of the factors that may help determine your success include predictability and volume of sent, bounce management, complaint history, authentication and reputation. Despite the wishes of anxious senders eager to receive the green light, white listing does not happen instantaneously or even quickly. In most cases, you must build a good reputation on your -sending IP address over a period of months before an ISP or corporation will even consider your application for white listing. 6. Monitor Performance Keeping a close eye on key metrics such as opens, click-throughs and bounces can help you uncover any deliverability problems. For example, if you see a sudden increase in bounces or a drop in opens, chances are you might need to take a closer look at deliverability. One option for finding out if your messages are being delivered is to use a seed list of addresses. When sending to ISPs, it is easy to set up accounts with them and test your delivery rate. But this tactic is more challenging for B2B marketers who send to large numbers of corporate domains. Delivery monitoring companies can use seed lists to help you determine if your message is getting blocked by corporate filters. 7. Manage Bounces Bounce management is especially important for marketers mailing to corporations because employee turnover can be high, potentially rendering a large proportion of addresses invalid. You should have methods in place to automatically capture bounce data and should review that data regularly to keep your lists clean. Be sure to manage both hard and soft bounces. A hard bounce means that an ISP has told you the address is permanently undeliverable. The surest way to irritate an ISP and endanger your deliverability is to ignore what it is telling you. Remove hard bounces promptly and thoroughly from your lists. You also should have a plan in place for removing soft bounces valid addresses that have been returned as temporarily undeliverable due to circumstances such as overflowing inboxes or swamped servers. A good rule-of-thumb is to scrub from your list any address that has consistently soft-bounced at least three times over a set period of time, such as three weeks or a month. The frequency with which you contact recipients can be taken into account when determining the period of time over which you monitor for bounces before removing addresses from your list. However, it s important to remember that virtually all ISPs keep a close watch on bounced addresses and won t tolerate senders who continually send to them. Overall, you should strive for a hard bounce rate of no more than 4 percent to 5 percent. Hard bounce rates exceeding 7 percent are cause for concern and should be addressed immediately. The higher your bounce rate, the more hurdles your messages have to cross to reach the inbox Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 4

5 8. Tell Recipients to Expect Your Message Whether you use a double opt-in or simply follow up registration with a confirmation or welcome message, be sure to let recipients know with the opt-in that your message will arrive shortly, and then send it right away while they are thinking about you. In your message, ask recipients to add you to their address book to ensure that they continue to receive your s. 9. Implement Message Throttling The nature of spamming is high-volume and irregular, and thus one way ISPs and corporations detect unwanted messages is by examining the velocity and pattern of messages coming from a particular IP address or server. If the volume exceeds a designated threshold, they may place a temporary block on all messages coming from that source. Understanding the volume restrictions of ISPs and corporations you send to and more tightly managing the flow of your outgoing will prevent this from happening. Engagement marketing technology providers that have deep expertise in deployment should be able to handle these throttling tasks for you. 10. Enlist the Help of Deliverability Professionals Some engagement marketing technology providers, such as Silverpop, have deep expertise in deployment and will have access to deliverability professionals and processes to help ensure your messages reach the intended recipients. In addition, companies like Pivotal Veracity or Return Path can help you get a handle on deliverability by auditing your s to determine why they aren t reaching inboxes. These audits uncover causes and recommend fixes for content and coding errors, rendering problems, black-holing (messages that are discarded by ISPs without notice) and other factors affecting your deliverability. Conclusion Today s talented engagement marketers understand how important is as a component of your marketing mix, but also know that deliverability can be a major hurdle to overcome. Applying the tips and tricks of the trade can help marketers overcome deliverability challenges, but as you focus on these areas, don t forget to measure the results of any changes you make in order to understand what works best for deliverability to your B2B list. Taking steps to protect your deliverability will pay huge dividends in the future in the way of increased sales opportunities and more profitable customer relationships. Selecting a knowledgable vendor who can keep you up-to-date on the lastest trends and practices can also help. Silverpop s Engage platform provides customers with sophisticated, on-demand features to create and execute targeted campaigns that generate results. Silverpop s deliverability team assists clients with the complex issues surrounding B2B message deliverability in order to make the most of your engagement-marketing efforts. Footnotes: To find out more about Silverpop s Engage platform and how it can benefit your company, please contact us toll-free at Visit us at Most-Used Blacklists MAPS SpamCop SpamHaus NJABL (Not Just Another Bogus List) SORBS (Spam and Open Relay Blocking System) Distributed Sender Blackhole List Composite Blocking List 1. Q Business-to-Business Marketing Effectiveness Survey, Forrester Research, Marketing Benchmark Guide 2007, MarketingSherpa, er Practice and False Positive Study, MarketingSherpa and Pivotal Veracity, November Behind the Firewall: B-to-B , MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm, November Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 5

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