WHITE PAPER SEPTEMBER Make It Into the Inbox. Co-authored by Jaren Angerbauer and Shaneli Ramratan

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1 THE DIGITAL MARKETING COMPANY WHITE PAPER SEPTEMBER 2008 The 10 Commandments of Delivery Make It Into the Inbox Co-authored by Jaren Angerbauer and Shaneli Ramratan

2 In the world of marketing to consumers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have omnipotent control. They decide which messages get through to a user s box and which don t meaning that, sometimes, getting messages delivered to your treasured subscriber base seems absurdly hard. Despite the difficulty many marketers face with , the benefits far outweigh the stumbling blocks. Revenue from marketing is said to be roughly $45 for every $1 spent. With such phenomenal numbers, almost no other communications channel can rival this return on investment. On average, 50% of your database comes from Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, and AOL. Spammers, who target these ISPs with unsolicited junk mail, have caused a strong response from ISPs who want to ensure security and privacy for their users. Getting in the inbox even when a recipient has opted in is not guaranteed. In addition, a study by Marketing Sherpa shows that 41% of recipients 73% of recipients decide to click on the report spam button based on the from line. (survey conducted by Sender and Provider Coalition 2007) hit the SPAM button if the information contained in the does not interest them. So even as responsible senders, you can be blocked if careful attention is not given to your creation and sending practices. Nevertheless, blind faith is not necessary for effective ing. When followed, a few best practices will help increase your delivery rates. Call them the Ten Delivery Commandments of marketing. 1. Sufficient Sending Volume: It s important to make sure you have sufficient sending volume should you want a dedicated IP. Typically, minimum requirements are that you send to more than 40,000 subscribers in a 30-day period, or that you have more than 40,000 subscribers in your database. 2. Visible Sending Domains: All of the sending domains you use, including your corporate domain, should have visible WHOIS information and be registered on abuse.net. Hidden domain protection services are often recognized by spam blockers as junk, and mail sent will not be delivered. It s also highly recommended to have a consistent sending domain and a static from address according to the type of you are sending. 3. Confirmed or Double Opt-In: It is extremely important to obtain explicit permission to send to your subscribers. Use a double-opt in process to make sure you close the loop when receiving permission to send to subscribers. Employ a welcome message upon sign-up to verify the list and content to which a user has subscribed. Remind subscribers to add you to their address books to ensure they receive your content. 4. Assigning Expectations for Content and Frequency: When a subscriber agrees to receive communication from you, it is important that you are explicit about the frequency of messages and the content they can expect to receive. In addition, it is important to make sure your subscribers are receiving content they find useful and, if not, to provide them quick ways to remove themselves from future mailings. 5. Acquiring Addresses: addresses to which you will be sending should be obtained in a transparent manner. Using underhanded tactics like offering a free download and then opting in users to unrelated lists is unacceptable. Be completely clear to the subscriber regarding his/her subscription. Additionally, addresses should not be obtained through third-party affiliates, programs, or vendors. 33% of addresses change on a yearly basis. (Return Path) 1

3 6. Integrity of Content: content sent from you should be relevant to your business and related to content on your website. You should not send communications for third parties. Also, make sure subject lines are relevant to the content contained in the body of the Best Practices for Creation: There should be no large images, large attachments (all attachments are discouraged), or messages that consist solely of an image. Do multi -part messages and include a physical business address. Make sure your HTML message structure uses technical best practices (these can be found at 8. Current Subscriber Activity: Subscribers must remain actively interested in your content. Tracking must be implemented to identify subscribers who are no longer engaged. This can be done by unsubscribing those who have not clicked or opened a campaign in more than six months. It is also a good idea to re-opt-in subscribers who have not opened or clicked a message in more than six months. 9. Sender Reputation: Following the preceding commandments creates the building blocks of your sender reputation. Correctly following each guideline serves to One in five s are invisible and ineffective because of blocked images. (The Experience Council 2007) Delivery rates can drop over 20 points if you have one spam trap hit, according to a benchmark report by Return Path. boost your reputation as a responsible mailer. This process is a lot like building credit and takes time and responsible transactions to develop trust from ISPs. 10. Building a Healthy Relationship: helps you build a relationship with your customers. This involves two parties agreeing to certain rules and guidelines to continue a relationship in good standing. Should either party become unhappy with the relationship, it is the responsibility of the other party to end communication. Unsubscribe links should be highly visible in all messaging. Bonus! A great compliment to any program is an RSS feed. Providing users an RSS subscription helps you to determine loyal subscribers to your content, and you enjoy 100% delivery. 2

4 Real-Life Success Stories from Our Delivery Team: Chef s Special Put Out With Trash Problem: A restaurant s weekly newsletter keeps landing in the junk folder instead of the Inbox. Possible Causes: The client had limited knowledge regarding best practices. Marketers had built a good list but were sending from an AOL address rather than a corporate domain. Solution: Client changed the sending domain to a domain branded to the organization, and used it in the subscriber . Additionally, authentication methods such as SPF, SenderID and DomainKeys were put in place to validate this new sending domain. This helped to get the subscriber s from the bulk folder to the Inbox. Online Retailer s Roadblock Problem: A luxury retailer is experiencing poor delivery rates and is at times completely blocked by ISPs. Possible Cause: Unclear subscription process that didn t communicate effectively to recipients that they would be subscribed to an newsletter. Solution: The subscription process was changed to be clearer in subscription expectations. Additionally, whitelists and feedback loops were put in place. The result was that the client s was not blocked and ended up in the Inbox. Is Spam On Your VIP List? Problem: Over the course of several years, a trendy nightclub built a robust list of subscribers, but is now experiencing low delivery and open rates. Possible Causes: 1) Disinterested subscribers choose not to open the message and some even mark the message as SPAM, resulting in a negative effect on sender reputation. 2) The list contains old addresses that are no longer valid. ISPs recognize the bad address and turn it into a spam trap. If a spam trap address receives mail, ISPs identify the sender and there is a negative effect on sending reputation. Solution: Unmaintained lists are sloppy and don t efficiently engage clients. Segment or divide the list into recipients who opened and/or clicked, and those who have not. Remove those who have not interacted with your campaign, and launch a sender reengagement campaign to give them a chance to opt back in before they are removed. These changes help to improve open rates two and three times from what they previously were. 3

5 About mobilestorm Inc. For nearly a decade mobilestorm has pioneered the concept of digital marketing. Having successfully delivered 2 billion+ messages on behalf of thousands of premier customers such as American Idol, Qantas Airways, MGM Grand, Palms Casino, Carl s Jr., Squaw Valley Ski Resort and Horoscope.com, mobilestorm is at the forefront of the digital marketing revolution. The company provides a turnkey, hosted and digital messaging platform backed by world-class support and expert digital marketing services. mobilestorm has created the most complete digital marketing solution available, enabling you to reach your customers via , text (mobile) messaging, voice messaging, fax broadcast, direct mail, RSS or video from a single provider. For more information please visit Or to schedule a demo, contact mobilestorm today mobilestorm Inc Sunset Blvd. Ste. 200 Los Angeles, CA T (323) F (323) The 10 Delivery Commandments: Make It Into the Inbox

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