Pure360 s best practice marketing guide By Andy Thorpe

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1 @ Pure360 s best practice By Andy Thorpe 1

2 Contents Introduction... Page 3 Getting your s delivered... Page 4-6 Data & list building... Page 7-8 Content... Page 9-11 Optimisation... Page Conclusion... Page 14 2

3 Introduction Best practice is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot. When it comes to marketing, you don t have to follow best practice to stay within the law. You don t even necessarily have to be doing best practice, but of course it can make a massive difference to your campaigns if you are. With the way is evolving, using things like engagement metrics to assign you a sender reputation that decides your inbox placement is key; with social media making digital marketing as much about brand building and accountability as consumer rapport, best practice can no longer take a back seat to revenue - they are now synergistic variables to your marketing. To ensure you can consistently get results, inbox placement, and ensure your recipients experience is the best it can be best practice has never been more important and it will continue to be grow in importance as ISPs and privacy laws tighten the inbox entry rules and reputations putting permission over the blast. The intention of this guide is to supply you with a foundation to implement beneath your marketing; a framework to ensure your perception supports your recipients requirements - including the ISPs who handle the with the intention of maintaining your ability, to being relevant, creative, novel, and engaging within the ever changing environment of marketing. 3

4 Best practice: getting your s delivered When sending bulk it can prove tricky to get in the inbox, however ensuring that your campaign does get delivered is of course the idea. Due to spammers, lots and lots of technology sand time has been invested to intercept spam and redirect it to the junk folder so that only s you want are in your inbox. The ways of filtering s are content and reputation. Content filters The most common cause of junking in legitimate marketing s is content. Content filters were created to help stop proper spam, like viagra, replica watches and African money scams flooding peoples inboxes and getting in the way of that recipients actually want and asked for. Of course it is impossible to rid the inbox of all junk without catching the occasional good , which is why there is a junk folder for people to occasionally check if they are missing an they expected. The key to ensuring content filters don t confuse your with spam is to avoid your looking like spam, unfortunately not all of the things you need to do are obvious. Points to consider are: If you are sending HTML content, ensure you also have a plain text version Don t make your subject line all capitals Make sure your from name (sometimes called friendly from ) is an actual word(s) and not a URL i.e. don t put.com at the end of it Ensure your HMTL content has at least 3 images and not all of them touching Ensure your HTML content has at least 60% text and at most 40% images After that any problems will be smaller irregular things like spammy keyword combinations. 4

5 All of these things will be noticed by a spam or deliverabilty checker and any decent ESP will have one. Also services like Litmus, Return Path and on Acid offer them as a separate service along with inbox preview tools which will give you previews of how your HTML will be displayed in different inboxes. Some ESPs have this feature integrated into their software. ISP reputation Over the years it has become evident that most spam is sent by virally infected computers, which scrape the web and send spam out from that box. ISPs have realised that if they just black list that box and ignore any s from it, they save a lot of time and processing power because they do not have to scan the content to make a decision. As has progressed ISPs have found there is a big grey area between wanted and actual spam - this would be the s sent by actual people and business that recipients don t want - recipients also call this spam. In order to help decide how to treat s, ISPs have developed a reputation based system to sit in between blocked and unblocked. This reputation then decides how many s you can send to ISPs in a short space of time before they start to soft-bounce (defer) them to be sent again later. This is because spam-bots do not respond to this, so only real s got resent. Most of the big consumer ISPs use every metric they can from your s to measure and identify you, this includes: The IP address of the system that sent it The domain in the from address The whole address The word to the left of sign The reputations assigned to these things per sender are then decided on by the recipients reaction to the s they receive. 5

6 The below are all positive actions which will improve and maintain the reputation of a sender meaning that their inbox placement will be better: Opens over time Click through rates Replies Adding the from address to the address book and/or safelist Requesting to always load the Marking as not spam Hitting a spam trap The bullets below will all negatively affect reputation and make it harder to get high volumes into the inbox: Marking as spam Hard bounces Consistent soft bounces Ignoring Spam traps 6

7 Best practice: data and list building Just because you operate within the law, it doesn t mean your campaign will be delivered. Just because legislations don t prohibit certain activity, it doesn t mean that you are entitled to do it without consequence - the soft opt-in, corporate subscribers and third party opt-in are the big three problems. Soft opt-in is no good Recipients are not fans of the soft opt-in, or at least the way it has been (ab)used over the years. Nor are they fans of being forced into or even sneaked into third party optin when they fill out a form - often the third party optin is at the bottom of a linked Ts and Cs page from a sign-up form. Recipients consequent use of the spam buttons on s that they had not asked for has caused ISPs, in their strive to increase user experience, or at least lessen bad experience, to request only s that people ask for to be sent to their users. Things like buying lists which would be full of third party opt-ins and corporate subscribers will get you a lot of complaints, hard bounces and subsequent junking, maybe even blocks and black lists as well as the spam traps that get into lists when addresses are scraped from the internet. Whatever you do, don t scrape addresses from the web. If someone puts their address on their website and doesn t ask to be added to everyone s list, don t add them to your list. For instance, will be on a contact page asking to be ed if someone wants more information, not asking for marketing s from anyone who finds the address. All B2B spam trap addresses sit on websites on the web, if they are scraped and sold on, entire hosting centres can be blocked. If you don t have someone asking for your s, you will always be in danger of getting a spam trap. Ensure you respect and suppress every opt-out request and hard bounce. Make sure you or your ESP has you on the feedback loops for at least AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo and SpamCop. Data best practice tip: only people who actually want the , don t scrape from the web and don t buy lists. 7

8 List building The very basic thing here is to have a sign-up form on your website. The best practice is to a have a sign-up form on every page of your web-site, even if it only asks for the address - nice and easy. Best of best practice is to make the opt-in a double one, where someone submits the form and your form sends them another straight away with a link in for them to click to confirm the subscription. This way you can be certain that the person who gave you that address actually owns it. However lots of marketers are too scared of losing people during the process and refuse to do it. This is understandable and for many sites, you rarely get people signing up with other peoples addresses. ha mail.com ha mail.com ha ppycustom ail.com ha mail.com ha mail.com ha ha mail.com ha ha ppycusto me ail.com ha ppycusto me ail.com ha ppycusto me ail.com The only times it tends to happen is if the site has forced that person to enter an address to get to the next page: content like videos, vouchers, quotes etc. If people are suspicious or cannot see why they should give an address, they will just make one up. These are the forms that should be confirmed before they are marketed to otherwise you will be sending s to people who haven t asked for the s and they will hit the spam button. To meet in the middle somewhere, the best practice is to employ a welcome message. This is a message sent straight away after someone fills out the single opt-in sign-up form. The welcome capitalises on the momentum of engagement; someone has gone through all of the effort to trust you with their address, the only way they could be more engaged than that is to give you money! So sending an straight away will get some of the highest engagement of any . The welcomes the individual to your brand and list, tells them what will happen next, even gives them a sample of what to expect and maybe a cheeky call to action to get them started with the site or even a prize for signing up. List building best practice tip: get sign-up form and do a welcome . 8

9 Best practice: content In order for recipients to do what you want them to do with your marketing, they need to be interested or at least inclined to let you convince them. This means the and its content need to be relevant to them and relative to the rapport they have with you. If someone signs up to your newsletter about shoes they expect s about shoes. If you then add them to an additional list and start also ing them about crocodiles, you would be legally allowed to - only just - with the soft opt-in rule, but they are unlikely to be inclined to engage, unless you can prove relevance very quickly. In fact you are more likely to lose subscribers who would not be happy that you abused their trust in your brand. Best practice content tip: make the content relevant to the recipient requirements and expectations. Rendering To ensure everyone can see and interact with your the way you want them to, you will need to test, test, test the rendering in each client that your recipients could possibly view your s in. Obviously the main one is Outlook and then there are the big 4 web clients: Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail & AOL (respectively) as well as mobile clients like iphone, Blackberry and Android. Many ESPs have built in Inbox Preview tools, some of them have integrated with established third party apps like Litmus. Litmus is also available as a stand alone app as well as on Acid and Return Path s inbox monitor tools. Preheaders In this digital era we are powered by caffeine, smart phones and social media; attention spans are tiny. Creative best practice is to make sure people can engage with your as soon as possible. Different people have different levels of attention span and you have to cater for them all, so break your thinking down into 3 sections: 9

10 1) Preview Pane no images 2) Preview Pane with images 3) Full When the gets there, there is a good chance that the will be viewed in the preview pane with the images blocked; ask yourself 2 questions: 1) Can the recipient know what the is about and be inclined to engage? If it is all images and no text people will have to make the effort to load the images, if their rapport with you is poor they may just skip to the next and get on with their life, safe in the knowledge that they don t care what they missed. 2) Can the recipient convert form there? If you have one main call to action you want them to perform will they need the images loaded in order to know what it is you want them to do, let alone actually do it, if the answer is yes you are missing a trick. The key to this is trust earning text in the preheader and getting more text in the top third of the . When people open the they will see your preheader text telling them who s ing them and why, you then present them with a link to click to view in a browser and why not ask for them to add you to their address book and/or safe list. If you have a big banner image with text in that is the linked call to action (CTA) make the text actual text then they can convert without having to do anything. 10

11 Ensure the opportunity to convert is always available: If people are converted from the subject line, put an easy text link within your preheader text For people who are not converted but intrigued, make sure there is enough text in the preview pane view to allow them to find out more and then click, without loading the images For people who really need convincing sell the loading of the images or view in a browser link in the preheader as a secondary call to action. This way anyone who does not convert straight away will be inclined to see your in its full glory and your own creative expertise can do its job. Best practice tip for preheaders: Make sure you have one, make sure people can convert, sell the image load or browser view. Copy When writing for the web you again have to remember the short attention span. The marketing you send them is not expected to be a book or even an essay, it is a short message normally updating someone on a bit of information or selling something. When writing s it is even less because you want them to click through to this content. Best practice tip for copy writing: Keep it short and sweet, easily understandable, keep to the point and get the click through. 11

12 Best practice: optimisation Engagement @ As we know ISPs reward engagement and punish complaints. To ensure consistent inbox placement, especially at high volumes, you will need to target people differently depending on their engagement levels and feel happy about dumping non-engaged addresses eventually. An easy way of doing this is splitting the openers and non-openers over the last 3 months then ing the ones who don t open some different content to wake them up. If they still aren t opening after 6 months to a year (max) dump them. They are not going to open an so you might as well stop ing them. This will lessen the percentage of s not getting opened so your reputation should improve. And, by waking up some of the non-openers you have increased your list of engaged people who are now more likely to spend money with you. The important thing is to make sure the CTAs in the you send people are achievable compared to the rapport they have with you. If they don t know you very well they are less likely to spend money than people who know you well. In the same way as you have to talk to a sales person before you will trust them enough to give them money for a service, use your to increase the rapport until you have enough engagement to get them to spend. This high engagement will also be good for deliverability. If you keep hard selling to recipients, you will lose that rapport and they will start ignoring you, then while your list is still big, its value is lower because less people are actually engaged. Over time you may even be able to pick out the people who always open your s - these would be fans - it is likely that these people always load your images or even have their inbox set to automatically load them. These are the people you can send the really attractive image to because they will always see them, you can encourage them to tell their friends and share these lovely looking s with their social networks and get more new sign-ups. Finally, if you have ever bought a list and there are people on that list who have never opened an after 6 months, drop them. If you have old list data that you have not ed for a while, you may have to lose a big chunk of that too. Any address that has not been ed for over 6 months stands a chance of being a spam trap. Anything over 2 years it s best to drop them. 12

13 Achievable Call to Actions While it would be nice, unfortunately not every recipient will be inclined to get your , open it, click through and give you money. By using things like engagement metrics; time since last interaction with an , how long they ve been signed up and even other metrics from your website, account managers on the phone etc, you can get a good idea of what your rapport is with groups of recipients. You can then input this information into manageable categories, target recipients separately and make the call to action appropriate to that rapport. Subject line testing It is the subject line that gets the open. People decide what to do with the and how much time they are willing to spend on it depending on what you say in the subject and how honest it is. Any decent ESP will give you the opportunity to add more than one subject line to a message and when the campaign is sent the subject lines are AB tested and you can see which one did the best at the end. Some ESPs will allow you tell the software to choose the best subject line part of the way through the delivery so you can add multiple subject lines, send your campaign and after a small chunk of the delivery has gone out, the ESP will see which subject line has got the most opens and send the rest of the delivery with that one. Preference centres If you have more than one thing to people about, there is a chance that they will not want all of it. In these cases recipients are often presented with the choice of tolerating the irrelevant in order to still get the relevant, not all will do that and you could lose subscribers, whether they unsubscribe or just ignore you. The trick to helping your recipient engagement is to allow people to tell you what they want and can you do this with a preference centre. It is like a sign-up form but has additional options for them to choose from, normally check boxes and radio buttons. Different companies will have different preferences depending on their market. At Pure360 we generally have the EMM - our newsletter, Events and Pure360 news and updates - like product updates and special notification 13

14 This is not an uncommon set-up. It is often the events and special update s that cause the most losses to the newsletter list, so it is important to allow people to stop them while staying on the newsletter list. Charities that make a lot of their money from events often separate events out further by location. If it s just a North West, South East, London event; some by event type, e.g.: runs or black tie dinner, etc. Some will create a special list per event so people can track it all the way to the end. You can go as far as you like with this as long as you are consistent and give people the opportunity to opt-out of all current and future s if they so wish. Conclusion We hope this guide has supplied you with the information you need to achieve your marketing goals, so that you can continue to push forward with your brand awareness, revenue maintenance and improving your recipient experience. 14

15 Author of this guide, Andy Thorpe is one of the many talented and experienced people who make up the team at Pure360. Founded in 2001, Pure360 is one of Europe s top marketing companies. Pure360 () provides the best marketing and SMS services to customers such as innocent drinks, Seatwave, The FT Group, Hackett, Zoopla and LA Fitness. Pure360 don t tie customers in with a long contracts, instead they maintain the highest customer retention rate of 98.6% by making sure marketers are getting the best possible results from their marketing and SMS campaigns. Members of the DMA, Pure360 have recorded a 10% higher open rate for their customers than the DMA average, leading to higher clicks and conversions than competitor products. If you d like to talk to one of us then call or us at We re also on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter online 15

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