Despite all of the new tools and applications, email still reigns supreme as the primary method of communication. Google Inbox, introduced at the end of last year, is a proof point to the continued importance and necessity of email. This is good news for marketers, but only if they’re willing to make some adjustments. In 2015, email marketing will continue to be the most important vehicle for businesses to reach new and existing customers. And there’s good reason for it too. MarketingSherpa reports that companies sending more than 100,000 emails per month see a 94% return on investment; companies sending fewer than 100,000 emails per month see a 139% return.
However, despite positive ROI from email, spam rates are still hovering at 90%. In turn, consumers continue to struggle to get through all the email they receive. So, how do businesses master the art of getting their email seen in a crowded inbox?
Build a strong user base by avoiding paid email lists
Build email lists organically and verify you have permission to email customers on your list. Don’t scrape the bottom of your list or webpages for more email addresses because it can cause more damage than it’s worth. Along this same vein, don’t share lists across business channels. For example, if you own shoes.com and bags.com, don’t send a shoes.com holiday email to your bags.com list.
The overarching strategy of your email marketing campaigns should be to use caution, pay attention to metrics and send email marketing campaigns to people who subscribed to your list. And remember; don’t increase sending frequency just because it’s a holiday. You’ll want to send quality email to your engaged recipients. After all, one mistake could have you cleaning up your sending reputation for a long time.
Stay consistent in all of your messaging
Straying too far from your fundamental brand can be a dangerous game. Your recipients need to be able to recognize you as they continue to receive and influx of email marketing campaigns. By staying consistent and sending relevant, interesting content, your recipients can train their inboxes to recognize the varying importance of emails sent (receipts and confirmations vs. promotions and coupons). Don’t lose your brand’s identity for the sake of cheerful designs and ideas.
Protect your sending reputation
Each time you send an email, your reputation is impacted. As long as ISPs use a series of reputation and engagement metrics to determine email deliverability, businesses must understand all the factors that influence the outcome of an email marketing campaign. While thresholds vary by ISP, there are a few determining factors that will make an impact, including the spam compliant rate, unknown senders and spam traps.
The spam complaint rate is the percentage of subscribers who have reported your email as spam. A high complaint rate is the number one factor used by ISPs to determine whether or not to deliver your email messages. If too many people are flagging your mail as spam, internal ISP spam filters and 3rd party filters will flag your mail and potentially block your messages. Additionally, unknown users, meaning emails that are non-existent, and spam traps can impact your sending reputation. Spam traps, or “honey pots”, often appear if you have poor email acquisition practices or if your email list is too old. These spam traps are lethal to a business’ email success. ISPs set up specific accounts or often reclaim accounts with no activity and monitor the messages that are sent to those inboxes. Since these addresses will never open or click on your messages, it’s important to practice good list hygiene and proactively remove non-engaging addresses.
Email isn’t going anywhere, so marketing campaigns shouldn’t either. Email will continue proving to be the most valuable communications channel between a business and its consumer, if used correctly. As you start improving your email habits it’s important to remember to build email lists authentically, keep your messaging consistent and protect your sending reputation. Doing so will help machine algorithms, such as those behind Google Inbox, learn and recognize good versus bad senders. As a result, you’ll see more engaged customers and continued growth.
Ryan Harris is the deliverability expert at SendGrid