The US pandemic has more Americans online than ever before. No wonder email marketers are so laser-focused on email campaign performance.

At the same time, ISPs continue to analyze and filter every campaign sent and watch closely for changes to sending behavior. How can smart email marketers manage their inbox delivery before problems crop up? Here are five areas to master:

 

1. ISP infrastructure compliance

The first step to getting to the inbox is getting your mail accepted. Removing reputation from the equation, you need to be sure you have several critical delivery and infrastructure settings in place to send email.

The rub is that anyone can send mail from anywhere and claim to be anyone. Authentication is the one aspect of setup that protects both senders and recipients. Most spammers skirt this step or try to disguise it. Reputable senders publish one or more of the basic authentication protocols, SPF and DKIM.

 

DMARC

On top of that, DMARC is becoming crucial in the ISP filtering process. With or without a published policy, ISPs are running their own DMARC checks and making filtering decisions based on the results.

If you haven’t already discussed or heard of it, DMARC is a protocol that helps protect senders against spoofing and phishing. A big part of DMARC is the sender’s policy on how to handle unauthorized mail coming from their domain.

Senders who use authentication, especially when tied with DMARC, have their emails accepted and inboxed at higher rates in addition to protecting their brand and monitoring any misuse that is occuring.

 

2. List hygiene and validation

Delivery experts say 90% of inbox placement issues stem from poor email file quality. A health check for your email list is a great way to manage and optimize email inbox delivery.

So, what’s in your email file today? Non-deliverable (bouncing) addresses? Typos? Role accounts? Spam traps?

A validation review of your email file will reveal exactly what addresses are good (often called valid) and those you should consider suppressing.

      • Typical validation reviews show around 95% valid addresses, meaning 5% are risky.
      • On a list of 1 million, that’s 50,000 addresses that are affecting the inbox rate of your 950,000 valids.

Email validation is one of the easiest and most effective tools for improving the performance of your email campaigns. Learn more.

 

3. Daily campaign monitoring

Your settings are locked and loaded. You analyzed and validated your list. But you still aren’t done. Inboxing, especially at the top ISPs, is fruitless if customers don’t want your email, report it as spam, or ignore it.

Pay close attention to what the ISPs are watching – what your customers are doing. Then see how the ISPs are responding. Although you won’t be able to see all of the nuances that go into an ISP’s filtering decision (whether a customer starred a message, flagged it, added a reminder, among others) you do have a trove of data in your campaign delivery and performance metrics.

      • You can focus on individual points in time, but metrics in a vacuum can be misleading.
      • Instead, track activity against your campaigns and lists over time.
      • Look for fluctuations and whether they last. If so, what changed?

Most of the time, it’s a change in who is being emailed. List selection and quality affect delivery and placement. Tailor your communications to your customer. Focus on engagement and the times when customers are most likely to engage. Be strategic about expansions and new data sources.

 

4. New-to-file email addresses

You add hundreds, even thousands, of new email addresses to your list every day.

But with those new-to-file addresses comes risk. Risk to your just-cleansed master file. Risk to your domain reputation if enough of your new addresses are invalid or spam traps.

Automated, real-time, new-to-file email validation is the solution to this problem. Here’s how the process works:

You integrate the real-time API with your digital email acquisition points. This can include your POS system, web forms, external acquisition partners, etc.

      • The service analyzes every email address you collect.
      • Typo entries are rejected, and the user is prompted to enter their correct email address.
      • Spamtraps, bogus, disposable, undeliverables addresses are suppressed.

This all happens instantly! Know your list is always optimized for Inbox delivery. “Set and Forget.”

 

5. List fatigue

Over time, brands and messaging can fatigue with customers. The list itself can get fatigued through over-emailing, too.

Customers change email addresses, stop opening your emails, or abandon their accounts. Sometimes domains and services shut down. This makes them prime candidates for spam monitoring.

Consistent messaging and bounce processing will help to keep your list up to date. But what about your inactive subscribers? Do you still plan on targeting them with campaigns in special circumstances? If so, tread carefully and have a plan.

Develop a policy governing how you want to reintroduce them. This should include:

      • How you’ll confirm that these addresses haven’t turned bad.
      • How often you’ll email them and then how you incorporate them back into the flow if they do reengage.
      • How your messaging will differ from what your more engaged subscribers receive.

Email validation is your first step before you start emailing again to a fatigued list. Following that, introduce your messaging slowly to test out the quality of those that remain.

Just because an email address is valid doesn’t mean it’s valuable. If it belongs to a subscriber that’s inactive and/or no longer interested in your brand or emails, don’t be afraid to cut them loose!

As you introduce and test the waters, watch performance carefully. Manage how you continue the flow of that group, whether it includes pausing sends, incremental outreach, etc.

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