On July 31, 2012, Microsoft introduced their newest webmail service, called Outlook.com. This means an inevitable fall from grace for Hotmail.com and Live.com, the previous favored children of the Microsoft empire. In fact, the software giant tweeted that within one hour of the launch, they had already hit 1 million users of the new Outlook.com.

So what are the lessons for those of us who do email marketing? In case you haven’t had the opportunity to fully digest the potential impact on our industry, here are some insights…

Tom Sather, Sr. Director, Email Research at ReturnPath writes:

“The consequences for email marketers are not entirely known right now. However, as people switch to Outlook.com, and perceptions of owning a Hotmail.com domain seem old fashioned, marketers will see their Hotmail.com numbers dwindle, and more people changing their addresses. If it is currently not easy to change one’s email address in your preference center, and Hotmail.com comprises a large percentage of your database, it may be wise to revisit that decision.”

Andrew Bonar, Deliverability Director at Emailvision suggests:

“As we see users migrate from Hotmail to Outlook.com, email marketers will probably witness a drop in their open rates from large segments of their Hotmail customer group. In Outlook.com, you quickly learn that from one outlook.com email address you can have many alias addresses. I recommend that email marketers keep an eye on their lists and check the relative levels of engagement from pre-existing Hotmail users.

Email marketers should also keep an eye out for those new subscribers using Outlook.com. Be aware, these are brand new inboxes so relationship marketers will have highly visible emails – in a less crowded inbox.”

And finally Mitch Lapides, President of FulcrumTech blogged:

“As we look at how the new Outlook.com may impact marketers, the folder and sweep features stand out. Outlook.com detects and labels emails as promotional and newsletters, for example, offering an unsubscribe button that allows users to unsubscribe and filter all future advertisements from a company. It also creates “quick view” folders for certain messages and a “sweep” feature that lets users automatically move all messages from certain email addresses to a folder, as well as delete them on a schedule set by the user. These features — especially the scheduled cleanup — could really hurt email marketers who aren’t adequately engaging with their subscribers.”

Survey Says…

Here at FreshAddress, we took a look at some lists our clients have collected in the last week. So far, “outlook.com” email addresses are less one-tenth of a percent of the volume. But based on the speed at which Outlook.com passed the one million mark, however, we expect these percentages to move up quickly.

Final Thoughts

So take careful note of the suggestions mentioned above, and be sure you have figured out how you’ll respond when your customer changes his or her email address. And don’t hesitate to give us a buzz if you want to understand how our Email Change of Address service can help you out! The best marketing messages in the world are of little value if no one gets a chance to see them.

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