With the holidays just around the corner, there’s much to do before the busiest email season of the year! And, as an email marketing expert, I can tell you it includes a lot more than just checking your list twice for ISPs to determine if you’re naughty or nice. I have been seeing Deliverability getting harder and harder but with a few guiding tenets, we can help you navigate the formula to success.
Return Path recently came out with their 2016 Deliverability Benchmark Report, which confirms marketers’ growing challenges with deliverability. The report states that one in five emails in the US never makes it to the inbox and when comparing Q2 2015 (81%) with Q2 2016 (79%), we saw a 2% decrease in inbox placement. Even though this seems like a small number, it could have a large impact on revenue.
So what can you do to make sure your emails will be seen this holiday season? In order to keep your own placement rates as high as possible, it is important to follow deliverability best practices. There are three key variables in our best practices formula; we call it the Deliverability Trifecta.
The Deliverability Trifecta
Authentication + Reputation + Engagement = Maximum Deliverability Success
What is authentication?
To be seen as a legitimate sender, it is important that you authenticate your emails with Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM). Authenticating mail helps build trust with your customers and tells ISPs you are a trustworthy sender. DMARC is the newest form of authentication which ensures both SPF and DKIM are aligned. DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance. This is really the next big step in message authentication and the elimination of spoofing and phishing. Below is a simple diagram of how DMARC works.
What is reputation?
As an email marketer, your overall brand reputation is important but even more so is your sender reputation. Until recently, your IP reputation was one of the most important factors monitored by ISPs. Due to more IPs being introduced into the Internet, ISPs have started to turn to domain reputation as the main point of reputation guarantee. Gmail has already confirmed they are primarily looking at domain reputation versus IP and our team has seen other ISPs, such as AOL and Hotmail, follow Gmail’s lead. IP reputation is still important, but domain reputation is fast becoming the standard.
How important is engagement, REALLY?
Recipient engagement with your brand is probably one of the most important influencers of email deliverability. Return Path’s report correctly states that ISPs such as Microsoft, AOL, Gmail and Yahoo are focusing more and more on engagement. It truly is a “Quality over Quantity” type of email marketing world.
Quality includes engagement. If you are not already monitoring engagement metrics, such as opens, clicks and read rates, then you are already behind. Our team highly recommends monitoring these metrics regularly and adjusting your marketing efforts accordingly. This is especially true for the holiday season, as ISPs are known to pull back their connections as marketers increase their email volume. These actions bombard their servers and result in less emails making it through to the inbox. It is important to send to high-quality lists, such as highly engaged recipients, and to ensure your emails have high-quality, valuable information or offers.
Overall, Deliverability is not simple. As we enter the busiest season of the year, now is the time to pay close attention to the variables that will lead to a successful campaign season. If you are lacking in any area of the Trifecta, you may need to seek the help of an established email provider who can offer valuable strategic services and technology for your holiday campaign. With the right formula, you can make it to the inbox.