Our email marketing journey and the lessons we’ve learnt along the way (part 2)

In part 1, we covered choosing a setup, strategy and testing out templates. Raphael Marsh is back to share more essentials to support those small businesses who want to get serious about their email.

4. Warming up your IP

Regardless of how sexy your email template is or how long you deliberated over the messaging, it’s all irrelevant if your email doesn’t make it to the inbox.

That’s your ultimate email marketing goal, and can only be achieved by way of an excellent sender IP and domain reputation.

If you have set up a brand new dedicated IP for your stream, it is effectively classed as ‘cold’. A new IP is pretty crap in the eyes of the world.

Spammers will frequently set up new IPs and start sending lots of mail, so as you may imagine, most email providers don’t look kindly on the output.

‘Warming an IP’ is the term given to the act of sending daily emails on a fresh server, starting at very low numbers and gradually increasing volume over time (usually more than a month) until various email providers identify that you are a legitimate stream.

This procedure is essential to expedite your journey to a good reputation. Simply pick a plan and get cracking.     

5. Warming up your IP (continued)

We have warmed up many sender IPs at FanFinders. Let me tell you, it never takes the ‘30 days’ a warm up plan will predict.

Mail providers and email filters are incredibly tough on new streams with zero track record.

The most likely experience will be that even after scrupulously following a warm-up plan, you’ll see initial delivery success (first 1-2 weeks) on a new IP – followed by a sharp decline.

This is the period that it takes for your new email stream to be received, initially accepted and then identified as having no reputation score.

Don’t lose heart! The trick now is to maintain ‘consistent’ sending for weeks, (or months) even though very few people may actually be reading your email.

During this process, it’s essential to see a breakdown of your delivery (Inbox/Spam/Not Delivered) for every provider you care about. For many companies it will largely be Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo.

This is where your analytics come into play. You can use gradual filtering and suppression to maximise your open rate + click-through percentage to eventually reach up to full delivery, across multiple email providers, but this will mean lots of list creation and micro management.

For Gmail specifically, you should enrol your domain with Google Postmaster Tools to directly see your ongoing reputation, and identify any tech or authentication issues.

Don’t give up hope. Once you achieve full inbox delivery; apart from the immense satisfaction, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you can happily increase volume over time without any unresolved problems causing much larger issues.     

6. Get Certified

If you’re serious about your email marketing, and have the budget, then one path to consider is getting your stream certified by Return Path.

Return Path is a service that can add huge value to email reputation, deliverability, inbox placement and general insight – if you are accepted that is.

Enrollment involves having your entire email output monitored over a month or so, resulting in an evaluation report on your performance.

This vetting process will identify any best practices or improvements you may need to make to achieve a gold standard.

The benefits of Return Path certification are certainly worth the struggle.

Due to a close relationship with Microsoft, all mail for that provider will go straight to the inbox, with images and links all auto-enabled.

Remember though, having gold standard email practices and achieving certification does not give you carte blanche to take your eye off the ball.

If you start receiving too many complaints within a short timescale, all benefits will be suspended until you get your act together.

Now you’re all set-up, check out part 3, where we cover more ‘intelligent’ emailing and what to do when things go wrong.