Our email marketing journey and the lessons we’ve learnt along the way (part 3)

In part 2, we covered warming your IP and certification. In this final part, Raphael Marsh rounds things up with how to be prepared for when things go wrong and why ‘intelligent’ emailing is the way forward.

7. Complaints

All emails streams receive complaints, sometimes it’s unavoidable and certain providers have very sensitive reputation systems. It is imperative that you ensure the complaint rate remains below acceptable thresholds (0 to 0.4%).

As an example, it’s very common for brands to have problems with delivery to Microsoft mail (e.g. Hotmail). One of reasons for this can be their proprietary ‘SRD’ system. Microsoft takes user complaints very seriously and operates their Sender Reputation Data as an email feedback system with the end user.

If you are sending bulk email to Microsoft mail, a portion of your users will be randomly contacted to vote on the quality of your output: either ‘junk’ or ‘not junk’.

Get too many junk votes within a 30 day period and that’s precisely where all your mail is heading! Until more people vote positively for you that is, or some junk votes drop off the system (after 30 days).

Always put yourself in the shoes of your list members. Is the content relevant and/or useful? Can they unsubscribe easily or change communication settings? Are they receiving too much email, or too many repeat sends? This should be your main and ongoing concern. Fall down on this job and your hard won reputation will disappear fast.

8. ‘When’ things go wrong

You can be plodding along without a problem for ages – then BANG. One day something goes wrong.

When the sh*t hits the fan, you’re going to have the whole company clambering for details and an ETA for the fix. If you’re not prepared it can be a traumatic experience, with potentially 100% of revenue being lost and you being helpless to resolve the situation.

There could be any number of reasons:

  • Server downtime
  • IP added to a blacklist
  • Complaint level leading to a temporary suspension
  • Email software error
  • Alien attack

This is where you thank the gods that you retained the (previously under-used in the goods times) analytics software. You should be able to diagnose the issue and swiftly fix, or at the very least, give everyone details of any longer term disaster…

9. Intelligent email 

You’ve successfully set up your email stream, survived the pitfalls and developed a great mailing reputation with high deliverability to your happy database. The only thing left to do now is get better at it, with the users’ needs firmly in your sights.

Initially this could simply be Trigger/Event emails. Most mail management software has the functionality to send a pre-created email to users based on specific site interactions; registration, successful purchase; cart abandonment; product suggestion; birthdays…etc. These can achieve 3x the engagement over standard mail so get creative.

Do you have the ability to identify the content preference for individual users? How about engagement – who are your power users, and who are you mailing too much? Is your content personalised? Like, REALLY personalised, (not just adding a first name)? Can you target users based on location, interests, life stage – and simultaneously serve them tailored content?

Over time, try to work towards the inclusion of this level of targeting into your daily marketing output. The holy grail is to send relevant content to the right consumers at the right time, which will often result in sending less overall volume but with superb engagement and ROI – an invaluable asset to any business.

Good luck on your email marketing journey.