increasing email deliverability - getting mail to the inbox by LTrunk3487


									white papers

Increasing email deliverability: Getting email to the inbox!

As email marketers know too well, deliverability remains the biggest challenge they face today. That being said, deliverability is the one area where marketers are still in control, because the success components that effect deliverability can be directly influenced by the choices a marketer makes. This insightful white paper aims to make those choices just a little easier, by providing marketers with a clear overview on the main obstacles that prevent email from reaching the inbox; and the simple tactical trends that can be implemented to avoid those obstacles. Remember, the first step towards any chance a marketer has of spurring a recipient into action is making sure their mail gets to where it’s intended – that all-important inbox. This white paper is a great tool to help marketers get that jump start on the complex task of increasing their deliverability performance. We hope you find it valuable.

Increasing email deliverability – Getting email to the inbox!

Introduction The obstacle course Filtering the noise ISP filtering: Tactics for success – Authenticate – Outsource Desktop filtering: Tactics for success – Whitelist – Keep it clean – Leverage your assets Human filtering: Tactics for success – Relevance – From field & subject line – Trust your instincts Conclusions About Campaigner page 3 page 3 page 3 page 4

page 5

page 6

page 7 page 10

Increasing email deliverability – Getting email to the inbox!

When it comes to eMarketing, the critical metric that marketers traditionally use to determine their overall email program’s success is deliverability. Without high deliverability performance marketers cannot move beyond the basics to build customer relationships, grow robust opt-in lists, scale email programs and generate new revenue. This white paper provides a quick and compelling roadmap for discovering new tactics to increase email delivery performance rates. Let’s define deliverability. Deliverability in email marketing is all about reputation, more specifically an organization’s ‘email reputation’. Understanding the many reputation-based obstacles a marketer’s communication will face on the way to its destination is critical to boosting email deliverability rates.

the complexity of the evaluation process to ensure their next email campaign gets into that all-important inbox. The chart below shows just how big ‘false-positive’ rendering of email messaging is for organizations.

How many organizations affected by false-positives (ISP Only)

Organizations affected by false-positives 54%

Organizations not affected by false-positives 46%

The obstacle course
In today’s complex world of email marketing, these obstacles can take the form of automated spam filters – at the service provider (ISP) or desktop level – that rate and filter through only email that meets a certain set of criteria. However, obstacles are more and more taking the form of ‘Human’ filters – recipients, who feel that a message is not relevant enough to them, and therefore block a marketers’ communications or report an organization to their ISP. With AOL, Hotmail, Outlook and Yahoo! taking up most of the space, marketers cannot afford complaints to ISPs. With all these obstacles in the way, a marketer’s task of delivering their message becomes even more difficult. And if this weren’t enough – as even the most diligent email marketers know too well – filters that keep out real spam also block ‘good email’ from reaching its destination. By recent estimates nearly 21 percent of all permission-based sent email suffers from ‘false-positives’ (diligent permission-based email flagged as spam) and never reach the intended inbox. At the going rate, erroneously blocked permission-based email will cost marketers $400 million by 2008.

Source: Pivotal Veracity, 100 Company False-Positive Study, May 2005 Methodology: Several free email accounts were established with Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Over six weeks the mailings of 100 companies and organizations were studied. All security and spam settings were at their default levels.

Filtering the noise
More and more consumers are adopting new technologies to help them ‘box out’ all that excess noise. As a result, spam filters have become a mainstream across nearly all marketing channels. A Forrester Research study found that 57 percent of US email users have filters built into their Web-based email applications and 55 percent into their ISP or workplace applications. That’s a significant number of consumers trying to ‘box out’ a marketer’s message.

What’s an email marketer to do?
A recent test by Pivotal Veracity found that diligent email from a roster of almost 100 well-known organizations – such as the American Red Cross, IBM and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – suffered from ‘false-positives’ 54 times. Assuming a marketer already has a well-managed subscriber list – here are a number of high-impact tactics that are sure to help your organization elevate their ‘email reputation’ and increase deliverability performance. Remember, ‘do onto others as you would have others do onto you,’ may sound like a cliché, but when it comes to the most important factor impacting email marketing today, it couldn’t be more relevant.

While industry analysts agree that the numbers are finally starting to trend in the right direction, they still remain significant enough to cause concern. However the reality for many marketers is that they still don’t have the time, budget, resources or expertise to understand


Increasing email deliverability – Getting email to the inbox!

ISP filtering: Tactics for success
With anywhere from 20 to 60 percent of a typical email list made up of AOL, Hotmail, Outlook and Yahoo! customers, optimizing email communications with ISPs has long been a top challenge for business-to-consumer (B2C) email marketers. Paying attention to the high-performance best practice tactics below can have a significant impact on a marketer’s deliverability rates.

Impact on delivery of having link/IP on a URL Block-List
Inbox Bulkbox Deleted

AOL B2B: Med. & Large Enterp. B2B: Small & Med. 50% 33%

100% 50% 33% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 33%

Marketers may want to start by making sure their email program is compliant by ensuring a valid identity on an email through authentication. This can be done by using one of the popular protocols mandated by their ISP. Why authenticate? ISPs use authentication to identify a sender to more effectively protect their users from unwanted spam. By being authenticated marketers should avoid filtering and reduce their chance of incurring ‘false-positives.’

Bell South Cablevision Comcast Cox Earthlink Excite Gmail Hotmail MSN

An Ironport Study discovered that 35 percent of all emails are already using the popular Sender ID authentication standard, and 9 percent use DomainKeys Identified Mail. The same study showed that 75 percent of all Fortune 100 companies use Sender ID for their marketing-related email and 45 percent use DomainKeys.

NetZero RoadRunner USA Datanet Verizon Yahoo!

There are two forms of authentication; IP based Sender Policy Framework using Sender Identification (SPF/Sender ID) and Cryptographic based Domain Keys and Identified Mail (DKIM). The first combines Microsoft’s Caller ID for email proposal and Meng Wong’s Sender Policy Framework. The second is a signature-based approached supported by Yahoo and Cisco. Either of the methods above will help an organization’s deliverability rate and combined they will work even better. To date, unfortunately there is still no one universal authentication system in place. But competing standards follow similar principals. How do marketers get authenticated? A marketer must modify their domain name records to indicate which IP addresses are allowed to send email on behalf of their organization’s domain. This allows ISPs something to refer to when attempting to authenticate that marketer’s email. Third party IT costs associated with ‘domain modification’ can be steep, however as the chart shows, the severe repercussions a suspect domain/IP Address can have with major ISPs can be higher. So altogether now… let’s all call for protocol!

Source: Pivotal Veracity Tests for MarketingSherpa, August 2004

Marketers don’t need ESP to know that outsourcing to a leading ESP is the fastest growing trend in email marketing today. Outsourcing ensures an organization the critical deliverability success component ‘email reputation.’ Leading ESPs (Email Service Providers) have positive relationships with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and adhere to strict industry best practices to stay top-of-class. They provide their customers easy access to on-demand top-tier solutions that increase a marketer’s ability to send one-to-one relevant emails recipients want. In addition, they reduce system-based flags that could prevent emails from not reaching a recipient’s inbox; as well as provide third-party spam scoring valueadded services so that customers can quickly identify and remedy any problems before emails are sent.


Increasing email deliverability – Getting email to the inbox!

What’s more, many leading ESPs are ‘Whitelisted’ at the ISP level and also have a dedicated postmaster team working on delivering messaging around the clock. This lets business owners focus their attention on core competencies and leave their email marketing efforts to the professionals. The chart below refers only to bounce rates, but it still paints a fairly complete picture why outsourcing pays BIG dividends.

When sending the next email campaign ask (often & prominently) that recipients add your organization to their personal whitelist and in the process fast track to their inbox and not their junk folder. So make it as easy as possible, include a link to whitelisting instructions. You’d be surprised at how many will comply. Unlike paying an ISP to whitelist, asking a recipient is absolutely free.

How do deliverability services impact bounce rates
Marketers currently using deliverability services Marketers not using deliverability services 60%

Email deliverability fast food for thought: 50% of all measured email is considered spam (Brightmail Probe Network) … 70% of all email messages will be spam by 2007 (Radicati Group) … 10 out of 12 messages reviewed are considered spam ( … an average user now receives 42 unwanted pitches a day (Jupiter Research)

Keep it Clean
50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%
29% 15% 54% 59% 17% 26%

Decreased significantly

Not a big change

Increased significantly

A good email marketing program starts with a good list – collecting the right attribute and opt-in information – and keeping that data fresh & clean. Marketers should start by automating their opt-out suppression each quarter to cut stale names from mailings that have become inactive or disinterested. Then verify their data every month to ensure the list remains healthy. Yes, the list will get smaller, but when we’re talking about email deliverability name quality prevails over name quantity every time. Happy recipients open their email. And that translates into higher deliverability rates. Unhappy customers only boost complaints to ISPs. In a recent report on methods used to clean lists, MarketingProfs notes that organizations used a variety of techniques to keep their lists clean, the most common of which was to ‘delete persistent bounces.’ So keep it simple. Don’t teeter on the edge of legitimacy always take the high road… ask permission to send early & often and keep lists clean from the get-go. As the graph illustrates below, maintaining an up-to-date list is an essential ingredient for marketers to have any chance of deliverability success.

Source: MarketingSherpa, Email Marketing Benchmark Survey, October 2005 Methodology: The survey was fielded on Wednesday, October 7, 2005 to selected MarketingSherpa lists. It was closed on Wednesday, October 12, 2005 with 1,927 qualified responses.

Desktop filtering: Tactics for success
As ISPs continue to implement new spam combating mechanisms more and more consumers are following suit. As a result, diligent permission-based email is often caught in the cross-fire. To ensure the next email campaign does not get deleted by the overzealous finger of a recipient, marketers must realize that their challenge lies not only in creating email campaigns but ensuring its deliverability. Long overdue, these proven tactics when implemented properly can spike an organization’s email deliverability rates fast.

Frequency with which US companies clean their in-house email list

In real time Daily

24% 5% 9% 30% 16% 16% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30%

Encouraging recipients to add your organization to their address book or safe sender list can make all the difference between high impact email campaigns and a wasted investment. Why? Whitelisting is the best way that marketers can avoid client filters and guarantee their communications are delivered.

Weekly Monthly Yearly We don't clean our list

Note: n=2,600 Source:, June 2004 061135 ©2005 eMarketer, Inc. –


Increasing email deliverability – Getting email to the inbox!

Leverage your assets
Marketers should leverage the strong relationships they’ve built up with their recipients by including details about the recipient’s own registration in emails. This reminds recipients they’ve in fact opted-in for the communication just sent. Next, provide the date of sign-up and how the recipient originally subscribed. Next, consider including ‘unsubscribe’ instructions at the top of all emails and in the footer as well. This practice will allow recipients to easily click an ‘unsubscribe’ button rather than a ‘report spam’ button, just because they didn’t scroll down your entire message to find the appropriate link. It’s a quick fix that could potentially eliminate the headache of an unnecessary complaint – the number one driver of all ISP filtering. Consider the following statistic from PC Magazine: there are 250,000 spam-related complaints reported every day at AOL alone.

This is where collecting opt-in recipient profiles & preferences, and using this information to target content comes in handy. If a marketer can personalize their messages to individuals, and tailor content in their emails to suit the specific demographic, psychographic and buying profiles of recipients, marketers are more likely to be a welcome, credible sender. By respecting preferences and thresholds regarding frequency and timing of sends, marketers are sure to impact their delivery rates significantly. How significant? The ROI gains can be over 10 percent for a complex highly relevant one-to-one targeted email campaign over a one-to-many untargeted broadcast campaign. As the graph shows, the key factor in a consumer’s willingness to respond to email is relevance, relevance and more relevance.

Elements in permission-based marketing emails that affect US internet users likeliness to respond
Increase No effect Decrease Contains your name or address 16% 71% 13% 67% 28% 5% 73% 23% 4% 28% 57% 15% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80%

Human filtering: Tactics for success
Email marketers are finally realizing (the hard way) that their content determines their reputation and good content is relevant, targeted messaging where the recipient trusts the sender. From the way marketers’ build and collect information in their opt-in lists, to the way they manage campaign segments by defining attributes, to the text that is then displayed… relevant targeted messaging is the critical success component that allows email to make it past the ‘human’ filters into the recipient’s inbox. Here are some powerful tactics that take the mystery out of achieving high email deliverability rates.

Contains relevant information

Contains information based on interests specified to that company Makes purchasing recommendations based on past purchases

By infusing credibility into the emails a marketer sends – recipients don’t just feel like an open inbox anymore simply because they opted-in. Why? Like it or not, today’s definition of spam has changed from ‘I didn’t give permission’ to ‘It doesn’t interest me and I don’t know who it’s from.’ Today internet users can easily tell the difference between spam and opt-in email. In fact, a recent study on online behaviour revealed that 93 percent of Internet users can tell the difference between a spam email and an opt-in email. Those emails they won’t open at all. But, 82 percent won’t open a message from a sender they know if the information is not relevant. And while nearly nobody will waste time on spam, many recipients won’t even open a message from a sender they do know if the information is not relevant.

Note: n=1,000 adults with average age 42.7 Source: DoubleClick, Beyond Interactive, October 2003 057818 ©2004 eMarketer, Inc. –

From field & subject line
First impressions are worth their weight in gold. It’s the primary target that spam filters flag and the initial visual a recipient scans to decide which messages not to delete. Recipient’s are putting more weight than ever before on ‘who the email is from’ than any other item when choosing which emails to open.


Increasing email deliverability – Getting email to the inbox!

Start by and always stick to using the same name in from name, from address and subject line. This brands an organization’s subject lines so the recipient instantly knows who you are and that your message is credible and important enough to open. Changing it may cause a marketer’s next email to be filtered again. Next, use language carefully to avoid any spam-catching phrases or special characters. For example, avoid using words & phrases like: free, you win, time-limited, guaranteed, etc. in a subject line. Finally, writing is all about re-writing. Therefore, marketers shouldn’t be afraid to re-work subject lines until they come up with the best approach to ensure – even in today’s eWorld of excess noise – they provide a reason to get their email opened. Simply put… mediocre messaging won’t cut it anymore with most recipients. The chart below paints a great picture what it is that consumers respond to, and why trust is such an important factor in boosting a marketer’s deliverability rates. Without it will reduce any chance a marketers’ messaging has to get opened.

Trust your instincts
Strange as it sounds the concept of ‘trusting your instincts’ is still foreign to many diligent marketers. Take advantage of this pain point and run with it. For example, if a marketer’s content looks ‘spammy’ (loud colors, unprofessional fonts, all capital letters, multiple exclamation points) there’s a high probability the ISP will agree and flag it. Next, avoid sending unexpected email to recipients and never send email late at night when spammers regularly mass blast. Finally, stay away from message overkill (high send frequency) or emails that conflict with opt-in preferences like hard-sell messaging to a reader who has opted-in to a hints & tips newsletter or service bulletin. Marketers should never ignore their internal spam rater. Trust your instincts! And there you have it… proven best practice tactics marketers can implement that are sure to elevate their organization’s ‘email reputation’ and increase email deliverability rates.

Factors that drive US online households to open marketing emails
2002 2003

Compliance with ISP policies, maintenance of positive ISP relations, sender content, mailing history, list hygiene, relevance, reputation, etc…

I recognize the sender Email from a company I agreed to get email from Email about a product I'm interested in Something friends or family might like Email received at home Email received at work The subject line includes a promotion The subject line is personalized to include my name If the subject line is clever or amusing If the subject line contains the word "free" I get it first thing in the morning I get it during lunch or down time at work/school

50% 52% 52% 50% 49% 40% 23% 26% 24% 18% 11% 18% 21% 11% 12% 9% 12% 8% 13% 7% 6% 6% 5% 4% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%

Yes, email deliverability is a complex problem but one that is controllable with the right knowledge and procedures in place. Start by understanding the reputation standards and systems in use (ISP-Desktop-Human) on which marketers will be judged, and then implement actionable best practice tactics to overcome those obstacles. In doing so, marketers can easily move their organization beyond the realm of creating and executing email campaigns to sending high impact communications that get READ! Next, with so much complexity in today’s deliverability field outsourcing of email programs is becoming more and more crucial to organizations. Leading ESPs like Campaigner provide customers with access to award winning on-demand top-tier solutions like Campaigner & CampaignerPro, and affordable third-party spam scoring services like Return Path Campaign Preview that maximize a marketer’s email marketing spend. Finally, one thing’s for certain, every marketer sending email today wants to make that mail more deliverable. But without a solid ‘email reputation’ even the most diligent permissionbased email marketers will fail to deliver results. As Benjamin Franklin so aptly put it… Glass, china and reputation are easily cracked, and never mended well. Good senders be on your best behavior and heed his advice!

Source: Forrester Research, March 2004 057777 ©2004 eMarketer, Inc. –


Increasing email deliverability – Getting email to the inbox!

About Campaigner
Campaigner’s software-as-a-service products enable organizations to have highly personalized one-to-one email dialogues with their customers, measure how they respond, and analyze those responses to interact in a more intelligent, automated way – resulting in more profitable relationships. Campaigner is partnered with industry leaders including Salesforce, Comcast and Yahoo! Its customers include companies such as Nokia, AT&T, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Nielsen Media Research, West49 and over 10,000 small and medium-sized businesses. Campaigner resources Campaigner offers a variety of educational materials for the public. Find recent articles, tips, online product and educational webinars, customer case studies, and more. To learn more about smart email marketing, visit: How to reach the Campaigner team Campaigner 685 Cathcart Street, Suite 300 Montreal, Quebec, H3B 1M7 Phone: 1.877.723.6245 – 1.514.282.0595 Fax: 514.282.1908 General inquiries: 1.877.723.6245 Sales: 1.877.723.6245

email marketing

To top