If you use email in your online marketing program (and it’s a pretty safe bet that you do), then hopefully you’ll take this article to heart. You will only be successful if people actually want to receive your email. You can’t build a sustainable business by email any other way.
Here at ArcaMax, our email deliverability function is a mission-critical one, for obvious reasons. We generate revenue by selling email advertising campaigns. Regardless of how it is priced, we understand that we are really in the business of selling opened emails, not just emails. An advertiser’s ad is served only when the email is opened. Thus our ability to send emails that are delivered, receive inbox placement, and then opened determines our success.
Delivery used to be much easier. We consistently got our mail in the inbox just because we confirmed our subscriptions using double opt-in and processed unsubscribe requests in a timely fashion. Today, the emphasis has changed to user engagement, meaning the ISP’s are increasingly looking at how your recipients are handling your mail.
With that in mind, here are steps we take to keep our list engaged, active and responsive:
1. As noted above, we request our subscribers confirm their request for a subscription, whether they come through our website or through an external subscription offer. The best subscriber sources generally don’t have a fifty percent confirmation rate, meaning at least half of the people who request don’t really want the email. It’s not always in a list owner’s best interest to aggressively put as many people as possible on their lists. You only want them if they want to be there.
2. We monitor open and click behavior once on the lists. If a subscriber doesn’t engage with an email fairly early on, there’s a high probability they never will. They are typically most interested (and thus engaged) right after signing up. As well, if they don’t read, you’re increasing the chances their ISP will bulk your mail to them if they have a webmail based address (E.G. Yahoo, MSN, Gmail, etc.) Then they’ll probably never see it or open.
3. Remove the non-responders. Take folks off your list if they go too long without engagement. Yes, we know it’s painful and expensive. However, it’s much more painful and expensive to watch your email delivery suffer when your mail starts getting bulked with ever-increasing frequency. Here at ArcaMax, we have an automated process that removes subscribers on a weekly basis that have become inactive for too long.
The net result of this type of approach is that your email list will likely be smaller in size but much bigger in terms of results. You’ll get better inbox placement, meaning more of your subscribers will see and then respond to your email, and the process becomes self-fulfilling.
We know many email marketers who spend inordinate amounts of time trying to beat the filters. We understand; the environment calls for that. We also believe that it’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic if the recipients on a marketer’s list don’t want the email. It’s hard enough to get good delivery; make sure your emails contain enough value so that people will want to read them. It will make your job much easier.
Bonus: Because you’ve read to the end of one of our longest articles ever, here’s a very useful link to a page containing information on the major ISP’s, found on the Word to the Wise blog, one of our favorite deliverability resources. It’s full of valuable information.