Email is still one of the primary and most successful ways of communicating with moviegoers. Even with emerging technologies and new platforms there is a high demand for email; in fact 72% of US adults prefer companies to communicate with them via email over any other channel.
However, email marketing isn’t without challenges - something we understand well at Movio. Last month we sent over 180 million emails on behalf of our customers, which is no mean feat. In order to send this volume of emails, there are email best practices to follow and essential elements - such as deliverability to consider. In this blog post we take a closer look at deliverability, why it matters and discuss some of our top tips for acing it.
What is email deliverability, and why is it important?
Deliverability is concerned with emails being delivered to recipients’ inboxes rather than being
rejected by Email Service Providers (ESPs) or ending up in spam folders. Put simply, a successful delivery is your message arriving in the inbox of the recipient as intended. It includes anything related to email delivery, such as ESPs, bounces and spam issues, but also the role senders can play in achieving success.
Why is this all important? Well, there is no point in spending time creating the perfect email for a specific audience at a certain time if it never gets delivered!
Deliverability is multifaceted, with an array of different components working together, which can be overwhelming as a marketer. We take a closer look at three aspects of email deliverability; reputation, spam and user engagement, sharing some best practices along the way.
“You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do”
As American industrialist Henry Ford infers, you won’t build a reputation by doing nothing. One of the first steps to strong email deliverability is building up your sender reputation, which is determined by two components:
1. The reputation of the sending domain.
2. The reputation of the mail server IP address that sent the email.
It takes time to build up these reputations, and the process is often referred to as the ‘warm-up’ period. You can use this time to send emails to a small group of recipients and then, as your sending reputation grows, increase the number over time.
Some metrics measured to gauge whether you are a trusted sender include:
- How many spamtraps you are mailing to
- The security of your server infrastructure
- The number of blacklists you are listed on
- Whether recipients are complaining about receiving your mail
At Movio, we ensure all of our customers have appropriate email authentication in place, are not contacting people who have complained or unsubscribed, and are sending appropriate content. We also closely monitor our server reputations to ensure they don’t drop.
Spam complaints and feedback loops
An important metric that affects your sending reputation is the number of people marking your email as spam. If a recipient marks an email as spam that is the strongest negative signal to an ISP.
By clicking on the ‘Mark as Spam’ button, the ESP will usually forward any future mail received from that sender straight to the spam folder. Most ESPs will offer what’s known as a ‘Feedback Loop’, to inform senders when a recipient has marked their mail as spam. It is vital that you monitor complaint rates and take action accordingly.
Movio subscribes to these feedback loops in order to track complaint rates for each campaign. It automatically unsubscribes contacts who complain, as they have given a strong indication they no longer wish to receive communication from that sender. ESPs don’t look favourably on senders who continually try to contact recipients that have marked their mail as spam so, by unsubscribing these contacts, the sender is deemed to have good list hygiene practices, and their sending reputation isn’t negatively impacted.
There is a number of reasons these spam complaints could happen including:
- Senders not including opt-ins on sign up forms, resulting in members not recognizing the sender or communication
- Too-high sending frequency or irrelevant content being sent
- Difficulty in unsubscribing from the sender’s communication, or preferences taking too long to update
In order to avoid falling into some of these traps follow our best practices below.
Make it a requirement for recipients to opt-in before receiving any communication from you, or state that by ‘signing up’ they will be opted-in unless they indicate otherwise.
Always have your audience in mind when setting up communications to deliver targeted and relevant communications they will want to engage with. Less can be more, as Sarah Lewthwaite discusses in her blog post ‘Taking The Leap With Data-Driven Marketing’.
It should be easy and obvious for recipients to unsubscribe, so clearly display these links. It’s preferable for individuals to unsubscribe rather than mark you as spam. You should also deal with preference communication changes as soon as possible. Movio manages the unsubscribe pages and process for all of our exhibitors, with a simple one-click procedure, and the contact is unsubscribed within 10 minutes.
User engagement is a key driver in determining whether an email makes it into a recipient’s inbox or not. While having two million subscribers may sound impressive, it is much more effective to have 500,000 engaged ones.
Some questions to consider in terms of engagement include:
- How often are messages deleted without reading?
- Are recipients marking a sender’s mail as spam?
- How many times is an email forwarded?
- How often is an email opened and clicked?
- How often is a sender replied to?
It’s important to continually monitor engagement, rather than as a one-off exercise. Sending to an unengaged audience could result in your deliverability rate being negatively affected. If an ESP observes that only 10% of recipients are interacting with your email communications, then they may decide that is too low, and all mail sent will be filtered to the spam folder.
Re-engagement campaigns are one way that you can target unengaged members to entice them back into your loyalty program, and brand. Conversely, these members can be excluded from campaigns, to help improve your campaign engagement and deliverability rates.
Deliverability is the backbone of email marketing, and must be understood in order to achieve the return on investment that every email marketer desires. Sending reputations should be closely monitored, feedback loops subscribed to, and user engagement a key focus. With these covered, your attention can remain on targeting audiences with personalized communications that keep them engaged with both your email program, and brand. If you haven’t already, we suggest putting email deliverability at the top of your priority list for 2018!