Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes courtesy of Brian Hansford, Director of Client Services at Heinz Marketing, where he manages marketing automation practice and specializes in developing demand generation and marketing automation strategies for clients. Follow Brian on Twitter @remarketing.
Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy and Security Officer at Oracle Eloqua sat down with Brian for a best practice conversation about how to drive the best performance in email deliverability and customer engagement (while dodging dreaded spam traps!)
Below is an excerpt from the discussion. Read the full interview here.
Hansford: Can you give us an overview how you manage email deliverability at Oracle Eloqua?
Dennis Dayman: Eloqua’s Grande Guide to Email Privacy and Deliverability outlines what we do in practice, and what we recommend for our customers. The first two steps outlined in the Grande Guide are really important areas of focus.
Step 1: Manage Your Reputation
- Know your Sender Score
- Authenticate your IP address
- Gain customer permission and control issues that cause complaints
Step 2: Manage Your Email Distribution Lists
- Validate List Sources
- Perform IP Warming when launching new campaign efforts
- Manage hard and soft bounces
- Segment active and inactive recipients
Hansford: What is your number 1 hot button to focus on with email deliverability?
Dayman: List management.
Don’t think for the customer. Marketers should ever assume that subscribers or visitors will want new information or want you to share their information further than what they signed up for in the past or what you promised them. Give them control over their own information. When you do this, customers stay more loyal. Send what you promised to send and send when you promised to send. If you have a need to keep them informed of new information then do so through quarterly newsletter, surveys, or start monitoring their “Digital Body Language”.
Hansford: Is your Sender Score important?
Dayman: Sender reputations are based on your behavior as an email sender and consider complaints, hard bounce rates, blacklistings, inactivity, volume consistency and unsubscribe capabilities, to name a few. Although marketers may use the term synonymously with “sender reputation,” sender reputation is a Return Path trademark. According to senderscore.org, sender reputation “measures a sender’s behavior and the impact those behaviors have on email recipients and the sender’s brand and email deliverability.”
A recent Return Path study shows that email sender reputation, and not content, is the major factor that determines whether your email reaches the inbox. Studies show that 83% of the time, sender reputation is the cause of filtering. Although mailbox providers use different standards to determine what triggers filtering, they all hinge on your email reputation. By compiling the same data for every email sender, and making it public for both senders and receivers, the playing field becomes more level. Think of it as a credit score for your email program. Everyone sees what the standards are, who is failing them, and what to do about it.
All scores are based on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is the worst, and 100 is the best possible score. A score represents that IP address’s rank as measured against other IP addresses, much like a percentile ranking.
Hansford: What are the most important tools you use in Eloqua to help make decisions on improving deliverability ?
- Generate reports that provide insight into bounces, complaints, and unsubscribes.
- Keep bounce rates under 3%. Monitor bounces by contact list, by email/email batch/email group and by those sent by automated email systems.
- Keep complaints under 0.01% by monitoring spam unsubscribes (i.e., contacts that reported your email as spam).
- Keep unsubscription rates below 1% by monitoring unsubscribe trends:
Look at the inactivity reports. If you’re not tracking who is active and inactive in your database, you’ll keep sending emails to people who don’t engage and your metrics will get skewed, making it hard to understand the effectiveness of your communications. After all, the more you know about your prospects, the better you will be at sending targeted, relevant emails. Again, re-engage inactive contacts by confirming subscription status one or two times per year.
Check out the full discussion with more email best practices via Matt on Marketing.