We talk a lot about whether our email programs are making it to the inbox or to the bulk folder -- but have you ever stopped to think about what the recipient does with the email if it lands in the inbox? Sure, we contemplate, "did (s)he open it, delete it or mark it as SPAM?" But the options don't end there. There are two situations I want you to consider.
The email address you have IS the junk folder
I credit my first "ah ha" moment to a consumer panel of college grads who have entered the workforce, all in different positions, different households and different majors. There were some interesting tidbits that came out of their conversation (like one grad who said he immediately unsubscribed if a marketer included his first name in a subject line. "You are not my friends and I don't want you to be my friends," he told us all).
What also struck me was that not only did this panel maintain multiple email addresses -- but they would give different marketers different email addresses predicated on whether or not they anticipated value from the email communication. They also seemed to be relatively united in giving their Gmail address to people and marketers they want to hear from -- and Yahoo and Hotmail accounts to those they do not.
The other great takeaway from here was that this group triages their email very effectively, using "from name" and "subject line" to determine if the content is something they want to look at now.
But if they don't want to read an email right now, do you know what they do? They keep it -- unopened in their inbox (or some folder) until they are ready to do business with your brand. Then they search their box for email from you to see if there is an offer in there that they can take advantage of. Did this just decrease the value of an "open metric" for you even more? It did for me, especially when considering communicating with this age group.
Enter the Sh*t Folder
The BIG "ah-ha" moment for me, though, came during the keynote presented by Microsoft's David Barlin, when he shared with the group some really interesting data about the demographics and behaviors of Hotmail users. He shared this amazing conversation cloud that contained words like, "stuff," "info," and my favorite, "sh*t." It was an analysis that had been done on the custom folders created by Hotmail users. Which made me think, we need to strive not to just get delivered, not just make it to the inbox -- but to stay out of the "sh*t" folder.
At least if users report the email as SPAM, you are provided some indication that recipients don't want your email - but what if they just banish you to the nether regions of the "sh*t" folder?
This is where we, as email marketers, need to do a better job of really paying attention to the open (I know, it is a little contradictory based on the first "ah-ha" moment, but it's what we have) and click behavior of our subscribers to start understanding how engaged folks are with our programs -- and build strategies accordingly. Because if not, you may just find that if your subscribers are putting you in their "sh*t" folder -- which someday, may just get you blacklisted.
Thanks to MediaPost for another amazing Email Insider Summit where I got to have an "ah-ha" moment or two -- and then tackled a mountain in an inner tube!!