Email Data Is Your Friend: 4 Deliverability Measures To Increase Revenue

They say every recession has opportunity, and I believe there is good here for email marketers.  Due to its high ROI, executives are actually paying attention to email marketing.  It's up to us to rise to this occasion, and dissuade everyone else from thinking of email as a cheap alternative. Email has proven its ability to sell, engage and build loyalty. We just don't always use it that way.

Now more than ever, we must present relevant messaging, provide compelling offers and stay connected with customers and prospects, even when sales cycles elongate and budgets shrink.  The batch-and-blast mentality of the past 10 years is no longer adequate for breaking through inbox clutter and earning a sale, engagement or conversion.  

Time to change -- both our approach and our attitude.  Email marketers do have an arsenal of ammunition at the ready -- it's sitting in our data.  Beyond the typical open, click, bounce/delivered and unsubscribe metrics, start to take a look at other data sources: Web analytics, inbox delivery rates, ISP feedback loops and time delays on response, profile data, demographics, social media traffic and the topics covered by citizen media and bloggers.  The real power of this data is not at the campaign level, but at the subscriber level.  This is the only way to move from batch and blast to a lifecycle email marketing approach -- and earn the highest revenue from the channel.

Our first challenge as email marketers is reaching the inbox.  If we can't get there, we can't get anywhere.   There are a few key deliverability measures that help us make good decisions about content and contact strategy.  

Complaint Analysis.   Complaint stream analysis is a rich source of feedback.  Most North American ISPs like Yahoo, MSN/Hotmail, Comcast and USA.Net make complaint data available to commercial senders.  Review this data to understand what profile of subscriber is most likely to complain, from which sources, and at what vintage (length of time they've been on the file) as well as which subject lines or content types.  

Deliverability Path Analysis.   If 10%, 30% or (God forbid!) 100% of your messages to Yahoo or another ISP don't arrive in the inbox for a 30-day period (the length of time many deliverability failures take to correct), what does that do to your revenue?   Ouch.  Now is the time to track inbox deliverability at the campaign and ISP level.  Do domain analysis on your file and know which ISPs are most important to you.  Keep complaints low by only sending well-timed, relevant messages. Resist the urge to overmail.  Instead, segment the file and send more email when subscribers are in market, and less when they are not.

List Churn Replacement Value.  Every time we send out a campaign that is irrelevant or more frequent than promised, our subscribers respond.  Some of them will complain, unsubscribe or become so fatigued that we lose them forever.  (This last group is what we call the "emotional unsubscribes."  They don't bother to actually unsubscribe, but they ignore every message we send.) Every one of those subscribers has to be replaced with a new subscriber if we want to keep our file efficacy and opportunity intact.  Even if you spend less than a dollar to acquire new customers, the math adds up fast.  Use this sum to help educate internal audiences who want to abuse the email file with additional, irrelevant messages.  Every time we do that, we cost the business both short-term and long-term sales.

Sender Reputation.  Reaching the inbox is based on the sum of all your practices -- over the long term.  Be sure to know and manage your sender reputation, as this is the same data that ISPs are using to make decisions about which messages get in and which go missing.  Free sources for this data include and

In my next column, we'll talk about how to use response data more effectively.   Meanwhile, I urge everyone to rise to the occasion -- as well as increase return even without new resources or investment -- by tapping the power of our data to guide strategy and ensure focus on the highest return opportunities.   



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