The Only Influencers Blog

The top thought leaders in email marketing share their insights and thoughts.

Posted by on in Insights from the Influencers

Spamtraps are considered by many as the gold standard in proving that someone is a spammer. Secret emails/honeypots/blackholes are the canary in the email coal mine- heretofore absolute proof that you’re a bad actor in the war against spam. We’ve all been taught to believe that spam traps can only end up on your list if you’re mailing old/dead addresses and/or purchasing lists.

The problem is…what happens if neither of those is true? What’s the explanation for hitting a spamtrap when you’re NOT buying a list and NOT bringing back old names? According to some, this is impossible - there’s no way a spam trap address can end up on your list unless you’re engaging in bad practices.

Here’s a quote from an article I recently read talking about spam trap list operators- “For example, often a blacklisted marketer will claim their list is 100 percent opted in when the DNSBL operator has irrefutable evidence in the form of spam traps that it’s not.”

But guess what…”spam traps” can actually open. And even click. How do I know this?

  1. I looked at the results of our own data.

We run a site that is fortunate enough to get between 20,000 and 50,000 new users per day. They sign up, we validate the address as best we can using a third party. We keep non-responding sign ups on our list for up to 5 days, then stop if they haven’t opened or clicked. We only mail opens/click inside of a 45 day time window. Once a month we send to our full 12 month file because, hey, people actually did sign up for our emails.

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Getting customers to opt-in to email communications is a priority for many companies as a means to increase revenue. However, email also serves its purpose as a fantastic cost reduction mechanism when converting customers to go paperless. Now, companies are looking for ways to get their customers to convert from paper bills to eBilling. What better way to do that, than to send email bills instead? In this blog post, we’ll focus on getting consent via email, to maximize customer take up of email as a billing channel.

The key to continued success it to leverage every customer touch point to create that paperless opportunity, but today we want to focus on arguable the top opportunity – the proactive consent email.

We’ve talked before about email collection strategies (check out my previous blog here), so the next step is actually using those emails collected to get customers to go paperless. Sending a proactive consent email generally results in a fairly quick consent rate of 20% - 35% as a percentage of emails opened. This depends on a few factors, in addition to the basics of email testing, which will give you the highest open rates:

  • One-click to consent: The biggest deterrent to going paperless is a lengthy registration process on a company’s web-site. Show the customer you know who they are by displaying partial data on their account in the consent email, and keep their activity to a single click on a call to action button or link. Remember that each additional step will reduce that subscribe rate.
  • Design with consent in mind: Don’t over-complicate the email. The call to action should be the first thing that the customer sees when they scan the email body. Using too much text, too many links or other opportunities and too many paragraphs will take away from the only action that you want the customer to take, which is to go paperless. Where possible, use links in the pre-header or copy of the email body too.
  • Optimize the process for mobile: Mobile usage is rapidly increasing and this will not slow down any time soon. Many companies are seeing over 50% of their email bills and consent emails being viewed on a mobile device. Nothing will be a bigger deterrent than a lengthy registration process for customers who are trying to go paperless from their smartphones. The single call to action in a simple mobile optimized design caters to mobile users.
  • Develop a triggered email consent strategy: This is important to implement if you aren’t willing to leave potential paperless subscribers out (which you shouldn’t be!). A client recently implemented a triggered email consent process, and after just two additional emails sent to customers after the initial email the results are:

-        The first triggered message currently generates a 21% subscribe rate

-        The second triggered message currently generates a 19% subscribe rate

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Tagged in: Best Practices Billing

I love "what if" games, don't you?  Recently, in a group to which I belong, this question was posed:  What if the boss gave you $10,000 to improve your brand's email marketing ROI?

How would you spend it?  What would you do?

Well, for me that was a no-brainer.  But before I tell you how I would spend that $10k, and why, let's cover some basics.

First,  just to be sure that we are all on the same page, when we say "ROI", we are talking about a Return on Investment (stay with me here, I don't mean to insult your intelligence).

Second, let's assume that your brand is in business to make money.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Even the most altruistic of organizations need to make money, otherwise they would have to close their doors.

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Tagged in: ROI

There may come a time in your career as an email marketer where you’ll be presented with a (legitimate) list that you need to integrate into your database; for example, your company could make an acquisition or you could be taking over marketing activities from another business unit. FierceMarkets has had a flurry of these kind of activities in the last 18 months, and we’ve developed a plan that has been successful so far. I’ll share the main points here to help with any integrations you may face.

Let me pause here and say that these integrations were not purchased emails from a list broker. In one scenario, FierceMarkets acquired a blog and took over publishing its newsletter. In another, we absorbed a newsletter from a different business unit in our parent company into our database. I am unequivocally against buying emails and adding them to your database. Buying a list and adding it to your database could have disastrous consequences that would outweigh any sort of decent response you might luck into.

The first step of a legitimate integration actually begins before moving any emails over. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through these integrations, it’s that you have to fight for a look at the data before you commit to the acquisition. A blog may have an email list of a certain number, but it could have a 15% bounce rate or a 2% open rate, or have full demographics or only emails – all good pieces of information to have before a sale is completed.

Your initial audit should also include analysis of any websites attached to the email list, but I’ll limit my discussion here to the email side.

Once you have access to the email list, give it a very thorough review. Not every blog or email list owner has grown his or her list responsibly, so it’s important to try to weed out as many of the questionable email addresses as possible before adding them to your own database. It’s also a good idea to check the original IP address for any presence on blacklists. Many smaller email lists are on shared IPs, so any blacklists may or may not have been the result of bad emails on your new list, but it at least gives you another data point on list quality.

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(editors note. Full title of post: “3 pretty complicated but incredibly important reasons why your subject line split tests aren’t teaching you very much about your customers”)

Split testing works.

It works amazingly well… if you plan the tests, and analyze and interpret the results correctly. I’ve worked with hundreds of marketers across the world who implement split testing with varying levels of statistical robustness and success.

What I’ve learned from this is that most email marketers don’t run their experiments optimally.

And this means they aren’t learning very much from their split tests. They focus on one-off lifts in response rates… and don’t learn much about the all-important cognitive buying signals you can learn from correct split testing methodology.

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