Inbox Placement: Insights from Industry Experts

Thursday, February 19, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

James Koons
During this years’ Email Experience Council, I had the unique opportunity to speak with key email program personnel from Comcast, Microsoft, AOL and Google to discuss how they measure activity within the inbox and what senders of commercial email should be doing from their point of view.  Matt Moleski from Comcast, Paul Rock from AOL, John Scarrow from Microsoft and Sri Somanchi from Google were on hand to give some insight, helpful tips and answer questions regarding their organization’s email programs. 
Initially we spoke about the concept of engagement and all four agreed that the inbox is not the same for everyone – and senders do not measure engagement the same way receivers do.  As a sender, you may have a great reputation with the receiver, but messages still end up in the SPAM folders of some users.  This is because those users have demonstrated, through their actions, that the messages (or similar messages) are not relevant to them.  A sender’s reputation and inbox placement are two different things.  The inbox is not a global concept, they are different for each user, and an overall reputation isn’t created based on how one or two users treat the mail.
During this years’ Email Experience Council, I had the unique opportunity to speak with key email program personnel from Comcast, Microsoft, AOL and Google to discuss how they measure activity within the inbox and what senders of commercial email should be doing from their point of view.  Matt Moleski from Comcast, Paul Rock from AOL, John Scarrow from Microsoft and Sri Somanchi from Google were on hand to give some insight, helpful tips and answer questions regarding their organization’s email programs. 
Initially we spoke about the concept of engagement and all four agreed that the inbox is not the same for everyone – and senders do not measure engagement the same way receivers do.  As a sender, you may have a great reputation with the receiver, but messages still end up in the SPAM folders of some users.  This is because those users have demonstrated, through their actions, that the messages (or similar messages) are not relevant to them.  A sender’s reputation and inbox placement are two different things.  The inbox is not a global concept, they are different for each user, and an overall reputation isn’t created based on how one or two users treat the mail.
While some did indicate they look at things on a global scale, they all made it clear that specific user behavior plays a large role in determining where mail can land – and that behavior definitely affects that sender.  If a large number of subscribers perform the same action, the consequences could be global for that sender.  Subscribers have more control over their inboxes than ever before, and that is not going to be changing any time soon.  All four agreed that the focus is on a personalized inbox experience based on user behavior.  The key here is:  deliverability has become personalized. It’s no longer “all or nothing”.
We all know that filtering decisions are based on a myriad of data points.  The receivers referred to these data points as “signals”.  These signals are combined together by machine learning algorithms that are used to determine a sender’s reputation. There’s filtering by sending IP address, content comparison, and user level filtering.  The receivers also look at a number of signals that marketers do not have visibility into.
This led to a discussion on the specific user level signals that they use to determine what a user finds relevant.  All agreed that these signals of inbox engagement (shown below) play a fundamental part in determining the relevancy of your email campaign for a specific recipient.
Positive Signals
  • Moving a message out of the SPAM folder   -   Marking as not SPAM / junk
  • Replying to a message (keeping a conversation going)
  • Adding the sender to the address book
  • Reading or viewing a message
  • Moving the message to another folder (or tagging the message)
Negative Signals
  • Deleting the message without opening or reading it
  • Marking the message as SPAM or moving it to the “junk” folder
  • Reporting the message as a phishing attempt
I’ve seen several marketing emails which request the recipient to reply to the message as a call to action (re-engagement campaigns are a good example).  From the signals above we know this is a good thing and will work to better the reputation.  But a lot of times these addresses are not monitored – some even non-existent.  One tip here:  given that replying to emails is a positive signal that will ultimately improve a sender’s reputation, it might be worthwhile to make the sending addresses accept replies, perhaps even responding back to the subscriber.  Keeping up a conversation with your recipients will help shape relevant content – and according to the mailbox providers, it’s a very positive signal when calculating reputation.
We discussed infrastructure and the mechanics behind deliverability, but learned quickly that mailbox providers see this as a given.  Email authentication (DKIM, DMARC, etc.), DNS & rDNS, properly functioning reply addresses, feedback loops and working unsubscribe mechanisms are all the expected – if you don’t have it now, it may already be too late.  Good list hygiene practices shouldn’t be left to validation services after things go wrong, but should be part of your program from day one and followed throughout the entire lifespan.
From there, the conversation turned to overall mail volume that they see.  About 95% of all email received by AOL, Gmail, Outlook and Comcast is considered junk and is either blocked or filtered.  Of that, 85% is blocked due to poor sender reputation.  Permission-based email marketers are part of the “other 5%”, but sometimes tend to forget that the receivers have their hands full filtering the bad actors. This sentiment was shared by all the receivers.  They understand the frustration on the side of the marketers, and sometimes feel that marketers don’t understand the amount of work they put in dealing with bad actors.
One very interesting point shared by all was the fact that subject lines don’t matter.  That’s right - subject lines don’t matter (not size, not content, not special characters, not even FREE FREE FREE – yes, you can have as many exclamation points as you want).  They are not looking at subject lines at all.  That being said, if a subject line happens to trigger a behavior that is a negative signal, this will have an impact on inbox placement for that recipient.  If it’s large scale, there could be global issues.  I would also caution any sender that words like FREE still matter to the FTC – so if you use it, make sure it isn’t misleading.
In addition to this, personalization does not matter on the mailbox provider side.  Again, the receivers are not looking at that, unless of course the personalization causes negative signals.  Sometimes we see messages that say “Hello %%USERNAME%%” - or – “Dear First Name Last Name”.  I’ve even received messages with the wrong name and irrelevant personalization information in both the subject and body.  This quite possibly could trigger a negative signal from a recipient.
When asked about clicks, each agreed that they don’t count those either.  None of them track clicks within the message itself.  In fact, they all view tracking what a user does inside of their email as a violation of privacy.  Whether a recipient clicks on a link within a message or not, it has no impact on the reputation score that they give to a sender.
Blacklists came up and the feedback was that they do matter, at least to an extent.  AOL has their own internal blacklist.  If you land on their blacklist you are automatically blocked and the only way to be removed is to personally contact the AOL abuse desk.  If a sender is listed on other blacklists, it is viewed as one of the many signals used in the overall scoring of a sender’s reputation.  This was agreed upon by Google, Microsoft and Comcast.  Matt Moleski of Comcast pointed out that they also work with extensively with Cloudmark and a listing there is best handled through the standard removal request.
The subject of mailing to inactive subscribers came up.  This is something that I am asked for advice on a lot, so I was glad that they were willing to discuss this.  So, should you automatically get rid of recipients that have been inactive for 12 months or more?  According to Outlook.com’s John Scarrow, no.  Scarrow said not to simply get rid of them because they do not directly affect your reputation.  He indicated the only way these inactive subscribers could hurt your overall sender reputation is if they flag the mails as SPAM.  Keep in mind that this won’t keep you free and clear of the SPAM folder.  Remember that deleting and not reading a message is a negative signal.  The other’s seemed to agree, and Google’s Sri Somanchi provided some insight on handling inactive subscribers at Gmail which I will share later.
Sticking with the subject of inactive subscribers, each receiver weighed in on some of their account closure/suspension and SPAM trap policies.
  • AOL:  Paul Rock indicated that they will suspend email accounts after a time of inactivity (no specific timeframe was given).  They do, however, leave instant messenger screen names active.  Historically, suspended email accounts have occasionally been turned into SPAM traps, but Rock was not clear on whether or not they are still doing this.
  • Microsoft:  After two years, inactive accounts (accounts which are not logged in to) go away.  They do not create SPAM traps according to Scarrow.
  • Comcast:  Matt Moleski explained that Comcast has various levels of account statuses for suspensions and inactivity.  In general, when someone cancels their service, the account becomes inactive within 90 days.  These accounts are not recycled as SPAM traps.  Moleski explained that SPAM traps are generally organically created – they typically include random characters and obvious to spot.
  • Google:  Gmail does not recycle or reuse accounts for anything according to Sri Somanchi.  He did not comment on Gmail’s use of SPAM traps.
We spoke about IP warming and “ramping up”.  During the conversation, Sri Somanchi of Google brought up the concept of “ramping down”.  He explained that similar to ramping up when adding a new IP with your existing ESP or switching to a new ESP, you should implement a “ramp down program” for inactive recipients.  When asked what something like this should like look, Somanchi provided the following tips:
  • If you’re sending daily, switch to one send per week
  • If you’re sending weekly, switch to one to two sends per month
  • If you are not seeing any engagement after about three to six months, send a final re-engagement campaign asking if the recipient still wants to hear from you.  If they don’t respond to this, stop emailing them altogether.
Somanchi added that he gave this same advice to Google’s own marketing team at a recent summit held internally.  He explained that Google is a large sender as well and they also see “the other side of things”.  Further advice from Somanchi are what he calls the “5 R’s”:
  1. Right Acquisition: Also known as the Right Opt-In.  Senders should be following best practices when it comes to building their lists.  Permission based is the best practice and he prefers confirmed opt in when at all possible.
  2. Right Engagement:  This is where personalization comes in to play.  Understand your recipients and don’t send the same thing to everyone.  Make sure your recipients are responding positively.
  3. Right Measurement:  Keep a close eye on your analytics and make sure you are effectively tracking engagement.
  4. Right Adjustment:  Properly ramping up and ramping down as well as making adjustments on the fly based on your analytics and engagement.
  5. Right Opt-Out:  Make sure that recipients can easily and conspicuously unsubscribe from your list.  Honor other sources of opt-outs quickly as well (reply-to, abuse@, etc.).
In the end, each receiver provided some final words of advice for senders.  Here is what each had to say:
Matt Moleski, Comcast – “Gather metrics and understand what your recipients are doing in order to send better messages.  If you are an ESP, make sure you are actively maintaining your ISP relations.”
John Scarrow, Microsoft – “About 80% of mailers are signed up for our Junk Mail Reporting Program (JMRP).  If you are not signed up, do it now.  This is the number one tool used at outlook.com.”
Paul Rock, AOL – “Sign up for the AOL feedback loop.  Pay attention to the SPAM that you yourself receive and avoid sending any similar content.  Always remember, just because it’s legal does not mean it’s wanted!  Keep it relevant for your recipients.”
Sri Somanchi, Google – “Don’t make attempts to get your promotional email into the Primary Tab.  The Promotions Tab was designed for promotional content for our users.  Please do not try to ‘game the system’ as this is generally viewed as subversive behavior.  If you are being offered some sort of ‘back way’ into the Primary Tab, don’t listen to those consultants.”
In summary, I think the biggest take-away is this:  engagement is the measure of the value you bring to your subscriber’s inbox.  Keep your messages relevant and remember that not all your subscribers are the same.  Over the years I have read (and listened to) a lot about user engagement.  Many argue its importance, primarily because it’s always been know that it’s measured differently in the eyes of marketers than in the eyes of the receivers.  This meeting not only gave insight into the receiver interpretation, but also served as a strong reminder that receivers have their own measures because they value their users, not because they don’t like email marketers.  Calling an abuse desk and saying “…but my client is a legitimate organization…” does not work, because in the end, legitimacy is determined by the actions of your subscribers.  Whether good or bad, these actions shape your delivery for each individual and ultimately to your entire list.

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Leveraging Email Acquisition Techniques to Grow Your Email List

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Listrak CEO Ross Kramer recently contributed the following blog post to iMedia Connection:
Personalization is no longer a luxury; it’s an expectation. Marketers need to reach subscribers on their terms in order to engage and, more importantly, convert them. The effects of the shift towards personal marketing messages reach every aspect of your email campaigns, including your acquisition tactics.
It’s no longer enough to think of list building as just email capture. Instead, email acquisition is actually a customer acquisition strategy. Old tactics, like purchasing an email address list, simply won’t work. What will work is modal lightbox pop-up combined with a series of triggered, personalized welcome messages.

Modal Lightbox Acquisition

Regardless of how you feel about pop-up lightboxes, the simple fact is they work. We’ve seen retailers grow their email list by 30% or more in a matter of weeks using this tactic. And these aren’t random email addresses – they’re subscribers with the highest likelihood of becoming loyal customers.
If you’re considering implementing this strategy, here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Test the timing and location of the overlay. Try triggering it three seconds after a shopper visits your site’s homepage, 20-30 seconds on specific product pages, and even test an exit modal, which detects when the visitor is about to close the site and triggers at that point to re-engage them.
• The overlay should include an email capture form, but may also include additional personalization fields, such as product or brand preferences or the ability to sign up for more than one email list.
• While offering an incentive to sign up is a common practice, it isn’t necessary.
• Your first welcome message should be triggered upon subscription. Welcome messages have some of the highest open, click and conversion rates, and the event-triggered email will ensure it reaches customers at the time when they are most likely to buy.
• Modal lightbox acquisition has the added benefit of increasing the reachable rate of your onsite visitors; meaning you’ll be able to send remarketing messages, such as browse and abandon and shopping cart abandonment campaigns, to more customers, as you’ll have a higher percentage of their email addresses.

Research Study: Evaluating Performance of the Email Acquisition Popup

Welcome Series

On average, welcome messages have four times the open rate and five times the click-through rate of broadcast campaigns, meaning customers are more engaged and likely to take action on these messages. These automated email marketing messages are triggered by the customer’s behavior and received at the right time.
Triggered welcome emails can simply thank subscribers for signing up or can deliver the discount or offer promised in the lightbox that was used as the opt-in incentive. However, don’t stop there. These messages have the highest likelihood of being read and acted on, so take advantage of this opportunity by creating a series of messages.
Here are some things to consider as you create an effective automated welcome series:
• Don’t think about how many messages to include; instead, think about what messages you want to convey and then determine how many emails you’ll need based on the content.
• In most cases, it makes sense to only send new subscribers welcome messages and suppress them from the regular email messages during this time. Only begin sending new subscribers broadcast campaigns when the welcome series ends.
• Think about the timing of the welcome messages and carefully monitor results so you know the right cadence. If your series contains three messages, the first could be triggered upon subscription, with the other two going out in 24 hour intervals. If your series is longer, you could send two messages per day – one in the morning and one in the early evening. We found that first- time shoppers are more likely to place the all-important second order within the first week as long as the experience is positive, so don’t feel like you need to wait too long between messages.
• Trigger the first message to go out immediately upon subscription. It will not only reach subscribers when they’re most engaged and interested in shopping for your products, but it will also confirm the email addresses, ensuring that invalid addresses aren’t added to your list.
• Try to be as personal as possible. Your messages can include items that the subscriber browsed on your site, an invitation to update personal preferences in your preference center, local store information, top selling merchandise based on gender, etc. Remember, customers expect to be treated as individuals, and you’ll be getting off on the right foot by customizing the message to each subscriber.
• Update these messages quarterly. It is easy to set up automated messages once and then forget all about them, as they run in the background. But you should have a process in place where you review your triggered campaigns quarterly to be sure you aren’t sending information that is outdated.

Converting Subscribers into Customers

Combining modal lightbox acquisition with a triggered welcome series is a strategy that will greatly increase both engagement and revenue. And when the messages are personalized, including information on gender, produce or category browsed, subscribers will feel an immediate connection to your brand. Each message of the series is another change to engage subscribers with new content and messaging, giving you the opportunity to capture additional customer data that you can use to tailor future messages.

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Buy it Again

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Megan Ouellet


image


This morning, I received this email from Amazon with the simple and effective subject line “Buy it again”.  It featured several replenishable items that I have purchased in the last two months and included prices and links to make it easy for me to reorder.
If you sell items that can be replenished, these email campaigns are a must! They have the highest conversion rates, averaging 28.59%. Best of all, these campaigns can be automated, deploying at either a selected amount of time after the sale or based on average re-order times.

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Click-through Trends for Email Navigation

Friday, February 13, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

To Be, or Not to Be a Nav

To set the record straight: a navigation bar in an email isn’t really navigating customers through the email like a website. It’s simply a group of calls to action, which happen to be placed in the most valuable real estate of emails, the top. These calls to action that include Men/Women/Kids, Sale/Clearance, etc., are also getting a lot of clicks. Make sure you’re using the right ones.
Let’s see which links are getting the most clicks, and which perform the worst. Once we review the numbers, we can come up with some best practices for customizing content based on where customers are clicking.

And the Winner is...

We pulled click data from a bunch of emails, but wanted to make sure that all the brands were similar and had similar nav links. For this test, our client profile was fashion retailers.
The most common links found in these emails are Men/Women/Kids, Sale/Clearance, Accessories,Blog, and New Arrivals. Here’s the breakdown:

image

Here’s what we found.
The trendiest nav links are:
  • New Arrivals
  • Sale or Clearance
  • Gender (depending on target audience)
Links with the least engagement:
  • Accessories
  • Blog
  • the opposite Gender (depending on target audience)

It’s Like a Pull-quote for Nav Links

Now that we have this data, the most important question to ask is: why do we rely on nav links to be the sole call to action for some of our most clicked links? If a link is important enough to be taking up space at the top of an email, it can potentially be designed into something more; especially if it’s performing well. Think of it like a pull-quote for nav links.
Here is an example where popular nav links, Sale/Clearance, Most Popular, and New Arrivals, are pulled and placed into nicely designed banners.

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If you have a nav bar in your emails, continue to check your analytics to get engagement data. You may find that some links are not worth having. But if others are performing particularly well, try placing those links as a call to action within the body of your email.

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Choosing Your Next Email Service Provider Should Not Be Simple

Thursday, February 05, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Multichannel Merchant’s Tim Parry recently spoke with Listrak clients Dogeared and Rodale’s for a Technology Report - Selecting An Email Service Provider:
Choosing an email service provideris not a simple task. That’s not just because there are a large number of EPSs to choose from but also because you also need to choose what functions, services, bells and whistles are best for your organization’s needs.
Thomas E. Smith, president of Goldcoast Consulting Group, points out that ESPs are not one-size fits all. Before you determine which ESP is going to be the best for your needs, you need to put together a list of fundamentals.
For example, you need to ask yourself what your email volume is, and how many subscribers you have. Also, what are your integration needs, and are you planning to host your own database, or have it in a cloud? And how robust does your reporting need to be?
The process of selecting an ESP—or upgrading to a new ESP—is not something that is done overnight, either. New Pig, a manufacturer and supplier of industrial waste clean-up products, is in the middle of implementing a new ESP.
Mark DeYulis, New Pig’s director of ecommerce marketing, says the search for a new ESP took seven months to conduct. The biggest lesson he’s learned: Take the time to assess the vendors and their products.
“As we’re implementing this, it’s going smoothly because we vetted out how it would work and what we would need,” DeYulis says. “And so far, so good. Everything is going right on schedule.””

Start Somewhere

If you’re new to email marketing, you may want to start off with an out-of-thebox, easy-to-use ESP. That was the case with New Pig, and DeYulis says it was the best way to learn about email marketing.
“When we started focusing on emails, we went with the easiest package that we could manage,” DeYulis says. “As we learned more about email marketing, we felt we needed more bells and whistles. It really wasn’t the fact that [our ESP] couldn’t handle the volume, it was more the fact we couldn’t do some of the things we needed to do.”
Rodale’s is a brand of Rodale, Inc., But the health-and-wellness products seller has email marketing needs that differ from its parent company’s media brands, which include Women’s Health, Men’s Health, and Runner’s World magazines. 
After starting simple, Megan Nonemacher, ecommerce marketing manager at Rodale’s, says she was looking for an ESP that Rodale’s could grow with. And the company wanted an ESP that would provide extensive training and support, especially since Rodale’s was looking to implement a new platform during the 2014 holiday season.
“Our previous ESP did not have all of the modules we were looking to explore in 2015 under one package,” Nonemacher said. “We wanted an ESP that would deliver our daily emails efficiently, with custom reporting available, but also give us capabilities to run new automated campaigns that we didn’t have built yet.”
It’s a similar story for handcrafted jewelry seller Dogeared. As Dogeared grew, customer experience director Ashley Walkley says it needed its emails to deliver a better customer experience.
For example, Walkley says Dogeared outgrew its out-of-the-box ESP, and couldn’t do segmentation, or focus on things like transactional messages, which have become the norm for email marketers. Dogeared also wanted to be able to tailor messages, create automated emails, and use emails to cross-sell and upsell to its customers.
And with its first retail store on the horizon, Walkley says Dogeared was also looking for an ESP that would offer a complete omnichannel experience. Customer data needs to be collected in store via the POS as well.
Here’s a look at what merchants need to consider when selecting a new ESP. 

Mobile in Mind

If you are a small-sized merchant, you might not have the resources you need, but you can still have emails that look as nice as that of larger merchants. Most ESPs provide customizable email templates, which allow the user to choose a color scheme, add its own content, and drag and drop pictures.
Within that, Smith says you need to make sure they are customizable for different devices. Creatives are usually different on a desktop than on a mobile device, as you’d want to use less content for mobile emails to allow for a better fit on a smaller screen. And you want to have the ability to send a preview to your inbox, so you know how it will render on different devices.
“Mobile is huge,” Dogeared’s Walkley says. “The customer is able to have the most seamless experience, no matter what device they are shopping from, or reading messages with.”
Smith says you also may want the templates to be versioned, so you can build for desktop and change it up for mobile. And as you’re building these emails, you also want to be able switch between those views and see how look on different devices. Based on how your subscribers view emails, you may need five or six different mobile templates.
“Even if you can accomplish that, the conversion rates on a mobile device are much lower,” Smith points out. “The conundrum is more shoppers are viewing their emails on mobile devices, but the conversion from mobile devices is a lot less than on a desktop.”
If that’s the case with your subscribers, you may want to use an ESP that allows you to track what time an email is opened on a smartphone. If someone opens and is not ready to react, and you can send it again later when they are home on a desktop.

Segmentation and Personalization

Personalization should go beyond “Dear, John,” but not be too creepy, Smith says. It is important to be able to integrate data such as past purchase history and browsing history so you can create more targeted, personalized campaigns. And if you can include offline customer data to match your online data, you can build the perfect predictive piece.
Smith says that while working for an ESP, he had a bicycle retailer client that made both mountain and street bikes. It knew it had customers who were mountain bikers who were thinking about transitioning into road biking. The ESP could get information about the customer from browsing behavior, or from what the customer was doing in the store. But that’s the big divide.
You can match personas online and offline, but the predictive piece is still dependant on the offline information, which is traditionally used to optimize websites, Smith says.
“If you know someone is a great mountain bike person and they’re surfing for street bikes 20 hours a week, and they aren’t buying mountain bike stuff or looking for mountain bike stuff, maybe serve him an email with a totally different offer based on that behavior, even if he hasn’t made a purchase in the past,” Smith says. “That technology is out there, but sometimes it’s hard to get something as fundamental as RFM or purchase affinity from that browsing behavior when it comes to a campaign like email.”
Walkley says Dogeared wanted advanced retail segmentation from its ESP, to help the merchant know exactly who its customer is. Data is collected plug and play, which makes the process much simpler from an implementation standpoint. Walkley says Dogeared is not doing a lot of customization with it, but wanted an ESP with the ability to help it grow its segmenting when the time is right.

Automation

Triggers can get pretty sophisticated, depending on what you’re planning to do, Smith says. But you want triggers to be a part of your ESP’s campaign builder workflow.
You may want to start the new subscriber journey by triggering a welcome email, and if a purchase is made, sending a purchase acknowledgment email and thank-you email. Or, if you send an email and there is no reaction from the customer, you may want to be able to trigger a reminder email.
Nonemacher says she cannot wait to grow Rodale’s automated campaigns in 2015. Since the brand launched, Rodale’s has had successful welcome campaigns and abandon cart campaigns.
“We’re taking it a step further now by adding post-purchase campaigns, a winback campaign for customers we’ve lost touch with, or who haven’t been engaged with us recently, a browse-and-abandon campaign, and an automated email series that provides personalized, recommended products based on customer search behavior and buying patterns,” Nonemacher says. “We know that personalization can increase customer engagement by as much as 22%, so we’re going to focus a lot of energy in this area.“
Smith says he once worked with a retailer that sold bulbs and gardening equipment, and it sent triggered emails based on zones and what to plant at what time of the year. But if Mother Nature brought a freak snowstorm to the Northeast, and no one was planting, it would be able to change scheduled messages up based on inventory timetables.
So if the early planting season was thwarted by a blizzard, the retailer could instead send an email about an end-of-season snow blower sale to customers in that area. Or if snow blowers were not available in a certain zip code, it could change the message to talk about snow shovels.
“There’s a million ways you can go in terms of the journey, but it’s nice to be able to consider the options ahead of time and build in those triggers,” Smith says.

Analytics

You may go with an ESP that can provide you all the bells and whistles for your emails, but deliverability is also key. And you want to make sure you’re working with a reputable firm.
You want to make sure you have some kind of reporting to show you who is opening your emails, which addresses are bouncing and who is unsubscribing. And you it all in one central location that’s easy to use, whether it’s in your email platform or you want to integrate that into your marketing database, Smith says.
Also, does your ESP allow your subscribers to opt out at will, and does it help you stay compliant with international laws, such as the Canadian Anti-SPAM Legislation?
DeYulis points out that as a B2B, New Pig relies on a different set of metrics than a B2C marketer would. He says email marketing’s rule of thumb about email addresses being inactive may be the case for B2Cs, but isn’t necessarily the case for B2Bs, and analytics provided by standard ESPs don’t always reflect that.
DeYulis says New Pig tries to not just tie in who clicks on emails, but also to tie in who may call the contact center to place an order, or live chat, but then later go to the website. So DeYulis relies on an ESP that also ties into all of New Pig’s databases.
“We have all these things going on, and it’s not only at an individual level,” DeYulis says. “We may email you, and you tell your purchasing agent to go on the site and order.”
So now New Pig has the decision maker’s email address and the purchasing agent’s email address, but doesn’t know who is driving the purchase.
“That screws up our metrics because you may not see certain email addresses ordering, but they are driving the sale. So it creates issues,” DeYulis says. “Some packages may tell us not to email these people because they aren’t buying. But in reality, they are, or they are getting the email and calling in.” 

Social Media Integration

Email and social media go hand in hand. You have to look at providers that make it easy to share an email via a social media platform. Smith says ESPs are all getting better and better at that.
“So if my daughter gets an email and she thinks it’s really cool, you want to make it pretty easy to share on Facebook without her having to copy it, logging in and posting it,” Smith says. “If there’s the ability to link to social media and be able to share an offer, that’s pretty important.”

Set Up a Demo Account

It’s really hard to compare apples to apples because every ESP has a different pitch, and every ESP’s pitch is going to sound compelling. But it’s hard to really know what you’re going to get from an ESP until you really get into a live demo. 
“Someone is going to come in and tell you everything a platform is going to do, and assuming square pegs and square holes and everything you do fits into their model, then yeah, it’s great,” Smith says. “But there’s always some level of customization that you’re going to need, and questions you are going to want to ask.”
Let’s say you narrow your choice down to three ESPs, and only one of them allows for an extensive demo period. That doesn’t really help you out. If you can play with one for a while and not the other two, it makes it harder to make a decision, Smith says.
If you can get an extended period to test an ESP, and you have the time and resources to play with it, that’s key as well.
“You never really know how a platform is going to perform until you implement it, and the results we’ve had in the first three to four months we had it proved we made the right decision,” Dogeared’s Walkley says. “We know we chose the right partner for right now, and for the future of the company.”

Pricing

You can do your due diligence, go through the demo process and decide what you want. But you still need to check the price tag.
You can spend $1,000 a month on an ESP if you’re a small merchant, and you can spend $50,000 a month on an ESP if you have a pretty sophisticated program and a bunch of systems that need integration. But you’re also not going to find out the cost until you talk with an ESP’s sales team.
There are also ESPs that will give you volume discounts based on the number of emails you send. But there are others that charge a “use it or lose it” rate, Smith says. And depending on the ESP, if you exceed that rate, you would go into an overage rate as a premium. This means you’d be penalized for exceeding your target. 

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MarketingSherpa Survey of Consumer Attitudes towards Email Marketing Reveals Strong Preference for Email Compared with All Other Communications

Tuesday, February 03, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Today, MarketingSherpa released the following press release
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ – It might challenge widely held beliefs but Americans actually prefer companies to communicate with them through email more than any other means.
More than seven in 10 (72 percent) U.S. adults indicate a preference for companies to communicate with them via email followed by postal mail (48 percent), TV ads (34 percent), print media (e.g., newspapers, magazines) (31 percent), text message (19 percent), social media and in-person conversation/consultation (both at 17 percent).
The findings are part of a national survey conducted online within the U.S. between Jan 21st and 23rd, 2015 among 2,057 adults (aged 18 and over) by MarketingSherpa in advance of its Email Summit 2015 being held Feb. 23 – 26 in Las Vegas. The international event is the original research-based conference serving the email marketing community.
“The essence of marketing is the message. It is with this message the marketer simplifies the connection between the customer and a company,” said Flint McGlaughlin, managing director and CEO of MECLABS, parent company of MarketingSherpa. “It’s not surprising that consumers who do business with companies continue to be receptive to email. Email can transcend monologue with dialogue. It enables marketers to build genuine relationships. This is important, because ultimately people don’t buy from companies; people buy from people.”
Other survey findings:
Fifteen Percent of Americans Would Like to Receive Promo Emails Daily
A vast majority (91 percent) of U.S. adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. In fact, 86 percent would like to receive promo emails at least monthly and 61 percent at least weekly. Fifteen percent would like to receive these emails daily, twice a week (10 percent), three times a week (4 percent) and weekly (32 percent). Nine percent never want to receive promo emails from companies they do business with.
Vast Majority of Consumers Who Want to Receive Company Emails Invite Change in Them
Despite their preference for promotional emails from companies they do business with, nearly half (48 percent) who want to receive company emails would like to change them. Twenty-eight percent say they’d like to receive more promotional emails and 20 percent would like to receive fewer. More than one in three (35 percent) would like personalized emails to change, with 29 percent indicating they would like companies to send more and six percent would prefer less personalized emails. Thirty-one percent would like company emails to change the length of their emails with 30 percent reporting they would like them shorter versus one percent preferring them longer.
Seven in 10 Americans Have Made Purchases Influenced by a Company’s Email
Nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) U.S. adults have made purchases influenced by a company’s email. One in five (20 percent) have made purchases solely online, 22 percent primarily made purchases online but also occasionally in a store or over the phone and 12 percent made purchases influenced by a company email are made equally online and in a store or over the phone. Thirty-one percent of U.S. adults have never made purchases that were influenced by a company’s email.
Half of Americans Who Ever Left an Item in an Online Shopping Cart Say Reminder Emails are Helpful
Eighty-eight percent of those who have ever left an item in an online shopping cart have ever received an email reminding them of that fact. Half of those who ever left an item in an online shopping cart (51 percent) find the reminders helpful with six percent saying they always complete the purchase after receiving the reminder, seven percent say they always complete the purchase after receiving a reminder if there is a discount in the email, 12 percent report they occasionally complete the purchase after receiving a reminder, 10 percent occasionally complete the purchase if there is a discount and 17 percent say even though reminders are helpful, they do not affect their decision to purchase. Nearly two in five (38 percent) say reminder emails are annoying.
The complete MarketingSherpa survey of consumer attitudes towards email marketing will be presented at the upcoming Email Summit. For more information, visit Email Summit 2015.
About the Email Summit
The Email Summit, being held Feb. 23-26, 2015 at the ARIA Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, is the original research-based conference serving the email marketing community. Participants from around the globe learn from some of today’s leading marketers from organizations including MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2015 Best B2C Email Campaign winner Finish Line, Best B2B Email Campaign winner Ferguson Enterprises, and Reader’s Choice Email Campaign winner Microsoft Store. Case studies and how-to lessons from VolunteerMatch, CNET, Dun & Bradstreet, LinkedIn, and the Kentucky Derby will also be presented. Featured speakers include Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics, Jonah Berger of The Wharton School, Jose Palomino and Flint McGlaughlin. Sponsors for Email Summit 2015 include Maropost, BlueHornet, StrongView, Yesmail, Listrak, Adestra, Silverpop, dotmailer, PostUp, LiveIntent, Message Systems, TowerData, TailoredMail, StrikeIron, Litmus, RealTime Email by LiveClicker, ClickMail, SailThru, SendGrid, Email on Acid, OutMarket, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Movable Ink, Lionbridge, Fluent, HyperDrive Interactive, Retention Science, B2Lead and Inbox Group.
Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States from January 21-23, 2015 among 2,057 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Richard Anderson at 718-986-1596, Emily Simmons at 212-808-4904, or Darby Fledderjohn at 212-808-4903.

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Press Release: Listrak Chief Privacy Officer James Koons to Share Privacy, Compliance and Deliverability Expertise at Extensive List of 2015 Events

Monday, February 02, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

February 2, 2015 – James Koons, Listrak’s Chief Privacy Officer and recent 2015 EEC Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year Award nominee, will be sharing his privacy, compliance and deliverability expertise at an extensive list of events in 2015:
 - Email Evolution Conference, Miami, FL, February 3, 11:40-12:40 p.m. – “Global Legislation Featuring CASL: What You Need to Know,” along with Matt Vernhout of Inbox Marketer
- M3AAWG 33rd General Meeting, February 16-19, San Francisco, CA - panel discussion on Data Breach Lessons Learned
- MarketingSherpa Email Summit, February 23-26 – Email Deliverability Trends for 2015
Koons will also be participating in a number of other events later in the year. Details to follow:
- IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2015, March 4-6, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
- South By Southwest Interactive, March 13–17, 2015 in Austin, TX
- TED Conference, March 19-20, 2015, in Vancouver, BC Canada
- IRCE, June 2-5, 2015 in Chicago, IL
- MediaPost Email Insider’s Summit, June 7-10, 2015 in Kiwawah Island, SC
- M3AAWG 34th General Meeting, June 8-11, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland
- ESPC Semi-Annual Meeting, May 13, 2015 in Palo Alto, CA
- ESPC Semi-Annual Meeting, September 9, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
- IAPP Privacy Academy and CSA Congress 2015, September 29-October 1, 2015 in Las Vegas, NV
- M3AAWG 35th General Meeting, October 19-22, 2015 in Atlanta, GA
Koons represents Listrak on the Board of Directors of the Email Sender & Provider Coalition (ESPC), serves on the board of the Online Trust Alliance and is an active member of the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG) and the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). He is also a member of the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org Advisory Group, Patent Troll Working Group and Privacy Working Group.

About Listrak

Listrak is a predictive retail marketing automation solutions provider that works with retailers to drive revenue growth, profitability and increase the lifetime value of customers. Founded in 1999, the company’s solution suite boasts analytics technology that enhances campaign performance, shopping cart and browse abandonment solutions that help recoup lost revenue, post purchase solutions to increase lifetime value, seamless integration across multiple platforms, as well as email, mobile, social and more. Listrak has more than a decade of digital marketing experience and works with leading US retailers, including Waterford, Swell, The Grommet and La-Z-Boy. For more information, visit http://www.listrak.com.

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