Inbox Placement: Insights from Industry Experts
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.
- 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)
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Right Measurement: Keep a close eye on your analytics and make sure you are effectively tracking engagement.
- Right Adjustment: Properly ramping up and ramping down as well as making adjustments on the fly based on your analytics and engagement.
- 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.).