KNOCKING ON THE DOOR OF THE INBOX; RELEVANCE, IDENTIFICATION AND MAINTAINING TRUST ARE KEY.
AOL’s Marcel Becker and 250ok’s Paul Midgin, filling in for Greg Kraios, went through current best practices and the various measures taken to defend our inboxes. Midgin compared unwanted emails to unwanted visitors knocking on your door and demanding to come in. Actually, as he put it, they don’t actually bang on the door nowadays, but say “Hi! I’m someone you know, can I come in please?”, which makes it harder to filter out whom should actually be left in or not.
Something senders should be diligently noting and respecting is a correct opt-in and consent. This is key information. Recipients will either engage with your marketing messages or complain – what do you want them to do? Up to now, lesser engagement and frustration with email marketing has in the long run resulted in reduced revenue, though with smart phones etc. this will increasingly result in a negative impact on reputation. Too many marketing messages just look like spam. The email needs to matter; target the customer specifically, e.g. follow up on a sale with an email that is relevant to what the consumer is likely to do next.
On mobile devices, people really triage their emails; it’s like Tinder – “I like that email, I don’t like that email”. Put something meaningful right at the start of the email. People are categorizing their email more and more, and directing emails to various subfolders – or this is been done for them; for instance, Yahoo!’s smart views for shopping, travel or finance emails.
Now it’s not just about individual emails that people want or don’t want, but the types of emails they want or don’t want. You have to track what your customers want and tailor your messages to them.
Even though Slack is increasingly the tool used in the enterprise world, people still manage their everyday lives largely with emails. What people really want is a concierge, someone who manages all of the information in the emails to pull it up when it is needed, e.g. showing a coupon while it is still valid, surfacing the flight confirmation email a day before you fly etc. The new challenge for senders is to find a way to share information to improve relevance and performance while respecting trust and security.
ISPs, ESPs, and Trust Agencies have become brokers between consumers and brands. They can be that concierge that manages the flow of information. These bodies need to work together to create a good email experience for their consumers. Becker pointed out that trust agencies like the CSA are becoming increasingly important to ISPs and ESPs to help create trust with consumers.
Wrapping up, Becker and Midgin recommended senders start with processing bounces diligently, if they want to save and improve their reputation. If you’re knocking on someone’s door, start with SPF and then add DKIM into the mix to identify yourself.
They also warned the industry: there are only a few experts who move from company to company and know what needs to be done to improve email security. There is a perception that approaches like DMARC are black magic and are too difficult; they’re actually not, but there aren’t enough people who know how to implement the best solutions for improving deliverability. The industry also doesn’t make it easy for senders to make sense of all of the data that is available. Most senders need external experts to help them make using the available technology easier and more effective.