Marketers worldwide that continue to utilize e-mail for much of their marketing activities may have batted an eye or two at a report from e-mail certification and reputation monitoring provider Return Path.
According to the company’s latest benchmark report, worldwide inbox placement rates (IPR) fell by a wide margin in the second half of 2011.
In past years, the IPR has held in the area of 80 percent or better (one in five emails were sent to a spam folder or blocked), but this most recent study shows the second half of 2011 witnessed a substantial fall of 6 percent, bringing IPR to a new low of 76.5 percent worldwide. That is significant given that the first half of the year saw IPR at 81 percent.
As Return Path sees it, the decline was spearheaded by tougher ISP filtering and blocking, declining sender reputations and an overload of email.
Matt Blumberg, CEO for Return Path, noted that the data from the report indicates the scenario of a perfect storm. “Clients are having difficulty in getting their emails delivered, ISPs are tightening requirements on reputation metrics and the number of companies using email to market continues to increase – we see both higher overall email volume and an influx of relatively unsophisticated senders – resulting in decreased inbox placement rates.”
The study goes on to point out that reasons behind the major drop involve ISPs increasing the bar for reputation metrics, using metrics that are oftentimes not available to marketers via the normal deployment platforms, along with leveraging new information to decide what is spam and what is not.
Another reason for declining metrics is that a number of marketing budgets have seen cuts, you have new staffing added to the mix, and there is a reliance on third-party ESPs when it comes to reputation monitoring.
Lastly, consumers prove to be overwhelmed over the busy holiday period, meaning they get a bunch of new e-mails (promotions, inviting content, etc.) and many such transmissions end up unsubscribing in order to cut down on the amount of such correspondence.
As an e-mail marketer, how can you increase the chances of getting your e-mails seen and noticed by the important playmakers when it comes to purchasing decisions?
Among the ways to do this is:
- Provide worthwhile content – It seems rather obvious, but is what you are sending out something you yourself would want in your inbox? With consumers having so many messages thrown their way, they are definitely more selective about what goes to their inbox and what goes to the junk folder. Make it a priority not to end up in the latter;
- Deliverability reliability – Delivering quality content, promotions, offers etc. is only going to be effective if done on a reliable basis. Record and analyze your sending patterns so that you know the best times to send, how to address any deliverability issues and so on. Understand the data, just don’t record it;
- Address consumer concerns – Too often, consumer concerns get pushed to the side and marketers do not end up learning from them. The tragedy there is that marketers continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Make addressing consumer concerns a priority and learn from the mistakes. Your reputation involves a number of facets, most importantly, customer service;
- Interact with your customers – I’ve heard both yea and nay to the idea of doing surveys, polls etc. from your customers. Yes, many customers in today’s fast-paced life don’t have time to respond to simple polls on how your customer service is being received. Make it worth their while to take five minutes to address a few questions on how your e-mail marketing is being received and perceived. Feedback from the customer is second to none in making you an even better e-mail marketer.
E-mail marketing doesn’t require a PhD, but it does take effort, enthusiasm and experience.
Without those three components, you could very well find your message going to the great e-mail junk folder in the sky.