“How to increase your Email Deliverability using IBM Marketing Cloud”
Email – Introduction to Deliverability:
Did you analyze your email’s deliverability? Do your emails actually reach your intended targets? Unfortunately, when you send dozens, hundreds and thousands of marketing email to your target recipients, not all of those recipients are going to get your email.
In fact, number of those emails are not delivered due to various reasons like spams, IP restrictions, etc. That’s why you hear people talk about “improving” their email deliverability , which means taking action to ensure more emails reach the people who signed up for them. By using IBM Marketing Cloud email deliverability services helps to make sure your message reaches its destination. IBM Marketing Cloud Services will help to manage the delivery of your email messages right from the start, and work with you through the toughest issues.
What is Deliverability?
Deliverability refers to the likelihood of an email arriving in a recipient’s inbox. Deliverability reports measure the success rate of sent messages reaching subscribers.
Inbox Providers supply inboxes to users, some examples of inbox providers include: Yahoo, Gmail. Some examples of Internet Service Providers that are also Inbox Providers include: Aol., Msn, EarthLink, Comcast, Inbox Providers are under no obligation to accept email.
A bounce indicates an email whose delivery was rejected by the recipient’s Inbox Provider.
Hard bouncing suggests a permanent reason why a mailing cannot be delivered.
A soft bounce is often considered temporary. For example, a full inbox or routing error can cause a soft bounce.
Bulking is when a message is delivered to the recipient’s email server but sent directly to the junk or spam folder which results in a soft bounce.
Blocking occurs when the destination email server refuses to accept the email resulting in a Hard bounce.
Blacklisting is when an individual or an enterprise creates a list of IP addresses or domains to filter most often resulting in a hard bounce.
Spam traps, which are invalid addresses and domains, most often result in hard bounces.
What is Sender Reputation?
Sender reputation is how Inbox Providers and Blacklisting services view your mailings based on your sending practices as well as your recipient’s behavior towards your mailings.
Why is sender reputation important?
Sender reputation directly affects your deliverability score and inbox providers use your reputation as one of the factors to determine if they will deliver your mailings to their users. A bad reputation can cause your Domain and/or your IP to be added to a Blacklist. Your sender reputation is recorded as your domain and IP reputation as separate entities. They are affected by the same contributing factors and are calculated in the same way. This allows a sender reputation to follow a sender through business changes and/or brand updates, allowing good senders to use different IP addresses or Domains.
Sender Reputation – Contributing Factors:
DNS Authentication is a record of identification used to ensure that the sender is legitimate. DMARC Authentication Record is another form of identification popular with inbox providers. IP Whitelisting places your IP address on a list of accepted senders, increasing your overall deliverability to Inbox Providers who offer whitelisting. IP Warming is the sending schedule for your initial mailings. Inbox Providers limit the number of mailings delivered into their user’s inboxes for new senders. By throttling your initials sends, you stay in compliance with these limitations while increasing your deliverability and improving your reputation. Feedback loops are used by some Inbox providers to communicate abuse complaints from their users to the marketing engine. These users will be added to the master suppression list resulting in fewer non-opens and complaints. Sender Behavior is how your audience reacts to the messages you send. This includes inboxes that results in hard bounces.
III. Sender Behavior:
By using IBM Marketing Cloud easy to ‘understand how it affects your Sender Reputation’ and ‘Identify the basic behaviors included in this section’. How can we improve our Sender Reputation and deliverability score?
– Establish good sender behavior.
What is sender behavior?
Sender Behavior includes the content you send to users, how you deliver that content, and any other actions taken on your part in relation to your marketing efforts.
Sender behavior includes:
- Lead Sourcing:
How you approach lead sourcing is a key component to your sender behavior and bad lead sourcing practices may result in the inclusion of un-verified contacts as well as bad/expired addresses and domains inside your database.
Including non-consenting contacts within a contact source is lead sourcing: A non-consenting contact has a higher likelihood of not opening mailings, filing complaints, and/or labeling a message as spam which has a negative effect on your reputation.
Prepopulating opt-in checkboxes without contacts knowledge is bad lead sourcing: Users opted into a contact source in this manner are not giving their expressed consent and should be considered as non-consenting.
Purchasing a list from a third-party is bad lead sourcing: Purchased lists are often populated with old or expired data that can cause hard bounces and any valid contacts within purchased lists never explicitly opted into your database and should be considered non-consenting. While you are working with purchased lists, be sure to on-board all new contacts. Good lead sourcing will result in a cleaner database populated with users who have expressly opted in to your database, lowering bounces and increasing the likelihood of favorable recipient behavior.
On-boarding new contacts is good lead sourcing: When adding contacts to your database or a contact source including an opt-in confirmation or utilizing an on-boarding program confirms the contact’s interest and allows the marketer to filter out bad addresses.
Setting expectations at the time of opt-in is good lead sourcing: Setting frequency and general expectations for your contacts during the onboarding process and or in any web forms is a great way to prepare your contacts to receive and interact with your mailings.
- Database Maintenance: Good lead sourcing can minimize the amount of work needed to maintain your database but database maintenance is still an important part of your sender behavior. Some examples of good database maintenance include: Regularly scrubbing your database for duplicates and in-actives, Using programs or other resources to re-engage users, Ease of access to preference centers and profile information for front-end users.
- Utilizing Preference Centers:
Preference Centers allow your front-end user to opt in or opt-out specific mailing groups. This offers a tailored customer experience. By only sending them content they have requested, they are more likely to interact with your mailings. Including the snooze option within your preference center allows a contact to opt out of messaging for a period of time set by the marketer as opposed to opting out entirely. Once the snooze period has passed the contacts will be automatically opted back to receive messages. This self-managed experience should increase the likelihood of contact interaction with messaging.
- Send Schedule:
The frequency of messaging can effect contact interaction as well as how inbox providers react to your mailings. By delivering messages during times of higher contact interaction either by an ‘established best send time’ as per market research or via Send Time Optimization you can increase the likelihood of favorable recipient behavior.
Send Time Optimization (STO) is an automated feature you may enable on mailings. It records when a user is most likely active in their inbox and works to deliver the mailing within that time frame. Send schedules associated with a best send time should be regularly audited to ensure they are up to date with the most recent market research.
- Mailing Content:
Content, as it relates to mailings, it is any visible or coded information included in a mailing. Mailing with a high image to text ratio, embedded content, expired links, and attachments can all have a higher chance of being caught in a recipient spam filter. Good content has a well-balanced text to image ratio, up to date links, and clear messaging. When possible, the inclusion of a call to action can improve recipient interaction with your mailing. We have discussed a number of interconnected sender behaviors that you can implement to improve your sender reputation and Deliverability score. Continued database maintenance ensures the quality overtime. Good lead sourcing improves the quality of your database. Preference Centers and the snooze option allow your recipients to customize their experience, increasing overall open rates and mailing interaction. Send Time Optimization delivers mail into a recipient’s inbox at the time they are most active.
- Gmail Deliverability:
With hundreds of millions of users, Gmail Deliverability is a legitimate area of concern for many senders. In this topic we will discuss:
- Factors that lead Gmail to block or accept messages
- Recommendations to improve/maintain Gmail Deliverability
Why does Gmail block email?
When mailings are sent to the spam folder or blocked at Gmail, it’s usually because Gmail feels that the IP or domain is sending unwanted or spam-like messages to their users. This could be due to, too many abuse complaints or too many inactive recipients in your database.
Note: Please note that Gmail does not utilize feedback loops for abuse complaints.
Why does Gmail block email?
Gmail’s postmaster page states:
We’ve received inquiries from bulk senders who’d like more information on best practices to ensure that their mail is delivered to Gmail users. The way Gmail classifies spam depends heavily on reports from its users. Gmail users can mark and unmark any message as spam, at any time. To increase the inbox delivery rate of your messages, make sure that all recipients on your distribution lists actually want to receive the mail.
What does this mean?
Gmail relies heavily on the feedback it gets from users. Un-opens, lack of clicks, low conversion rates, and abuse complaints can all hurt sender’s Gmail Deliverability. Once an IP has been warmed, engagement is often the deciding factor for Gmail’s postmaster when determining if a message should be delivered. Given Gmail’s emphasis on engagement, we encourage marketers to implement behavioral marketing best practices to increase message relevance, boost opens and clicks. Sending emails triggered by a person’s behaviors, preferences or demographics is one of the best ways to ensure a positive customer experience and increase recipient interaction with your messages.
Some recommendations to improve or maintain your Gmail Deliverability:
- Authenticate your sending domain with SPF and 1024 DKIM authentication.
- Ask your recipients to mark your messages as “not spam.”
- Remind recipients to click on the “Always display images from this address” link.
- Invite contacts to add your sending “From” address to their Gmail address book.
- Ask your recipients to click Gmail’s yellow priority inbox icon and them “mark as important.”
- Monitor recipient activity and remove in-actives.
- Create Gmail-specific campaigns with subject lines and a targeted call to actions for Gmail users.
- Be sure your IP is properly warmed for Gmail. If your IP has already been warmed you may still use the basic principles discussed to heal your IP.
- Utilize queries to isolate Gmail users and deliver to your more engaged users first.
You can view your overall deliverability score, whitelisting, and blacklisting status for all dedicated IP addresses within the Support Portal. First you have to login for portal.silverpop.com see below image.