Do these four types of e-mail messages threaten deliverability?


ReturnPath's Mario Marlisa recently wrote a great piece on deliverability for a collaborative white paper we released in Dutch. Marlisa emphasizes the increasing importance of engagement in deliverability.

Of course, there are other factors defining inbox placement and sender reputation. George Bilbrey, president of ReturnPath, recently wrote a blog post for Email Insider, mentioning four e-mail message types that kill deliverability, at least if they are not properly used or taken care of.

The four types are the opt-in confirmation, welcome e-mail, the first regular message and the transaction confirmation message. Three of them are triggered forms of e-mail marketing. Bilbrey writes they are 'the source of a disproportionate number of deliverability issues'. However, all four of them are important so how can you improve them from a deliverability perspective.

Some key takeaways.

1. The opt-in deliverability trap

An opt-in confirmation e-mail is important. It gives subscribers the chance to think about whether they really want to be on your list and is a token of appreciation and respect, fulfilling the promise in the sign-up process. Here is the problem: bad e-mail addresses. This can happen for a number of reasons, often the subscriber made a typing mistake himself. You can offer two e-mail text fields or boxes to prevent typos but that can reduce conversion (subscription rates). You can also use a dedicated IP address to help reduce the risk of spam.

2. The welcome e-mail message

A triggered welcome e-mail is a nice touch for new subscribers and a best practice, but sometimes it works against you. You introduce yourself and remind the new subscriber what list they joined and when. Unfortunately, many will opt-out right away, forgetting what appealed to them in the first place. Some people will flag the mail as spam.

The key to fixing this problem is timing. Try sending the welcome message right away. When it arrives late, you give the subscriber time to forget. Keep your name and subject line clear, so there is no room for misinterpretation. You want the subscriber to recognize the e-mail for what it is - a welcome. This will prompt a positive response instead of a spam flag or opt-out.

3. The first communication

The first two messages - opt-in and welcome - cleared with no issues, but now your first regular message is the problem. There are a number of reasons why that first message turns into the one that causes a disconnect. Not all subscribers know what they are signing up for when they opt-in. If it turns out they didn't get what they wanted, then opting-out is the right thing to do.

One way to prevent this problem is to show a sample of the communication on the sign up page. This way, all the cards are on the table. You can repeat that message on the welcome communication by providing another sample. Be clear on how often you send out e-mails, so they know what to expect. The more open you are in the beginning, the less chance you will get a refusal with the first message. No one likes surprises.

4. Transaction notice e-mails

These can often be misinterpreted and lead to lost subscribers or flags. A transaction message or transactional e-mail might be an order confirmation or shipping notice. They often come from a different place then the nice marketing communication. When opened, they lack the appeal of a marketing piece, as well, which is often a missed opportunity. Make the subject heading clear, so the recipient knows exactly why they are getting the e-mail.

Don't overlook the importance of any triggered e-mail or other messages. Treat all communication them with the same attention as all interactions with customers and prospects, regardless of the role and even the channels.

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