08 May 2020

Email marketing is more than good messaging. Don’t make headlines for all the wrong reasons

Ok – I’m a marketer, so I’ve long been focused on messaging, however working at Cumulo9 over the past several years has taught me that there’s far more to reaching the inbox and complying with ever-changing privacy laws than just sending the right message to the right person.  The four P’s don’t really cut it anymore, so I’ve put together three key points that relate to deliverability, compliance, security and (this one’s more my thing) personalisation. Some of the points sound boring, but trust me they’re important…

 1. Compliance and Auditability

Between the GDPR and the Privacy laws currently making their way through multiple government agencies, there’s definitely a new standard of data management and email marketing for everyone.  Email needs to be managed with greater emphasis on security, risk and compliance; and it needs to be easily auditable to measure these attributes.

The penalties for data breaches are very real. Only last year British Airways was fined $328 million dollars under the new GDPR data protection rules. It can take years to cultivate a good reputation for your business and yet this can be undone in a flash. Make sure you have:

  • Permission to send to your recipients and a record of their opt-in
  • Have all available information relating to your audience if they request you to share this with them
  • Have a water-tight unsubscribe function in place
  • Have the appropriate security measures in place to ensure this data cannot be obtained deceptively 

My main piece of advice – have a master list, don’t upload multiple lists whereby your client data is duplicated.  Segment and customise your campaigns based on fields so that no matter what, you can look up a contact and see when they opted in, what their preferences are, and what their interactions with ALL of your emails have been. 

2.Deliverability & avoiding the junk mail folder

Deliverability is different from delivery - delivery means your email was received by the email client, even if it lands in the spam folder. An email bounce would mean the email isn’t delivered. Deliverability, on the other hand, is whether your email makes it to the inbox.

There are several ways of optimising deliverability and avoiding the junk email folder. In 2020 if you don’t start employing SPF and domain validation, DKIM and DMARC, you run the risk of your perfectly tailored messages being rejected by the recipient email server.  At Cumulo9, we provide guidance to all of our clients on configuring their domain DNS records so that they are protected by SPF and DKIM.  At present SPF is vital and DKIM emails are treated preferentially, emails that fail here will be seen as untrusted and relegated to the junk folder.  The same will be true for DMARC in future (this is the boring, yet important part). 

The words in your email can also impact your spam score more than ever before.  Terms such as “money”, “free”, “save” (and some more I won’t name) can send your spam score through the roof. Try the preview window spam checker and see for yourself.  Likewise, the text to image ratio can make a big difference.  If you have a large proportion of imagery and very little text, then your spam score will be higher.  Even the colours of the fonts you use can make a difference – try not to use a lot of red text. Just be sure to do your research on best practice email content, and always check your spam score before you send it. This could save you headaches in the long run as far as poor open rates or even blacklisting.

3.Personalisation & making sure the recipient actually likes you

Now that we’ve got the more serious stuff out of the way, it’s equally important that the recipient actually likes you, or at the very least feels that your message is relevant to them.  

Personalisation is key – “Hey there” is not good enough, it shows a lack of insight into the recipient or audience.  Ensure that your message is from a real person (sender name and email address), that it identifies the recipient by name in the body of the message, and that the content is relevant and customised.  Include plenty of calls to action or click through’s so that you can measure their behaviour for future insight.

Some of the largest companies in the world are still guilty of not employing the right segmentation tools or automation to customise their email campaigns. As an example – as much as I’m not ready to give up my streaming account (we won’t name it), it still irks me every time I receive an email telling me I should watch a movie I already have.  Another example is the lottery email you get asking you to check your results when you haven’t actually bought a ticket.   All I can say is “don’t be that guy (or girl)”.  It’s not a question of whether you have this information, rather a question of whether you are using it effectively to customise your content.  Make sure you know them before you send to them, otherwise you could be trying to sell a Ford to a Holden guy (or girl). 

If you would like to know more about our transactional, campaign, employee email or contact management systems, please feel free to email: sarina.samuel@cumulo9.com,

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