In late July, Google announced a set of new features for their Gmail and G Suite products including enhancements to chat, virtual meetings, and admin controls. But the announcement that got the most press was Gmail’s pilot program for a project known as Brand Indicators for Message Identification, or BIMI. Google’s pilot program is a limited, invite-only test, but it signals Gmail is joining the work toward adopting the BIMI standard.
You don’t need us to tell you the world is different right now — every government agency, news source, social media feed, and even beer commercial reminds us of the current pandemic situation almost constantly. Unsurprisingly, email marketing has seen its share of impact from these changes, challenging senders to get their messaging right in the midst of widespread uncertainty. Through the MessageGears blog, we’ve done our best to help navigate this new landscape — Jeff Haws recently shared some of the hard lessons we’ve learned in trying times, and Nick Ziech-Lopez has been furiously crunching numbers to share as much data as possible about the trends we’re seeing during this particular crisis. They’ve both done a great job at presenting useful information; so well, in fact, that I don’t have much to add to their analyses.
What should be the last thing a marketer should have to worry about when designing and building a portfolio of rich messages and orchestrating them for ideal delivery? The uptime of their message service provider. It’s 2020 and, sadly, not all companies plan for near 100% uptime. Uptime and reliability for message delivery is an assumed quality that every vendor has, until it’s not there and your Black Friday, Holiday or Limited Time offers are either delayed or not delivered.
A few weeks ago, we shared our research on different types of bounces and their implications for senders. One of our most notable findings pertained to Mailbox Full bounces — specifically, that almost ⅓ of recipients with a Mailbox Full bounce opened another message within the next 12 months.
The surprising results sparked conversation in the industry, with senders and providers debating how to handle Mailbox Full bounces in light of the data. Rumors have also been swirling of Gmail making changes to the way they handle Mailbox Full bounces, so we thought a deeper analysis of the results by ISP was in order.
It’s not news to us (nor likely to you) that email marketing is one of the top drivers of customer engagement, yielding the highest potential ROI of all marketing channels. Marketing departments are often building entire budgets around email marketing — but are they optimizing their email efforts to improve deliverability?
According to 250ok, delivery to the inbox for North America was around 88% in 2019, but the DMA reports that some industries saw much lower deliverability. While trends in deliverability and engagement are trending upward as a whole, the industry average doesn’t mean much if your organization’s mail isn’t making the cut.
Nearly all major mailbox providers (MBPs) utilize machine learning to determine how they should filter inbound mail. Their primary goal is to ensure their users are happy, by delivering “wanted” mail to the inbox and keeping everything else out — whether it’s never delivered or filtered to spam. These filters monitor user engagement and sender reputation in real time to determine how mail is routed on their networks.
As a sender, you’ll need to follow some core best practices if you want to be sure your mail reaches the inbox.
Bounces are inevitable. Every email you send is almost assured to see instances where that mail cannot be delivered — whether temporary or permanent. These bounces create a variety of responses from marketers: some ignore them, some meticulously analyze bounce logs, and others retry sending every. single. one. The recommended approach is somewhere in the middle, leaving many marketers to question how they should handle certain types of bounces and what those rejections really mean.
The holiday season isn’t just closing in — it’s already started for many marketers preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond. A big holiday season also brings big revenue goals, prompting many marketers to expand mailing lists and increase sending frequency to meet these goals. Before you make a decision that might derail your marketing efforts, here are a couple of recommendations to optimize your deliverability during the holiday season.
In the early days of email, spam filters were all about the content. Including specific combinations of words and phrases would often make your message more likely to be flagged as spam or blocked outright. As mailbox providers and their spam filters evolved, sender reputation became more important as a factor: instead of a single message, providers evaluate a sender’s “body of work.” Senders whose messages often generate spam complaints or are ignored by recipients are now the most likely to end up in the dreaded spam folder. Message content still factors into many spam filters, but is almost always outweighed by IP or domain reputation.
Even so, many in the industry remain convinced certain words or phrases are the kiss of death for an email. You can find recent articles advising marketers to avoid including words like “free” in the subject line, along with symbols like dollar signs or exclamation points. It’s not hard for senders to get confused with the seemingly conflicting information out there, so we wanted to investigate how it all might tie together.
Recently a few MessageGears users reached out to our Deliverability Team, concerned with a banner added to their messages prompting recipients to unsubscribe. We recently wrote about Gmail’s Easy Unsubscribe feature and its impact on open rates, but these addresses weren’t hosted at Gmail and the Unsubscribe prompt looked a little different than those presented by Google.
Getting deliverability right is the foundation of every successful email campaign. If you aren’t hitting the inbox, all that work you did to create the content and get it out the door doesn’t matter. Our latest webinar brought in deliverability experts Brad Gurley (MessageGears) and Luke Martinez (250ok) to discuss some of the challenges marketing teams face when considering how to fix deliverability issues.