Email marketing is the promotion of brand(s), selling of products/ services, to prospective customers and keeping them engaged in generating business in future. Email marketing has been most tried and trusted tool in the Marketing Manager’s arsenal for more than two decades. With the increased use of Digital Marketing (SMM, PPC, SEO, etc), traditional marketing tools (advertising over TV, placards, banners, advertisements in print media, etc) are losing their shine. One advertising tool that hasn’t lost its value is EMAIL MARKETING. One most important challenge being faced by email marketers today is to make email land in the INBOX of the customer. Most of the emails from email marketers land in SPAM folder due to various restrictions by Internet Service Providers and Email Service Providers. This post will try to help email marketers understand the challenge(s) to make email land in INBOX of the client and overcome them.
Why is Email Marketing indispensable to any business?
Many of top marketers from across the globe believe email is number one channel for business promotion.
“Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them. Not only does it have a high conversion rate, but as you build up your list you can continually monetize it by pitching multiple products. Just look at ecommerce sites like Amazon, one way they get you to continually buy more products from them is by emailing you offers on a regular basis.”
– Neil Patel, Cofounder of Kissmetrics
If you rely on Facebook or Twitter, you are at the mercy of them allowing you to talk to your customers. When you email it gets in your customers inboxes. Then it’s up to you to make sure you are sending things your customers want to receive. Email is the most scalable way to make sales with new customers and build deeper relationship with deeper customers. AppSumo.com is a 7 figure business and 90%+ of our revenue comes from emails.
– Noah Kagan, Founder of SumoMe
Some compelling statistics in favor of email marketing are given below:
- As per a report published by Radicati Group titled “Email Statistics Report, 2016-2020”, in 2016 there were approximately 2.6 billion email users and this number is likely to reach 3 billion by 2020. It is worth mentioning here that the number of email users is increasing day by day and is expected to grow for quite some time
- Currently, there are approximately 3.9 billion internet users i.e more than half (52 %) of the world population is online. Internet users will increase over a period of time
- Eighty-six percent of professionals prefer to use email for business communications
- Fifty-nine percent of B2B marketers say for revenue generation email is their most effective channel
- Eighty percent of retail professionals feel that customer retention, email marketing is their greatest driver
- Seventy-seven percent of people prefer to get permission-based promotional messages via email as compared to other mediums (phone, SMS, social media, etc)
- Seventy-three percent of millennials prefer to use emails for business communication
- In the UK, every one pound spent on email marketing has an ROI of 38 pounds, whereas, in the US, it’s $44
Features responsible for growing importance of email marketing are mentioned below:
- Economical and cost effective: This medium allows businesses to reach customers at nominal costs. If we compare direct mail campaigns (traditional marketing), printing, postage, etc took up a sizable cost, whereas, with emails, businesses can create the same imagery with the added benefit of engagement and email analytics data to track usage by the customers. Email analytics will help Marketing Manager track the behaviour of customers and modify the subject, content, etc to increase the effectiveness of the campaign
- Much more effective than social media: About 80 percent of commercial emails reached recipient’s inboxes in 2017, according to a study by Return Path. Many different research studies have gone on to prove that customers (in general) prefer to receive promotional material in emails rather than on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media. As per recent changes in the Facebook algorithm, if a person posts an update on Facebook, only 2 percent of his/her followers can expect to see the update in their newsfeed. Even Twitter is moving in the same direction, i.e both Twitter and Facebook want people to use paid services to reach the maximum Thus, it is safe to conclude that organic reach of posts is decreasing on social media platforms
- Greater reach: Currently, there are approximately 3 billion email users. Facebook and Twitter users are approximately, 2 billion and 400 million, respectively. Currently, about two-thirds of emails are being accessed on smartphones or tablets and email marketing (by providing RESPONSIVE CONTENT) can prove to be effective for businesses to reach and engage with mobile-friendly customers
- Personal and Customizable: In today’s digital age, digital customers want marketing to be more personal and tailored to their needs and preferences. Through the use of triggers, integration with mobile, and data collected from other platforms, businesses can help improve the relevancy of their campaign content. Segmentation is one effective tactic that businesses can use to increase the personalization of messages and content. Thus, subscribers can be classified into different groups based on common characteristics. By segmenting lists, businesses can ensure that their subscribers get the type of content and offer that appeal to them most. This will lead to increase in relevancy, which can improve conversions and lower unsubscriptions.
- Measurable: One major factor that gives the edge to digital marketing over traditional marketing is the ability the measure the results of the campaign. Email marketing indicators are easy to track and measure over time. Key indicator/ metrics that can be tracked are CLICK THROUGH RATE, DELIVERY RATE, OPEN RATE, CLICK TO OPEN RATE, CONVERSION RATE. Different businesses have different objectives hence key indicators or metrics might change as per specific business objectives. This unique capability gives Marketing Manager feedback on the effectiveness of the campaign and gives them the flexibility to modify or change the campaign if need be
- Automate email marketing process: Email automation is a powerful tool to help businesses stay connected with their audience, so they can eliminate repetitive tasks and focus on other more productive aspects of their business. Businesses can target people based on preferences, behavior, etc and use this information to welcome new subscribers, reach out to people who abandon their online shopping carts, etc
- Open platform: Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, etc are owned by third parties and they often change the algorithm to suit their needs. Changes in algorithm often hurt businesses. Various service providers are involved in email marketing ensuring that no one party can unilaterally make changes that are going to have drastic effect(s), unlike Facebook or Twitter
- Interactive Email Marketing: With growing importance of email marketing, email interactiveness in likely to increase. Email marketing offers businesses an option to provide interactive content straight to customer inboxes, at a nominal cost. By providing more creative and interactive content in the email, businesses may not only be able to better capture the attention of the audience but also be able to integrate other channels into their digital marketing. For example, if you share an infographic or ebook, the same might be shared by them (customers) on their social media accounts.
Why do many emails land in the SPAM folder?
For the sake of understanding let us classify various reasons for emails to land in SPAM folder into two groups, non-technical and technical.
- Nontechnical: There are many non-technical reasons for an email to land in the SPAM folder and most prominent of them are discussed below:
- Did not get explicit permission to email: To get explicit permission, businesses need to put an option form on their website to enable visitors to subscribe to their email list. NEVER PURCHASE EMAIL LIST OR ADD EMAILS MANUALLY TO EMAIL LIST.
- Your IP address used for spamming: Even though a business might never have sent spam, still its emails could be flagged as spam if its IP address was used by some other business for spamming. For example, if a business launches its email campaign through Aweber, its emails are delivered through their servers. So if any other business sends spam, it could affect their deliverability as well.
- Follow best HTML email practices: Some of the best practices are mentioned below:
- Compress and optimize images for emails
- Optimize HTML emails for mobile users
- Use universally available fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, etc
- Less use of images
- Keep your HTML code simple
- Be cautious of SPAM triggering words like “Apply now”, “call now”, “limited time”, “order now”, “great offer”, “this is not spam”, etc
- Must include UNSUBSCRIBE link
- It’s absolutely essential to include PHYSICAL ADDRESS
- Include accurate information in FROM field
- The subject line should be clear and in conformance with email content
- Low open rate: Many of the top Email Service Providers have mentioned that they track how many messages were opened and what number deleted without being opened as a factor in their spam filtering decisions
- Technical: More than 200 billion emails are sent and received each day. Out of these hardly 20 percent are legitimate, whereas, rest are SPAM or PHISHING emails. It is believed that over 90 percent of all illegitimate (spam) emails are phishing (cloning, data stealing) attempt that include links to malicious/ harmful content. With the adoption of three email security standards, namely, SPF, DKIM and DMARC, the problem of SPAM and PHISHING emails is slowly but steadily being sorted out.
- What is a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) protocol?The SPF protocol, which is based on the DNS of the business domain name, can certify that the issuing IP has the right to send emails. This protocol is utilized to prevent deceitful use of business domain name and prevent third parties to act like owners of the domain. This protocol is particularly effective against phishing attacks.
- What is a DomainKeys Identified Mails (DKIM) protocol?The DKIM protocol is a cryptographic protocol based on the use of public keys that are published in businesses DNS. The protocol allows businesses to sign their email with their domain name, just as they would sign a letter with their signature. The recipient of the email will then be sure that the email he or she received has been written by the business and has not been altered during transmission. This protocol is particularly effective against “man in the middle” attacks.
- What is a Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) protocol?Both DKIM and SPF protocols complement each other and react to different kinds of misrepresentations. Nonetheless, they have the drawback of not giving directives should there be an attack. The DMARC protocol overcomes this problem and provides directives in case of an attack. It is possible to be notified if someone tries to steal business identity (if the attacker uses an unauthorized IP or has modified the contents of business email, for example).
IMPORTANT: It is not advisable to use free source email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc for sending Email Marketing campaigns, as these are likely to receive high bounce rates. It is strongly recommended that you set up and use a domain email address and configure it to take care of SPF, DMIK and DMARC
Valuable Additional Resources for Reading
Some valuable resources (websites) for further reading and fine-tuning knowledge with respect to Email Marketing are mentioned below: