They can’t read what they can’t see

Mar 10 2014

They can’t read what they can’t see
Email deliverability keeps your message from the black holes of cyberspace

It was only two decades ago that the primary focus of direct marketing was targeted mailings. Census reports and other public records could give you a list of every 40-something male homeowners in a certain income class and zip code. And if the recipient happened to have passed or moved, the message still got to the new residents. Everybody could complain about junk mail, but it never stopped the flyers from showing up every week. It was a beautiful, simpler time.
Alas, the same rules don’t apply to email marketing, where good potential customers are hidden among a web of outdated data, fraudulent email addresses, spam complainants, and even hollow email accounts set up by drunken teens just to access porn sites. How do you navigate that minefield while staying compliant?
We wish we could say there was an easy answer, but with the ever-moving targets of spam traps, IP reputation ranking algorithms and the like, there really isn’t.
Take a look at your latest campaign. How many emails did you send? How many were opened? How many clicked through to your webpage and learned more about your product or service? If you’re lucky, you got maybe 1 percent of the recipients on your list to check you out. That’s unfortunately, par for the course these days.
A great majority of your recipients aren’t even opening your email. Why? There are four big bogeymen killing your message’s deliverability: non-existent or inactive email addresses, spam content, cranky anti-spam crusaders on your list, and your IP reputation.
Let’s take a look at those in detail:
Invalid email addresses: If you sent a letter to a non-existent address or a vacant lot in the offline world we call home outside work, it would end up in the dead letter office. Sending emails to invalid email addresses can hurt you a lot more. Not only are you losing on the cost you paid for that address as part of a big list, you’re hurting your reputation ratings with certain IPs. Get enough “Failure-Notice” emails kicked back to you by that Daemon fellow, and the big ISPs like Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail send up the red flags – obviously, whoever is sending these is just a spammer throwing slop at the wall and seeing what sticks. Those red flags could kill future mailings or bury them in the graveyard that is the Spam folder. XVerify offers real-time email validation for all your leads. All email addresses are verified within milliseconds, and those heading to the vacant lots of cyberspace are promptly kicked to the curb.
Spam content: Nigerian princes offering thousands are not the only ones going straight to Spam without passing go. So are the email writers who think they’re clever by adding “Re:” or “Fw:” to the subject line. But it doesn’t have to be that obvious. The ever-changing nature of the internet has led to an ever-changing glossary of words that set off Spam alarms. The British marketing firm Adestra did an extensive study on the effectiveness of email keywords and found the ones with highest negative variances were labelled as Spam. Banks especially have been victimized in this regard from the thousands of get-rich-quick scammers out there. Their marketing copy could legitimately include the sentence: “Now if you open an account with us, you’ll get a free box of checks and a $250 cash deposit to start you off!” That same sentence would be tossed into the Spam pile faster than Usain Bolt without Pepto. Luckily, any emails sent through XVerify’s partner companies, Adopia and XOptin, go through a thorough spam check and are tested to insure max deliverability to inboxes instead of Spam folders.
The complainers: Your mail is not spam, but a bunch of people just marked it as such in their inboxes. Now what? First, don’t take it personally. Spam complainers come in a variety of shapes. There are the trap-setting crusaders, the people who got a raw deal from one internet company and have now decided all internet marketing is evil, or maybe even the stressed single mother who had just one too many emails in the inbox to catch up on. The good thing is that XVerify keeps an updated database of those complainers, allowing you to cleanse them from your list or keep them on a manageable suppression or “high-risk” list. Why is this important? Because the more complaints your emails get, the lower your IP reputation sinks, and the harder a hill you have to climb. In fact, you could be sent to one of the blocklists compiled by the Spamhaus Project, which is essentially a death knell for your business.
IP Reputation: Yes, your IP address has a credit rating of sorts. It’s not based on any missed payments or bad checks, but rather what the ISPs see as your basic competency with your email privileges. Your reputation score suffers if you send a lot of emails to non-existent or inactive accounts, if you get a lot of spam complaints from recipients, and even if your emails end up in Spam folders because of their, you know, spammy content. XVerify and its partner companies work diligently to protect you on all accounts and maximize your deliverability.

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