General email best practices
Join Patrick Knight from Adobe to learn general best practices.
About: Patrick Knight
Veteran Deliverability and Email Marketing expert with a passion for resolving complex email delivery challenges and a proven track record of spearheading strategies that enhance cost-effectiveness, Deliverability, and visibility of email communication. Knowledgeable, self-motivated leader and dependable professional, adept at translating legislation and industry best practices into easy-to-follow and understandable processes
Perfect, thank you. Alright, so let’s just get started. Let’s just dive right into it. So I will be talking about general email deliverability best practices. I know this is something that many are probably thinking to themselves, why is he talking about general immutability best practices? Well, part of the reason is because although these are general practices, not everyone practices these, or implements these general best practices, so I want to just talk about a couple of different things here. involving a lot of the things that I see on a day to day to day basis were issues and things that tend to stop deliverability. And so sometimes just those general best practices, so I’m just taking it a little bit back. And so from then, from that point, we can start diving into a little different little things here. But do keep in mind, I am not going to touch on everything. But I do want to just give an E go into depth with one or two things. But I do want to just give that disclaimer. This is just general. Okay. So, as I mentioned, the agenda. So the way that I envision going through this presentation, is to first talk about the factors that influence deliverability. I think that we should start there, because why are we doing this? Why are we interested in implementing these best practices. And then the impact of poor deliverability, I think we’ve all been there at some point in time. So good, it’s a good refresher that reminder. And then also, we’re going to dive into best practices and specific strategies. And then we’re gonna also talk about resources. And then some practices, you know, for monitoring deliverability. I mean, once you’ve got these best practices on place, it is a best practice in itself to monitor what you’ve, you’ve actually, you’ve executed there. So we’re first going to start with factors that influence deliverability, right? Um, the one main thing is reputation, right? We know, that can be the the, that’s the thing that can either make or break you here. And so when we talk about email reputation, it’s almost like a credit score. So the way these eyes PS look at things, the same way, your credit, your credit, you know, Experian, or any one of these credit reports, where they look at it, you know, the things that you do will always impact you at some point in time. So, again, reputation is the number one thing so when we talk about that, what are some other things that or I should say, what are the main drivers that affect your reputation? Okay, so of course, if you have this ability that’s going to affect your credit scores. Likewise, with, you know, reputation, engagement is the number one thing that affects your email reputation. So when we talk about engagement, what do we mean by that? Right? Well, the first thing is, there’s complaints. And there’s Well, let me back up a second, there’s two different types of engagement. There’s negative and positive, right? Obviously, you know, negative engagement is something where, you know, it’s going to hurt your reputation. And so this is where your complaints come in. People who don’t respond negative, the messenger in the spam folder, no one’s taking it out. And there’s some other things that actually contribute to that as well. Then you also have positive engagement. Now, this is where this is really where we want to be, right? We want to be in a place where we’re developing really good engagement and when I talk about positive engagement, we’re talking specifically about open rates or just high opens or responsive Miss from your subscribers, which that’s what the ISP is want to see. That’s what you want to because that just equals more, or conversion to some extent, replies, believe it or not replies are one of the biggest things that you can will One of the biggest signs of positive engagement, right? Then there’s also removal from the spam folder. So if your message does actually end up in the spam folder, if it’s Iczer, seeing that you’re removing it from that, that, that filter that that space of the junk folder, that is a positive thing. So we always want to achieve positive reputation, because positive engagement because that affects the reputation. Some other things bounces there invalid recipients, or I’m speaking about email bounces, messages that don’t get delivered that are bounced because the message or because the email address is invalid. This is another factor that can drop your reputation. And the reason why is because I USPS receive so much email all the time, you know, something that it bogs down their system, it also gives them an understanding of the quality of your lists and how things go on there. So it does give an indication of what’s going on, right. And so if you’re, if you have a high heart mouse rate or invalid recipient rate, it’s, it’s then speaking to your list, okay, and how you actually send it and just your overall practices. Now, what’s interesting is that a lot of times when you see a really high number of invalid recipients, you also see spam traps, which is kind of weird, in a way because it then again, once again, speaks to the quality of the list, right? So these spam traps, these email addresses that are used to monitor by blacklist and ISP to detect or monitor spam like behaviour. These are addresses that also can lead to blacklisting. So that’s again, something that would affect your reputation affects your deliverability. Um, last but not least, there’s technical configurations, right? It’s not all about just getting the positive in the negative. But the reputation also depends on how you have things set up. spammers have a tendency to have either poor configuration, or they try different tactics to get their spam delivered. So it really depends on the way you set up your IPS or domain, even down to the naming convention. Are you following authentication practices? All these things tie into your reputation? So in a nutshell, to answer the question, what influences email deliverability, the main thing is reputation. So good reputation equals inbox, delivery, higher ROI for many. And I actually pulled out some stats here, when we look at the channel that marketers used mostly to communicate with their audiences. Email is the is, as you can see, is pretty high up on the scale there. So if you think about if you’re putting all your marketing efforts into email, start getting delivered. Well, obviously, there’s a really big impact there on ROI. So let’s talk about the challenges a little bit here. I’ll just dive into this, because we just talked about our Live Nation. So the impact of poor deliverability. And that reputation is not where it needs to be. What are some things and I know many of you have experienced this before pressure from stakeholders and management, that’s the number one thing what is my boss gonna say, you know, where my clients, right? There’s also time and resources. So if you think about it, you have a solution, you will have time and resources, you spend all this time creating this great review of this great campaign and everything and then you send to it and sent to your subscribers, and then nothing happens. And then there’s the financial impact aspect, and lost revenue opportunity, again, going back to the bottom line. So what do we do the solution strategy and best practices. And again, although we all know, these best practices, a lot of times we don’t implement them. And so we do run into two issues here. So let’s start with the first one is data acquisition. I can tell you 90%, and I can. I’ve been I’ve been in deliverability, for probably about 16 years now. And I will tell you 90% of the problems that I run into start from the data itself, or the acquisition of the data, right? So when we think about that, how do we mitigate against that? How do we ensure that this data is clean, or I should say, we prevent this from happening? The first thing to always understand is that permission is key. I have lots of conversations there. Well, you don’t need it if the content is relevant. Permission is key, you need permission. This is a best practice, it should be followed. And you know, when you think about that, this is you know, allowing the subscriber getting that for the mother Mae eye method is really what you want to use here, right? There’s some benefit benefits that I’ll talk about. that in a minute, clear disclosure at signup, I can’t stress this one enough, because there’s many different ways of kind of tricking someone into, to signing up, they’re not sure of what they’re going to be getting. This is not really a problem with permission, but more so notice and disclosure of what’s going to happen. So when you set those expectations, this is exactly what you want to do. Right? It builds that, that relationship. So the other is a clear, double opt in, double opt in confirmation type of process that you have in place, what do I mean by that? subscriber comes to your site, you get the permission, you have the clear disclosure, they know what they’re going to be getting, you know, often, and then you want to confirm some things, okay, this is what you agree to need to confirm that confirm that they want to be on this list. So this is where you send an email, follow up email, hey, you know, thank you for signing up, so and so forth, hey, check your inbox, or maybe right after you click on adding their email address, there’s a pop up, as you can see, as an example, you know, check your inbox, verify your email address, um, you know, we want to protect your privacy, there’s some other things you can actually say, you know, hint, you know, check your promotions tab in Gmail, that’s something that you can also do. And, you know, this is something that will help to really prevent a lot of the problems with data. Last but not least, and I know, we’ve heard this over and over again, but I’m here to stress it again, avoid purchasing lists, there are many situations where you can spend up, spend a lot of money on purchasing a list or purchasing data, and eventually what happens you sent to this, now you get blocked, there’s, you’re not getting really the benefit out of everything. So what really is the return on investment there, right, you’ll see now that filters have become very more aggressive. Now. It’s just something that you really want to avoid at all costs. And not just the financial impact. But I mean, you’re emailing people that probably don’t want to hear from you, you want lasting customers, you want to build that relationship from the start. So avoid those purchase list. And of course, this is something that’s not even in compliance with the ISP. And this is exactly who we want to work together with and prevent abuse, not contribute to it, that is some to some extent, not in line with what they want to see, or what you should have, as far as your practices, the benefits. So this really leads to building that trust with subscribers, right? When you set the expectation, you let them know what you’re going to be sending, and then you actually send what they requested. Or they agreed to it builds that trust and trust and building that brand. And everything else is really great thing. This is where your conversions also come in. So you also build or promote a high open rates, because now you’ve built this relationship, your open rates are up, protect your reputation, everyone’s happy, right? You also minimise complaints, because again, they’re not tricked into signing up for something. So let’s just say they’re getting one email a week, you’re not getting 10, and 20, and so on, and so forth. So that’s really the great part there. You reduce spam traps and invalid email addresses. So this is another way to kind of present prevent your data from getting tainted, which I’ll talk about, I mean, list management, I think this is the core here, their segmentation, and list management. So a lot of times when you talk about your list, keeping it clean, that is what you want to do, right? This is free from spam traps free from anything that’s really gonna hurt you there. And so, if you’re using an ESP, they have mechanisms in place that that are able to remove some subscribers who actually complain about messages, you want to keep that pipeline clean. ICS offers something about feedback loop, you can then use that service and then receive all the complaints that come back in and suppressing your system. So you keeping keeping your actual database nice and clean and free from anything that’s going to ruin your reputation with unsubscribe is another mechanism that is used to assist with that unsubscribes it’s actually what you want to do there. You don’t want someone to actually complain. So again, keeping that list clean, getting people off your list who don’t want to be there is key, right? The other thing is we’ll be talking about segmentation. You want to know your subscriber behaviour. I think many times senders don’t really do the homework. They don’t really look and see exactly what their subscribers are doing. They just send batch and blast and that’s it. segments segment understand who does what, what, who likes what, when, and time of day, all this analysis can really help To increase your reputation their or your engagement, which then again leads to reputation. And then even conversion to some extent, right. So when you talk about creating segments, you always want to use a personalised content, that’s also a great thing, something that you, you will help to increase in drive that, that that that engagement is opens up. And then last but not least, you know, when you have a situation where you have subscribers who are not engaged, and you need to really think about your strategy here, because reengaging is actually what you want to do, right? Especially if they’ve fallen off. Now, depending on your business model, how often someone buys a product, you have to think about this. So one of the things that you want to do is actually create a reengagement campaign. So what are the benefits, right? improve reputation, by way of engagement, obviously, you increase your conversion opportunities, you lower your invalid rates and complaints, same as the last and you minimise spam traps appearances and black potential blacklists. Now that just did a little bit deeper into the segmentation strategy, because it’s not only just the data, but it also extends to IP and segmentation. Um, so domain and IP segmentation. So your domain and your IP also have that reputation. Or at least that’s the way that IPS are tracking your reputations through these, these channels. And so you can consider an IP hierarchy domain and IP hierarchy where you can segment different things, different types of messages, different brands, so to speak, transactional and marketing, obviously, you want to keep apart, always, always want to separate those two, but you can also do by brand, and mail type and region. Now, even with Gmail, you want to make sure that that particular brand is specifically separated, because each one of those can carry its own reputation. So even down to the brand level, that can actually help benefit your your reputation there. Again, especially at gmail. So in some cases, you’ll have newsletters, and then you’ll have offers and brands. And then you can actually have reengagement campaigns with your trigger campaign. So there’s different ways of doing this, just depending on the strategy, and why are we doing this, right. It’s kind of like the last thing that I mentioned here about segmentation. So you have more control over your reputation and the management of such identify issues by mail type. So sometimes, if you’re merging everything together is kind of hard to detect were some issues aren’t where you may have issues with your list, allow mailbox providers to track the appropriate filtering decisions, or to make appropriate filtering decisions to understand exactly what your reputation does look like per brand, you don’t cross contaminate, and then you can understand what’s going on there. It also functions as a pipeline for that reengagement strategy. And that content strategy that you that I talked about last slide. I’ll go over briefly briefly authentication. So authentication and security. These are the things that we want to think about. Because there’s so much Spam is all over the internet, we want to make sure that we keep this very, we want to make sure that we treat this very seriously. This is something that authentication is something that has come about because of such malicious hacks on the internet. And so because of that, ISP are trying to protect their users and also benefits as a senator benefits or brands right, because that creates that level of trust, which we’ll talk about, but we’ll go through them real quick. There’s D Kim, which is more of a domain based type of authentication SPF is more werkstoff with the IP address, again, I won’t go into detail but these are just two authentication methods that help to prevent spoofing and, and in phishing and things and things of that nature. And also authenticate you as a legitimate person like this is you write demark is, is another technology that’s based off of SPF and DKIM. Actually, it verifies the other two, right? So it actually helps you to determine or it helps the receiving end to determine what to do with the message based on policies you set for your SPF in your records, right. So the benefits here district that you decrease spam folder delivery because if you don’t have these obviously you’ll be going into the spam folder, you’re not following the recommended policies and procedures as provided from the ISP as it allows ISP or receivers to make smart, smarter decisions about delivering mail. And then secure online reputation, maintain customer trust in your brand. That’s important. Um, the last but not least, it’s really about auditing your email programme. So if you’re not auditing your email programme regularly, now’s the time to start. You know, this is something where you want to check and track and make sure you’re doing things correct. You don’t want to ever go into a situation where things are all over the place, and you’re not really getting exactly what it is that you want out of email, your email efforts. So you so audit email practices and infrastructure quarterly, I recommend it highly recommend that you compile existing data, really look at what you got there and analyse thoroughly fix problems and adjust as needed. You know, this is an ongoing thing doesn’t just happen, things break right at all times. So we want to make sure that we’re ahead of the curve here. And making sure that we correct those those issues. You want to monitor results. If you do make a change, always monitor I’m a big believer in that, especially when you’re doing an audit, there are many things that may need to change. So what are the benefits uncover issues that impact overall deliverability. And that’s, of course, we went over reputation that which then extensive deliverability, you reveal areas where marketing efforts are either working effectively or not working effectively, this is something that you know, you can always rinse and repeat or adjust, ensure that you’re sending infrastructure is in compliance with sending policies. As stated before, if you don’t have this, you’ll actually end up into the, if you don’t have your authentication in place and your infrastructure, you can admit spam folder. Alright, so resources for maintaining your reputation. So there’s quite a bit out here, you can monitor that keep your eyes on these things, right? There’s Gmail postmaster tools, really great tool to kind of look at things your IP, your domain, domain reputation, if it drops, if it’s, if it’s if it’s really low space, or really low place, or it’s bad, you know, something that you will investigate right away. return path is great, because it can or I should say the validity, there send a score product is great, because you can actually drive in, get your score. And then they have other metrics that can give you more information as to what are some key factors that’s impacting your, your reputation there. Then there’s also my personal so SMBs are smart and network data service. This is where Microsoft is actually giving back some information around your volume, by IP address, number of complaints, number of spam trap hits the different things that actually impact your reputation. And then there’s also their filter, which is based on smart screen as much green filter. So you kind of kind of see, you know, kind of straightforward, red, yellow green to kind of see where you are. And then of course, make adjustments you monitor. And then last but not least, but Verizon has come out with a deliverability performance feed, which kind of gives you a little bit more visibility into things. It’s still in beta, I think so it’s not, it’s not here just yet, but it’s coming soon. So something to watch out for there. So finally, just some takeaways, what are some different things that we talked about here? So be aware of factors that influence email? deliverability? I mean, it’s before you, when you’re building your email programme, right, keep that it’s best practice, everyone knows it, but do we think about it on a regular basis? Right? Um, you know, your practices can either send you to the spam folder, or the inbox really depends on what you do. And we all know the impact of ROI, right? So I would say, finally, I’d leave you with to say, implement best practices and strategies at all times. I mean, it’s not something that Okay, we’ll just implement some of these things here. Follow the best practices, mailbox providers provide this, provide these practices, and these are the things to help senders actually get the best out of the deliverability. So always remember to implement best practices. And that’s it. Thank you.