8 Email Optimization Strategies Used by Well-Known Businesses

With so many digital channels available to marketers today, businesses have a variety of platforms through which they can reach prospects. Search engine marketing and social media networks are valuable tools, but email marketing remains the most effective way to generate leads and revenue.

In fact, more than 70% of consumers prefer email communication as their source for updates from the businesses they follow.

It’s crucial to re-evaluate your marketing approach to increase the effectiveness of your email campaign, and optimization can improve engagement, solidify brand loyalty, and boost ROI. Looking to develop strategies to optimize your email campaigns but aren’t sure where to start? Campaign Monitor can help.

Email optimization and why it should be utilized

Email marketing is a highly effective and cost-efficient way to increase revenue. Last year, 293.6 billion emails were sent and received each day. And it offers a high ROI, currently bringing $38 in ROI for every $1 spent. Its purpose is to boost sales, strengthen brand recognition, and build customer loyalty. Email marketing only works, however, if measures are taken to ensure the messages are reaching the right people at the right time.

An email that isn’t reaching the appropriate audience or doesn’t yield viewer engagement isn’t going to convert to revenue, so it’s important to optimize. Email optimization refers to improvements a company makes to its email campaigns to ensure their messages are working. The goal of an email campaign is to build solid relationships with prospects while simultaneously increasing conversion rates. Optimization can increase the chances of higher click-through rates, which ultimately equates to profit.

8 email optimization strategies and companies who use them

The success of email marketing depends on a particular series of events taking place. Someone must see your email and be enticed to open it. Then they must click through its links, land on your website, and ultimately complete a call to action. You’ll have a higher chance of this happening if you employ these eight email optimization strategies used by businesses.

1. Create eye-catching subject lines.

Your subject line is the first thing people see before accessing your email’s content. It needs to catch readers’ attentions and compel them to open the email for more information. This first step is key to setting your campaign up for success.

Optimized subject lines are relevant to your prospects’ needs. Use a subject line that delivers relief from readers’ concerns. Tailor subject lines with your recipient’s company name and show that you have solutions for their specific issues. Incorporate actionable language to encourage readers to open the email.

Craft and fabric retailer Jo-Ann Stores uses subject lines effectively in their email marketing. They create a sense of urgency with “Today Only” and use enticing wording to make readers wonder what the “Big Savings” could be.

Example of an effective subject line

Source: Jo-Ann Stores

2. Evaluate the sender name.

Pay attention to the name from which your emails are being sent. Like a subject line, a “From” name can influence whether a reader opens your email. Emails that appear to be coming from an untrustworthy source won’t be read.

If the sender is an instantly recognizable person, then it makes sense for their name to be in an email’s “From” field. Otherwise, it might be more effective to create exclusive campaign names, like the Home Depot Garden Club. They’re using their company name, but specify a subculture within their brand. This gives recipients a feeling of exclusivity.

Whether you choose to send emails from an individual or a company, remain consistent. This helps to earn your readers’ trust, and it builds recognition for future emails.

Consistent use of effective sender name

Source: The Home Depot

3. Develop personalized messaging.

One of the benefits of email marketing is that it enables you to customize content. Emails that include a customer’s first name in the subject line have a higher click-through rate than those that don’t. The more emails are opened, the more information you can learn about your audience. This allows you to discover their needs and helps to develop strong relationships.

Emails can also be personalized with demographic and behavioral information about your audience. Include details like their corporate title or products they’ve viewed on your site. LinkedIn uses this strategy in their emails. Messages recap recent user activity and remind readers about services they may be interested in, all while building customer loyalty.

Email personalized with customer name and behavior

Source: Really Good Emails

4. Write compelling content.

Once you’ve convinced someone to open your email, the next critical piece of your campaign is content. Information should be concise, clear, and relevant. Explain what you have to offer and why your audience should be interested. Avoid overwhelming readers with exhaustive copy. Break up lengthy text with short paragraphs, bullet points, and appealing graphics. Seventy-five percent of content marketers experience higher ROI when visuals appear in their content.

Barnes & Noble does a great job of this with their campaigns. They present a large amount of valuable information in manageable, bite-sized pieces. Bullet points make content clear and easy to read. Color blocks help separate information topics and graphic icons add visual interest.

Example of clear content that’s easy to digest

Source: Really Good Emails

5. Provide clear CTAs.

The ultimate goal of your email marketing campaign is to direct readers to your website and shift them from a click to a conversion. The way to do this is through your CTA. First, determine what you want to achieve with your readers. Then, create a prominent and colorful CTA button, banner, or link. Make them eye catching to draw attention. Helzberg Diamonds reported a 26% increase in clicks by incorporating an arrow icon in their CTA buttons.

Post a CTA on the top half of your message, where it’s sure to be seen. Then, post more CTA options throughout your email that all lead to the same site. This gives readers more opportunities to find their way to your landing page. Consider using action words like “Click here” to direct your readers and create a sense of urgency. CTAs are the gateway to conversions. Consider them carefully.

Example of a clear CTA

Source: Helzberg Diamonds

6. Offer a variety of shareable links.

Email is one of the simplest communications to share with others. With the click of a button, your current customers can do your promoting for you. Encourage your audience to share your emails with their contacts. This way, you’re broadening your reach and increasing your opportunity to generate new leads.

Make it easy for readers to share your information through a range of channels. The obvious choice is an email forward link, since more than half the world’s population uses email to communicate. You can also think outside the box by providing links to social media networks in all of your messages. Nearly 3 billion people are using social media across the world. These are great ways to expand your readership, and, even better, someone else is doing the legwork for you.

GasBuddy sends emails that provide several ways for readers to share their information. They feature an email forward link to refer friends. Across the bottom, readers find a series of linked social media icons for more ways to spread the word.

An effective use of shareable links

Source: Really Good Emails

7. Design for mobile applications.

Email access is no longer limited to stationary locations. Mobile platforms are becoming more prevalent and a way for people to remain connected while on the go, so an important aspect of email optimization is ensuring your campaign is mobile friendly.

Domino’s Pizza excels at mobile optimization. They realize many people who purchase pizza are placing their orders while they’re out and about. Domino’s sends 31 emails each month, and they’re all mobile friendly.

Emails need to be adaptable to several applications. Be sure your content is formatted correctly and that all information is accessible, regardless of where it’s being accessed. Don’t miss out on a lead conversion opportunity simply because your message wasn’t formatted for an assortment of devices.

 Example of a mobile-optimized email

Source: Really Good Emails

8. Provide an unsubscribe link.

Part of building credibility is not only providing valuable information to readers who are seeking it, but also offering your audience an opportunity to decline this information if it isn’t useful. The purpose of email marketing is to reach a targeted audience that values your messages. Continuing to communicate with people who aren’t interested in your information is only going to foster bad relationships and negative reviews.

Provide readers with an easy-to-find unsubscribe link. This can strengthen your quality lead email list and give you accurate open and click-through data. Write clever content for your unsubscribe page like BetaList: They use a lighthearted tone to keep things friendly and offer an opportunity for readers to change their minds.

Example of a clever unsubscribe page

Source: Really Good Emails

Wrap up

Email marketing remains a preferred channel for today’s marketers. It can be even more successful when the following email optimization strategies are utilized:

  • Create eye-catching subject lines
  • Evaluate sender name
  • Develop personalized messaging
  • Write compelling content
  • Provide clear CTAs
  • Offer a variety of shareable links
  • Design for mobile applications
  • Provide an unsubscribe link

Email optimization can improve engagement, solidify brand loyalty, and boost ROI. Generate leads and revenue with an email campaign that’s been created with an optimized strategy in mind.

We can help develop effective optimization strategies to benefit your email marketing campaign. For more information, contact our sales team today.

The post 8 Email Optimization Strategies Used by Well-Known Businesses appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

10 Habits of Highly Effective Marketers

What does it take to be successful at email marketing? Many factors influence email program performance, from budget and staff to technology. But the person managing an email program can have the most significant impact on success.

Just as author Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® sets out a guide to help people accomplish their goals, the following principles can help email marketers revolutionize their email programs.

1. Set clearly defined goals. Common goals such as “grow the email file” and “generate more ROI” are a great starting point but aren’t specific enough. What is your target percentage of list growth? How much ROI increase are you targeting for each customer segment? Defining your email marketing program goals helps focus your time and effort while making it easier to measure success.

Not sure where to start? The most successful marketers consider the goals of the broader business and align email program goals accordingly. This approach is more likely to get executive support and collaboration from other departments to more effectively reach your goals.

2. Have a plan. Effective email marketers not only define what they want to accomplish, but how they’ll reach those goals. Mapping out an action plan helps you determine the tools, resources and time you’ll need to be successful. Once you have defined goals and crafted your action plan, it’s time to communicate them to people or teams in your organization who may assist those efforts. Your ability to get buy-in from dependent resources is critical.

3. Know your customers/prospects. Too often brands consider what they want to tell customers before first considering what customers want to hear. That level of understanding is only possible when marketers take the time to get to know customers and prospects. The most effective marketers consider who users are and why they are using their products or services. They think of personalized marketing as person-to-person marketing.

Most people see a daily influx of marketing messages in their inbox, so to keep subscribers engaged your messages need to be targeted, relevant and provide value. Understanding who your subscriber is helps you more effectively communicate with the individuals receiving your messages.

4. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Most people adapt to whatever environment they find themselves in. If you’re feeling stuck and not making progress, you need to aspire to standards that truly challenge you. It’s how you push yourself out of your comfort zone to improve.

If you’re only measuring success based on last year’s program performance, challenge yourself to measure against benchmarks for the email industry, or your specific brand vertical. Consider the marketing strategies and testing tactics of best-in-class senders. If you want to achieve more, you should look at the email programs – and people who will hold you to a higher standard than you currently hold yourself.

5. Take risks while accepting and learning from failure. If everything you do is working, you probably aren’t taking enough risks. Even if you accomplish small wins often, without risk you likely won’t challenge yourself to tackle the big wins that will elevate your program in a significant way.

Risk-taking is what helps us learn and grow. Seeking out new perspectives, challenging assumptions and testing new approaches can lead to significant growth. Even when risk-taking fails, it is an opportunity to discuss what went wrong in order to learn from that failure and refine your future approach.

6. Educate to innovate. The ever changing and evolving email landscape requires marketers to stay current on technologies, trends and emerging tactics. The most successful marketers use that knowledge to come up with new ideas, methods and solutions to exceed customer expectations, overcome program challenges and stand out from the competition.

7. Ask questions. Often when you ask questions, you discover something new. Discovery can lead to new ideas and perspectives you may not have otherwise considered. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google said, “We run this company on questions, not answers.” Asking questions is the best way to get information needed to make informed decisions. If you keep asking questions you can keep finding better answers.

8. Test/learn/apply; repeat. Testing is critical for any successful email program. The results analysis and application of findings can optimize every aspect of your program performance, from send times and frequency to subject lines and content. Yet many marketers struggle with knowing what, when, how and to whom they should be testing

Successful marketers recognize the importance of building a testing strategy which is aligned with email program goals and includes clear objectives and defined measures of success. They look beyond standard KPI metrics such as opens and clicks and consider how to influence the subscriber journey and customer’s lifetime value.

9. Take advantage of digital tools. According to a survey by Litmus, for every dollar invested in email marketing, marketers can get a return of over $38, an ROI of 3800%! But in order to run successful email campaigns, you need effective email marketing tools to help you work smarter, not harder while scaling growth.

The right digital tools can help you with every aspect of program optimization, from campaign creation and segmentation to testing and analysis. Take the time to evaluate available tools and resources and determine which will best support your goals and objectives.

10. Information share. Poor communication can cost organizations an average of more than $7,000 a day, according to a study done by Harvard Business Review. One of the most significant challenges to effective communication involves people and teams operating in silos and not sharing information. This lack of collaboration damages innovation, performance and growth.

Success requires communication and collaboration both internally and externally. Share your goals, strategies and results with internal teams. Take time to hear their feedback and suggestions. And don’t underestimate the power of external networking. Join industry groups and attend conferences where you can learn from others who are challenging themselves to innovate and excel.

Colin Powell said “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” While being successful may mean different things to different people, becoming successful at email marketing requires embracing most, if not all of the elements above.

This post originally appeared on MarTech Cube

Whats Happening With Your Click-Through Rate?

So your email made it to the inbox and your subject line made a subscriber curious enough to open…. but that was it. Your email campaign failed to get subscribers to preform that last step to click-through to your website. So what can cause a subscriber interested enough in your subject line to stop interacting once they have opened the email? And what can you do to hold on to that subscriber’s interest and get them to click on one of your calls to action (CTAs)? 

What Causes a Low Click-Through Rate Despite High Opens?

If deliverability and opens are not an issue, there are two main reasons for a low click-through rate:

1. Offers and CTAs are not relevant or compelling enough
Your CTAs need to deliver on the expectation you created with the subject line as well as the overall promise you made to your subscribers on sign up. If your offers are not in line with what customers signed up for and expressed interest in, they have no reason to click and engage more with your brand.

2. Offers and CTAs are not prominent enough
Your CTAs need to be easy to spot and interact with. The language, design, and length all affect the subscriber’s decision to click through. If the CTA is unclear, broken, or hard to find, subscribers are less likely to click. 

To avoid falling into either of these categories, keep the following tips in mind as you create your email creative. 

Tips For Inspiring Clicks

1. Have your CTAs match the promise of your subject line
If your subject line alluded to holiday gifts ideas don’t suddenly ver off course an offer something completely different. The subject line is meant as a preview to what lies in the email if your content doesn’t match subscribers won’t click. And If subscribers see a continuous pattern of subject lines that don’t match the email message, they will be less likely to trust in your subject lines again leading to a decrease in clicks and possibly an increase in unsubscribes. Fronteer has a great (award-winning) example of a subject line that perfectly ties to the CTAs inside the email.

2. Make your CTAs are easy to find
Place your CTAs above the fold to make sure subscribers can spot them right away. Be conscious of the design of your CTA as well. Use contrasting colors and add white space around your CTA to ensure it does not blend in with the rest of your message and go overlooked.

3. Don’t overload on CTAs
One might think that by including many CTAs to increase the chances of a click is a solid plan, however, subscribers are likely to feel overwhelmed and confused and be turned off from clicking anything. If you need to include more than one CTA for the promotion, create one central CTA that stands out and have others take a backseat. The AAPR does a great example of this in their fall newsletter with the larger, central CTA around the “Bee Cave” and four additional CTAs that are smaller, with less text, and placed below the main CTA.

4. Plan for broken images
While you may put a lot of work into designing a beautiful email creative complete with many enticing images, sometimes images break. When you create your call to action, keep this in mind and make sure to code your CTA in HTML rather than images, so it will appear no matter what.

5. Test everything
There are many elements that make up a CTA, keywords, size, color, location, to name a few. To make sure your CTA is as effective as possible, test out the different elements on a small sample of your subscribers, and then deploy the winning CTA to the rest of the list. 

Getting a subscriber to click a CTA is one of the final jobs of your email campaign. After all the hard work getting into the inbox and enticing subscribers to open, the CTA takes them over the “finish line” and gets them to perform that last email interaction before they move on to your website. To avoid a last-minute fumble, make sure your CTAs are strong enough to get subscribers over the finish line. Concerned about any other metrics? Take a look at our Guide to Email Marketing Metrics for more insight on what can cause metrics to change and what you can do to fix it. 

How Do Nonprofits Use Email Effectively?

In honor of Giving Tuesday, we wanted to spotlight three of our nonprofit clients and show how they are using email to effectively mobilize, educate, and raise funds for their causes.  

SPCA International: Mobilization 

One of the hardest goals of nonprofits is encouraging subscribers to perform an action without any direct benefit. Rather than fun new products or can’t miss event tickets, nonprofits are tasked to get their readers to become an active advocate for their cause.  

SPCA International took an innovate approach to this mobilization problem. SPCA International is a nonprofit organization with the main goal of advancing the safety and well-being of animals, allowing all to live a life free of cruelty and suffering. When 13 pups in Bagdad were in urgent need of rescue, SPCA International decided to bring their urgent need for funding directly to their donors. They created an email campaign that showed all 13 animals waiting for help and offering subscribers an opportunity to support one dog individually or donate to support them all. As they raised funds for the dogs, SPCA International sent out updates with dogs marked as funded to show the progress towards the goal and mobilize others to join in. By creating an interactive story, SPCA International was able to effectively connect with their advocates and mobilize them into action.  

Learn more about how SPCA International uses email check out their case study or visit their website to donate 

AARP: Education  

Another goal for nonprofits is to educate their subscribers, not only about their own organization but issues that may be affecting them. However, information is not as enticing as flashy sales and discounts. Through the content is valuable, it is a challenge to communicate information effectively within a single email.  

AARP found a creative solution with its fall theme email. This email was created to inform subscribers of events in their area and provide links for them to access more information about AARP and the benefits they provide. By creating an engaging and creative email campaign not only did each of the CTA’s within the email receive a lot of clicks, users also attended the local events mentioned in the campaign.  The campaign was so successful, they won Return Path from Validity’s Email Hero award for best themed email

Feel free to donate to AARP on their website and learn more about how they won their award here.


Global Giving: Fundraising 

Most importantly, nonprofits are tasked with raising funds to support their efforts. Much like the challenge for mobilization, fundraising requires nonprofits to create an effective message that resonates with subscribers and motivates them to donate money to a cause.  

The best way to create an effective message is through personalizing the content to resonate with each potential advocate. GlobalGiving is a global crowdfunding platform for social entrepreneurs and nonprofits to raise money for charitable causes in their communities. To reach and resonate with potential donors, GlobalGiving uses email personalization to match individual donors with causes they are most willing to help based on a donor’s giving history.  By creating targeted emails, GlobalGiving is able to connect worthly causes with advocates who are most likely to help. 

Check out the GlobalGiving case study to learn more about how they leverage email and head over to their website to donate 

To learn more tactics and metrics on how email can help nonprofits, check out our guide The Nonprofit’s Guide to Email Marketing 

Ghosts of Holidays Past: What to Watch out for This Year

Last week, I showed you the email marketing ghosts of holidays past, what to prepare for now and what could go wrong in the future. Like Scrooge learned in “A Christmas Carol”, it all depends on the actions you take today.

Last year, email volumes increased exponentially leading up to Black Friday and through Cyber Monday. Volumes declined from their highs but remained above average until just a few days before Christmas. This Christmas year should email volumes increasing again, but early data is showing that email volumes rose faster and earlier this year with more retailers forgoing Thanksgiving promotions this year for earlier Black Friday deals.

In Christmases past, subscribers complained more, read less and marketers saw more emails delivered to the spam folder. But in 2018, it seemed that not only did subscribers tolerate more emails, but they also liked receiving them as open rates, or read rates, didn’t see a decline. Likewise, subscribers complained less, or marked email as spam less, than they have in prior years. In 2019, no doubt some marketers will see challenges, but if they are sending email promotions their subscribers want, 2019 should be another banner year for the email marketing channel.

But what if your future holiday season sees ghosts of its own? Many of you wrote in with your questions of how to deal with unexpected holiday horrors.

1. Don’t add to the holiday stress.
Avoid making major changes such as adding a new IP address. While it may seem logical to add an IP address now to avoid dreaded “too busy, try again later” messages, unless you’ve already “warmed” the IP addresses to have a positive reputation, it’s too late at this point add an IP address and experience positive results. Wait until after the new year.

2. Skip the Black Friday lines.
If you’re receiving the above mentioned “try again later” bounce error when trying to send to certain ISPs and mailbox providers, check your connection and throughput settings and changing them if needed. If you’re still seeing this error, consider aligning and sending time-sensitive campaigns at non-peak sending times.

3. If you’re making a list, check it twice.
Email marketers see their subscriber and customer lists increase after the holiday season. But bad data can come back to haunt you next year if you’re not validating addresses and cleaning up invalid records. Also, resist the urge to send to lists you haven’t mailed to in a while, such as bounce lists, suppression lists, or inactive lists as it almost always results in mail being delivered to spam or blocked.

Want to know more about to handle some of the most common holiday email nightmares? Check our recent webinar The Email Marketer’s Holiday Survival Checklist.

Email Hero Awards Are Back!

Are you a heavy user of the Return Path Platform who has recently deployed a campaign that made you feel like an email hero? Well, we’d love to see it…and hopefully give you an award! 

Validity is excited to announce our second annual Email Hero Awards recognizing this year’s top email marketers. There are a total nine awards up for grabs, not to mention the overall MVP award, including these categories below: 

  • Best Subject Line 
  • Best Newsletter 
  • Best Offer (Coupons, promotion, etc) 
  • Best Triggered Email 
  • Most Improved Email Program 
  • Most Innovative 
  • Best Email Series  
  • Best Themed Email (Holiday, etc) 
  • Best Winback Email  

So what does an Email Hero win? Well, if you are announced as the hero of a chosen category, you will receive: 

  • An awesome trophy! 
  • Official Certificate  
  • Induction into Our Client Spotlight Program + Early Access Program 
  • One-time feature in eBook and blog post 
  • Opportunity to be featured in a future case study on the website  

 The competition is only open to Return Path customers and the deadline for submissions is January 31st, 2020 with winners announced shortly after. Due to some legal restrictions, we can only accept entries from US and UK customers at this time. 

Click here to submit an entry (or multiple ones!) and good luck!  

Christmas Time is Here—Is Your Program Ready? [New Research]

The holidays are a wonderful but hectic time of the year, especially for marketers. Consumers are in a purchasing mindset as they work through their holiday shopping list for family and friends. which presents you with a great opportunity.

To take full advantage of the season, you need to make sure your emails are optimized to both reach the inbox and resonate with your subscribers. To help you get your program ready, we created our latest ebook—Have Yourself a Merry Email Christmas. Inside we explore the performance of last year’s holiday season and highlight some essential tactics you should implement in your program so you can join in on the holiday cheer, including: 

  • How many emails were sent during the holiday season 
  • How consumers interacted with messages during the holiday season 
  • How different industries performed over Black Friday and Cyber Monday 
  • And more! 

Read the report for tips and tactics to make your holidays merry and bright.

The “Gift” of Complaints

The holidays are right around the corner, so you know what that means—you have to start getting gifts for everyone! It is often said around here that “feedback is a gift.” If that is the case, then spam complaints should be considered a gift as they are feedback from subscribers that something is turning them away from your mail.

If you have had the chance to read through The Marketer’s Guide to Subscriber Complaints, then you will know that with this gift of complaints, there are lots of ways to make sure you can get your email program back on track. Using the information from the guide, you can either proactively or reactively mitigate complaint issues.

The Subscriber Welcome Gift

In order to reduce complaints its best to start where your subscribers start; during the opt in process.

  • Consider implementing a confirmed/validated opt-in process
  • Use real-time email address verification
  • Scrub list for any malformed addresses or unknown users
  • If sending third party mail—consider a separate opt-in process and email verification

It’s also important to consider what will happen after your latest subscriber signs up for your mail. You will need to make sure the customer receives a prompt welcome message and even consider a welcome series.

But what I think is the greatest gift you can offer your subscribers is setting the proper expectations. Be sure to:

  • Communicate what type of mail they will be receiving
  • How often they can expect emails from you
  • Will they be receiving mail from affiliates or other brands?

The Gift of Relevancy

Have you ever received an email that was tailored perfectly to you? Maybe it was highlighting something you had recently been shopping for? Or sending you something related to a milestone in your life? No matter the content, it always feels personalized when we get emails tailored to our specific wants and needs.

Subscribers are less likely to complain when they feel the emails being sent to them are relevant to them. Preference centers are an excellent way to capture subscribers’ interests that will allow you to trigger more relevant messages to those who want it. I always appreciate it when the company I sign up for “gifts” me with the opportunity to update my preference on the welcome message. I also love it when the preference center shows examples of what the subscriber would be receiving like this example from Lowes.

If you don’t have the ability to implement a preference center, or just like to collect more data to send triggered messaging, you can always use other data sources to target and personalize to your customers. You can use data such as browser behavior or purchase behavior. You can even use data from Return Path’s Email Client Monitor to further achieve personalized content. For example, by using the location and subscriber ID features in Email Client Monitor, you will see where your subscriber is opening up their mail. If you notice your subscriber is consistently opening up their mail in Miami, you might want to send them emails about swimsuits and not winter coats.

And the Gifts Keep on Coming…

By reading the Marketer’s Guide to Subscriber Complaints, you will be able to take a deep dive into the gifts you can give your subscribers in order to reduce complaints. I think it’s important to mention to not forget to:

  • Offer an easy way for subscribers to unsubscribe so that they do not complain
  • Sign up for feedback loops (they are a free gift!)
  • Pay attention to your frequency—do not send too much mail to overwhelm the subscriber but also don’t send too little that they forget about you
  • Think about your subject line—make your subject line stand out (use the Subject Line Optimizer tool from Return Path)

And if these are not enough gifts to get you through the complaints of the holiday season, check out the Marketer’s Guide to Subscriber Complaints. Email deliverability gifts are always the gifts that keep on giving.

Remember the Little Things this Holiday Season

Fall is my favorite time of year. The changing colors, the crisp air, football, and the anticipation of gathering with friends and family for the holidays. It is often a time for reflection, to think of days past, accomplishments, failures, and the promise of tomorrow.

For marketers, Fall is less a time for reflection, and more a time for action. It is a very important time of year as the revenue gained from upcoming holiday sales may determine if your business is profitable for the year. The pressure to achieve results is stronger than ever.

In an effort to achieve better results, many marketers look for new technologies such as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI), and Artificial Intelligence. The hope is that implementing these technologies can help improve the customer experience, introduce your brand to a larger audience, and lead to an increase in email revenue. In my experience, the new technologies get a lot of attention from marketers and rightly so. The competition for the inbox is fierce, and if you are not innovating and striving to improve, then you risk losing your customer to a competitor.

With an increased focus on new technologies and the increased holiday workload, what happens with many marketers this time of year is that the little things in your email program get overlooked and fall to the bottom of your priority list. It is understandable, but it is important to realize that all of the little things you do as a sender actually do matter.

While these little things by themselves may not have a large and direct impact on your inbox placement (some have bigger impact than others), having bad sending practices or metrics in addition to ignoring these little things can make reaching the inbox a bigger challenge.

1. Data quality: The quality of your data directly impacts deliverability. Syntax errors such as a misspelled domain name, a misplaced period, a missing username, and a missing @ sign are missed opportunities. Keeping your data clean improves your chances of reaching the inbox and making the sale.

2. Design errors: Misaligned columns, bad text and background color combinations, missing graphics, and misspelled words may cause your email to be perceived as spam.

3. WHOIS record: Ensure you have updated contact information and do not use a domain privacy service. Spammers use domain privacy services so be transparent about who you are and how you can be contacted.

4. Role Accounts: Ensure you have the abuse@ and postmaster@ role accounts configured to receive email and monitor them daily for communications from subscribers or mailbox providers. 5. Abuse.net: Add your abuse@ and postmaster@ role accounts to abuse.net. Mailbox providers may look up your information there to try and contact you.

6. Personal whitelisting requests: The major mailbox providers and spam filter companies all recommend asking subscribers to add your sending address to their address book or contact list. In most cases, your sending address in their address book or contact list causes your email to bypass the spam filter and land in the inbox.

7. List Unsubscribe: Most major mailbox providers use the list-unsubscribe header. It provides recipients an option to unsubscribe rather than complain, leading to a better sending reputation.

8. Reply-To address: Mailbox providers find you more trustworthy when people reply to your emails. Encourage this behavior and be responsive when contacted. Be sure not to use ‘do not reply’ as a username as it sends the wrong message. a. Use a Reply-To header if you need replies to go to a different address than your sending address. By default, replies are sent to your sending address.

9. Monitor Out-Of-Office messages: Congratulations! Spam traps don’t send messages when they go on vacation; you have reached a real person.

10. Bad links: Make sure that all links go to a legitimate landing page and that there are no page errors. Be sure to check the links in your pre-header and footer as these areas are often ignored.

11. The email footer: Be sure to link to your preference center and promote other important aspects of your business like: About Us, FAQ, Contact Us, Unsubscribe or Privacy Policy.

12. Privacy Policy: Ensure the privacy policy link is located near the submit button and update the language to provide clear (non-legalese) language about how the email address is used and how to unsubscribe.

13. Personalization: Be sure to address your subscriber by their first name or title (e.g. Hi Jane, Hello Mr. Smith). Be sure that the message personalization is working and not inserting the database field name or just a person’s last name (e.g. Hi <first_name>, or Hello Smith).

14. Alternative Text with Images: Display actionable and engaging text that appears with a disabled image. Most email clients disable images by default, so alternative text can help describe your message or offer in the preview pane.

In most cases, these little things require a small number of resources to implement or fix and they contribute to mailbox providers seeing you as a more trustworthy sender. So be sure and take a few minutes each day to focus on the little things in your email program. Looking for more insight on what can block you from the inbox? Join our upcoming webinar—The Fact and Fiction of Email Filtering—on Wednesday, October 23rd.

End the Year Strong with New Updates from Validity

It’s been a year of huge progress here at Validity! To celebrate, we’ve launched features that will help you close the year strong and drive better business and professional outcomes. This time of year, marketers and sales professionals are under an enormous amount of pressure to hit their goals. These releases provide better views and deeper understanding to ensure you’re spending time in the right places and getting the best insight possible.

Validity for Email – Return Path Platform

Our new SmartSeeds provide a simplified and better seeding-based way to monitor your deliverability. With this release, we’ve made insight into engagement filtering at Gmail more accessible than ever before.

It’s no secret that Gmail is a key mailbox for B2B and B2C senders – and because of the amount of engagement filtering they do, senders struggle to understand and overcome inbox placement challenges. SmartSeeds provide a detailed view into how your email is delivering based on subscriber interaction – whether they are engaged mailboxes, unengaged mailboxes, or somewhere in between.

With mailbox providers’ increased focus on using engagement-based filtering, you need access to the full picture of your deliverability. That’s exactly what SmartSeeds provide. With SmartSeeds, the work to determine the type of subscribers who are impacted by a deliverability issue is much easier. Because we break the data down by subscriber interaction, you have a better understanding of the problem and the potential impacts to KPIs. This time of year, this critical insight at Gmail across all your campaigns will have you ready for the holiday season like never before.

B2B Seeds
With the expansion of our B2B seed offering, we’ve added filtering companies to our already robust set of hosted mailboxes, such as G Suite, Office 365, and Go Daddy. Unlike consumer mailboxes (like gmail.com, yahoo.com, and microsoft.com), B2B hosted mailboxes commonly add an additional level of filtering onto the native hosted mailbox filtering.

With this release, we’re extending this coverage to including Barracuda and Proofpoint with Mimecast coming shortly. This time of year, ensuring your email is going to the inbox is paramount, and with this new update from Validity, our B2B marketers will be better positioned than ever this holiday season to hit year end goals.

Automated Reporting
We know this time of year, all eyes are on the email program. With that spotlight, you need a high-level snapshot of your email performance you can share with your organization. With automated reporting, you are armed with the reports you need to understand your deliverability trends and performance. We’ve replaced our legacy reporting dashboard with a brand new, automated monthly deliverability report available to you on the first of each month. They are more accessible than ever, located with easy navigation from the homepage of Return Path Platform. Your report for October will be available on November 1st and you can view your historical monthly reports starting today!

Validity for Sales Productivity

ReadyGrids for Pipeline
Our new set of ReadyGrids, a feature of GridBuddy, deliver a platform of actionable sales analytics. As sales teams are under pressure to close deals by year’s end, these grids surface at-risk opportunities threatening that oh-so-important revenue number and display them in an easy to manage, grid-based Salesforce workspace.

ReadyGrids for Pipeline are designed to make impactful sales data actionable. At-risk opportunities that affect pipeline are integrated into an editable grid for efficient and focused opportunity and pipeline management. It’s now easy to work with at-risk opportunities for the last or next 90 days and access the data that directly impacts your business. Use ReadyGrids to work with critical metrics in a simple spreadsheet-like interface and experience high CRM adoption and a better understanding of your sales data.

Boost Business Performance with New Updates from Validity 

End the Year Strong, Start the New Year Off Right
2019 has been a busy year for us! We’re growing like crazy, innovating, and as always, we’re on a mission to help businesses run better and grow faster with better data insights. We’re thankful to work with amazing clients and companies and we’re proud to bring these new features and updates from Validity into market. We’re invested in providing broader and deeper solutions to our customers to help them drive sales, make smarter business decisions, and deliver exceptional customer experiences.