Is 100 percent e-mail delivery a realistic goal (without signing up for the Enhanced Whitelist program)?
Is 100 percent email delivery a realistic goal for marketers or just the outer limit of possibility? New vendors such as Goodmail aim to close the gap and boost message effectiveness and credibility as well.
We won't know whether paid-assured delivery will gain traction until email marketers test the program and crunch the numbers to learn whether the promised revenue increase outweighs the extra cost.
Meanwhile, if you elect not to participate or don't qualify for Goodmail's CertifiedEmail program or other third-party delivery-assurance programs, you can still boost your delivery rates by addressing the factors most likely to get you blocked or filtered.
If you're considering whether to sign up with Goodmail, this three-step system can help you calculate your current costs and potential benefits.
1. Calculate Your Message Loss Into AOL
Benchmarks from AOL, Goodmail, and Pivotal Veracity, a delivery-monitoring service, assume you lose about 43 percent of your AOL-bound messages, either to filters or lack of action because the messages have disabled images and links. Use your own numbers if you have them in your own delivery reports.
The CertifiedEmail service promises to give you back that 43 percent by delivering all AOL-bound email to the inbox with images and links enabled and to add another 20 percent in "message effectiveness" because recipients will be more likely to open and act on messages with the CertifiedEmail symbol.
Here's our own take. Clearly, having images and links enabled for all your AOL subscribers is a great plus. In our analysis with a number of clients, messages sent to AOL subscribers often can produce open, click-through, and conversion rates half that of other ISPs. So perhaps a starting point to understand "AOL loss" is to calculate your historical difference in AOL domain performance from your "average" results.
2. Estimate Costs
Clients who sign up by March 31, 2006, can buy tokens, the individual code assigned to each email message used to verify the sender and track placement and spam complaints, at 0.0015 cent each, or $15 for 10,000 AOL addresses. From March 31 to June 30, the rate will be 0.0025 cent per token, or $25 per 10,000 addresses. (Rates are for the first year only, after three to six free months; they then move to a percentage of the total token cost after the first year for early signers.)
3. Estimate Revenue
Say you're an online retailer and send 100,000 email messages to AOL subscribers and generate a 2 percent bounce rate, 5 percent CTR (define), 2 percent conversion rate, and average order of $100. Your revenue would be $9,800. Now let's say your non-AOL messages generate a 2 percent bounce rate, but a 10 percent CTR and 4 percent conversion rate, with the same $100 order size. If using Goodmail got AOL responses on par with your other domain results, your AOL revenues would increase to $39,200. Using the 0.0025 cent per token rate, the $250 in Goodmail costs would generate an additional $29,400 in revenue.
Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Whether anyone sees this (or anywhere near this) kind of lift in response rates won't be known for several months.
If you're not planning to use Goodmail any time soon, you can still bolster performance at AOL and Yahoo by implementing the tried-and-true best practices and guidelines outlined below.
Three Steps to Boost Delivery
Two More Positive Actions Can Boost AOL Delivery Rate
Finally: Get Going With Yahoo
Yahoo has a similar deal with Goodmail covering only transactional email. However, Yahoo also has a white list. If you're not on it, you should apply today and investigate Yahoo's DomainKeys email certification code.
And as always, keep on deliverin'!
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As director of ISP relations and delivery, Kirill Popov creates and enforces strict usage and anti-spam policies, maintains ISP and community relations, and oversees all abuse and policy investigations and inquiries for EmailLabs clients. Kirill works with clients on best practices, content, design, and list hygiene to minimize potential delivery issues. He's a registered member of the SpamCon foundation and representsEmailLabs on AIM's Council for Responsible E-Mail.
Loren McDonald is vice president of marketing at e-mail marketing automation company EmailLabs, overseeing corporate marketing activities and client consulting services. He has 20 years experience in marketing, consulting and strategic planning. Earlier, Loren was founder and president of Intevation, an e-marketing services firm specializing in e-mail and SEM. He's held executive marketing positions at companies including USWeb/CKS (marchFIRST), NetStruxr, and Arthur Andersen.
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