Do you know what your "talkers" are saying about you?
You should, because what they say can affect your quest to get your e-mail messages safely through ISP and corporate spam filters and into the inbox.
Talkers are the people who express opinions about you either one to one, in e-mail newsletters, or in social media, such as discussion groups, blogs, social network pages, and podcasts.
You must check all the data that floods your messaging system as soon as you hit "send." This includes hard and soft bounces, spam complaints, and unsubscribe requests. The human element can be just as important, though harder to connect with, than delivery reports. Knowing what negative talkers are saying and cultivating the good talkers can help shore up your reputation and, ultimately, deliverability.
It occurred to me how word of mouth (WOM) affects sender reputation and deliverability as I sat in on a presentation by WOM marketing guru Andy Sernovitz at the recent inbox messaging industry conference.
What Do Talkers Say About You?
Sernovitz urges e-mailers to identify talkers. Applied to deliverability, talkers are more likely to be negative, expressing themselves chiefly through the spam-complaint button or in reply e-mail sent to your company.
How do you know what talkers are saying about you? These channels can tell you directly, or you can draw implications from comments:
Why Talkers Are Key in B2B
Corporate filters, often far more stringent than ISP filters, have no feedback loops to collect and pass on spam complaints. Delivery problems with active addresses are often masked as bounce messages. So it's essential to cultivate talkers in the corporate environment.
Know the key corporations in your niche. Look at your mailing list or delivery-failure reports to see if one or two companies dominate.
If business-to-business (B2B) recipients contact you to say they aren't getting your messages, enlist them as advocates. Ask them to tell their system administrators the filter is blocking your content.
As your advocate, these talkers have much more power than you do as the sender to convince the system administrator to make changes to allow your message.
Cultivate Good Talkers
These people are your best defense. What are you doing to collect good feedback and cultivate those who rave about you, either by forwarding your e-mail to friends, posting excerpts on blogs, or citing you as references in their own content?
And as always, keep on deliverin'!
Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.
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Stefan Pollard, who started his career in online marketing in 1999, was considered a selfless mentor and champion of best practices in e-mail marketing. He held the position of senior strategic consultant at Responsys where he was responsible for developing e-mail marketing and lifecycle messaging strategies to increase clients' ROI. Before that, Stefan led the e-mail consulting program for Lyris clients, frequently speaking at industry events on best practices. Prior to that, he managed the audit process and consulted with clients to improve their e-mail delivery challenges for Habeas. As an e-mail marketer, he spent several years building and executing acquisition and retention campaigns at E-Loan and Cybergold.com. He died May 14, 2010.
In Memoriam: Stefan Pollard
E-mail marketing community mourns the loss of a marketing pro dedicated to helping his peers and clients and working to improve an industry. Here are their tributes celebrating his life.
E-mail Marketing Expert Stefan Pollard Dies
An expert in deliverability is remembered as a champion of best practices and someone who selflessly gave of his time to others.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT