How to repair damage caused by e-mail marketing messages that are unrecognized, unexpected, or unwanted.
It's easy to damage your e-mail sender reputation through sloppy or improper management of your e-mail program and sending practices. Repairing the damage is harder, but it can be done if you're willing to do the work.
In part one, I outlined the reasons your recipients click the "report spam" button, even on the messages they opted in to receive and why ISPs block your messages or route them to the bulk folder.
Here, you'll find strategies for detecting and resolving problems that lead to spam complaints and ISPs' actions.
Why Relevance Isn't Enough
If you've ever found yourself in e-mail delivery hell, you've probably heard variations on this advice:
Neither piece of advice is wrong. They just don't always give you insights or tell you how to act on the advice. Relevance, for example, is relative. If you consider any e-mail offer relevant if it goes out under your company name, you probably won't admit that your subscribers have different ideas.
Marketers and industry experts will always debate the merits of removing inactive addresses. (I explain why I vote for reactivation and then pruning in the column, "The Right Way to Trim Inactives.") The answer both for rehabbing a damaged sender reputation and for avoiding major trouble in the first place is to provide value for your recipients with every e-mail you send. This value comes from sending the e-mails you promised at opt-in, being clear and recognizable in the inbox, and resolving problems as soon as they crop up.
Revisiting the Three Us
The Three Us of delivery -- unrecognized, unexpected, and unwanted -- explain why recipients click the "report spam" button for your e-mail. Here are strategies to overcome each one:
Managing Issues That Damage Reputation
Final Thought: The Good News
All these challenges should be temporary and can be met with proper list hygiene and complaint reduction strategies. These will improve your reputation and restore inbox delivery.
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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
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