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Slowing Down Those Crafty Con Artists

  |  September 14, 2009   |  Comments

E-mail marketers must ensure they aren't punished by measures aimed to battle the bad guys.

Do you remember the movie "Catch Me If You Can" starring Leonardo DiCaprio? In the movie, DiCaprio played an ex-con who was so successful in his thievery that it took several years for someone to catch him. No one could imagine how he could be so brilliant, and seem to know a way around even the tightest security. As a result, millions of organizations had to continuously update and upgrade their security systems.

I don't know about you, but I watch movies like that with great admiration, knowing I'll never be crafty enough to find ways to hack into systems and successfully break all of the rules.

In the world of e-mail, unique thieves constantly amaze ISPs with their ability to crack codes, break down walls, and "cheat a system" that's supposed to be impossible to cheat.

It's for that reason that, as e-mail marketers, we'll spend our lives fighting the challenges of deliverability. Regardless of how dedicated to best practices, permissioning, white listing, and many types of security keys we employ, ISPs will continuously need to change, upgrade, and overhaul the way they define deliverability so that those spammers can be temporarily slowed down.

When you think about it, deliverability is probably the first and most critical pillar of a successful e-mail marketing program deployment. This doesn't mean it's more important or valuable than creating the strategy, offer, or creative design. But face it -- if your e-mail doesn't get delivered, no one will ever see it. If they can't see it, they can't respond.

There has been a great deal of discussion recently about new tactics that ISPs are deploying to help fight spam. It isn't happening at the domain level or even the brand level. Now, ISPs are rumored to be analyzing aggregated and individual open and click rates to define whether the e-mail your company sent should be considered "unwanted" by the recipient -- directing it right to the spam folder or risking it not being delivered at all.

This is a pretty drastic measure. Think about it. Say a travel company sends a monthly message to people to keep the brand top of mind, and many of its opt-in recipients don't open the e-mail until they get closer to planning their trip. That company could be at risk of sending a message that the ISP deems as unwanted. Yet, even if the recipient doesn't open the e-mail, seeing the brand in the subject line really does have a long-lasting impact.

What can we do? Luckily, for as fast as spammers work and ISPs respond, we're armed with help and support by deliverability experts like Return Path and Pivotal Veracity.

Pivotal Veracity just announced a new product offering, MailboxIQ, which enables marketers to track at the individual delivery levels across all e-mail platforms, including social networks. It's pretty amazing. You can learn more about Pivotal's new product offering here.

Don't forget to take a few moments to look at your opt-in and permissioning strategies and start thinking about the ways in which individual response filters may impact your 2009 holiday campaigns.


Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition. 

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