China's email practices and policies are constantly evolving; here are three you shouldn't ignore.
Marketers may be familiar with the 'good sender practice' and it might seem corny to talk about. However, to be a good email sender in China is another story since its best practice is constantly changing. Here are three tips you need to know to do better email marketing in China.
1. Localise your best practice to Chinese ISPs requirement
In Rome, do as the Romans do. As most success stories from Chinese enterprises tell us, localisation is the key to China market. So is the deliverability practice in China.
Unlike international mailing standards, Chinese ISPs have their own strict policies for senders. Therefore, you may need to adjust your mailing practice according to different ISPs from throttling speed, content wording to remediation strategy simultaneously. For example, NetEase, the top email service provider in China strictly requires all promotional and marketing emails add <AD> in the subject line. By implementing this policy, NetEase will filter all emails with <AD> into the AD folder for better classification for users. Hence, if you don't want to lose your email market share in China, better do as the Chinese do. Otherwise, you may encounter domain blocking or IP blacklisting for not complying.
To learn more about best practice regarding different Chinese ISPs, you would love the info below:
NetEase best practice suggestion: http://feedback.mail.163.com/FeedBack/feedback.do?method=index#
Tencent anti-spam key rules: http://service.mail.qq.com/cgi-bin/help?subtype=1&&id=16&&no=82
Sohu anti-spam inquiry service: http://mail.sohu.com/info/policy/
2. Non-political/ national security related content to avoid blocking
Since China has its own Internet security regulation and policy, senders should avoid content that are especially sensitive in China.
In general, China Network Monitoring will likely block all wordings related to extreme political opinion, national security, and anti-society. In other words, don't make your maverick eDMs beyond the local standard. Extremes don't make you special in China. Another useful hint for senders; when some significant national congress is held in China, overseas senders may need to slow down regular sending speed as China has stricter monitoring on incoming emails. As there will be plenty of false positives due to domestic monitoring, that means your emails may bounced due to anti-spam misjudgment and senders need to retry for disconnection emails during this special period.
3. Conduct regular checking
Just like international ISPs, China also has its own indicators to evaluate a good sender. To understand your position, you may need to conduct several checks as follow:
(1) Blacklist checking on China Anti-Spam Alliance (CASA). CASA is an open platform that provides blacklist checking, remove request for blacklist, whitelist, and latest anti-spam technology within China. As CASA plays a significant role in China's anti-spam industry, a good sender should keep an eye if you're listed and submit your remove request with appropriate adjustment accordingly. Once you're listed by CASA, your emails will probably bounce or blacklist by major Chinese ISPs, especially by some B2B corporate email providers. All in all, better be aware with your status to maintain good reputation. For more details, you can find out on: http://www.anti-spam.org.cn/.
(2) Conduct testing on a regular basis to fine-tune your content. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. To learn more about Chinese ISPs' content filtering, you have no better ways but to keep testing. For example, with the same eDM content template, you can test using different subject line patterns, such as: all capital letters, all lowercase, and only initial capital letters. From the above testing, you can have a clearer picture of how your subject line can be in a safe zone. By using the same method, you can also test your sender name and content details. Trust me, you'll find it really worthy after you summarise the content bible of your campaigns.
As China's digital market is developing faster than any other country in the world, it's a good time for email markers to build customer loyalty in China. To be part of this game, you should work hard on being a good email sender to get your emails into the inbox in China, then your upcoming sales volume will speak well of you. China is still developing its own mailing rules and things will become more transparent in the future. Apart from above practice, e-markets need to be alert on every change or move to stay ahead.
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Francis Kwok is the founder and CEO of Radica Systems. Radica has become a leading e-marketing solution provider in six markets in Asia Pacific under his leadership. He has worked closely with Chanel, Mercedes-Benz, Global Sources, CTrip, BenQ China, Li Ning Company, and others, and works to enable enterprises to develop highly effective e-marketing campaigns with advanced personalisation technology.
With numerous experiences in the domain, Francis is also a regular author and guest speaker in Asia. Currently, Francis holds an executive position at the Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing. He is also a council member of iProA (Internet Professional Association) and a business adviser of SUCCESS of Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department.
Hong Kong, May 5-6, 2015
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