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Good email practices protect domain reputation

November 24, 2010 • Opinion

Greg Phillips, Managing Director of TouchBasePro

Few clients realise that the email marketing practises of their advertising agencies and other marketing firms could adversely affect the reputation of their domains.

Just as the corporate entity itself has a reputation within the greater community in which it does business, so its domain name also has an online reputation within cyberspace. Significantly for organisations wishing to reap the benefits of the spectacular investment returns offered by email marketing, a domain’s reputation influences the delivery success of email marketing messages.

“Every company’s domain name has a reputation that embodies how customers feel about receiving email from that organisation. Email marketing is low risk and provides rewards of up to 48 times the initial investment, providing it is done correctly,” said Greg Phillips, Managing Director of TouchBasePro. The five year-old firm can either provide clients with the tools to create their own email and SMS marketing campaigns or it can execute campaigns on behalf of clients from conceptualisation right through to reporting.

If emails with your brand are annoying current or potential customers to the point where they don’t want to hear from you, it means your email marketing efforts will suffer from a high proportion of unsubscribe requests and complaints about you directed to the recipient’s Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Anti-spam systems will also begin blacklisting any emails coming from your domain name. All of this will ultimately serve to damage the domain name’s reputation while increasing the amount of undelivered bounce-backs. The results could adversely impact the firm’s bottom line as ISPs increase their hosting charges to compensate for the increased risk of doing business with an email marketer with a dodgy online reputation.

“The worst sin of an email marketer is to send people things they perceive as junk, commented Mr Phillips. He explained that a number of factors can cause this perception. These include sending a very large amount of email intermittently, the inability of the message sender to transmit high-quality bulk messages with images embedded as well as a high proportion of recipients in general flagging mails as spam.

In addition, a poor email address collection system can be devastating to the email marketer as it hits spam traps designed to sniff out email marketers that randomly collect addresses off the Internet without any prior business relationship existing between recipient and sender.

The solution to the above is quite simple. “Marketers only have to follow good email marketing practices to protect domain reputation,” said Mr Phillips. Marketers that are already using an external bulk email provider should ask their supplier the following:

  • What is their anti-spam policy and how do they enforce it?
  • What is their relationship with their ISP?
  • What happens to the bounce backs received by their email infrastructure?
  • Are they able to embed images in their bulk emails because spammers are usually identifiable by their inability to do so?
  • To what extent is their database administration automated? This is important because you need to know what happens when someone clicks ‘unsubscribe’, for example. Also, what happens after three to five failed deliveries? The client is wasting money and harming its reputation by ‘emailing the dead’, so to speak.

Generally, whether a client’s email marketing is outsourced or not, the following basic principles apply when it comes to domain-friendly email marketing:

Be consistent in your email marketing efforts because it looks suspicious to anti-spam systems when massive, once-off campaigns take place (be consistent).

  • Ensure non-delivery reports actually go somewhere to be properly taken care of.
  • Ensure you are compiling customer email addresses from reputable sources.
  • Ensure you have a privacy policy somewhere visible on your homepage where customers can determine where you got their email address, etc.
  • Maintain your database well so that you are able to determine what content people like which will in turn feedback into your campaign efforts.
  • Control frequency so you don’t speak to customers too often.
  • Send relevant and personalised information to customers and don’t employ a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
  • Regularly re-confirm subscriber details.

For errant email marketers, the light at the end of the tunnel is that once a domain’s reputation has been damaged it can be restored.

“When it comes to the anti-spam systems that blacklist domains, a company’s delisting request can take as long as 30 days which is a long time to be suffering a damaged reputation. Generally, the sooner you get your house in order, the sooner you will be removed from a blacklist. Reputation is restored by consistently following good email marketing practices which increase the deliverability of your messages,” concluded Mr Phillips.

Greg Phillips, Managing Director of TouchBasePro

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