Choosing a Bulk Email Service? Don’t Miss on These 8 Points!
As deliverability consultants, we come across brands who wish to dip their feet into email marketing and start sending bulk emails via an ESP. These brands have the intent to start sending promotional offers and triggered communication and other bulk emails via email channel but don’t have a well thought out strategy or any long term vision to make good use of it in terms of sustainability and revenue.
This post is about the 8 things that every marketer needs to tick off their list before they build a foundation for their bulk email program. These are good practices to be followed across the email marketing spectrum which will ensure that your brand communications will be able to generate revenue from your customers.
Every brand’s strategy will differ from one another but the core practices that need to be followed as provided in the post will largely remain the same.
1. Do you have an Email Strategy?
In absence of any such proper strategy laid out, the brand will be direction-less in terms of their email marketing efforts using a bulk email service. The campaigns won’t be planned for a segmented audience and that will further lead to subscriber disengagement.
If your users are disengaged from the brand, this will lead to users unsubscribing fast.
If the triggered communication or automated journeys are not sending welcome communication during the signup process, this may cause your subscriber to be disappointed with your email service.
Fewer subscribers, less revenue from campaigns. Thus it is vital for every Marketer to know, what will be their email program like with separate components for trigger emails, journey based emails, and broadcast - segmented as well as informative communication.
Long Term Vs Short Term Plan
When starting with email marketing, a brand should have clear goals which should be S.M.A.R.T. where they can measure the short term and long term goals and design their communication in an efficient way. This means knowing what their targets are for the next 3 months and then for the next 1 year or more.
This clarity will provide a better vision to the brand in terms of what goals they wish to achieve from their email promotions. These could be monetary in terms of the marketer wishing to achieve a certain threshold of ROI from email till a specific date in 6 months or a sale of a certain number of orders in terms of an online business. This plan should be laid way while designing your email program.
2. What is your Subscription Process?
Before you start collecting email ids for marketing, make sure that your website/app is verifying the email ids being collected. The subscription process needs to be double-opt-in. Make sure they tick the permission box for sending them promotional offers. This ensures that the email users you are reaching out to have provided approval on being sent promotional communication.
Many times we have observed that the email subscription is single opt-in and when a promotional offer is sent to these users, they have no clue when they signed up for the service. This results in actions taken by users which are negative to ISPs like – reporting the emails to spam, unsubscribing in large numbers, no opening and deleting the emails, etc.
This can cause your email deliverability to take a dip and cause a setback with your email objectives to achieve when you use a bulk email service.
Avoid Purchasing Mailing Lists
There are some bad practices prevalent in the email industry. When email lists are purchased from third-party agencies that contain email users who have not subscribed to your brand per se but are mailed by Brands in order to generate leads. This is a poor practice in the Email Marketing world and if followed will lead you to a rabbit hole of spam, Deliverability issues and a bunch of DNSBLS (Domain Name System-based Blacklists)
Check if your domain is Blacklisted - Email Blacklist Tool
These purchased lists may contain harvested ids, spam traps and other bad or invalid ids which could further provide hard bounces when emailed. The best practice is to grow your own organic list of ids and keep them engaged and coming back for more with your brand.
3. Segmentation of your Mailing List
All the email users in your mailing list won’t have the same needs and demands. Hence, they have to be catered to differently. When you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system in place for collecting the email ids, make sure you are also collecting the other attributes for that email user based on their likes, preferences, order purchases, type of product bought, number of orders, etc. The other attributes for the email ids tell you more about the users.
Then you can use these attributes to segment your audience, and then target them with product offers that they would like to buy. This will ensure that you keep your users engaged and provide them relevant offers which they will be interested in. This will also ensure high engagement for your campaigns and will provide you immediate conversions rather than a batch and blast to all users.
A batch and blast generic campaign can be done to your entire mailing list during peak periods for your selling activity eg: sale season, Black Friday offers, Christmas, etc. These campaigns should be attractive enough to generate traction on your other products and get you more regular engaged users.
Send Relevant Content to Subscribers
The major ISPs globally filter emails based on previous engagement from the users. There are certain content-based filters as well, where your HTML content is scanned and then depending on its hygiene is passed to inbox or spam. Hence, it should be the hallmark of every Email Marketer today to ensure that they are sending relevant content to their audience which they like to receive.
Example: You should be sending a campaign for shoes to users who have shown an interest in this category, by adding the item to cart on the app/website. Sending them other product campaigns will not be so engaging for this user as they are already in a mindset to consider buying this product.
4. Tracking User Behaviour
When a subscriber is using your email newsletter service, they are ultimately creating a persona or a behavior profile of their own. This is crucial to track and analyze to know which users are spending time and browsing on products on your website. Your CRM and analytics engines should be on point to capture this data.
Based on this personal data, you would be able to track the user journeys and target them with highly personalized campaigns that they are more likely to respond to.
Eg: A user who has ordered for wraps from a food delivery app 9 times out of 10 in the last 3 months, needs to be targeted with your latest wrap offer.
Tracking user journey will place those users in either of these 3 buckets: Interested → Engaged → Re-activate
Based on these journeys, your audience can be segmented and targeted with meaningful email campaigns. These would bring more conversions and keep the customers come back for more as they will be delighted with your attention to their needs.
Keeping an eye on engagement metrics
A mistake that is often committed by Marketers trying to target their mailing list is that they don’t pay attention to the kind of engagement they are receiving from this audience before using a bulk email service. If you are targeting a generic campaign every day to your email list and you receive dismal opens and clicks with high unsubscribes, then that tells a different negative story to the ISPs. The better your email list, the better your engagement rates. Your user engagement has a direct impact on your general email deliverability.
Continuing to do this exercise will ruin your domain reputation and send your Email inboxing for a toss.
5. Do you follow Email Authentication Practices?
A major deal-breaker for ISPs for filtering Emails into spam is when they check for proper email authentication practices followed for Emails. These would be enabling SPF, DKIM, and DMARC for your sending domain. Enabling these will make sure that your bulk email campaign is secure and you are invested in securing the emails for your customers.
Signing DKIM on your sending domain will also help you to verify the domain reputation for your sending domain on Google Postmaster. Authenticating your emails further shows the ISPs that you are taking precautionary measures for sending secure emails to your users. This is considered mandatory if you wish to have clean email deliverability.
6. Do you follow IP/Domain Warmup Process
It is recommended that before you start sending any major volumes from your domain, it is recommended to warm up your IP and domain. You need to steadily increase your per day volumes and monitor the reputation, IPR and any fluctuations during the warmup phase. This will help you build a high reputation with ISP and enable you to send larger volumes with time. This would also ensure smooth inboxing with ISPs and help you to build your Email Program without any deviations.
Monitoring IP/Domain Reputation
Often times, marketers start a warmup process but fail to monitor the engagement metrics, reputation fluctuations, Inbox placement, user-reported spam during the process. This results in untoward incidents of reputation dips and oscillations in inbox placement.
These metrics need to be monitored on a daily basis. Our deliverability consultants at Netcore are well adept at looking at all metrics every few hours and monitoring them to raise any alarms if the program is not working according to plan. Monitoring of all the above metrics is a must to ensure smooth deliverability before sending large volumes from a bulk email service.
7. Creating Clean HTML Campaigns
Content in your campaign plays an important role in communicating with your audiences your brand image and promotions. Brand indoctrination will happen the majority through your campaign content. It is therefore important to put efforts behind creating attractive and engaging campaigns for your audience so that in turn will fuel your revenue growth.
From the perspective of having your campaigns inbox smoothly, it is vital that:
- Your HTML templates have a simple and clean design with equal proportions of images and text.
- No extra CSS styling should be used
- No map tags or commented code.
These are the good practices that you can follow for creating attractive email campaigns for your audience to enjoy.
Personalization for Content is Important
The way you treat your subscribers will determine how much ROI and engagement you can expect from them. If you take them for granted and send a batch and blast twice or thrice a week to all list with a generic campaign then you can’t expect much traction from it.
This is where personalization becomes a vital cog in your email marketing machine. Personalizing the subject line by mentioning the user’s name or adding a personal touch to the content and sending it to segmented audiences based on their preferences will enhance the engagement you receive from your email campaigns. This gives good results and is something you can experiment on while starting out using the bulk email service.
8. What Domain to use for Mailing?
It is recommended to start using your website domain as sending domain for transactional emails as well as promotional communication. But if your promotional program has some risk factor involved then it is fair to use a subdomain of your main website domain and build a reputation on it to send promotional communication from this domain.
Having your transactional and promotional communication on the same domain might have a problem of one type of communication affecting the other in terms of inboxing, hence it would be wise to keep them separate as suggested in a video we made for explaining it clearly.
Here's a detailed video guide to help you choose which domain to send your emails from.
On a Parting Note
Thus we have seen the questions that need to be answered by any Marketer before they start on a journey sending large volumes from a bulk email service.
Keeping the above practices in mind will help you to achieve your ROI targets and get traffic on your brand Website/App on a consistent basis. Your automated and trigger journeys will also keep your customers updated on their transactions and useful updates.
Do you have any other practices to share? Leave your opinions in the comment section below.