Archive for the B2B Category

Some thoughts on deliverability as we start 2010

Posted in B2B, B2C, Email marketing on 31/01/2010 by Richard Gibson

Whilst everyone is full of excitement around the New Year and making predictions for 2010 I’d like to take time and ponder the DMA National Client Email Marketing Report (free for DMA members) that came out late in 2009. This is the companion piece for the quarterly surveys and tracks only the clients (or the actual marketers) viewpoint rather than their technology providers.

There is much to digest in the report and I recommend it to one and all. The thing that is most interesting for me to read is the actual concerns that marketers have and they have several it seems. The specific question was worded; “Which of the following are you most concerned about?” Top of the list for both B2C and B2B marketers alike was deliverability; top of the list means the client marketer’s number one concern. That’s right, you read it correctly, the number one concern for email marketers was deliverability and that is ahead of concerns such as clicks and conversion rates.

Although it may sound obvious but simply put without deliverability, and very specifically delivery to the recipients inbox those click and conversation rates will be depressed. Indeed the ROI of the overall marketing programme will be less than it could be.

Yet deliverability remains for some a confusing term, what does it mean? Who is actually responsible? How can I reliably measure and improve upon it? What can I do to improve upon it? Wait a minute are my messages even reaching the inboxes?

Whilst I don’t plan to tackle these questions in this post, I will make some predictions on the topic of deliverability for 2010. Firstly getting messages delivered to the inbox is, for many reasons not going to get any easier. Why? Because as ISPs get better at identifying truly criminal spam, they will focus more attention on the email practices of legitimate mailers. And as they rely more on trusted whitelists and start using engagement metrics to determine if mail is actually wanted, marketers will have to work harder to achieve relevancy in the inbox by developing loyal subscribers that regularly open, click and convert. Secondly, and following on from this, monitoring email deliverability will become more important than ever for all marketers. Those who want to outperform their competitors, cut through inbox clutter and earn higher response rates will want to understand which factors drive good deliverability and demand greater insight into whether their messages actually arrived in the inbox.

The data point they will now covet is the Inbox Placement Rate (IPR) a metric that is fast becoming widespread as marketers become savvier about measuring true ROI and a metric marketers are more frequently asking their technology providers to provide in order to gain full visibility of their email marketing programme. If you are a marketer and would like to find out more, why not take our quick three question survey here.

This article was written for the DMA (UK)’s Email Marketing Council blog, which can be found here.


Email marketing: Two steps forward, one step back?

Posted in B2B, B2C, Email marketing, UK on 29/12/2009 by Richard Gibson

The findings of the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) National Client Survey, released 19th November 2009, have made for interesting – and at times surprising – reading. While many of the facts, figures and opinions that rise up out of the study promise great hope for the channel, there are a number of more disquieting revelations that indicate email marketers have much more behind the scenes work to do to ensure that email can fulfil its potential.

The most positive message to come from the report is that email marketing is showing great resilience in the first major economic recession the sector has experienced. Seven in ten marketers polled stated that they expect expenditure on email marketing to increase during 2010. Unfortunately, this is not a sign that marketing budgets are set to rise across the board; 50 per cent of marketers believe that the increased spend on email marketing will be at the cost of other direct channels. Email’s inexorable rise, however, does not mean that it is set to replace other channels. Email is shown to be particularly effective when it is partnered with offline channels, with direct mail proving to be the most successful method tried.

However, pulling up the floorboards we can see a few cracks in the foundations on which email marketing’s success has thus far been built. As progress in the discipline has been at break-neck speed, it would seem that application of best practice is inconsistent and often overlooked.

This eschewing of best practice is perhaps most clearly reflected in the fact that under half of marketers surveyed said they have a strategy in place concerning maximum consumer contact frequency. Furthermore, 12 per cent stated they did not know how many emails should be sent to individual addresses over the course of a month. Failing to follow best practice is particularly troubling in these difficult economic times as marketers are increasing contact frequency to stretch the value of email. Without the correct best practice and evaluation measures in place, these companies risk alienating customers by over-mailing.

Following best practice is also crucially important for ensuring deliverability to consumers’ inboxes, which marketers in the survey ranked as their chief concern, rating it higher than conversion rates and return on investment. Their concern is well justified, with a number of recent studies showing that 20 per cent of all commercial emails are blocked. However, there seems to be a general lack of understanding of the crucial factors in determining deliverability. Just 36 per cent of marketers identified sender reputation as being important to deliverability. This is an alarmingly low percentage given that reputation is the fundamental factor in determining deliverability.
Sender reputation is similar to a credit rating, and is assigned to every email sender to help internet service providers (ISP) differentiate between reputable senders and spammers. Sender reputation is based on a number of factors, such as the percentage of customers marking a sender’s emails as spam and making a complaint; list quality used by the sender; whether or not a sender has the infrastructure that enables ISPs to recognise their emails as coming from them, rather than from an unknown source; and whether or not the sender consistently sends out the same volume of emails from the same internet protocol address.

If marketers are truly concerned about deliverability, as they should be, then they should be concerned about following best practice when conducting email marketing campaigns. Managing your sender reputation really is nothing more than following best practice. Currently, the DMA’s Email Marketing Guidelines lead the way in setting out best practice for the sector. These guidelines, published in 2007, are currently under review and a revised set will be published in 2010 to ensure they keep up with the latest developments in email marketing. Following best practice will not only keep consumers happy and engaged with the emails they receive; it will also ensure that the email messages actually reach them and continue to reach them. Once these basic issues are resolved, then we can expect email to realise its potential.

Note, a variation of this article originally appeared in Technology Weekly/ (publisher: Centaur Communications) in November 2009.

Personalisation in direct mail, two recent examples

Posted in B2B, B2C, Database, Direct Marketing, Not for profit, UK on 22/01/2009 by Richard Gibson

Arriving amongst two other seminar invitations today was this one. Obviously it stuck out, massively in fact. It is well designed and rife with personalisation. On the outer alone I count seven uses of data driven personalisation including most frequently my name, company, job title and once on the addressing my academic award. I thought I’d share it as it is an effective use of data elements that most B2B brands will have access to.

Upon opening it up there are plenty more data driven elements mostly similar to the outer and using the creative treatment of the newspaper to show me a quote from myself on what I can get out of data [the event].

IDM Data Council Summit, Front 1 of 2 - 22-01-09

You can see the reverse of this piece, with further personalisation here.

After receiving the IDM piece I was reminded of a similar piece I had recently received from Cancer Research UK. This was as a direct result of a small donation I had made in the form of sponsoring someone.

Cancer Research UK, outside 1 of 2 - 2008

Although I am posting it in January 2009 I did actually make the donation and receive the piece last year, with the sponsorship in the summer and the mail piece arriving in around November 2008. The reverse of the addressing immediately caught my attention. Upon receipt I could not recall what I did on 17th July 2008. It turns out Cancer Research UK remembered what I did.
Cancer Research UK, inside 2 of 2 - 2008

Again, a great use of data driven personalisation. Because the captured the data, they have used the information to maximum effect. Upon opening the above tells me the name of the person I sponsored, the amount, the event that person participated in and how much the event raised for Cancer Research UK.

The piece goes on to request further donations to support the work of Cancer Research UK and makes a good enough case for doing so. The data elements were collected through the Just Giving web platform, at which point there is a consent question where the brand ask permission to contact the donor in the future.

The key data elements are potentially more hard hitting in the second piece, there are more of them and it is within the not for profit sector but in fairness to both brands they are using the data that they both have to exceptionally good effect.