Archive for the Ecommerce Category

Language and deliverability

Posted in Ecommerce, Email marketing on 15/02/2011 by Richard Gibson

Taken, as I have been of late to reading about the topic of language and linguistics I paused to think how the topic might relate to deliverability, often seen as a deeply technical subject. It is my hope that the metaphor of language may be useful to those that consider deliverability a deeply technical subject.

Just as the English language evolved from Proto-English to the Modern English we use today the definitions of actual words and their usage has changed and evolved. How does this relate to deliverability? Allow me to explain – depending on who you talk to deliverability can, and historically has been defined differently – rather, inconsistently. Certain actors may define deliverability as the number of emails for which bounce codes are not returned; personally I prefer to think of this as an accepted rate and not perfectly helpful and far from an accurate success measure. At best it gives an indication of what may have been received by the ISP’s. A further challenge for those technically minded is that these bounce codes vary and aren’t always reliable in terms of interpreting where the email message was ultimately delivered to – if at all. The definition of deliverability calculated from number of email sent, less the bounces could also be more accurately reported as ‘received’ as in received by the receiving server – i.e. not rejected.

However if you follow with the language and linguistic theme and specifically English accents ‘Received Pronunciation’ (which is sometimes known as The Queen’s English, Oxford English or BBC English) has historically been seen as a standard for ‘correct’ pronunciation. In my mind whilst ‘accepted’ and ‘received’ are in the vocabulary it creates confusion in respect of deliverability and they are far from perfect or correct. For me the preferable definition is a measure of delivered to the actual inbox. It is far more reliable than using the aforementioned bounce codes and more indicative of success.

Just as from the 16th Century onwards there was a movement to standardise the English language, particularly spellings which varied mostly because of many regional dialects. Creating uniformity was aided, in part by dictionaries of varying quality. With the release of the next iteration of the DMA’s ‘Email Benchmarking Report: Half 1 2010’ data on inbox placement is available for the first time. It is my hope that for email marketers this will have a similar effect as Johnson’s Dictionary had on the English language in the 18th Century – namely to provide the definitive and pre-eminent definition.
Whilst I expect that just like those dictionaries available before the publication of Johnson’s other definitions of deliverability won’t disappear overnight it is my hope that this document and the incorporation of this new data point will help email marketers by defining deliverability to the inbox as an important success metric and the most correct way to define deliverability.

This blog post was originally written for the DMA (UK) Email Marketing Council blog and can be viewed here.

Captain: Red alert! Incoming variable response signals!

Posted in Ecommerce, Email marketing on 06/02/2011 by Richard Gibson

Those familiar with the original ‘Star Trek’ television series may be familiar with the following scenario; a previously un-seen character that happens to wear a red coloured uniform is amongst the first to be teleported from the Starship Enterprise to a new planet after the distress signals are heard on the bridge. An unspeakable peril waits on the new planet. Our previously un-seen character is amongst the first or indeed the very first to meet a tragic end.This ‘signposting’ technique can frequently be found elsewhere in cinema and television and not just in Star Trek, you don’t have to look very far to find it.

What on earth does this have to do with the subject in hand, namely email marketing? Quite a bit and more than you’d think actually. Signposting, whilst recognisable in the television example just doesn’t happen in terms of deliverability. The ISPs or filtering companies aren’t in the habit of communicating to marketers the landscape that they are responding to.

That is because their primary goal is to protect their customers and not to help or signpost for the benefit of email marketers. The ISPs have to respond to a dynamically changing set of incoming mail streams and threats to their network and their customers. The same is true for the filtering companies whose customers may be the ISPs or those that aim to secure their corporate infrastructure. Their objectives for their customers may include conserving resources, saving bandwidth and stopping all incoming threats.

What this means in practical terms for marketers is that just because you have good deliverability and inbox placement rates today, doesn’t mean that it will remain so tomorrow and in to the future. It’s this variability that impacts response. As an example it may transpire that a marketer notices a significant depression in opens or clicks from a segment of the database. Upon deeper investigation the impact can be clearly seen across one or two important domains. Logic may suggest that the receiving ISP (or filtering company) may be blocking the incoming mail.

This variability can be evident to those with access to the actual inbox placement data, those without it most likely will struggle to understand, troubleshoot and ultimately rectify the root cause. Whilst ISPs don’t signpost in the same way that ‘Star Trek’ did, marketers can minimise the impact in variability by understanding their reputation, knowing their inbox placement and considering third party accreditation programmes.

This blog post was originally written for the DMA (UK) Email Marketing Council blog and can be viewed here.

Gracias from Elautobus

Posted in B2C, Ecommerce, Email marketing, International Marketing, Not for profit on 22/01/2009 by Richard Gibson

Following on from an earlier post, ING Direct and UNICEF emailed me to thank me for helping to raise funds through their viral email marketing effort in December 2008.

For the record here is the creative used (click to enlarge):

ING Direct Espana UNICEF Autobus Viral Email ING follow up 16-01-09