Today’s digital marketers are facing unprecedented dilemmas when it comes to email marketing. Over the past 25 years, the adoption of email for personal and business use led to an increased volume of “batch-and-blast” emails. Illegal spam tactics targeting email users became more frequent and left users overwhelmed by managing their inboxes. In turn, email marketers noticed a change in how customer interact with their emails. By the late 2000s, email marketers began to doubt whether email would continue to be an effective marketing channel.
Today we are kicking off a weeks-long focus on email deliverability and the increasingly important role it plays in marketing. During my career in digital marketing, I’ve worked hands-on with email marketing in environments from SMBs to enterprise corporations. Deliverability is one of the most frequently overlooked — yet critically fundamental — components to successful email marketing. We’ll talk to email and deliverability experts, and dive into subjects from best practices to practical strategies your team can start implementing to improve your own deliverability.
To start, let’s take a look at current inbox structures and how these structures affect your email marketing.
What is a managed inbox?
The term “managed inbox” applies to email inboxes that use filtering systems and algorithms to prioritize incoming email messages for the end-user.
The inbox providers — from ISPs like Comcast and Verizon to apps like Gmail and Outlook — are the gatekeepers to the inbox. Using a series of filters, algorithms, spam traps and spam indicators, inbox providers aim to keep their users’ inboxes safe.
From the digital marketing perspective, successfully marketing to the managed inbox requires special attention to critical details.
The inbox providers’ solution to email overload
Inbox fatigue, compounded by increasing email from unauthenticated senders and spam complaints, prompted a response from Google: in 2013, it implemented features in Gmail to help manage its users’ inboxes. In doing so, Google assured marketers that deliverability and engagement rates would improve and users would have a better inbox experience.
Despite the reassurance, digital marketers didn’t react to the news very well. “The update shook marketers all around the globe, but it was needed,” said Vytis Marčiulionis, a deliverability manager at marketing automation platform Emarsys who works with digital teams to address deliverability challenges. “First, we need to consider why managed inboxes were introduced, and in this case I think Gmail did marketers a favor. The end-user now has a larger scope of classification available at their disposal and according to studies done by ReturnPath, they actually like it.” Email best practices needed to change and much of the dialogue among the martech community focused around how to ensure our emails end up in not only in the right tab, but in the inbox at all.
Despite the positive reception from users, marketers still fear the worst: our emails will end up in a tab that our recipients will never look at, and email ROI will drop. Today, nearly 20% of emails never make it to the intended inbox. Email …read more
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