Thursday, November 10, 2011

Whitelisting, blacklisting, graymail or blackmail…

Which one of these things is not like the other…well I guess if you were unlucky and a little dodgy, you may in your lifetime be blackmailed by email but all of the other aforementioned colourful verbs have to be taken into consideration when developing your email marketing program.

As an email marketer, I am very familiar with the importance of obtaining whitelisting to ensure that when I hit the send button on an email campaign, as many of those emails get delivered to the inbox as possible. If I choose not to take care with my content and subject lines, if I create email designs that are based on a single image and do not offer an easy to find and user-friendly "unsubscribe", blacklisting becomes a risk.

The color of today's focus however, is "Graymail". It's important as a marketer not to ignore the color gray, as it applies to emails that are perfectly legitimate, they have subscribed to receive your email but due to irrelevant content/subject-lines or emails being sent too frequently, they have gradually become disengaged and now ignore your email in their inbox. With complete inactivity, ISP's will carry out an automated process of graymail filtering, effectively moving or flagging disengaged customers.

For your benefit, I'll use Hotmail as the example of how they deal with Graymail.
  • Hotmail developed a tool called Schedule Cleanup
  • This allows users to automate the deletion of certain messages
  • Email senders that you pin as wanted, get delivered to the top of your inbox, in the fold
  • Users create custom categories and folders
  • Users can organize messages en masse – messages will automatically be delivered to their predefined folders
The key to avoiding the color gray is to ensure that your copy, content and offers all remain engaging. No longer will email marketers bang the "permission drum" but as a planner, you'll be challenged on fresh content, relevant content and how much time and effort is going in to the subject line.

The important thing for you to understand is that the ISP's are tracking subscriber engagement by opens, clicks, downloading of images, scrolling and safe-sendering your email. Negative aspects that will affect your reputation will be based on deletes, SPAM reporting, marking messages as read without an open, ignoring the message and trashing the message.

My advice – offer content and frequency preferencing, make sure your content is fresh, interesting, dynamic, creative and relevant (not necessarily in that order). Segment your database and avoid the load and blast….are you listening Daily Dealio's??

Good luck!

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