What’s keeping you up at night?

No conference on digital messaging would be complete without a discussion on deliverability – especially in high-volume seasons. Taking to the stage at Interact 2013 to address this specific subject were email veterans, Greg Kraios, Founder and CEO at 250ok and Matthew Vernhout, Chief Privacy Officer and Manager of Deliverability for Inbox Marketer.

Greg and Matthew set the tone for the session right off the bat by opening the floor up to attendees for debate, allowing for a rapid exchange of ideas and discussions. They highlighted 6 key issues of particular concern to email marketers.

#1 Privacy & Anti-Spam Legislation (status of CASL, expectations)

The email experts kicked off the deliverability discussion with the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. An example of the prohibitions under the new law would be:

“sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient’s consent (permission), including messages to email addresses and social networking accounts, and text messages sent to a cell phone”

US marketers were worried about how the legislation would affect them. Since the panel, the government has announced that the anti-spam laws will go into effect on Jul 1 2014. Under the law, prior consents will remain valid – a huge relief to marketers. For more details on what the CASL changes mean for marketers, check out this article by Marketing Magazine. As per Matthew’s quote in the article, “From a marketer point of view, it’s got big scary numbers, but if you’re following good practices and you’re following the opt-in process and you have functional unsubscribes, then compliance really isn’t going to be that big of a challenge.”

#2 Holiday Volumes (ISP expectations, client expectations, rate limits, response metrics)

During the holidays, both marketers and spammers increase email volumes. Olga Gavrylyako from Google agreed that Google saw much higher volumes of email, spam and phishing during the holidays. Greg stated the need to set expectations on how timely email would be on holidays like Black Friday. DMARC email authentication was also important for businesses – a company suffered a drop in customer engagement when its email template was hijacked and phishing occurred.

An issue that caused much debate in the email industry last year were incorrect email entries during point-of-sale. Many major brands were listed on Spamhaus for spelling typos in their email lists, so that is something marketers should watch out for.

#3 List Management Tips (dealing with bounces, pre-deployment tests, bounces, data collection, data hygiene)

Customer churn is 20-30% a year for email lists. Marketing is moving towards quality in terms of quantity in information collected. It is not the size of your email lists that matters, but how you use it. For example, marketing email pales in comparison with one-to-one email in creating customer engagement.

#4 Handling Traffic Changes (warming up new IPs, changing IP configs, rate limits, traffic shaping)

Matthew commended Adaptive Delivery® – the automated deliverability technology built into the Message Systems Momentum platform – in aiding IP warm-up, citing smoother delivery rates as well. When it comes to a new IP, businesses should send 10,000 messages a day according to Microsoft. Before sending email, it is also wise to sign up for feedback loops.

#5 Tabs & Junk Filters (expectations, challenges, tactics)

Educate the coding team so emails do not look like spam. Greg made the point that tabs have a positive impact on customers because emails are no longer competing with social messages. However, this appears to differ between businesses. An attendee saw a 20% dip in performance and subsequent drop in conversion rates using tabs.

#6 Transactional vs Commercial Emails (effective management of resources, data collection and use, pitfalls and hurdles)

In summary, it is a best practice to segment transactional and marketing emails.

The key takeaway of the discussion on deliverability was to collect proper email opt-ins. During the highly interactive session, interesting questions were raised by Dela Quist from Alchemy Worx: Should engagement indicate consenting to having an email in the inbox rather than open and click rates? And do you need to open an email to be influenced by it? While the jury appeared to still be out on those issues, the open debate inspired by Craig and Matthew’s session sparked much food for thought for the day and in the following Interact sessions as well.