Category Archives: by Massimiliano Chiucchiu

8 Tips: Don’t Let The Coronavirus Infect Your Email Campaigns

Like it or not, the digital world is evolving. These changes might have happened over the course of a few years, but due to the coronavirus, the timeline has been shortened drastically. Flying cars aside, we already find ourselves living in hypothetical scenarios of a pseudo-future where everyone works from home, social contact is limited, and most of our time is spent in front of electronic devices (for now on the computer, the inevitable smartphone, and maybe even the tablet). For that reason, I was not surprised when my 4-year-old daughter thought the TV is broken when, by pressing the screen, she noticed that the Disney+ gallery wasn’t scrolling.

As social behaviors change, digital ones shift with them. The changes we are currently experiencing must be managed, not suffered through. Precisely because, consciously or not, we are an integral part of it. Even though change can be difficult, the show must go on! Whether you are trying to save your business, maintain it, or develop new avenues, email marketing can be an integral part of that strategy. But rushing to market with it can give way to avoidable errors.

So, if you really want to get started with email marketing during this period, I wouldn’t recommend pressing the send button before you’ve read these 8 tips:

1. Don’t send tearful emails

Nobody wants to get another email saying a company’s heart goes out to us in this challenging time and that they hope you and your family are in good health. You are a supplier. Kind, professional, generous, but still a supplier. Stay that way. Of course, if you already have a personal relationship with your audience, some empathy could be appreciated but in general, “buttering” customers up, even if in good faith, can be annoying and seem insincere.

Email deliverability consequences: cancellation, complaint, affected IP and sending domain reputation

2. Don’t hit the whole database

If you are thinking about sending emails to your whole list, your inactive audience may not take this positively. Especially because they have probably already received a ton of similar messages from other companies.

Email deliverability consequences: cancellation, complaint, spam traps affected, affected IP and sending domain reputation

3. Don’t send COVID promos

I know that business never sleeps, but your customers would feel “used” if you only focus on selling at this time, using COVID-19 as a selling point. Perhaps it is also not the most appropriate time to really push abandoned carts and send re-engagement emails with a commercial or carefree tone. Being commercially aggressive can be a slippery slope. Take this into consideration. Unless you sell medical masks or sanitizing products, pushing too much sales right now might have a bad boomerang effect.

Email deliverability consequences: cancellation, complaint, email into spam folder, affected IP and sending domain reputation, loss of loyalty

4. Only send when there’s a good reason

Don’t feel compelled to say something just because everyone else is doing it. If you don’t have a valid reason to communicate with your customers, it’s better to not say anything. In other words, don’t just send emails for the sake of it. In fact, you risk wasting time creating the campaign and only earning complaints as a result.

Email deliverability consequences: complaints

 5. Be patient

Online shopping trends are skyrocketing due to the temporary closure of many physical stores. So, the consumers who previously preferred traditional shopping will be forced to change their mind and make use of eCommerce stores. As a result, inactive users will recover their old/unused/forgotten account and reactivate it and new customers will start signing up.

Email deliverability consequences: having more active audience between your recipients, means higher reputation with ISPs and higher deliverability.

6. Be positive, but not happy

You are most likely about to send a campaign to consumers who have been at home with their family (some, also with the mother-in-law) for 24 hours a day, for the past weeks. As if that is not enough, they certainly receive daily, negative news updates about the pandemic. So, using an overly enthusiastic tone might lead the subscriber to think that you are sending emails from another planet (and which point they might envy you), or that you are pretending that nothing is happening in the world (at which point they will believe that you are out of mind). Please try to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and don’t force your happy talk on them.

Email deliverability consequences: complaints

7. Invest in security

Hacker attacks and phishing emails speculating about coronavirus are also increasing. ISPs raised the alert level and spam filters are more severe as well. If you haven’t done so yet, you can invest in sending securely (which ISPs really like) by properly configuring the SPF, DKIM and DMARC records, as well as the newcomer, BIMI.[https://mapp.com/blog/email-authentication-with-spf-dkim-and-dmarc/]

Email deliverability consequences: higher deliverability and open rates

8. Don’t underestimate the human anti-spam filter

Improving email deliverability can be done with many different strategies, rules, and tricks. What we often forget though is that the human spam filter remains the most effective. In fact, it’s the one that generates the complaints, unsubscribes, or just the deliberate ignoring of your message. More than ever before, we must give priority to the user experience rather than to percentages. It seems the email bombing panic we had at the times of GDPR is going to come again. (Pro tip: In general, never put a panicked person and an email marketing platform in the same room) Please, break away from the pack and don’t just follow the sheep when it comes to your email campaigns.

This article was first published by MAPP. Permission to use has been granted by the publisher.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Email Bounces

If you are in charge of creating and managing email campaigns, you’re probably dealing with emotions that only mass emailing can give you. Once you hit that “Send Campaign” button and get rid of the excess adrenaline with a nice shower or a liberating cry in the bathroom stall, it’s time to go back to the front lines. At this point in the game, it really gets tough: it’s time for analysis!

Put on your lab goggles and get ready to handle the results of your recent massive send out. A mix of registrations, purchases, compliments, but also (and above all) complaints, cancellations, and a lot of messages from a certain Mr. Daemon. Mailer Daemon.

Welcome to the world of bounce!

Why Does an Email Bounce Back?

Don’t panic. Or maybe you do panic… Because every bounce received is a notification that informs you that, for a certain reason, your message could not reach the recipient and this impacts your domain and your IP reputation.

Bounces are divided into Soft Bounces and Hard Bounces— a bit like porn (I’m sure I could have used a more professional metaphor, but I’m just as sure that, at least for a few seconds, I had your undivided attention).

1. Soft Bounces

The soft bounce refers to messages that are not delivered due to:

  • Sender domain and IP reputation
  • Temporary technical unavailability of the recipient server
  • Sending to recipients with a full mailbox
  • Messages that are too “heavy”
  • Messages containing “spammy” words (especially in the subject line), malicious code, and HTML that isn’t correctly generated

Your recipient’s mailbox is like a club that doesn’t let you in because you don’t match the required dress code. The security staff wants to maintain a certain type of quality and it seems that you are not, at that time, up to it. Soft bounces refer to a temporary problem. They are easily recognizable because the error message is often preceded by a three-digit number starting with 4.

But why does this happen? If your sending domain or IP reputation is low, it can be attributed to the major ISPs (Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.). It is likely that your previous campaigns or even the one you just sent have generated a high rate of complaints (users who click on the “report as spam” button). This is considered the most important indicator for ISPs to choose which infernal round to place you in. They also consider many other parameters, including the number of spam traps hit or messages ignored.

How To Heal Your List From Soft Bounces

If the error text you get refers to messages rejected by the recipient server, then we have a reputation problem to fix. Usually, it is enough to send emails to loyal recipients (which you should always do anyway) who habitually interact with your messages, like opening the emails and clicking on available links. This is because ISPs tend to reward senders who take care of their mailing lists, scrubbing them clean from users who no longer show interest in those communications. List cleaning is also recommended in the case of “mailbox full” errors.

If the bounce is due to a technical problem of the recipient server, it is usually enough to wait a few hours and send the message again.

Note: For ISPs, sending mass emails with attachments (especially heavier than 1MB) is a big no-no. It puts a lot of strain on your SMTP server and the recipient’s mail server to download it. As a result, ISPs are a bit allergic to this practice and will reject the message.

Now that you know how to bounce back (pun intended) from soft bounces, let’s take a look at hard bounces.

2. Hard Bounces

Unlike soft bounces, hard bounces are permanent non-delivery notifications and always relate to the unavailability of the recipient’s mailbox. Just like when you break up with your girlfriend/boyfriend and start messaging your old friends again, but in the meantime, they’ve changed their phone number. Friendships must be nurtured. Similarly, if you don’t keep your mailing list clean or up to date, you risk finding yourself without recipients.

But hard bounces can also be the result of an inaccurate transcription from a paper form collected in-store or a clumsy user who did not write his email address correctly during registration (and your registration procedure does not include double opt-in).

How To Heal Your List From Hard Bounces

If you see an error message with a three-digit number starting with 5, there is only one solution: delete the related email address from your list. Hard bounces will damage your reputation with ISPs and could negatively affect your next send out in terms of performance and inbox rate. So it’s better to part ways with the email address, rather than to hold onto it “just in case.”

Wrap Up

In short, handle your list the way you would like other bulk mailers to handle your email address. A little humility doesn’t hurt. You can’t expect everyone to be interested in your messages. So let go and stop sending to uninterested users and focus on keeping new and active ones. If you do, you’ll hardly see bounces in your next campaign stats.

Soft or hard, it doesn’t matter… Your bounces will never go unnoticed. ISPs already know who you are, where you send from, when you do it, what you send, who your recipients are and how they behave with your emails – whether you like it or not 😉

This article was first published by MAPP. Permission to use has been granted by the publisher.