To ensure high deliverability rates, b-to-b marketers should take into consideration authentication, list management and sending practices.
Tom Sather is director-professional services at Return Path (www.returnpath.net), a provider of email deliverability services and solutions.
- Make Authentication a priority. Authentication—or making sure all your sending domains have a valid SPF, Sender ID and DKIM (Domain Key) signature—is critical for b-to-b mailers. Authentication protocols help prevent phishing and spoofing while providing validation and brand protection. B-to-b companies probably have more consumer addresses than they think they do. For this reason alone, it is important to authenticate. Most companies have a lot of Yahoo, Gmail, AOL and Hotmail addresses on their lists, as well as addresses that are part of Gmail hosted solutions. While b-to-b mailers have been typically slow to adopt authentication protocols, there is tremendous value in doing this immediately because of brand protection. The costs are low-to-negligible for authenticating, although some companies will need help with set up and configuring; while there are processing and hardware costs, and possibly management costs, these are relatively minor.
- Manage your lists carefully. Marketing automation systems can create very complicated rules around who gets what emails depending on where they are in the buying cycle. If you aren't paying attention to how that interfaces with the unsubscribe function, you can run into problems. If a prospect thinks they are “unsubbing” from all email but they are still included in nurturing campaigns, this can create an increase in complaint rates. If nearly every salesperson and, in many cases, every service person, has access to Salesforce.com, this can make it very difficult to keep your data clean and in turn lead to inadvertently returning email addresses to the system. Most marketing automation systems have the ability to put addresses on a global suppression list, which guards against that; but, if you aren't using that properly, you can run into issues. Also remember to remove those subscribers who haven't opened emails in a few months.
- Review your sending practices. It's always a good idea to assess your sending practices—especially if you notice a drop in open and click rates. Are you sending too many emails or not enough? Is the content interesting? How are your emails being received; on what devices and time of day? Are they rendering correctly on the platforms on which they are being viewed? Making sure you are meeting your prospect and customer needs is paramount to ensuring high deliverability rates.