Experts address deliverability issue at DMA event

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By Carol Krol

Deliverability remains an issue for e-mail marketers, who continue to see messages blocked at various stages: by ISPs or corporate servers, and by recipients who delete messages that look like spam or that are not relevant.

"Anything they’re not interested in is spam," said Stephanie Miller, VP-strategic services & marketing at Return Path. Miller was among panelists at the Direct Marketing Association’s E-Mail Deliverability Panel in New York Thursday morning.

Focusing on deliverability alone will not ensure your e-mail marketing messages get through to your customers, said panelist Shar VanBoskirk, consulting analyst at Forrester Research. "The key to delivery is something that makes e-mail relevant to customers, that balances your business goals with customer need," she said.

The other panelists—Al DiGuido of BigFoot Interactive, Michael Mayor of NetCreations, John Ripa of Acxiom and Return Path’s Miller—agreed, saying the responsibility falls squarely on the marketer.

"As marketers, we can control and manage all the things that affect deliverability," Miller said. Specific recommendations she and other panelists gave included:

  • Make sure you have a link to your privacy policy and be very specific about how you will use the information customers provide.
  • Make sure the e-mail is relevant to your customer.
  • Determine a reasonable frequency for mailings. Even the most loyal customers will delete your e-mail before opening it if they feel barraged.
  • Beware of innocent-sounding words that may trigger spam filters.
  • Make sure your list has legitimate addresses. Thirty-five percent of people change e-mail addresses every year. Offer a change of address option in the e-mail.

Panelists agreed spammers will continue to try to reach recipients. "Fraud will not go away," DiGuido said.

Continued work on reputation systems built atop e-mail authentication solutions will help marketers ensure high deliverability rates, panelists said. Toward that end, NetCreations’ Mayor said the company is currently beta testing a "seal" program with TrustE. "It’s a little green box that says, ‘We don’t spam,’" he said. "We’re seeing a 10% lift in sign-ups on the pages with the seal.

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