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Getting into the inbox

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For years, reputable marketers have followed best practices to help them protect the reputation of their IP addresses and so boost deliverability rates. They avoided specific words and phrases in their subject lines and watched the frequency of their mailings to keep spam complaints down. They also segmented lists to keep prospecting emails separate from transactional and customer emails, and they avoided spam traps by marketing only to email addresses they obtained directly or via reputable list management companies. However, today even those marketers that follow these rules may have deliverability problems since reputation is no longer based solely on IP address. In some cases, it's not based on IP address at all, said Dennis Dayman, Eloqua's chief privacy and security officer. “It's become difficult for ISPs and corporate email administrators to block IP addresses, so everyone is changing the way they handle deliverability,” he said. Figuring out the new deliverability landscape will take some work, Dayman said. He suggested marketers follow these three steps to ensure emails make it into the inbox.
  1. Use the right technology. Companies should start evaluating and employing technologies that use a domain rather than IP address to boost deliverability. DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), for instance, is something that all marketers should look into, Dayman said. DKIM is a technology that authenticates a sender's domain so only messages coming from that actual domain make it through. Even if a spammer spoofs a domain, the technology can identify it as spam and keep it out of the inbox, protecting end users and the company's reputation. “This is a technology that allows [you], in so many technical ways, to drive a reputation based on domain,” he said.
  2. Examine your policy around branding. Many companies don't have policies around what's allowable when it comes to emails and branding. “You might have multiple divisions putting out marketing or prospecting content, but no one has told them which domain names to use in those marketing efforts,” Dayman said. “You want to separate those prospecting emails out as much as possible so everyone knows which domain names are allowed to be used.” In addition, there should be a companywide policy that specifies marketers or others sending emails on behalf of the company can't create new domain names as the practice can water down or damage the overall reputation, he said. “If you have multiple products or services, that's easily done by segmenting the website and redirecting traffic to those sections of the site,” Dayman said.
  3. Evaluate the number tools and email service providers your company uses. “When you have too many tools or providers, you can lose control of what your brand looks like and what represents it,” he said. If you do need to use multiple tools or providers, Dayman suggested applying one or two domains to each specific channel so the right reputation is funneled to the right domain.
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