Increase in spam makes email marketing more complex
Most companies only send emails to customers who have specifically opted into email marketing programs. However, there are some businesses that do send spam. Additionally, a number of computer hackers and other fraudulent internet users also send unsolicited messages to users. This has caused Internet Solution Providers (ISP) to crack down on spam, which may result in some messages from legitimate businesses being filtered into the void.
Given the more challenging email climate, it's crucial that small business owners establish a reliable sender reputation. This will minimize the chances of a company being filtered by ISPs and help entrepreneurs get their products and services in front of a broader audience. According to a recent study conducted by Return Path, email senders with a reputation score between 91 and 100 had 95 percent of their messages delivered, compared with a slim 68 percent of those with scores less than 80.
The growing threat of spam and the rising relevance of reputation
Spam, as Return Path defines it, are messages that are blocked before they ever reach the intended target. These are messages that never should have been sent, and no ISP worth its weight in gold should ever allow these emails to make it through to its users' inboxes.
Despite that, spam accounts for as much as 85 percent of all emails exchanged globally. While spam levels have risen and fallen over the years, they are generally increasing. More than 30 million spam emails were sent per day as of 2011 and while nearly 20 million were blocked, upward of 10 million made their way to end users.
As a result, ISPs are tightening their spam blocking algorithms and are placing a greater emphasis on sender reputation. There are three key threats to a small business' sender reputation:
1. Complaints: Every time users mark a message as being spam or complain to their ISP about the messages sent to a customer, the company's reputation takes a hit. After enough complaints are logged, ISPs will seriously consider filtering any messages from a business – obviously this outcome needs to be avoided.
2. Unknown users: When consumers are forced to sign up for a newsletter to access content on a small business website, they may use a fake email address if they aren't genuinely interested in providing their contact information. This can lead to messages being sent to illegitimate email addresses that bounce. This sets off a flag for ISPs that suggests a business may be spamming people.
3. Spam traps: Sometimes ISPs set up email addresses that are decoys. They don't willfully sign up to receive any content from companies, but if businesses end up sending messages to these accounts, that acts as yet another signal that entrepreneurs may be engaging in less than ideal email marketing practices.
Fine-tune your email lists with transparency
The best way to ensure your reputation doesn't take a hit is by simply being more transparent with your email marketing. Whether you use an email sign-up field on your small business website or collect your customers email addresses, recipients should always know they are opting into an email marketing campaign – there need to be no surprises, or else you may end up with unhappy subscribers.
"Transparency means recipients know you are who you claim to be," adds ClickZ.
How do you ensure your emails are arriving on target? How do you prevent your messages from being reported as spam?This entry was posted in Email Marketing, Intermediate. Bookmark the permalink.