This is a quick reference cheat sheet to keep tabs on your Email Reputation and specific steps on how to improve your Email Reputation through email authentication. Don’t let the techy term put you off. It’s critical you know this stuff or send it to your technical administrator so they know this stuff.
What is Email Reputation?
It’s a number of things. It’s the reputation of your domain, email addresses, shared or dedicated IP address at your Email Service Provider (ESP), your email server, etc. You build it over time. You actually start out in a little bit of a negative situation so it’s important to get your campaigns right – right out of the gate. It’s determined by everything you do in your email campaign so follow best practices or else. This post focuses on the technical aspects of Email Reputation.
Briefly, there are things that happen behind the scenes when you hit send that you may not be aware of. Each recipient’s email server conducts a “hand shake” with your ESP. The server asks “‘HELO’. Are you who you say you are and do you have authority to send email to me?” The server is asking for the PTR record, or reverse-lookup record, which validates the authenticity of the originating IP Address of the email sender by resolving IP addresses to hostnames. That’s as technical as I’m going to get but take it seriously. Seriously! This is the absolute minimum you should have setup before sending out your email marketing campaigns.
Beyond PTR, there are a number of additional steps you can take to ensure greater deliverability and protection of your Email Reputation. Read on.
Quick Reference for Email Authentication and Email Reputation Management
- Determine Your Email Server’s IP Address
- Generate SPF Record using this Sender ID SPF Record Setup Wizard
- Setup PTR Record
- Send the information you collect to whoever controls your DNS and ask them to setup your PTR record.
Get this Email Reputation Management Quick Reference Guide in PowerPoint.
Email Sender Reputation Management
Check Email Reputation
Email Authentication Types
Wikipedia on Email Authentication
- PTR (reverse lookup – all mail servers)
- Sender ID
- Domain Keys
Improve Your Email Deliverablity With Third-Party Certification
Get this Email Reputation Management Quick Reference Guide in PowerPoint.
Social Media Subscription Preferences Could Put a Dent in Email Marketing
The recent Ben & Jerry’s announcement made me revisit something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Under what circumstances could social media replace email?
Do you think it could? I think it has – at least in part.
What normally would have been content delivered to email recipients now appears as blogs, status updates, etc. and those tools deliver the notifications. No news there but I don’t think these tools are sophisticated enough to sustain this method of updating people. The notifications are on or off with little control over frequency or preferences.
I subscribe to a few brands on Facebook but I use Facebook primarily for friends and family. Each time I login, whether it is on my phone or computer, I have to sift through all the brands’ posts to get to posts by friends and family. It’s not such a big deal on my computer but annoying as hell on my phone.
My options are to deal with the endless posts per day or globally unsubscribe. Where’s the throttle? Where are the subscription preferences? Maybe feed categories would work…
Take Mashable, for example. I love their stuff but it’s a lot of stuff. I only want certain posts. I’ll go to their site if I want the rest. They risk losing me as a follower because their frequency of posting interferes with how I use Facebook. All they need is a way to offer subscription preferences. I don’t want to hide them or stop following them I just want to filter their posts.
It’s not Mashable’s fault. They have a large following and post all sorts of things. The way I see it, they don’t have many options. They could create multiple users on each social site for each topic they address but there are too many issues with that. They could point to external email and RSS sources but that doesn’t embrace social networking and takes you away from the platform.
The problem is similar to email marketing’s time line and evolution. Email newsletters, announcements and ads were novel in the beginning. People subscribed to everything they could find. Brands were sending anything and everything with no targeting. The novelty soon wore off, and brands had to rethink their game plan.
Email marketers adapted to the demands of subscribers by providing increasingly more relevant and personalized content. Many are still struggling on how to accomplish it but we have identified the challenge and the consequences for not adapting are clear. Give me relevant content and let me control my subscriptions or I’ll unsubscribe.
Why is social media any different? Put me in control of the things I receive from you or I’m gone. What began as sites for people to communicate with each other with one set of needs is now being used by brands with another set of needs.
Social sites need to improve their communication options to allow for the needs of companies, brands and consumers.
I think these kinds of features are coming. What are the ramifications for email marketing when they do?
Do you immediately honor unsubscribe requests or do you have such an arduous process to remove people that it involves many manual steps and takes weeks?
I get it. Many of you do have a nightmare scenario and you’re not alone. There are countless companies that have multiple sources to pull from and multiple databases to update but that’s still no excuse for damaging your brand’s reputation and your email reputation.
Quickly fulfilling on leads and sales generated by email campaigns is important. Prospects and customers keep the lights on. Quickly responding to unsubscribe requests can also contribute to the bottom line. You literally save on distribution costs but that’s not what I’m talking about.
If someone wants off your list, get ‘em off! It means they didn’t click the spam button to stop receiving your emails as many others do. They actually followed your unsubscribe call to action. Honor it. If you don’t, some will get upset and publicly trash your brand.
Another reason is ISPs get more sophisticated every day. If you continue sending to an unsubscriber and they ignore your emails, the ISP will eventually pick up on your continued sending to someone who doesn’t care about your emails. The ISP doesn’t know that they requested to be unsubscribed but they do know you aren’t keeping a clean list because you keep sending to a bunch of inactive subscribers.
Don’t risk tarnishing your brand and affecting your deliverability.
Below is a random collection of tweets from people upset about their unsubscribe experience. Many are referencing brands. Do you think others will subscribe after hearing this? Do you think they will buy from these brands? Do you think more will unsubscribe after hearing this?
The old school thought that hiding or rephrasing the unsubscribe link will prevent list attrition is not the kind of list attrition you want to prevent! Protect your brand and email reputation by making it easy to unsubscribe from your emails and/or change the kinds of emails they receive.
Tweets over a period of about 6 hours:
Wanted to change my subscriptions but the only option was to unsubscribe. So I did.
So if you randomly receive a marketing email from Carlsberg and you want to unsubscribe, you HAVE to provide lots of personal data to do so.
@Fulcrum_CR haha. I swear i have clicked unsubscribe AT LEAST 3 times on this sodding newsletter and every couple weeks I get another :@
RT @seanprice: how many times do I have to click UNSUBSCRIBE before you get the point?? > Once more please Sean :>
how many times do I have to click UNSUBSCRIBE before you get the point??
Annoying: Unsubscribe buttons that don’t work. Result: Disinterest in the subject becomes resent toward the sender.
Today = Unsubscribe day … Too many worthless newsletters in my inbox. Time for spring cleaning! #Unsubscribe
@tagetik the unsubscribe link does not offer me a unsubscribe possibility
I hate it when I have to type in my email to unsubscribe. You emailed me, you SHOULD have it. 1-click should be plenty.
I’ve been going on an unsubscribe rampage today. If your company emails me, you better have a bloody unsubscribe link!
Do you waste time deleting unwanted items in your inbox each day? UNSUBSCRIBE from newsletters and mailing lists that no longer interest you
It is easy to subscribe for things on the net that send you emails… SO DAMN HARD TO UNSUBSCRIBE!!! ARGH >_< #AshysInbox
Dear Myer, why does it take 5 working days to unsubscribe me from your mailing list?
how many times do i need to unsubscribe my email from the gd KABOODLE email list that i never signed up for??!!
the inability to unsubscribe from TechDay is driving me mental
not happy with @delloutlet USA,click unsubscribe in email,then 2nd time,then again,then check boxes,then finally submit..arghhhhhh
Is it strange that, whenever people unsubscribe, i actually feel relieved because that usually means a hater/negative subscriber has left?
RT @KISSmetrics: Unsubscribe links at the TOP of your emails can lead to higher conversions http://kiss.ly/bkT374 #measure
Don’t disguise your unsubscribe link. Use the word Unsubscribe. Show them which email address the email was sent to so they know which email address to type in if you don’t pass it to the unsubscribe page. Reduce the number of subscribers who actually unsubscribe by creating multiple subscription options on the subscription preferences page to give them more control over what they receive e.g. create separate subscriptions for offers, news and updates, newsletters, etc.
Download this as a presentation.
For more ideas on preventing list attrition, read my recent post “Content Dethroned as King?” http://emailmarketingtips.verticaltraction.com/2010/05/19/content-dethroned-as-king/
To monitor and repair your email reputation, read my post “How to Manage Your Email Reputation” http://emailmarketingtips.verticaltraction.com/2010/03/05/how-to-manage-your-email-reputation/