More Questions Around “Building Reputation and Spurring Engagement in the Age of Social and Mobile”

Posted by Tom Sather on

I recently presented a webinar for the AMA entitled “Building Reputation and Spurring Engagement in the Age of Social and Mobile.”  You can listen to the recording. We had a great attendance, and didn’t have the opportunity to answer all of the audience questions.  I promised the listeners I would follow-up in a blog post, so as promised; here are the answers to your questions.

  • I Use Outlook as an email client.  When I report an email from my hotmail account as SPAM, does that get reported to Hotmail for Spam ratings?
  • When email from a Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! account that is configured within the Outlook email client is reported as spam (block sender under Junk email), is that information reported back to the Gmail, MS or Yahoo as spam?

In both of these cases, the email will be reported into Microsoft via their proprietary filter, Smart Screen.  Smart Screen is used by most of Microsoft products like Internet Explorer, Windows Live Hotmail, Exchange, and Outlook.  When reporting mail as junk in Outlook, the sending IP and content will be delivered to Smart Screen to use in their filtering decisions. It does not work like it does with Windows Live Hotmail where you will also receive a copy of that complaint if you are enrolled in their Junk Mail Report Program.

  • Is embedded video supported in most major ISPs?

Embedded video isn’t supported by most mail clients or ISPs, with the exception of HMTL5 video in Apple devices like the iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone.  Marketers generally employ a couple of workarounds for this.  One is to display a still image from the video with a “play” icon on the image that is linked to the video.  Most subscribers are conditioned to click on this to play the video which will then open the video in their browser.  Animated gifs are another possible solution that I’ve seen everyone from Urban Outfitters to West Elm use with great success, and it’s supported by all major webmail providers and ISPs.  If your video is on YouTube, you can include the link within your email and it will play within the inbox at Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail.  You may also want to consider using a third party service like Liveclicker.

  • Can you embed a link to display an actual map –  Google map – i.e. directions to a retail store? So the map displays and will change in the email?

Yes, there are ways to do this and I’ve seen Return Path partner Sympact do this with Starbucks.   Another third party to look at for geo-location is Movable Ink.   Not only do they do geo-targeting in email, but they also do auto-optimization of your content based on real-time response rates, effectively throwing out lengthy split A/B tests and allowing marketers to test and optimize while simultaneously sending out a campaign.

  • Regarding QR codes, there tends to be real push by marketers to use, however the pick up by consumers has been low and trending to decline. What are your thoughts on this? Please refer to Dave Wieneke’s article in Adage.com.

I predict that use will pick up as more and more consumers use smart phones and become aware of the technology.  QR codes have been around for almost 20 years now, mainly used for inventory purposes, but businesses have been using it to really connect analog content to the digital realm.  For example, a magazine ad can print a QR code that will direct people to their website, or a book may include a QR code that may redirect to further digital content.

I agree with Wieneke that it will be supplanted in the near term by near field communication chips for data acquisition.  Rumor is that it will be included in the iPhone 5 which means people can share email addresses at POS, conferences, etc, easily through their phone. Best of all, the email address will be accurate!

I wouldn’t recommend, as some people do, including QR codes in emails themselves.  I don’t see the point of adding another distracting call to action within an email, and I also get awful images of people taking pictures of a QR code on their phone with their other phone.  It just isn’t going to happen.

  • How important is HTML & clean HTML in deliverability? Our ESP tells us that the way the HTML is created is extremely important in getting into inboxes, but you haven’t mentioned anything about this.

According to our latest Return Path study, content comes in third place after reputation and infrastructure as a reason for deliverability issues.  Past studies have also confirmed that deliverability problems are due to content 17% of the time.  So yes, content is still important, but it’s more about using the right mix of text and HTML, avoiding blatant tricks to avoid spam filters, and well formed HTML.  Additionally, most content issues I see come from third party URLs that have a bad reputation associated with it, which I guess all comes back to reputation again.

Do you have more questions about reputation and engagement? Leave them in the comments below!


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About Tom Sather

Email data and deliverability expert Tom Sather has worked with top-tier brands to diagnose and solve inbox placement and sender reputation issues as a strategic consultant with Return Path. As the company’s senior director of research, Tom is a frequent speaker and writer on email marketing trends and technology. His most recent analysis of new inbox applications’ effects on consumer behavior was widely cited across leading business media outlets including the Financial Times, Ad Age, and Media Post.

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