Worried About Deliverability? Focus on Relevance

 Stephanie Miller 

Whenever I sit down to write about relevance, I find myself thinking “Is this a new idea? Don’t marketers already know this? They must get the basics by now, right?”

Unfortunately, the answer appears to be a resounding “No!” Last week JupiterResearch released its 2008 Email Marketer’s Buyers Guide and, as Direct Magazine columnist Ken Magill points out, the news isn’t very good. The top criteria marketers use when choosing an ESP are deliverability and price. That is good news – as deliverability is the single most contributing factor to earning higher revenue. And keeping costs down also helps the bottom line.

However, as the report itself points out, looking to your ESP to solve your deliverability is completely misplaced. The majority of deliverability failures are caused by the actions of the marketer. JupiterResearch highlights poor list hygiene practices, but it’s actually much more than that. In fact, some of the top drivers of poor deliverability include:

  • Sloppy data collection
  • Weak permission
  • Uninspired design
  • Boring content
  • Untargeted offers

In short, sending email of no value to people who don’t want it leads to spam complaints. And sending email of no value to your subscribers time and time again will limit your channel revenue opportunity and churn your file. You may see sales with every campaign, but you won’t see growth over time and you will have to pay more to acquire new subscribers to replace the ones who are so tired of valueless emails that they unsubscribe or ignore your messages.

We all know that complaints result in a poor sender reputation. This leads to blocking and filtering. And not one of these levers is controlled by the ESP.

The JupiterResearch report was striking in how it outlined marketers lack of desire to bring their programs to the next level. The report found that just slightly more than half of marketers surveyed were interested in dynamic content. Only 35% were interested in campaign triggering capabilities. This breaks my heart! These are exactly the kinds of features that will – coupled with smart strategy – make a program really sing.

The truth is that sending as much email as possible at the lowest possible price is not a strategy that will win the day. Sending smart, valuable, relevant email to recipients who truly want it will. A new ESP isn’t going to get you there. You need a sound strategy, then you can choose the ESP that can help you execute it. My colleague Ken Takahashi outlines how to define that strategy.

If you are ready to stop sending more email and ready to start sending smarter email, but aren’t sure how to get there, drop me a line. I’d be happy to help. As my three year old niece says, “You can do it!”

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About Stephanie Miller

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