Engagement-based Spam Filtering

If you're at all like me, you've signed up to get emails from a ton of different websites. Some are promotional (Banana Republic, Roku), some are notifications (LinkedIn, Facebook), and some are newsletters (my high school and college), but I get so busy with life and work that I don't open most of them.  Well, it turns out that Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc are paying attention, and those emails will start going directly to my spam folder if I don't regularly engage (open/click) with them.

This is what the email marketing industry calls Engagement-based Spam Filtering:  

"Email inbox providers, such as Yahoo!, Gmail and Hotmail, increasingly use engagement metrics such as opens and clicks to determine if messages are wanted," Tom Sather, senior director of email research for email deliverability and security company Return Path, told The Magill Report in February. To a consumer, this might be great news, as email providers get smarter at only filling my inbox with emails I really want. To a lazy email marketer, this is bad news.

What does this mean for you? It's time to get your content relevant, personalized and interesting to your subscribers! The holidays are coming in 4.5 short months, and if you don't get your email marketing program in order today, your sales will suffer come November and December. The ISPs respond to patterns, and you still have time to build a pattern of healthy behavior with your subscribers. If you fail to act on this today, you won't reach the inbox this December when it matters most.

Best practices to help the retail email marketer get personal:

  • Create a three part Post Purchase Welcome Series for a first time buyer.
  • Send product recommendations of complimentary items. See a great example here.
  • Reward your Best Customers with special offers and a "Thank You" from the company president.
  • Segment customers based on the brand or category of their previous purchases. Read how GolfeTail segmented left-handed golfers.

What's the most important lesson from this blog post? Start now. Seriously. You can't wait until November to decide it's time to segment and personalize. If you don't, you might be eating Spam for Christmas dinner.

For more from the interview with Tom Sather at ReturnPath, check out the Magill Report.


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