Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is Here

Today is the day

Apple just released iOS 15, which includes its latest privacy feature, Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). This has been a hot topic among marketers since Apple first announced their plans to introduce the feature back in June.

Regardless of how much (or how little) you chose to prepare your email program for this release, it introduces a huge change for marketers. Yes, change is hard, but this is not the first radical change the email industry has been thrown, and it certainly won’t be the last. You’ve successfully navigated industry shifts in the past, and we’re confident MPP won’t be any different. Validity is here to help ensure you have the right information and tools to continue to drive results through your email campaigns.

Your MPP refresher

So, let’s quickly recap what MPP is and the changes you can expect to see now that it’s live.

MPP prevents senders from using tracking pixels to measure open rates and device usage, while also masking recipients’ IP addresses to prevent location tracking. It accomplishes this by prefetching and caching email images at the time emails are delivered (provided the device is connected to the internet). This means all tracking pixels will fire, regardless of whether the recipient actually opened the email. Therefore, your open rates for this segment will skyrocket, but it won’t be because more people are engaging with your email.

MPP impacts all subscribers who use the Apple Mail app with MPP enabled, regardless of which mailbox provider they use. For example, if your subscriber has a Gmail mailbox but views all their email on their phone using the Apple Mail app, they’ll be subject to this process. Validity data shows that Apple Mail dominates email client usage with ~40% of global market share, so the impact to your subscriber base is significant.

With the release this morning, Apple users are in the process of upgrading their software and enabling the MPP feature. Therefore, the highly anticipated impact on tracking open, device, and location metrics is about to become very clear. If you have yet to adjust your engagement reporting strategy, there is an immediate need to do so.

Where to focus

Senders acknowledge that the open rate has become an increasingly flawed metric. However, opens have long provided signals for established best practices like engagement-based segmentation, triggered email generation, and identification of optimal send times to name a few – and senders value the metric for this.

Luckily, senders still have access to many other accurate signals that can provide a broader view of the engagement their programs generate. Here’s where to focus to overcome the changes introduced with MPP:

  1. Inbox placement rates. Unlike delivered rates, which simply measure sent less bounced, inbox placement rates can be used as a proxy for open rates. Mailbox providers consider subscriber engagement (whether positive or negative) when making spam filtering decisions. Therefore, great open rates mean better inbox placement.
  2. Sender reputation signals. Similar to inbox placement rates, your sender reputation is impacted by subscriber engagement. So, your reputation scores provide important clues as to whether emails generate positive or negative engagement. Great open rates = stronger reputation = better inbox placement!
  3. Deeper funnel metrics. Metrics deeper down in the conversion funnel, such as clicks, website visits, and conversions, did not go away with MPP. In fact, they provide even stronger indications of subscriber interest than your open rates did. Combining these metrics with your deliverability metrics (listed above) allows you to connect the dots and effectively measure true campaign performance beyond opens.
  4. Zero-party data. There is now a greater need to focus on acquiring “zero-party data.” This is data customers intentionally and proactively share. If subscribers genuinely value their privacy, but also want to receive relevant and personalized messages, they will provide the information to brands they like and trust. With zero-party data, you can continue to have access to valuable subscriber data that you lose with MPP and can use this data to deliver the relevant and personalized communications your subscribers expect.
  5. List hygiene. Regular list validation becomes even more critical in an MPP world. Many senders rely on open rate data to inform their inactive strategies. Now, you can no longer rely on this information to make decisions to suppress inactive email addresses. Instead, you must put more focus on regular validation of the email addresses you’re sending to so you can identify addresses that are no longer working. If you don’t, you’re likely to see a hit to your reputation and inbox placement.

Here to help

We want to ensure you have the tools and information you need to turn MPP into a win for you and your email program. Our email success platform, Everest, allows marketers to measure true email engagement, beyond open rates, to evaluate email campaign success and make data-informed decisions with crucial insights into inbox placement rates and sender reputation signals.

To address the changes introduced with MPP, the team has introduced new engagement features so senders can continue to make actionable decisions based on the data available to them. Everest users can segment subscribers by email client to remove the noise that MPP has introduced into email reporting. Everest also allows users to glean value from the Apple Mail data, as it still provides value for recipient email address validation and inbox placement confirmation.

Conclusion

Apple’s release of MPP is another step in a longer journey towards greater focus on consumer privacy. Although the changes might feel overwhelming at first, it is a great opportunity to reevaluate your engagement reporting strategy and place more focus on the metrics that matter.

As you start to observe changes to your engagement metrics (if you haven’t already), don’t panic. You have the information you need to look beyond your skewed open rates for a more complete and accurate view of campaign performance.

Our team is working hard to test the impacts of MPP now that it is live. Continue to check our blog as we’ll be providing updates with our latest learnings, and we’ll continue to find innovative ways to make your team successful in navigating change in the email ecosystem.

In the meantime, learn more about how Everest can help you continue to drive results through your email campaigns despite these shifts.

The post Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is Here appeared first on Validity.

Top 3 Ways to Avoid Email Spoofing Attacks

It’s hard to overstate the impact of COVID-19 on the email landscape. Marketers have leveraged the email channel to communicate with subscribers more than ever before. Volume has skyrocketed and, as covered in our June State of Email webinar, there’s no sign of slowing down. It should come as no surprise that nefarious characters have been emboldened by the crisis and are getting in on the action. Scammers and spammers have capitalized on the uncertainty of the pandemic and influx of email to launch domain spoofing attacks, which increased by 220% compared to the yearly average during the height of the pandemic. Though spoofing isn’t a new strategy (in fact, it’s been around since the 70s), it has exploded into a global security threat in recent years.

What is spoofing?

The definition of spoofing is the forgery of legitimate email. Although it sounds simple, it is actually a very complicated issue that can stump even the most experienced email marketer. A quick Google search reveals various types of spoofing attacks and how they’re orchestrated. These attacks come in many forms, including IP and domain spoofing, phone number spoofing, GPS spoofing, and more.

Domain spoofing tends to be the most prominent. In domain spoofing attacks, scammers leverage an existing brand’s reputation to trick unwitting subscribers into providing sensitive data. They gain access to subscribers’ personal data by deceiving them into engaging with messages, opening compromised attachments, and clicking on links. Ultimately, each type of spoofing attack has the goal of impersonating a legitimate source to gain access to sensitive information, commit fraud, and/or spread malware.

What kind of impact does spoofing have?

It’s reported that 90% of cyberattacks start with an email, which means it’s our job as email marketers to protect our subscribers like family. Of course, spoofing attacks don’t exclusively harm consumers; there are long-term implications that can be devastating to the brand, as well. The loss of brand reputation, subscriber trust, deliverability issues, and revenue is only the surface of damages caused by spoofing attacks.

Loss of brand reputation and subscriber trust. Subscriber trust is essential for any successful business. As a result, it’s common for spoofed messages to bear logos, branding, and other visual cues that mimic a legitimate brand. This makes the subscriber more comfortable, increasing the likelihood they will provide personal information. More than ever, as an exchange for providing sensitive information, subscribers expect brands to take every step to ensure safe and secure online interactions. Failure to do so may have dire consequences – according to the InfoSec Institute, a technology training company specializing in digital privacy and security, customers are 42% less likely to engage with that organization in the future.

Deliverability. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the potential impact of spoofing and phishing on email deliverability and inbox placement. As mentioned above, customers are less likely to open legitimate messages following email fraud, and mailbox providers (MBPs) may not deliver messages to the inbox. Validity’s data suggests that on average, inbox placement rates dropped 10% at Gmail and 7% at Yahoo following a spoofing attack. The same study found that read rates dropped by 18% at Gmail and 11% at Yahoo post-attack. Thus begins the cycle of lower subscriber engagement and a poor reputation with the MBPs.

Loss of revenue. Spoofing and phishing attacks can also come with significant financial consequences. According to the 2019 Thales Access Management Index, domain and website spoofing was responsible for $1.3 billion in losses in a single year, making it critical for marketers to understand the risks of spoofing and the ways it can be prevented. This figure increases when considering the internal-business costs, such as resources to investigate and manage the crisis, system and security updates, and additional training.

How can you avoid spoofing?

Email authentication is critical in identifying and addressing spoofed messages. Authentication refers to techniques that provide verifiable evidence that an email originates from a legitimate source – it is email’s way of proving the message comes from who it claims to come from by validating domain ownership. The following authentication protocols are the top three ways to avoid spoofing attacks:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF): SPF records list which IP addresses are authorized to send email on behalf of domains. SPF helps mailbox providers and filtering systems recognize the difference between forged and legitimate email. SPF checks are run based on the path the email took to get from its origin to its destination.

Unfortunately, SPF authentication has a few pitfalls in terms of validating the message source. For example, SPF breaks when a message is forwarded. It does nothing to protect brands against cybercriminals who spoof the display name or Friendly-From address in their message (the most visible address for recipients). This is where DKIM comes in.

  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM): DKIM is an authentication protocol that adds a digital signature to every sent email message. The signature is a header added to the message and secured with encryption. MBPs and receiving servers use DKIM to determine whether the message was changed or altered during transit. When a message has been signed using DKIM, MBPs that successfully validate the signature can use information about the signer as part of a protection from spoofing and phishing.

However, DKIM doesn’t tell MBPs how to treat a message if the signature can’t be validated. MBPs weigh DKIM verification failures based on their internal spam filter algorithms, along with other sending reputation factors, to determine if email should be placed in the inbox or the spam folder. To help tell MBPs what to do if DKIM and/or SPF fail, senders can implement DMARC.

  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC): DMARC addresses exact-domain spoofing and phishing attacks by preventing unauthorized use of a domain in the “From” address of email messages. DMARC is quite different from the other authentication methods. It is a framework that sits atop SPF and DKIM authentication, rather than working in silo alongside it. DMARC allows the sender to specify how unauthenticated or suspicious messages should be treated by MBPs. It helps mail administrators prevent hackers and other attackers from spoofing their organization and domain.

The true beauty of DMARC protection lies in the three available policies which allow senders to instruct the MBPs on how treat unauthenticated mail. The three options are:

    • Policy is ‘none’ (p=none): MBPs will take no action and deliver the mail as normal
    • Policy is ‘quarantine’ (p=quarantine): MBPs will send the message to spam/junk
    • Policy is ‘reject’ (p=reject): MBPs will drop the message and it will not be delivered to recipients

Often, senders aren’t aware of a spoofing or phishing attack until it’s too late. Implementing SPF and DKIM is step one; implementing DMARC is step two; receiving, monitoring, and interpreting the reports DMARC provides is step three. These reports are crucial, as they provide insight into the authentication results sent from your domain, help identify potential domain spoofing, and keep track of authorized third parties sending emails on your behalf.

Although digesting this report sounds cumbersome, Everest’s Infrastructure tool simplifies the process into one pretty dashboard. We will validate your DMARC, SPF, and DKIM records and interpret your DMARC reports to show the volume sent based on your inbound reports. Once there is sufficient data within Everest, you will receive a DMARC Compliance rating, which is calculated by the volume sent from your sending domains that authenticates with SPF and/or DKIM and aligns domains with the visible “From” address.

Billions of consumer mailboxes are protected by DMARC because top MBPs such as Gmail, Microsoft, and Yahoo respect it. Given the risks of email spoofing and phishing, and the fact that nearly 90% of email attacks are based on fake sender identities, adopting DMARC is more important than ever. While DMARC setup can be complicated, there are lots of resources available to help you get started. At Validity, we aim to drive DMARC adoption and boost email security by making the process easier to understand, and the data more actionable.

Conclusion

How secure is your email program? What is your DMARC Compliance rating? With more than 3 billion domain spoofing emails sent per day, it’s your responsibility as an email marketer to make sure you are protecting your brand and your subscribers. You can click here to learn more about how Everest can help secure your email program, or contact us to schedule a free demo.

The post Top 3 Ways to Avoid Email Spoofing Attacks appeared first on Validity.

Deep Dive into Sender Reputation

One of the most common questions email deliverability professionals get asked is, “How do I improve my sender reputation if all my mail is spamfoldered?” Before we can answer this question, we first need to understand email sender reputation.

Email sender reputation is how mailbox providers (MBPs) identify you as a legitimate sender. Each time you send an email campaign, MBPs collect important data that says whether you follow proper sending practices. The better your sender reputation, the more likely a MBP will deliver your emails to the inboxes of recipients on their network. A poor sender reputation could mean your mail is getting sent to spam instead of the inbox, which would negatively impact your email marketing ROI.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into email sender reputation, the factors that affect it, and steps you can take to start improving your reputation and increasing revenue.

Your IP reputation is like your credit score

There are two key components of email sender reputation – the first is known as IP reputation.

In the early 2000s, spammers were trying new techniques to avoid spam filters (the most famous being snowshoe spam) and MBPs had to go beyond static blocklists and safelists to curb the spam. This led to the birth of IP reputation, as the connecting IP was one of the reliable parts from the mail headers.

We can think of IP reputation the same way we think of a credit score: the higher the score, the better the chances of making it to the inbox. A new IP starts with a neutral reputation. Based on the positive and negative signals that an IP exhibits, the reputation could either improve or deteriorate.

For example, if the reputation is scored on a scale of one to nine – one being good and nine being poor – the new IP would start at five. Its reputation would then change based on the signals a sender exhibits.

Here are some of the signals senders exhibit that determine IP reputation and email deliverability.

IP reputation signals:

  • Opens
  • Trusted recipient volume
  • Address book hit
  • Not spam report
  • Low spam complaints
  • Spam complaints
  • Spam traps
  • Bounces
  • Delete without open
  • Unsubscribes
  • IP netblock/ASN
  • Second received header
  • DNS checks – A/MX/PTR (fully qualified reverse DNS)

IP reputation is a great way for MBPs to rate limit email volumes, especially during spam runs or DDOS attacks on their servers. If you see a drop in your sender reputation, remember MBPs will spamfolder emails for a fixed time before you start seeing temporary failures (421.xxx errors).

A temporary failure, or deferral, is an early signal that notifies a user when they are having reputation issues. As a sender, it is important to look at both a drop in your engagement rates, as well as a spike in deferrals.

Your brand takes precedence for domain reputation

As mentioned earlier, IP reputation is a good defense mechanism for obvious spam mails and spam runs, but spammers are an ingenious bunch (duh!). They figure there are quite a few trusted IPs they can piggyback their malicious mail onto.

A couple of years ago, most spam was from free webmail accounts. IPs belonging to these servers tend to have a good reputation or can be found on most of the receivers’ allowlists. Anti-spam professionals realized they needed to supplement IP reputation along with domain reputation and look for additional signals to feed into the reputation algorithm.

Your domain reputation is based on your sending domain instead of your IP address. This means that your brand takes precedence when it comes to MBP filtering decisions.

There was also a push in authentication around this time (IPv6 adoption accelerated this, too) and we see more and more email service providers (ESPs) signing emails with security protocols like DKIM and DMARC. Email authentication helped in reducing usual “From” address spoofing, and receivers had a few domains in the headers that they could rely on.

Domain reputation signals:

  • DKIM “d=” domain – RFC5322
  • From address/domain
  • Return-path domain
  • Authentication results – Domain-based alignment
  • ARC headers
  • Message body URLs
  • Message content
  • X-headers – added by ESP
  • List unsubscribe
  • Engagement – Open rates, click rates, click to open, etc.

How to improve email sender reputation

Most major MBPs have either IP reputation or domain reputation in their arsenal to combat spammers. So, if you have hit rock bottom at an MBP, how can you improve your email sender reputation? Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Monitor KPIs.

Most reputation issues arise due to a lack of monitoring. Have a check on ESP dashboard for KPIs like email delivery rates, complaint rates, unsubscribes, and engagement rates. You can also utilize Validity tools like reputation monitoring for spam traps, Universal Feedback Loop, seedlist testing to check mail placement, and DMARC to ensure a spoofer is not derailing your email program.

2. Reduce send volume.

The first step to improve sender reputation is to cut back on the volume of mail being sent. This is helpful at MBPs where IP reputation has higher influence. The lower the reputation, the lower the threshold of accepted mail volume.

3. Remove old or unengaged addresses.

Mailbox providers like Gmail are more reliant on engagement data, so restricting sending to less than 90-day openers would yield better results. This article should provide a good idea on how to sunset older addresses.

4. Do a post-mortem of the drop in reputation.

The last thing you want to do is continue the older practices you had in place which caused the drop in reputation. Check for the source of the issue. Is it a recent poor list that caused higher bounces and unsubscribes? Is it a gradual drop in reputation due to hitting a high volume of recycled spam traps and lower engagement? Take necessary actions like subscribing to Google Postmaster Tools for additional data points, or utilize Validity list cleaning to reduce the number of invalid addresses. Add a sunset strategy for old addresses and put eligible candidates in a re-engagement campaign.

Conclusion

Maintaining a good sender reputation is a continuous process, and it can prepare your marketing program to handle spikes in email volume. By utilizing an all-in-one deliverability solution like Everest, you can proactively monitor and manage all the signals affecting your sender reputation, enabling you to reach more people and achieve your ROI goals.

The post Deep Dive into Sender Reputation appeared first on Validity.

Email Merit-ocracy: Shared Partnerships, Shared Success

It was a real pleasure to share the virtual stage with Karie Burt and Courtney Cope from MeritB2B at Forrester’s North America B2B Summit. Their company delivers data-first solutions for multi-channel B2B and technology marketers, developing customized programs that are built for growth.

The email channel forms a crucial part of MeritB2B’s performance marketing solutions, but it isn’t without challenges. As Courtney noted, “Email is so dynamic and moves so quickly.” Less than two years ago, their campaigns were largely blocked because of spam traps, high bounce rates, and low engagement. Since then, they’ve been on a journey of improvement that now has them thinking of their sender reputation as a corporate asset!

We discussed some of their most important learnings:

  • Data quality. Karie noted that data flows through their whole organisation and having good data “feeds everything,” including email. They are now in a much better position to remove unwanted records far earlier in the process, and inbox placement is much stronger – and continuing to rise.
  • Performance visibility. Both Karie and Courtney commented about not knowing what you don’t know! They see traditional B2B and B2C merging into a B2P (Business to People) world, with regular consumer/business crossover. It’s a changing landscape with changing behaviours, and using the best tools in the industry to identify the necessary adjustments is crucial to staying successful.
  • Expert partnerships. Courtney noted: “Having expert partners to point out what is important is vital and keeps the relationship strong. Knowing I can tap into Validity’s talent pool of subject matter experts is great!” Karie concurred, adding: “At MeritB2B, we very much value our partnerships. We want to engage with world class leaders that care about customer service and delivering high quality solutions.”

MeritB2B hasn’t just improved their email deliverability. They have grown their intellectual property, positioned themselves as true subject matter experts, and are now using this knowledge to establish genuine competitive advantage. To learn more, watch the full recording of our fabulous Forrester session below.

MeritB2B are upgrading to Validity’s Everest email success platform, and Courtney says she’s “like a kid in the candy store!” Find out why she’s so excited by signing up for a demo today.

The post Email Merit-ocracy: Shared Partnerships, Shared Success appeared first on Validity.

For Return Path Users, Now’s the Time to Check Out Everest

Are you a Return Path user who bought your license through Salesforce? If so, we have some great news: for your email deliverability and inbox placement reporting needs, there’s no better time than now to plan your move to Everest.

Return Path isn’t going anywhere

Recently, Salesforce Marketing Cloud notified its clients that as of May 1, 2021, the Return Path platform would no longer be available for sale or renewal through Salesforce. Why? Because we used our 20+ years of email marketing expertise and experience, along with feedback from our 10,000+ email customers, to build the best email success platform on the market. We have combined the best technology from the Return Path and 250ok platforms into Everest. As a result of having a better solution for YOU, we didn’t renew our Salesforce reseller agreement, which is why Salesforce is saying they can no longer sell you Return Path.

Unfortunately, Salesforce used a change happening for them to create fear and uncertainty for you. We’re here to tell you there is nothing to fear at all, unless better email outcomes and improved technology scare you. Since Validity released Everest in August 2020, our team has been reaching out to our clients to plan their migration from Return Path to Everest so they can move over to a superior platform that will help them dramatically improve their email outcomes. This means more opens, more clicks, and more conversions. We don’t want anyone to be frozen out of Everest’s innovations and improvements – especially not our customers who bought through Salesforce.

No matter who you purchased the Return Path platform through, our simple migration program makes it easy for you to make your way over to Everest with all your historical email marketing data intact, minimizing any burden on your email marketing teams. Our team of experts is with you every step of the way.

Everest is a dramatic improvement over Return Path, created with YOU in mind

Everest embodies all the capabilities of Return Path, 250ok, and BriteVerify, plus a whole new set of features never seen in the email market. Everest users get broader data coverage from an expanded network of data partners, with data from over 2.5 billion mailboxes around the world. It means the largest seed list available, covering 140 mailbox providers. It means access to the largest publicly available commercial trap network, covering mail originating from every country in the world.

To fully appreciate how Everest compares to Return Path, you can look at this side-by-side comparison, or check out this whitepaper enumerating the components brought together by Everest from decades of experience.

If you’re confused by the sudden attention to the end-of-renewal date for Return Path, let’s dispel a few myths:

  • No, the Return Path platform is not suddenly disappearing. Rest assured, we’ll continue to honor licenses for all customers through the length of the order term. We’ll work to migrate you when your Return Path license comes up for renewal at a time that works best for you.
  • Yes, Everest works with Salesforce Marketing Cloud – it has since it launched. Our solutions work with virtually every email service provider (ESP) in market today, protecting your data and your investment should you ever switch from Salesforce to another provider, or if you are like many of our customers who have multiple ESP relationships.
  • No, you’re not losing something by sticking with us. We bring your Return Path data over to Everest so you don’t miss out on anything. Whether your renewal date is May 1, 2021 or April 30, 2022, we’ll create a migration plan that works for you and your team. You don’t have to wait for your renewal date to move to Everest.
  • No, you don’t need to find a quick replacement because the Return Path platform is “going away.” Don’t give into a false sense of urgency, because we’ve got your back every day in every way. It shouldn’t matter to you who gets paid on the contract you sign. What should matter is that you have a platform built for you that will make you the hero of your marketing team. Don’t be waylaid by Salesforce pointing you to poorer-performing and unethical partners like SparkPost (some of the tech they’ve thrown together is tech they’ve gotten illegally by stealing that intellectual property from 250ok), or by others steering you to alternatives that are in their best interests and not yours. Take a closer look at what those alternatives actually have to offer and make sure you’re asking them the right questions.

Here’s how you can be the next Everest success story

Remember, all our Return Path customers can continue to use Return Path, regardless of where they purchased their license. To get Everest, the best email success platform on the market built for marketers like you, we’ve got a team of people waiting to help you right now. The process is simple:

  1. Fill out this form to sign up for the migration program.
  2. Meet with your Account Executive and see a live demonstration of Everest.
  3. Receive one-on-one guidance for selecting the right Everest edition for your business.
  4. Reserve your migration slot and gain access to our onboarding success kit.

After your existing campaigns and integrations are migrated to Everest, our post-migration success plan will make sure you’re getting the most out of your system. If you need assistance with APIs, we’ll work with you as part of your Everest migration plan to give you more detailed and personalized assistance.

Start your journey today. Click here to request time with our team – you’ll be glad you did.

The post For Return Path Users, Now’s the Time to Check Out Everest appeared first on Validity.

Top 4 Attributes to Look for When Selecting an Email Deliverability Solution

So, you’re in the market for software to improve your email campaigns. Perhaps you’ve sounded the alarm because your open and conversion rates are dropping. Maybe you’ve discovered you’re on a blocklist. Maybe bad email addresses lurking in your database are weighing you down.

Whatever the reason, you’ve realized that your email tech stack needs an upgrade to get the maximum lifetime value out of your database. Now you’re faced with a dizzying array of alternatives to choose from, and they all talk a good game about improving email deliverability. How can you distinguish one from another?

The answer is to do your due diligence. Here are criteria and questions for evaluating those alternatives so you can make the best possible choice and get the most out of your email campaigns.

1. Good deliverability solutions tell a strong ROI story.

Your email marketing campaigns are a critical channel for your business. Whether you’re a B2C company selling direct to consumers or a B2B company engaging your subscribers, you’re religiously following all your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and doing everything you can to boost them across campaigns. Open rates. Click-through rates. Conversion rates. Your Return on Investment (ROI) depends on those metrics.

At Validity, we’ve seen clients get more messages to more people by increasing their deliverability rates from the mid-70% to the high-90% range. Our clients stand out in a crowded inbox, some reporting open rates increasing by 15-35% and click-through rates by 20%. Plus, Validity helps our clients deliver better campaigns faster by a 75% reduction in time spent on database and list management. Add those benefits up, and a typical company sending 20 million emails per month – at industry benchmarks for open, click-through, and conversion rates and averaging $30 per conversion on a 75,000-customer base – would see a payback in a little over three months and a three-year ROI of 450%.

Beware of companies that build you an ROI story by decreasing the “I” rather than increasing the “R.” After all, you get what you pay for. If they’re packaging their deliverability technology as part of a broader tech stack – or throwing it in the deal for next to nothing to win you over – then they may be desperately trying to build a customer base to prop up a failing technology because their solution can’t compete on its merits alone. You don’t want to be a casualty when the company fails to scale.

Ask the question: What ROI can I expect from your solution?

2. Good deliverability solutions are built on great data networks.

When evaluating alternatives, it’s tempting to take everything at face value. Inbox placement rates? Engagement metrics? Reputation monitoring? Check, check, check… looks like they all have the same features.

However, not all these reports are alike. Your insights from the reports depend on the accuracy of the underlying data. What determines the accuracy of that data? The company’s data network.

Some solutions report results based on a small, limited set of signals. To make up the difference, they may rely on inaccurate, fabricated, or unrepresentative data, such as panel data, to track certain metrics. On the surface, those techniques sound viable, but at best these “directionally correct” results may lead to misinformed decisions.

In contrast, as the global leader in email data, Validity’s data network dwarfs the ones other vendors rely on. Covering over 140 ISPs across the entire globe, our seed network is the largest in the industry, providing accurate, reliable, comprehensive coverage of inbox placement results in 38 countries. We even personalize the data to represent real placement stats for your actual audience. We analyze over three trillion data points a year – that’s 10 billion each day – through hundreds of proprietary data feeds and customer data. We also have the largest publicly available commercial trap network with 50 million hits per day, covering mail originated from every country in the world. By virtue of its broad partnerships with mailbox providers and industry leaders, Validity gives its customers the most accurate view of their KPIs.

Ask the question: What data network is powering your reports?

3. Good deliverability solutions come from technology designed to work together.

With so many different use cases for optimizing your email campaigns, it’s possible to assemble your own hodgepodge of technologies and pray they all work together.

Some vendors of email solutions have done just that. By stitching together a patchwork quilt of aging third-party solutions, they attempt to cover their bald spots to give the impression of a more complete platform.

Because Validity owns its technology, we have control over the roadmap for our all-in-one platform. We can make sure they integrate so we can correlate results across related functionality. Unlike other vendors, Validity isn’t beholden to the timelines and releases of those other point solutions to plug gaps. Having that control means that when Validity does partner, it’s to work with leading inbox providers, such as Verizon Media Group, to provide exclusive capabilities like View Time Optimization.

Ask the question: Which parts of your solution are yours, and which are powered by other vendors?

4. Good deliverability solutions are constantly innovating. They’re leaders, not followers.

Imagine you’re taking your car to the shop, and the mechanics ask you questions like, “How do you want me to fix this? If you could rebuild the car, how would you do it? What have you seen other repair shops do?” Not exactly a way to build trust in their expertise. Yet some email vendors, in a scramble to figure out what to invest in next, are asking their customers for direction because they don’t know what to do next.

They’re watching to see what Validity does.

Validity’s Everest is built on top of the innovation legacies of Return Path and 250ok – two giants in the email marketing industry. It represents a technological leap forward for both former companies. It not only knits together the strengths of their technologies, but also extends their capabilities with competitive intelligence, stronger data integrations, and a cleverly designed interface to tie it all together. Plus, we have more innovations from our roadmap already in motion.

Ask the question: When was your last big release, and what’s next?

The value of a partner like Validity

Using Everest generates more revenue and increases the LTV of your database, thanks to Validity’s expertise, technology, and experience.

If you’re not serious about getting the best ROI on your email marketing, then by all means find another vendor. There are plenty of email optimization vendors out there that will let you “check the boxes” and look like you’re doing something. But if you’re being judged on the performance of your campaigns, then why not get great results and be a hero?

To learn more, check out these videos of Everest to see Validity’s technology in action.

The post Top 4 Attributes to Look for When Selecting an Email Deliverability Solution appeared first on Validity.

What it’s like in the death zone of Everest, K2, and other mountains

  • The “Death Zone” is a region near the top of world’s tallest mountains that earns the name because humans aren’t meant to survive there.
  • Vanessa O’Brien is an expert mountaineer and the fastest woman to climb the highest peak on every continent.
  • O’Brien explains what it felt to be in the “Death Zone,” 26,000 feet above sea level.
  • The human body can’t function normally in the Death Zone because there isn’t enough oxygen at that elevation. Digestion can begin to shut down and some people have adrenal failure.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Vanessa O’Brien: 26,000 feet or 8,000 meters, they do call the “death zone.” The death zone is, you know, a part of what happens at height in the mountain.

You have to remember that a mountain at 8,000 meters, 26,000 feet is the very, very top of the troposphere. So you’re hitting the troposphere and the stratosphere, this is where planes fly.

You’re that high. Humans aren’t meant to survive there. So when you are climbing there, even if you are on oxygen, oxygen is not like oxygen in a hospital.

You’re at a two liter flow rate mixed with ambient air, this is not pure oxygen. The small amount of oxygen we take just to offsets the exertion level and prevents any frostbite getting to the extremities, or what we like to call “digits.” But it is by no means, something that would protect us from something like the death zone.

In the “death zone,” really, digestion starts to shut down, you’ll have adrenal failure, there’s not enough oxygen really to prevent cognitive failure.

You’ll have adrenal failure, there’s not enough oxygen really to prevent cognitive failure. You know, the brain and the lungs are getting just basically the minimum that they need.

I like to think of it as really a ticking time bomb of what you really need, maybe 24 hours, up and out. Anything over that, you really risk heading to a memorial at the bottom of the mountain.

That’s why on K2, I was worried about our team. Our team’s summit was 16 hours. You know, when I’m looking at that 24-hour window, knowing that we’re coming down at night, you know, that was 23-hours. I think that threaded a needle very, very closely.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in October 2017.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Don’t Wait Until Spring to Clean Up: Two Must-Do Tips for Email Marketers

Here’s the cold truth: Every day you neglect to clean your email marketing program data is one more day of damage you could be doing to your email sender reputation.

I said it was cold!

Your email sender reputation is dependent on your following of best practices. Are you only emailing people who consent to receiving your email? Are you removing bad data, like addresses that bounce? Are you sunsetting addresses showing no engagement within a reasonable period?

Email and data are inextricably linked, and if you’re going to start 2021 on the right foot, your email marketing data needs to be pristine. Why? Because competition for attention in the inbox is greater than ever, email volume is at record highs, and you simply can’t afford to be subject to the consequences of a poor sender reputation.

I mean, do you want to be blocklisted and have zero email reach your recipients? Didn’t think so.

Here are the two major things you need to take care of before we escape the winter doldrums, because if you don’t, you’ll be racing to catch up with your competitors.

Dump your bad addresses

Are you noticing lots of rejected email? Those are bounces. They can be hard bounces (permanent, no mail is getting through) or soft bounces (try again later when you feel lucky, punk), or have a bunch of different reasons out of your control. You can look at the error codes reported back to you via your email service provider (ESP) data, and other things like Google Postmaster Tools, to get an idea of the reasons the mail is bouncing. But the bottom line is, if lots of your mail is bouncing, you likely have a data issue. You should run your addresses through a list validation tool, like BriteVerify, to identify bad addresses. To be sure, this won’t keep you from other kinds of bounces, but it’s a great place to start repairing and protecting your email sender reputation.

Sunset your low-activity subscribers

You have consent to mail. Good, very good. But…when did you get it? Are these recipients still opening your mail? Your journey to being a good sender doesn’t stop at getting consent to email your subscribers. Instead, keeping an active eye on your email deliverability metrics is key to your reputation. Look through your lists and identify which addresses haven’t engaged with your email in any given amount of time. The timeframe you use is entirely up to your business goals, but let’s say someone has not opened an email from you in six months. It’s time to either do a re-engagement campaign (in which you send an email specifically asking them to re-confirm their consent), or simply remove them from your lists. If you continue to send to recipients who take no action on your mail, or worse, complain about your mail, mailbox providers (MBPs) will take notice and take action. Even WORSE is if you keep emailing, and those addresses turn into spam traps and send clear negative signals to MBPs. It’s a game you don’t want to play, just in case.

It can be scary to remove email addresses. They can be hard-won and it’s obvious they’re a direct line to customers and prospects. But remember…the risk can also NOT be worth the reward. Even small choices like continuing to mail unengaged addresses can slowly chip away at your deliverability and put you in a bad place (psst: BLOCKLIST). Start as fresh as you can and enjoy the fruits of your labor—more engaged subscribers, less negative (non)interaction, and the peace of knowing you’re in control of your own email destiny.

The post Don’t Wait Until Spring to Clean Up: Two Must-Do Tips for Email Marketers appeared first on Validity.

Accelerated Interactivity Accelerates Customer Loyalty

In our recent “Next Big Thing” webinar we brought together a cross section of Validity’s community—email marketing, data quality, and sales performance— to review the events of 2020 and preview 2021. This made for a fascinating conversation, and one area our expert guests were in full consensus was the rapid rise in email’s use of interactive elements that enhance customer experience and deliver increased engagement.

eFocus Marketing’s Kate Barrett described how McDonalds used an email carousel to view the full range of Happy Meal toys. Any parent of young children understands the force of nature that is “pester power” and the ability to preview the preferred toy will absolutely increase purchase likelihood… if only to keep the peace!

Recently I wrote how the COVID-19 pandemic provided a catalyst for innovation as businesses were forced to respond to the completely changed circumstances they were operating in. Emerging technologies were fast-tracked as email senders grappled with new challenges posed by reduced inventory, store closures (or changed hours), and subscribers who wanted to be empathised with, not sold to!

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) has driven spam filtering and fraud prevention solutions for a while now, but 2020 saw an explosion in other applications, with senders now using AI for send-time optimisation, engagement prediction, best offer selection, better personalisation, and next-best channel identification.
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) was the breakthrough technology of 2020, allowing senders to include components delivering rich engaging experiences by making modern app functionality available within the emails. Using this technology effectively brings website UX into the inbox, with functionality like drop-down lists, carousels, and customer surveys.
  • Locked-down consumers were unable to visit many physical shops, and some brands innovated by using Augmented Reality (AR) to bring traditionally in-store experiences directly to subscribers’ inboxes. MAC cosmetics encouraged customers to use digital tools to virtually try on eye shade and lipstick products, while Ray-Ban customers could virtually see if they look better in Aviators or Wayfarers.

Our expert guests were clear accelerated interactivity will go mainstream in 2021, as companies seek to maintain high subscriber engagement and bring in-store experiences to customers’ inboxes. The good news for senders is that they will also benefit from a performance dividend.

When Validity customer eBay implemented Phrasee (an AI-powered copywriting technology) to optimise subject line and headline copy, it saw a click rate uplift of 42% from doing so.

Magnus Eén explained how Westwing’s positioning as a carefully curated online magazine intentionally mirrors their customers’ lifestyles (examples below), with 80% of purchases coming from repeat buyers. He’s highly enthused about adopting AMP to introduce new functionality like embedded surveys to further enhance Westwing’s customer-first philosophy.

This also highlights the important role accelerated interactivity will play creating customer loyalty by providing richer and more personalized email experiences. Survivors in pandemic-stricken sectors like the restaurant industry have only done so because their customers have kept the faith. Loyalty has traditionally been underpinned by 1:1 human interactions (“Moments that matter”, to borrow from Reachdesk’s Alex Olley) but accelerated interactivity means highly granular personalization is now much more achievable – at scale.

Want to hear more predictions for 2021? Join us on January 13 for our next State of Email Live webinar where I’ll be joined by six of my Validity colleagues from around the world as we gaze into our crystal balls to figure out what the year has in store for us!

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Send Time Optimization is Old News

Let’s stop perpetuating the idea that email is stale. It’s not. So why do we keep pushing email marketers to use the same, outdated strategies they’ve been using for years? The savviest (and most successful) email marketers are constantly innovating and finding new ways to provide value to not just their subscribers, but to their company overall.

If you still believe Send Time Optimization (STO) is the best engagement driver for marketers, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to use technology like View Time Optimization (VTO) to make email a gamechanger for businesses. Why? It’s simple.

Send Time Optimization cannot guarantee your email is delivered when the user is active.

Period. Send Time Optimization is, simply, a best guess. It is not technology designed to ensure your email is being delivered to your recipient when they are active. Instead, STO uses data to determine a behavior pattern, and informs email marketers which time is most likely to be an active period for a user. Can an email service provider (ESP) automatically schedule an email deployment using this best guess? Sure. But still, with STO there is no guarantee the recipient is active at the time of send and no guarantee you’ll be anywhere near the top of their inbox.

View Time Optimization puts email at top positions when users are active, with certainty.

Put frankly, there’s no guesswork required with VTO. Using an exclusive partnership between Validity and Verizon Media, you can use VTO to get direct access to users who are perusing their inbox with purpose, delivering the mail while they’re engaged, making it up to two times more likely to be opened than messages in the third inbox spot and below.

“View Time Optimization truly only delivers the mail when the user is actually active,” stresses Marcel Becker, director product management at Verizon Media. This means you can be assured your email is breaking through the noise of an unusually crowded inbox. No guessing required.

For the senders we typically work with, this could mean up to 45% more views per campaign than average.

“It’s true STO attempts to do what VTO does, but without the intelligence of user behavior, it can’t come close,” said Becker.

You can use VTO with any email service provider (ESP).

Why limit your options by the ESP you use? View Time Optimization does not require a specific sending platform, creating the ability to supplement your current program with new technology and possibilities. There’s no need to switch or be limited by the sending options your ESP provides to you.

Plus, VTO is a seamless addition to Validity’s Everest email intelligence and optimization platform. With Everest’s detailed competitive intelligence, design tools to optimize for different clients and devices, reputation monitoring, and so much more, Everest lets you rely on your ESP to do what it’s intended to do: send your emails, not restrict which technologies you can use to optimize your success.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. “Email has the highest ROI of any communication channel for businesses,” states Will Conway, chief executive officer of Mailgun Technologies. According to Conway, VTO from Verizon Media significantly increases return “because the hardest part is guaranteed,” giving customers “the benefits of better opens and clicks right out of the gate.”

Ready to try for yourself?

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