Email ROI: Many Happy Returns

Email celebrates its 50th birthday in October! Ray Tomlinson is widely acknowledged as the godfather of email, sending the first message way back in 1971, followed seven years later by Gary Thuerk who “hijacked” this largely government/military tool to send the first email marketing campaign. The rest, as they say, is history!

In saying “many happy returns”, we’re not just acknowledging a milestone. Email consistently ranks as the most effective channel for marketing return on investment (ROI), underpinned by relevance and high levels of consumer trust.

ROI literacy is essential – we often talk about “selling to power” where the primary issues are driving growth, competitive differentiation, and increased shareholder value. Establishing value means using a different language: economic value-add, payback period . . . and ROI.

But calculating ROI isn’t easy, and this hurts when you need to demonstrate program value to secure budget and new investment. In our most recent episode of State of Email Live, we reviewed this important topic.

Benchmarks: ROI, budgets, and key challenges

Each year, the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) produces a definitive set of ROI benchmarks. The 2021 edition of the Marketer Email Tracker report, sponsored by Validity, contains good news:

  • Despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic, email ROI has grown to a healthy 38:1 an 8.2% year-on-year increase.
  • Because subscribers respond to offers through multiple channels, attribution is complex and it’s impressive that 71% of marketers can confidently calculate their email ROI.
  • Of course, it means 29% can’t calculate ROI, and this increases sharply for less senior roles and for those working at smaller businesses.
  • Email’s ROI effectiveness is reflected in spending plans, with average email budget as a percentage of total marketing budget now over 20% for the first time.

Securing budget and resources remains a major email challenge at precisely the same time fresh investment in data and technology is most needed. While pandemic spending on email increased as businesses diverted resources from other channels, securing new investment remains tough, especially for program owners who struggle to prove their ROI.

A sender’s perspective: ROI measurement & benefits

We were delighted to welcome Melissa Dallek, Customer Contact Strategy Manager at Walgreens, who shared thought-provoking insights around the importance of ROI for their email program:

  • One challenge with email ROI is the channel is so highly cost effective. You’d have to be really bad to generate negative ROI, and it’s easy for key stakeholders to take that effectiveness for granted.
  • Attribution challenges arise from customers responding through multiple routes/channels (not just clicks). Walgreens calculates ROI at a database level, using control groups to establish revenue effectiveness and providing granular reporting at campaign level.
  • It’s important to consider a broader set of metrics that complement ROI. Identifying whether subscribers are acting on the primary call-to-action, responding to specific areas of interest (e.g. Covid vaccinations or gamification effectiveness), and knowing how much additional revenue is added from ongoing optimisation are all crucial reporting elements.
  • Proving effectiveness is definitely helpful for securing additional budget. There’s no harm in being able to demonstrate a serious revenue contribution. Walgreens has recently made a big investment in mass personalisation, underpinned by strong confidence in a healthy payback.
  • We were delighted Melissa confirmed her spend with Validity is highly ROI positive – not just from best-in-class deliverability (although that’s important!), but also from significant process efficiencies like automated reporting and comprehensive industry research.

Connecting the ROI dots: Validity’s solutions

For Validity, delivering positive ROI to our customers is crucial. We regularly talk about our philosophy of “trust your data”, and this also extends to trusting the solutions generating the data. We regularly work with clients to help them measure their effectiveness, and doing so objectively is important. To help further sharpen our ROI story, we retained Hobson & Company to create a new set of ROI tools and processes. As part of their discovery process, Tammy Klein from Hobson interviewed a broad cross-section of Validity for Email users and identified their biggest challenges:

  • Ensuring emails are reaching subscribers’ inboxes.
  • Increasing the proportion of emails with which recipients actually engage.
  • Reducing the time required to plan, execute, and monitor email programs.

She then explored how they use Validity’s Everest email success platform to address these challenges and how they quantify the benefits, identifying five dimensions:

  • Average deliverability rates increase from a 70-80% range to a mid-high 90% range.
  • Open rates and click rates could increase by 10-25%.
  • View Time Optimization improves open and click rates anywhere from 30-150%.
  • Administrative tasks reduce by as much as 60-75%.
  • Elimination of point solutions and/or contracted services saves an average $5K-$10K per solution/service.

Tammy calculated that for an email program sending 20 million messages per month, achieving these benefits will deliver an additional $1 million in revenue over a three-year period.

If you would you like to hear more from our wide-ranging ROI conversation, the webinar recording is available below. Hobson has also written an excellent white paper on the topic, which you’ll find here. Finally, to learn more about how Everest can help move the needle for your email program’s ROI, reach out to us here to set up a demo today.

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E-commerce: How to Attract New Customers with Newsletters

Marketers and customers will agree: data is gold, and knowledge is essential to ensure the relevance of communications. However, the challenge of data collection remains. As consumers become increasingly suspicious of brands, they are less inclined to share their personal information. Newsletter subscriptions are one of the data collection tools at marketing teams’ disposal, as they can use it as a starting point for establishing relationships with new customers.

To work in the best possible way, a customer journey must include many steps: recruitment, registration forms, double opt-in, registration confirmation, and a welcome email. None of these steps should be overlooked before starting a fruitful customer relationship, but how do we know which tools to use, which messages to send, and which strategies to adopt?

To answer these questions, Validity’s Loïc Péron, Director of Customer Success South EMEA & BENELUX, conducted a study in February and March of 2021 assessing the newsletter subscription procedures of 70 brands across France, the UK, Spain, and Germany. In March 2021, he presented his findings at Inbox Expo as part of a presentation titled “Newsletter signup forms, pop-ups… Learn how you can improve your registration rate” (you can find a link to the full presentation at the bottom of this page). Here are some of his key findings:

Find the ideal spot for the registration link.

The location of the registration link on the webpage is decisive. Our research shows more than 45% of brands integrate the registration link directly into the customer’s account. This is particularly relevant for well-known brands such as Ebay, where the customer is used to logging into their account and can therefore subscribe to the program on their own. However, the same does not apply to companies with a weaker brand image.

Fortunately, there are other alternatives, such as integrating the registration link into the footer (30%), into the page header or body of the page (5% respectively), or even directly into a pop-up (2%). It is quite common to find subscription links in a website’s footer, which users tend to go to when trying to contact a brand. For the French brand Darty, the signup call-to-action is integrated into the body of the page, attracting consumers with special offers.

Use offers to motivate data sharing.

Eighteen percent of websites have set up “promotional tools” or “incentives” within their subscription forms, and these can take many shapes.

In the most widely used approach, the promotion comes first. Whether the offer is a percentage off or a fixed deduction (e.g., a promo code for £5 or 10 € of the total cost), this incentivisation can increase the capture of larger customer segments. With the gamification of marketing still popular, the integration of a lottery is also used as an incentive. In this instance, the customer’s registration is automatically entered in a draw for a predefined prize. This approach isn’t without risk, as it could potentially recruit opportunistic subscribers who are not really attracted to the brand or its products.

Other brands – particularly German brands like Lidl and Obi – are far more transparent, clearly stating the benefits of their programs by using creative and attractive visuals.

Collect more than one email address and segment.

It is not enough to simply collect an email address. Once the consumer has been won over and registered, it is important to position this commitment as a genuine value-added exchange. Marketers must go further by developing the customer knowledge that helps them to send more personalised communications.

To achieve this, some brands encourage users to share more personal information. As part of Marks & Spencer’s newsletter subscription, first and last names are sourced, as well as any additional information users are willing to share (date of birth, title, etc.). Adidas asks for this type of data using follow-up emails that form part of the customer journey. Brands like FNAC in France and Spain offer ultra-detailed preference centres where each subscriber can specify their areas of interest. This way, segmentation and ultra-personalisation of campaigns can be used to deliver optimised performance that leads to improved customer experience and loyalty.

Ensure good reception of communications.

All subscriptions result in emails being sent, and email is a highly-valued marketing channel. As part of this trusted relationship, users need to know their data and consent will be handled confidentially and in accordance with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Use of double opt-in allows consumers to be contacted by email to confirm their registration. Validity’s study shows 100% of German sites, as well as some Spanish ones, have implemented this approach.

Once new subscribers are registered, sending a welcome email is a must. Brands should ensure it is sent immediately after subscription for maximum effectiveness.

The spam folder remains a pet peeve of marketers in 2021. Our research revealed that 6.6% of the sites studied saw their first message land in the spam folder. However, some brands were proactive, suggesting to their customers that they check their junk mail and spam if they didn’t receive a confirmation email in their inbox.

The world of marketing is currently experiencing a small revolution with the disappearance of third-party cookies. Email will become increasingly decisive in providing the ability to monitor customer behavior within CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) and analytical tools. In this context, newsletter subscription is an essential tool for collecting customer data in a consensual and transparent manner. Brands should see this as an opportunity to get to know their consumers better. By acquiring data and customer knowledge without having to go through expensive service providers, brands can build qualitative and lasting relationships.

Click here to watch the full presentation, “Newsletter signup forms, pop-ups… Learn how you can improve your registration rates,” or to watch any of the additional five sessions Validity’s email experts held at Inbox Expo.

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On Track for Email Success

In regard to email relevance, how wide is the gap between marketers and consumers when it comes to defining what this important concept actually means? And what are the reasons for their fundamentally different perceptions?

These are questions the DMA’s Marketer Email Tracker – sponsored by Validity – is designed to answer. The report provides a definitive view of the email landscape, informed by over 200 expert senders. This year’s edition is especially relevant as it provides one of the first full snapshots of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on email senders and how they’ve responded.

There are a number of good news stories:

  • Most popular marketing channel. Email remains the preferred marketing channel (72% of respondents), and this aligns strongly with consumer feedback (92%). Highly effective across all phases of the customer journey, email is particularly strong when used for post-purchase activity like receipts, order confirmations, and delivery updates.
  • Not just offers and promotions. While driving sales remains an important email objective, this has declined year-on-year (YoY). There has been a strong increase in focus on “softer” outcomes like relationship building, loyalty, and engagement. These changes strongly reflect the pandemic-induced shift towards more information-based content.
  • Positive trending of email KPIs. The majority of respondents noticed improved performance across a broad set of email KPIs: deliverability, open, and click rates; list size; conversions; and revenue. Meanwhile, negative metrics like opt-outs and spam complaints reduced. These trends reinforce the popularity of the channel described above.
  • More revenue and greater value. Email return on investment (ROI) is now 38:1 – an 8% YoY increase – while customer lifetime value (CLV) has risen to £36.64 – up 6%. Marketers’ ability to calculate these important metrics has also improved, strongly positioning them to prove program value and secure new investments.
    • Increased email budgets. All these points clearly highlight email’s effectiveness, so it’s no surprise to see marketers committing more of their budget to the channel. For the first time ever, over 20% of marketing spend is going towards email. It’s not a flash in the pan either – more than half of respondents (56%) expect continued growth over the next 12 months.

However, there are always two sides to every coin. The report also identifies critical blind spots that email marketers will need to address in order to maintain their positive trends:

  • A deliverability black hole. Two-fifths of marketers (41%) believe subscribers receive their emails on a “daily or more” basis . . . but only one-fifth of consumers (18%) agree they receive emails at this frequency. The 23% gap is remarkably similar to Validity’s published inbox placement stats1 in every 5 emails sent is going to spam/junk!
    • Activity monitoring. Despite being an established best practice, only two-thirds of email marketers (66%) track if customer email addresses are active or inactive, and only three-quarters (73%) treat these segments differently. This failure to differentiate based on activity levels will have a big impact on both deliverability and subscriber engagement.
  • Mind the relevance gap. This “engagement blindness” is clearly reflected in the difference in perception surrounding email relevance. Three-fifths of marketers (59%) believe their emails are relevant/useful, but less than one-sixth of consumers (15%) feel the same. Accurate targeting is about far more than “right person, right message, right time.” Email marketers need much more data – and the right tools – to create genuine relevance.
  • KPI blind spots. This also stems from how email marketers measure relevance. Click-to-open rates are the most popular KPI (49%), spam complaints (9%) far less so – even though they are equally important sides of the same engagement coin. Measuring a much broader set of engagement touch points will mean improved visibility of relevance drivers.
  • Data is the biggest challenge. While more data creates more visibility, it also creates more challenges. Budget/resourcing is traditionally the biggest challenge faced by email marketers, but has reduced by almost 10% over the past year. It’s been superseded by data and technology, which have increased sharply (10% and 14% respectively).

Addressing these challenges is everything we had in mind when we built our Everest email intelligence platform. As the pioneers of email optimisation and deliverability, Validity’s vision was to provide email marketers with full measurement of all stages of their email programs. Everest provides true 360-degree performance visibility, eliminating all the blind spots we’ve described above.

If you’d like to continue the Marketer Email Tracker discussion, we’d love to have you join our webinarTrain Your Email Brain! – on 17th June with the DMA’s Tim Bond and Trainline’s Alex Fadahunsi. In the meantime, contact us here to talk with Validity about how to move the needle on your email program’s performance.

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Top 6 Tips for Communicating With Consumers During a Natural Disaster

Natural disasters aren’t going anywhere any time soon – and unfortunately, it seems like the frequency in unprecedented natural disasters has increased in recent years. While you cannot control the severity or frequency of natural disasters, you can control how you handle your communication with consumers. You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with email? The answer is: a lot more than you think.

With email becoming one of the top channels to engage with consumers, competition within the inbox is increasing. However, connecting with your subscribers on a human level is crucial to building the trust and authenticity that drives long-term relationships and establishes brand loyalty. Part of recognizing your consumers as humans is curating content that resonates with them and sending the right message at the right time. This is especially true when it comes to communicating with consumers who have been affected by natural disasters.

So, what changes can you make to your email program to better communicate with those experiencing hardships due to a natural disaster? Here are some tips:

1. Adjust your email program accordingly.

If you are a promotion-heavy sender and your products or services aren’t immediately needed during the natural disaster, consider pausing the promotions for a week – or even a couple of weeks – while the consumer tries to recover from the natural disaster.

2. Don’t forget about automated emails!

Automated emails are great because they require low maintenance once implemented. However, they are also pretty easy to forget about. While you are going through and adjusting your email program for a particular location or region, don’t forget to adjust your automated emails, too!

3. Send a separate email to consumers affected by the natural disaster.

Let them know you are thinking of them and hoping they are safe. Within the email, be empathetic of the situation and what your consumers are experiencing. During these difficult times, many are struggling financially and emotionally. Be sure to use your email to demonstrate awareness of the struggles people may be going through. Also, note that this is not the time to make light of the situation.

4. Provide critical information.

If your company is providing relief or adjusting any policies to accommodate hardships felt during this time, email is a great way to communicate any updates or changes.

5. Be helpful.

If you can provide any helpful resources, tips, or information, sending an email with the necessary information will help build that authentic relationship between you and your consumers.

6. If this event will impact orders or shipping, optimize your pre-header text to let people know.

This tip applies to anyone that might be affected, not just those in a particular region where the disaster occurred. Letting consumers know right away if their orders might be delayed is a great way to set expectations up front to avoid disgruntled customers down the line. Alerting consumers of the situation can be as simple as adding the notification within the pre-header text of the confirmation email.

Now that we know what to look for, here are some examples of brands that sent well-executed emails during natural disasters:

Publix

What we love:

  • Relevant and timely geo-targeting. Publix sent this geo-targeted email a couple of days before a storm was forecasted to hit to give people enough time to get prep supplies ahead of those storms.
  • Value added. Publix is not selling anything within this email! Instead, they offer links to the supplies checklists, which are a valuable resource for their shoppers. People will certainly buy from those checklists, but it’s not the focus of Publix’s message.
  • User experience. Once the subscriber clicks through, they are taken to a page that is just as impressive as the email. Not only does the landing page provide a seamless transition from the email, but it also includes:
    • A link to check the status of local Publix stores that may be closed due to the storm
    • Various supplies checklists
    • Store locator
    • Link to refill prescriptions (a critical reminder for many who may need access to medicine during the storms)
    • Links to the American Red Cross, Fema.gov, and other relief websites

U.S. Airways | MasterCard

What we love:

  • Empathetic tone. The email immediately starts with U.S. Airways offering their acknowledgment and sympathy for their cardholders who are facing hardships due to Hurricane Sandy.
  • List of services provided. Given the situation of many cardholders, U.S. Airways lists a few of the ways they provide relief so that these people can focus on the more essential things.
  • Creative aligns with the email’s sentiment. The tone of the email is very solemn and uses an all-text letter format signed by the CEO. Using this type of format shows that U.S. Airways acknowledges the severity of the issue and the devastation brought on by the hurricane.

Staples

What we love:

  • Highlights relief efforts. Staples is donating and providing assistance to those impacted and is sure to highlight these efforts. This is a great way to encourage consumers to participate and donate to various organizations partnered with their brand.
  • Excludes promotions. Staples refrains from including any promotional content within the email to keep the purpose of the message clear. This also helps support the authenticity of their efforts in helping communities affected by the disaster.

It’s important to remember that even once your targeted audience has been selected, an email has been created using the tips and examples mentioned above, and you are ready to hit send, this is just half the work. Be sure to monitor subscriber engagement metrics like opens, clicks, complaints, and unsubscribes, sender reputation metrics like spam traps and unknown users, and inbox placement metrics. Validity’s Everest platform is here to help ensure this campaign is successful and the relationship between the brand and the consumer strengthens – even during the darkest days.

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Data 101: What You Can Do Today to Improve Your Organisation’s Data

We all know clean and reliable data is critical to any high-performing organisation. Good data improves customer relationships, drives more effective marketing campaigns, and contributes to accurate pipeline management. However, to many organisations, data management can feel overwhelming.

We asked our very own William Zhang, Senior Account Executive, and Andrew Fragias, Product Manager and Certified Salesforce Admin, to sit down with us and talk about the many things you can be doing to ensure your organisation’s data is of high quality.

You can watch the full webinar below to discover all the tips and tricks they shared, but here are a few key points to get you started:

  • Andrew explained what data discrepancies are and how they can affect your database.
  • We discussed an outline of the best plan of attack to clean your data, including how to prioritise the process for the greatest impact.
  • We reviewed some of the key mistakes that can be made when applying data corrections, how they impact organisations, and how you can avoid them.

Plus, Andrew demonstrated how easy it is to implement some of these business-critical data changes. To get the full details on how to ensure your organisation’s data is clean and reliable, check out the full webinar now:

To learn more about how to improve your data quality, reach out to us today to set up a demo.

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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.

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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.

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All A/Bout Split Testing

A recent Validity report showed programs achieving 90% inbox placement rates or above are 25% more likely to have A/B split testing as part of their overall strategy. However, testing presents its own challenges: what hypotheses should be tested, how should tests be built, and how should results be measured?

In the latest episode of our popular State of Email Live webinar series, it was a pleasure to be joined by Charlie Wijen, Digital & CRM Specialist at Philips, and my Validity colleagues Tori Garcia and Laura Christensen, who provided expert answers to these questions.

Tori kicked things off with our regular analysis of global email metrics. There has been a recent surge in email volumes as businesses – especially travel and retail – anticipate post-pandemic life. Subscribers are responding with open rates trending upwards to around 26%. In turn, deliverability is also trending positively, with global inbox placement rates around 85%.

The torrent of audience questions reinforced what a popular topic split testing is, and our presenters obliged with fantastic insights, examples, and supporting data. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Charlie emphasised split testing is not just about subject lines. Philips has learnt factors like use of product vs people imagery, colour of products and buttons, and even showing different foods for different regions all impact performance.
  • Every Philips test delivers an average performance uplift of ± 33% in open rates and ± 20% in click-to-open rates from the winning versions. Little wonder that split testing is now mandatory for all new campaigns!
  • Tori showcased an innovative example from Dell, where predictive eye tracking was used to test optimal positioning of content elements. The winning version generated a healthier mix of clicks across both email and device creatives.
  • Laura wrapped up with 10 tips for effective testing, covering planning, execution, and analysis. The importance of starting with clear goals and hypotheses, testing across multiple devices, and ensuring meaningful and repeatable results were just three of Laura’s common-sense pieces of advice.

That’s just a sample (see what I did there!) of everything we covered. If we’ve whetted your appetite to watch the full recording, it can be viewed below.

If you’d like to learn more about how customers like Philips use Validity’s solutions to complement their testing programs, request a demo now.

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Opt-in Best Practices Guaranteed to Improve Your Email Marketing

Considering developing privacy legislation, it is important for marketers to understand their responsibility when it comes to how they collect and process consumer data. This starts with a solid form of consent, or opt-in, from the subscribers on their lists.

Your subscriber acquisition process should provide clear disclosure and benefits of signing up, set expectations, and most importantly, ask for consent. These best practices have been used for years by email marketers. Most recently, legislations such as EU’s GDPR, Brazil’s LGPD, Canada’s CPPA, and California’s CCPA have come to define how data may be collected and processed.

When updating your sign-up forms, consider the following information about opt-in best practices and how it can contribute to increasing overall customer lifetime value.

Legislations

GDPR came into effect in 2018, setting the bar for how governments and corporations should collect, protect, and process people’s information. It introduced important requirements for companies to follow, which often meant changing their sign-up pages to provide data subjects with more transparency and choices and make people aware of how their data can be used.

GDPR was designed to protect EU citizens’ data, and therefore contains an extraterritorial effect. Companies anywhere in the world that use EU citizens’ data, whether to sell goods/services or monitor online behavior, need to comply to it. The same goes for Brazil’s LGPD and Canada’s CPPA, which ensure companies outside their territories obey their definitions under possible sanctions and fines.

These laws help stimulate the adoption of policies and practices aligned with important data protection principals and definitions. By asking questions like, “what are valid forms of consent?” these laws are changing how companies collect user data. Also, according to this report by the DMA, these laws are contributing to an increase in consumers’ trust in brands and marketing.

Although Validity has lots of content on making the most out of your email marketing strategy and improving deliverability in a world with GDPR, LGPD, and California’s CCPA, we encourage you to seek specialized legal advice to ensure that your company is following relevant legislations.

Soft? Single? Or make it a double?

Adding new subscribers to a send list is often done by presenting a webpage inviting them to provide your company with some sensitive data. You might be wondering, “who in their right mind would do this?” According to Forbes, while people are generally becoming more reluctant to share their personal data, most people are still willing to share their email address. This is because when you inform potential subscribers of the clear benefits of staying connected and set expectations for what they’ll receive in their inboxes, people will gladly sign up!

The best subscribers are those that have shown interest in your brand and want to stay connected through options offered to them. This is the main concept behind opt-in mechanisms, such as providing consent in sign-up forms. There are different approaches to opt-ins – each with its pros and cons.

Soft opt-in

The term “soft opt-in” is often used when companies collect email addresses during checkout, or when the user creates an account with the company.

The pros of this type of opt-in are that the subscriber does not need to actively subscribe to your email, allowing you to continue mailing to existing email lists. The biggest disadvantage is that subscribers might not be expecting messages from your brand that aren’t relevant to their interests. Messages sent using this type of opt-in are more likely to be viewed as spam, since not every message you’re sending was solicited. Therefore, this type of opt-in is not technically considered consent.

The following is an example of what a soft opt-in might look like:

Single opt-in

Single opt-in is when subscribers are immediately added to your email list after signing up via a subscription form. They’ll start receiving your emails right away, and there is no need for further confirmation. In the following example, we can see a subscription form that asks for authorization to send specific types of email messages:

The pros of this type of opt-in are that it gives the subscriber control and is considered a valid form of consent under GDPR. The cons are that pre-checked checkboxes in a subscription form often lead to unengaged lists, and there’s no way to guarantee the email address exists and belongs to the visitor.

Double opt-in

Double opt-in, also known as confirmed opt-in, is when subscribers are required to confirm their request twice. For example, the following message was sent immediately after the subscriber submitted the opt-in form. The message is effective in getting the subscriber to stop everything and click on the link to confirm their request.

The pros of this type of opt-in are that it ensures the entered email address exists and belongs to the visitor, increases subscriber engagement since they need to confirm their interests before receiving emails, and results in less spam reports.

The biggest drawback of double opt-in is that it requires a human confirmation. While confirmation is a good thing, it requires the user to remember, willingly open their mailbox, and click on a link. The numerous steps this opt-in requires can result in shorter lists, but the plus side is these lists will be full of highly engaged subscribers.

Whichever approach your brand takes to acquiring consent, it is important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each. There will be cases where soft or single opt-in might make sense, but double opt-in will almost always result in the most engaged lists.

Be transparent with your subscribers.

Sign-up forms are often the only place where people will willingly provide their personal information. Therefore, they’re a great place for your brand to make a positive impression. Companies are usually so focused on acquiring new customers that they forget to inform the visitor of what they’re signing up for. Giving this information in the beginning can help build trust between you and your potential customers.

Nowadays people are more aware of who they share their data with, and they want to know how it will be used and what other companies it will be shared with. Here is where transparency is key. Setting expectations on what’s to come brings the subscriber more awareness and helps them look forward to receiving your email.

For example, BBC provides their visitors with a sign-up process that demonstrates value, provides clear disclosure on what to expect from their email program, and includes an opt-in request that requires the visitor to make a conscious decision.

Conclusion

In conclusion, marketers can reduce the risk of jeopardizing their email sender reputation by weighing the pros and cons of known opt-in strategies. By having opt-in forms that provide visitors with the benefits of sharing their data, information about data collection (transparency), and setting expectations on what is to come, companies can increase sign-up conversions and improve their email marketing.

The post Opt-in Best Practices Guaranteed to Improve Your Email Marketing appeared first on Validity.

King for a Day, King for an Email Lifetime

We were joined by Martí Díaz Lorente, Email Marketing Specialist at King, to discuss “How King Unlocked a Treasure Chest of Email Value” for franchises like Candy Crush Saga. Martí was joined by Giuseppe Capuano, his Validity Customer Success Manager.

We discussed the major deliverability challenges King faced less than two years ago and their outstanding improvement journey since then. Key learnings included:

The power of partnership. Martí spoke glowingly about his relationship with Validity. Accreditation with Validity’s Certification program was the foundation for King’s success, and Marti views his relationship with Giuseppe as a genuine partnership. Both talked fondly about their early brainstorming sessions to get to know King’s email audience better, as well as the testing, segmentation, and personalisation these learnings introduced.

Content is King. We analysed the principle of right message, right person, right time. Martí noted the first element is probably most important. If you send good emails, even if they’re to the wrong person at the wrong time, the chances of them still opening your messages increase. This philosophy informed a new approach for King. By acknowledging user individuality and harnessing attributes like location, tenure, game engagement, and email engagement, King was able to start delivering genuinely player-focused communications.

The fishing boat metaphor. Martí likened subscriber engagement to a fishing trip. While a primary objective is catching fresh fish, keeping what’s already been caught in top condition is just as crucial. The same goes for King’s email program. New subscribers are needed to compensate for list churn, but existing engagers require nurturing to maintain high levels of engagement with their games. Martí noted it’s easier to persuade someone to buy again than to buy for the first time.

King’s astounding program optimisation has allowed them to grow program volumes a phenomenal eightfold, while also improving deliverability and generating big uplifts in open and click rates. Want to find out how big? Check out the full recording below to learn more about their “Pillars of Transformation” strategy and the valuable learnings that can be applied to your email program.

 

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