Delivery Essentials, Industry Updates

Deliverability and open rates

In this week’s Only Influencers newsletter, Gretchen Scheiman of L5 Direct provides 5 steps for marketers to follow to improve open rates. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking it out for some sound advice on how to drive higher open rates. (Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.)

There are a lot of things I like in this article – primarily, I appreciate calling out poor content and lack of targeting as major factors in open rates. I’ve seen so many marketers make an immediate assumption that any dip in open rates is attributable to delivery problems – and they’re often wrong. Poor inbox delivery is likely to negatively impact open rates, without a doubt. But if you’re not sending the right content to the right people at the right time, they’re less likely to open no matter where the message ends up.

With that said, there is one fundamental disagreement I felt compelled to point out. In discussing list acquisition, the article calls out best practices for using purchased lists. While purchased lists may still be fairly prevalent, especially among B2B senders, avoiding these lists should be the number 1 suggestion to remedy poor open rates. Mailing to purchased lists has been shown time and time again to generate poor ROI and low open rates. It increases your chances of spam complaints and traps, and is actually illegal in Canada.

If you are seeing low open rates, the first thing on the chopping block should be any purchased lists. Once that’s done, you will be able to focus on better content, targeting, and re-engagement of your valuable internal database.

– BG

 

Delivery Essentials

The persistent lie of “targeted” purchased lists

ecto1aIn recent days, I’ve noticed a few missed calls from an unfamiliar phone number based out in Southern California’s beautiful San Fernando Valley. Once or twice I’ve even answered but there was no one on the other end. Today, I finally got to speak with the man behind these mysterious phone calls.

“Hello Mr. Bradley, this is [mumbled] from [mumbled] and we have many databases of qualified leads. I’d love to go ahead and send over some samples. Do you do any email marketing?”

I understand Mr. Mumbles has a job to do, so I didn’t want to be too hard on him. I politely (but somewhat incredulously) informed him that I was in fact the person in charge of making sure purchased leads don’t get sent through our system, and that it was best for all parties if he kindly removed us from his database.

We could simply laugh this off as poor targeting, but think about it in a different perspective: what if you bought this list? What if you sent me an unsolicited email as a result? Not only did he have me in his database, but he didn’t know if I did email marketing – even though he called me on a phone number owned by an ESP! If he has my details in that list, it’d be a smart bet he also has the contact details of others in the anti-abuse and deliverability industry, and probably more than a few spam trap addresses.

But my list broker is different!

Unfortunately, they’re not.

Think about your in-house contact database – customers, paid members, newsletter subscribers, and others. How large is that list? And what did it cost you to acquire that list? Now, let’s ask the most pertinent question: would you sell it?

You likely answered “no” to that question, but if you didn’t, what price would be adequate to profit from selling your list? To compensate for the time and effort you put into building that list, you’d have to see a pretty high premium, right?

Why would any list broker be willing to sell a much larger list for a smaller fee? If the list is as qualified and targeted as they claim, surely they had to expend significant resources to acquire it – does the cost reflect that?

The sad truth is that even the most reputable list vendor is selling a list of indeterminate origin, and full of people who have never even heard of you. They didn’t ask for your emails and – if they’re even a real person – they will be far more likely to report you as spam than actually buy your product or service. Recent statistics put the response rate of emails sent to purchased lists at just over 1 percent. Is that worth the potential of trashing your sender reputation and seeing mail to your confirmed subscribers delivered to the spam folder or outright blocked?

– BG