Sunday, September 29, 2013

email marketing - content is king

this week we jumped on the gmail tabs communication wagon. let me preface this with we have not seen a drop in our email opens/readership/conversion to note; but since we don't have a hugely techinal subscriber base, we thought it was a good idea to do it, especially since our readers primarily open on mobile devices.

the campaign's purpose was two fold, first as a good-will communication and second to drop in a pixel to see what client our gmail users are at least using for their first read. If you didn't attend exact target's connections 2013, then you may not have heard scott dorsey tell everyone that 76% of email is now "first read" on mobile devices.

what do we mean by first read? people now read their email on multiple platforms, and either engage with it on the mobile device or "dog ear" it for follow-up on their desktop interface later. so our finding out where our readers are reading is important to us, thus this mailing.

but an interesting thing was demonstrated to me first hand. i have been doing this for a long time and know and understand that content is king and the key to unlocking the inbox, and that isp's monitor that content too. the cool thing is that I witnessed this first hand, something marketers only get to hypothesize about most of the time when we see dips in deliverability metrics.

let me explain...the isp's rarely tell you why you're landing in the spamfolder. but with this case, I could see why plain as day. i seeded these lists with our returnpath seeds, and saw in the deliverability report that all of the seeds got in the inbox for this mailing, including gmail -which was why I seeded the list in the first place - but that yahoo! sent them all to the spamfolder. a placement that makes sense given the email's message was all about managing your gmail tabs. this message was only sent to gmail users and the seeds, which are from all the major isp's.

this wasn't an eye-opener by any means, but it was cool to witness. it also leads me to more questions. gmail is king of our email list, making up over 30% of our lists, but in our effort to cowtow to the almighty google, are we hurting deliverabilty to other isp's because of their competitive nature to retain and attract users? if we follow all of gmail's best practices, and then add language about gmail tabs to the preheader and so forth, are we degrading our deliverability with yahoo, aol, comcast and others?

it's an interesting question, and one I hadn't considered before. so, on my plate this week is to run tests to see if custom dynamic pre-headers based off "email address contains 'ispname'" can have an impact on deliverability.

regardless of testing though, we all know that content is king, but it's not just delivering the content that the reader wants, but also the content that is isp relevant. based on this one send, it is really easy to say that competition between the isp's for ad-revenue, user attraction,  and retention also plays a part in the shell game of deliverability. something to think about and test out more. what do you think?

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