5 Questions Small Businesses Should Ask About Their Email Marketing Strategy

By Sue Prigge of CMA's B2B Council

Interview with Maggie Bettinson, Country Manager, Canada, Return Path: hear Maggie talk about small business email marketing strategies at CMAsmallbiz, on October 3!

I sat down with Maggie Bettinson, Country Manager at Return Path recently. Return Path has been helping companies get their email messages delivered for nearly 20 years. I asked Maggie what small businesses should be asking themselves to assess the effectiveness of their email marketing strategy.

1. Are your messages even being delivered to the INBOX?

According to Return Path’s 2017 Deliverability Benchmark , 20% of global email is not even reaching the inbox. Instead, these messages are filtered to spam folders or blocked altogether. While there are many reasons that email fails to reach the inbox, things like sender identity, reputation, and subscriber engagement are major factors, as these are consistently included in mailbox providers’ filtering decisions.

2. Are your messages being properly rendered on all devices - especially mobile?

Return Path’s recent report, The Email Client Experience report, found that mobile now accounts for more than half of all email opens – up from 29% in 2012. As a result it’s key to ensure that emails are rendering properly across all platforms and devices. To complicate matters further, email volume continues to increase, leading to overload for consumers – so an email that doesn’t render properly or is difficult to read on a mobile device is likely to be ignored. We want to get this stuff right, so customers stay engaged and you have a better chance of getting your email delivered to the inbox.

3. Do you know how you stack up against your competition?

Are you paying attention to your competitors’ campaigns? Do you have a solid understanding of when they send their emails, the time of day or day of week, and how they segment their list for better targeting? In addition, insights like competitive open rates and “dwell time” (how long subscribers spend reading an email) can help to gauge to your campaign effectiveness and identify where your strategy needs tweaking.

4. What are you doing for subscriber retention?

Often we become overly focused on list acquisition, at the expense of current subscribers. However, it’s important to maintain a clean list of active subscribers, in order to maximize subscriber engagement and ultimately, inbox placement. Be sure to implement a suppression policy, so that inactive subscribers will be removed from your list before they can negatively impact your engagement metrics and your deliverability.

5. Is your email reputation ready for the strain of the upcoming holiday season?

Reputation is a huge driver to getting your email into the inbox. Each mailbox provider evaluates reputation based on their own formula, but common factors include complaints, unknown users, and spam traps.  These are all things marketers need to be aware of. 

The holiday season is a terrible time to discover you have reputation issues, so take steps now to ensure that you don’t encounter deliverability problems later. Thoroughly review your email list to remove any invalid addresses, and make sure you’re taking immediate action on unsubscribe requests and spam complaints. Also consider removing subscribers who have been inactive for a year or more, as these will drag down your engagement metrics and could negatively impact deliverability.

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Learn more from Maggie at the upcoming CMAsmallbiz Morning Event on October 3!

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Tags: email strategy, email marketing, inbox, holiday, mobile, dwell time, open rate