5 Key Inbox Placement Factors

Iinbox2 have been building and managing email delivery systems for over 11 years, and have worked on everything from CRM, acquisition marketing, to re-engagement systems. The one client question that I field all the time is, “How can we improve our inbox placement”?

The top 5 factors to consistent inbox placement are

  • Truly Opt-In Email Lists
  • List Hygiene and On-going Email Verification
  • Authenticated Email Delivery Infrastructure
  • Well targeted list segments
  • Relevant content with compelling call to actions

To achieve and sustain strong inbox placement, marketers must obtain a high level of recipient engagement. Marketers must make sure to pay special attention to the 5 factors stated above. First and foremost marketers must ensure that they have permission to communicate to their recipients. However there is a difference between “request” and “concede” opt-in. When a user signs up to receive a newsletter or fills out a form to request additional information about a company and its products, then they are “request” opt-in. On the other hand, when a user makes a purchase or registers on a site, they may not necessarily want to be inundated with marketing promotions from the site and or its third party affiliates. This is what is called “concede” opt-in. Request opt-in will rarely yield any spam complaints, and thus protect your sender reputation.

Another factor of significant importance is the quality of your list. I am not just referring to the email address, but to all the details of your customer or prospect. Ensure that you are performing on-going data hygiene and verification of your lists. When applicable, this includes but is not limited to email address verification, postal address validation (CASS certification, national change of address “NCOA”, and DPV validation), contact name completeness, gender, and age. A clean, complete, accurate and up to date list will ensure that you are targeting the appropriate geographic and demographic segment desired. Additionally, a verified email list will reduce the risk of your domain and IP reputation being penalized due to excessive hard bounces.

To ensure that the major free email providers accept your emails, your delivery infrastructure must conform to all current email authentication guidelines. Your email delivery system must be properly configured with rDNS “reverse DNS”, sender policy framework “SPF”, DomainKeys Identified Mail “DKIM”, and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance “DMARC”. These authentication methods let the world know that you are who you say you are.

By taking care of the first 3 factors listed above, you will significantly increase your chances of getting your emails into the inbox. These factors are critical to maintaining a good sender reputation. However, the next two factors are critical to engagement and sustaining good inbox placement.

Well targeted list segmentation will help identify the best possible audience within your list. When you reach the correct audience you normally see higher open and click rates. This engagement is what will allow you to sustain strong inbox placement.

Last but not least, relevant content with a strong call to action will normally yield consistent engagement. Special attention must be placed to key words that should be used, and to spam flag words that shouldn’t be used.

In conclusion, permission, list hygiene, proper email infrastructure, good list segmentation, or relevant content alone, will not ensure consistent inbox placement. However, if you pay attention to these key factors, and follow email marketing best practices, you should be able to achieve and sustain good inbox placement.


5 Alternative Email Calls-to-Action

5 Alternative Email Calls-to-Action

Alternative Email Calls-to-Action

An email marketing message usually has a call to action linking to some kind of landing page. But it doesn’t have to be that way if there’s a better way. In fact, it could be offering a different way to “respond” to your email marketing message might deliver better results. Below are six possible destinations your CTA can take your customers too, one tried-and-true and five outside-the-box…

  1. Send them to a landing page
    Don’t ditch the landing page! It’s still a viable option for your call to action destination, and I’m not suggesting otherwise. I’m only saying don’t use that as your default time and time again until you’ve tried alternative CTAs to see if another option works better. So I kept it on the list, just to be on the safe side.
  1. Ask them to call a phone number
    As old school as it sounds, people do still make phone calls, perhaps more so when viewing your email on a mobile phone that lends itself more to clicking on a phone number than clicking through to a website. Besides, Google claims phone calls have a higher value, stating calls to businesses are worth 3X more than clicks to websites. That’s something to consider when planning out your CTA! If you’re thinking people don’t make calls any more, the opposite is true. Consumers still like to make calls, especially when searching on their smartphones. One statistic says smartphone users are 9X more likely to place a call from the search engine results page on their mobile devices than when on a desktop computer.
  1. Promise a Pinterest board
    If you’re a B2C business, Pinterest needs to be in your marketing toolbox, and especially now as the holidays approach: 67% of Pinners say Pinterest is important for planning holiday purchases. And if they’re using Pinterest when shopping for the holidays, whether for gifts, entertaining or décor, they are using Pinterest the rest of the year too. How about a call to action that takes your customer to a Pinterest board? A Pinterest board can function like an interactive online catalog, and each pin can link to a webpage.
  1. Drive traffic to a brick-and-mortar location
    Yes, even in this digital age, online marketing can drive offline traffic. Think email coupons—and how many people sign up to get email coupons they use offline. In fact, they might have subscribed to your emails in the first place just to get coupons they can use in your physical stores. The call to action might link to a store finder or to coupons they can redeem in person, or perhaps the call to action is to attend an exclusive at the store.
  1. Speaking of coupons…
    A coupon is a viable call to action destination. And coupons are still extremely popular in this digital age! Check out this ultimate list of coupon statistics for proof. Even Millennials are using coupons. Coupons can be used in a brick-and-mortar store or when shopping online. They can be printed on paper or used on a mobile device. In fact, the redemption rate for mobile coupons is sometimes 10X that of a paper coupon.
  1. Suggest they engage in dialog
    A call to action doesn’t have to lead directly to a sale. It can lead to deeper engagement instead—which ultimately increases the likelihood of a sale. You can do this by using your call to action to drive people to Facebook, Twitter or another popular social media platform to join in a dialog or at least follow it. Asking subscribers to share photos on Instagram or Flickr is another way to engage.

Which Alt-CTA might work for your business? Only testing will tell. It could be it’s a mix that generates the highest level of response (and ROI). Be careful with including too many calls to action in one email, however, as there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. One resource says emails with only one call to action performed better with increased clicks 371% and sales 1671%. But maybe a link to a landing page combined with a phone number works, or perhaps your email messages alternate their alternative CTAs. Testing will tell you what works and then you’ll have no alternative but to increase your ROI!

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark,  BlackBox, and other nifty email marketing products.
5 Alternative Email Calls-to-Action