Monthly Archives: September 2020

Deliverability and Send Time Optimization

Several Email Service Providers, Bulk Email Senders, and Email Inbox Providers are offering a new type of service that promises to get your emails in front of your recipients at the top of the inbox and therefore increase your open and click-through rates. Does Send Time Optimization affect your email deliverability?

What Is Send Time Optimization (STO)?

Send Time Optimization, and a similar technology called View Time Optimization, uses artificial intelligence to analyze your email recipients email opening habits and times your emails to arrive just before the user would view or open their email box. The general pitch is that being the top email or first email a user sees improves the open rate and better open rates yields better click-through rates and purchases.

Does it work?

STO is attempting to predict when a customer will actually check email and open the emails in their inbox, while VTO is provider side technology to delay email delivery until the moment the inbox is checked. Marketing claims for STO/VTO range from improving open rates by 2% to 4x and click-through rates by 2% to 2x Note, improving open rates by 4x is ludicrous if your open rates are near the industry average 21%, so beware of what you are buying into. However, it seems reasonable that being top of the inbox would invoke a improved email metrics, especially in use cases that are geared toward re-engaging with a past customer.

Is STO Worth the Cost?

That really depends on your existing email delivery management posture. There are many options that can dramatically improve your email deliverability and therefore your open rates for less, and some techniques your should be doing before enlisting in an optimization service. Here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Slow your roll – Reduce the number of emails you send to your customers. Consumer email fatigue is a real thing that creates passive unsubscribe behavior, reducing your open and click-through rates. One company realized that four different product marketers were sending a weekly email blast about six different products all targeting senior executives. Combined with weekly newsletters and nurturing campaigns, webinar requests, etc. these prospects were massively turned off to the marketing message before they even read it. Open rates will suffer if you stuff the inbox so reducing the number of times you email someone is in your best interest.
  • Clean out your rolodex – Okay, really, clean up your contact lists. If someone has not opened an email in six months, unsubscribe them! They aEre no longer interested. Continuing to send to an out of date contact obscures what your real open rates really are.
  • Improve your content – Too often email marketers are inside-out, focusing on their product or solution without regard to the actual user or buyer. Your email marketing content should be outside-in: engaging and interesting enough for your users to open, read, and examine your offer. Also, it’s time to evaluate your subject lines, are they gimmicky and spammy? You could be turning off your audience, even if the email isn’t blocked as spam.
  • AB Test your pitches – Relying on old, out-of-date pitches can lower your open rates over time. Periodically AB testing new pitches forces you to reevaluate your marketing and may give new life to existing prospects, increasing open rates and click-throughs.
  • Improve your Email Deliverability Posture – Adopting new technologies like SPF, DKIM and DMARC can dramatically improve email open rates by increasing the amount of your email that actually makes it to the inbox. A recent MxToolbox customer saw a 2% rise in open rates in the first few months just by improving DMARC compliance.

MxToolbox Delivery Center allows you to peer beneath the surface of the iceberg and see the the hidden issues affecting your email delivery – Blacklisting, SPF Failures, missing DKIM signatures, low DMARC compliance, etc. Only with a tool like Delivery Center can you really understand and manage your email deliverability.

Our Recommendation

STO is a valuable technology, but works best when your email deliverability is already at its best. The more you can do to improve your delivery rates before taking advantage of STO, the more value STO will have for you.

The Awesomeness of Plus Addressing

Microsoft recently announced their plan to support plus addressing in Office365 accounts, so we thought we would discuss how useful this technology is. Hotmail and Gmail have had this feature for several years, but with the addition to Office365, the majority of business inbox providers now support it.

What is Plus Addressing?

Plus addressing is a way to leverage your existing email inbox to create multiple email addresses that point back to your email box. For example, if your email is “me@example.com”, then email to “me+a@example.com” or “me+b@example.com” will also go to your inbox. “a” or “b” are considered a +tag.

How can I use it?

Plus tag addressing is highly useful, especially to those of us in highly technical environments. A few things you can do with it:

  • Create a +tag for your test accounts and segregate each days testing by the date
  • Create a +tag for different newsletters and filter based on the tag
  • Create a +tag for registrations and follow the distribution/sale of this tag to different “associated” websites

The permutations of +tags are truly infinite, allowing you greater control over your inbox and emails you receive.

Follow our Blog for more useful email delivery tips.

Problems with MxToolbox? Clear your Cookies

Every day, MxToolbox adds new functionality to the website. Sometimes, this puts our users and customers in strange states with their sessions and cookies.

Why Cookies?

Everyone loves cookies, tasty little crumbs of information that hang around in your browser (and sometimes your keyboard). Okay, not everyone loves cookies, but they serve a development purpose and MxToolbox uses them as part of both our Free and Paid accounts.

If our new features get in weird cookie states, we recommend that our users delete their cache and cookies and re-login to the website.

Deleting Cookies

Different browsers have different methods for clearing cache and cookies. Here are a few common examples:

MxToolbox Experts and Tools are here to help with your email delivery. Occasionally deleting cookies and clearing cache will help you access the most recent tools we have.

Google Joins BIMI Pilot

Google recently announced that it will begin pilot support for BIMI, the protocol that allows companies to declare an image to display in the inbox alongside the company’s verified emails. Google had previously joined the BIMI Working Group to help define the BIMI standard.

View Posts

What does this mean?

With Google piloting BIMI logo display in their inboxes, it should not take long for them to fully adopt BIMI in the inbox. When Google fully implements BIMI in their inboxes, anyone who has adopted BIMI as part of their email delivery will suddenly have their logo displayed in the largest inbox provider in the world.

When is this rolling out?

Google is currently piloting BIMI logos that have been certified by two Mark Verifying Authorities, Entrust Datacard and DigiCert. The exact duration of the pilot and the adoption of new MVA’s is to be determined.

What can you do?

To take advantage of the pilot you must adopt BIMI. Adopting BIMI requires a few additional steps:

  1. Setup SPF, DKIM and DMARC.
  2. Manage your DMARC compliance for legitimate senders. MxToolbox Delivery Center helps businesses like yours adopt DMARC to improve email deliverability.
  3. Gradually move to 100% reject DMARC policy.
  4. Create a BIMI logo and get it certified with an MVA.
  5. Configure your BIMI record.
  6. See your logo in the inbox!

MxToolbox is here to help!

Delivery Center provides best-in-class insight into your email deliverability, email configuration and email senders, including BIMI.

Managed Services gives you access to our team of email delivery experts to minimize your timeline to maximum email deliverability and simplify your adoption of important email delivery standards.

Authenticating BIMI – Mark Verifying Authorities

As we have discussed before, adopting BIMI will significantly improve the deliverability and visibility of your email in your customers’ inboxes. Since BIMI requires a strong Reject DMARC policy to display a logo, your email delivery will be already close to the best possible. The BIMI logo, especially in the short-term, will give you a branding advantage over your competitors and heighten visibility with your potential customers. However, the question is –

How can you prevent a fraudster from using your BIMI Logo?

If anyone could publish any BIMI logo they liked, then fraudulent email could be sent, with some difficulty, that mimics your real email. For example, feclex.com is an open domain that looks similar to a popular parcel delivery company in the US with the right font. Setting up strict DMARC policies and BIMI on this domain takes time, skill and resources, but fraudsters tend to be adept at mimicry like this. If there were no way to verify the use of a corporate logo, fraudsters could setup fake domains that leverage well-known brands and domains. Enter Mark Verifying Authorities.

What is a Mark Verifying Authority (MVA)?

An MVA is similar to an SSL Certificate Authority, a trusted 3rd party that issues a certification of ownership of a BIMI logo. Known as a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC), the certificate is proof that a domain owner holds the rights to the logo image being used.

How do MVAs Verify Ownership?

MVA standards and practices are still in flux as the exact details of a VMC have yet to be ratified. However, the general requirements are:

  • Ownership or license to a registered trademark
  • Registered trademark must be registered in a competent jurisdiction
  • Proposed mark or logo must match the registered trademark
  • Owner or licensor of the trademark must also be the registrant (or licensee) of the associated domain name

How do I Implement a VMC?

VMC’s are not yet a requirement as BIMI is still in the roll-out stages, however, there are some things you can do to get ahead:

  1. If you have not already, now is the time to implement SPF, DKIM and DMARC and move to a strict Reject policy for non-compliant email. MxToolbox Delivery Center is designed to help you manage your email delivery.
  2. Research the Mark Verifying Authorities available and select one that works well with your business and begin the process of verifying your logo for BIMI.
  3. Add your VMC to the “a” tag of your BIMI record. This tag has been reserved for the signing authority.

MxToolbox is dedicated to helping our customers improve their email delivery. Continue to leverage our free BIMI Lookup tool as we add features relevant to VMCs and MVAs.

Delivery Center provides the best insight into your email delivery posture and MxToolbox Managed Services gives you direct access to our email experts to help you get started quickly.