For the last 20 years, email marketing has been considered “free” marketing. The monetary costs to send an individual email have been negligible: once an email address is legally obtained, your marketing team can send all sorts of emails to that address with the only costs being the creative assets, the pitch and the price of the email marketing tool. With the main expense being the cost of getting the email address legitimately, you could try every pitch in your playbook until something sticks, right?
Unfortunately, recipients and inbox providers are looking for relevant, engaging content. Hammering away at any random pitch is now jokingly referred to as “spamming”. Let’s look at some of the costs and issues MxToolbox Experts see on a daily basis with our customers.
Note: DMARC compliance has ZERO influence on any of these issues. Being DMARC compliant and using a DMARC reporting service like MxToolbox Delivery Center is a minimum for email delivery. This article is about best (and worst) practices in email marketing.
Simply put – sending too many irrelevant emails to the same people until they are bored and tired of it. Eventually, they will unsubscribe or mark you as spam. At that point, you are done with that recipient.
For example: We worked with a company where every Product team wanted to target the CEO as a key decision maker. The customer sent weekly campaigns for each of their five products, so essentially a daily drip to the most important client. How long was it before the targets unsubscribed? (By the way, don’t expect C-level people to read non-targeted, non-customized email.)
The cost of email fatigue is an unsubscribe, a lost ear/eye for your products that could be relevant to the recipient. If you think you have something relevant to say, shouldn’t you say it first? Don’t use a shotgun approach, try a single, targeted shot.
Similar to email fatigue, recipients get tired of seeing emails that do not reflect their interaction with the brand. Typically, these are poorly targeted emails, emails off brand or offensive. Over time they stop doing business with your brand entirely.
Every week, I receive at least five emails from a major US retailer. Most of the email is “we have a sale!!!”, but it is completely generic and requires me to click on one of thirty links to do a search on their site to see if there is anything that interests me. I don’t. Why don’t they use their extensive history of my purchases to highlight at least one sale item I might buy? Why don’t they use my age and location to suggest purchases? It’s lazy and poor marketing and makes me concerned for the long-term of that company.
The cost of brand erosion is complete turn-off to the brand. This can lead past casual boycott to negative promotion to others.
When a recipient unsubscribes, it’s a clear signal that they no longer want marketing emails from you. However, users often unsubscribe by stealth – basically ignoring your messages by deleting them or marking them as read. This is a sign of email fatigue or brand erosion, but it’s subtle and you have lost connection to a potential buyer. They don’t hate you enough to unsubscribe, but, no longer pay attention to you.
By looking at open rates for individuals, you can see those that have tuned you out. Pull them from your lists for a while or revisit your campaign settings to find relevant content to reengage them.
Recently, MxToolbox has seen a spike in customers complaining that all their email is marked as spam. This is a symptom of Domain Burnout and can be for one or multiple inbox providers. Unfortunately, this domain is now tainted and may become permanently banned, unless corrected quickly.
In an attempt to make email relevant to their users, Inbox Providers developed algorithms that look at email volume by sending domain and the volume of email marked as spam. At a certain ratio, an entire email campaign is considered spam. Overtime, if this continues, the entire domain will be considered a source of spam and dumped in the spam folder.
We typically see this with domains that send large volumes of unsolicited email. However, as Inbox Providers clamp down on spam, we feel this is a significant risk for all small and medium sized businesses. Whether you are buying lists to get your business started or using old lists, care must be taken to limit the amount of email sent to suspect lists. Sending large amounts of unsolicited, or semi-consensual email will impact your domain’s reputation.
MxToolbox Expert Take
Email is not a free commodity. Every email address you receive has value and should be treated with respect. Mistreatment of an email address leads to poor email delivery and negative consequences for your brand. Take care to target your marketing, be careful with the volume, make your copy relevant and be mindful of the age of your email addresses. Remember for B2B contacts, people change jobs every 3-5 years.
Your email configuration should always be carefully configured and controlled. SPF, DKIM and DMARC are minimum requirements for email delivery. Use a DMARC reporting service like MxToolbox Delivery Center to ensure peak email deliverability. And, read our Blog to keep up to date with email trends.