Three Great Questions (and Answers) From Our Chicago Client Leadership Seminar

Last week the Return Path crew traveled to Chicago for our second in a series of Email Marketing Leadership Forums. These are half-day workshops that include up-to-the-minute industry news on email deliverability and response.

The session was lively with lots of great questions from some of Chicago’s top email marketers. Here are just three interesting questions, with answers from the Return Path expert panel.

1. Are my “best buyers” my best audience for effective segmentation?

Not necessarily. Certainly treat your best buyers with VIP service! However, you may want to start your segmentation efforts where there is the biggest opportunity. This may be new subscribers, prospects or even your second-best buyers. Create compelling experiences for these segments so that they immediately engage and improve their frequency, average order size and lifetime value. In this way, you can dramatically improve the contribution of the email channel to overall revenue.

2. Can I put an ad banner at the top of my transactional emails? Can we include third party ads?

Transactional emails get opened and welcomed at significantly higher rates than promotional messages. Our marketer eyes light up at the opportunity! However, caution is advised. The rules are still gray, but general guidelines from the FTC (CAN-SPAM rules) and the ISPs (who may block transactional emails which have too much marketing in them), is that you can certainly create and use dual-purpose messages which are exempt from CAN-SPAM (no need for an unsubscribe link, for example) as long as the primary purpose of the message is still the transactional message. These include order confirmations, shipping notices, service updates, peer to peer messages, and so on. The FTC and ISPs are going to measure things like weight (how much of the message is transactional, how much marketing?), placement (is the advertising or marketing on the top, in the sidebar or at the bottom?) and subject line (does it focus on the marketing or the transaction?).

3. What’s the best way to launch a new IP address?

Ease into it. New IP addresses have not established a good sender reputation, and so the messages may be blocked until the ISPs can confirm your good practices. Start with a slow stream of messages (maybe 10,000 – 50,000 a day) and keep it light for at least 10 days. Then you can start to see how that IP’s reputation is being reported in services like Sender Score ( and through the ISP feedback services like Microsoft’s Sender Reputation Data Source.

Would you like Return Path to come and host an Email Marketing Leadership Forum in your city? Drop a line to Esther Kim.

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