DMA (UK) Deliverability White Paper Outlines 10 Steps for Improving Inbox Placement

The DMA (UK) recently released a Deliverability White Paper that is full of relevant and useful information for any marketer who has experienced problems reaching the inbox. In fact, it’s likely that 15% of permission-based commercial email messages in Europe are being routed to the junk, bulk or spam folders or being blocked all together, according to Return Path’s Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report, 2H 2009. With more than 130 million spam messages being broadcast every day, ISPs are struggling to protect their customers’ inboxes and differentiate between the good guys (permission-based marketers like you) and the spammers. If you aren’t following best practices for inbox placement, you’ll likely get caught up in the same net as the bad guys.

This has a direct impact on email channel revenue and ROI, which is why marketers are increasingly starting to take notice and work with their ESPs and other solutions providers to get to the heart of the problem and improve their inbox placement rates. Solving deliverability challenges doesn’t always involve a quick fix. It can often take considerable time and resources to address the problem; however, a 95-100% inbox placement rate is achievable. In fact, Return Path has a number of clients who have managed to reach this milestone and consistently maintain it.

Regardless, it’s a problem not only worth addressing, but essential to long-term email marketing success. If you’re not getting delivered to the inbox, your messages won’t be opened, read, clicked or used to make a purchase or drive a desired marketing activity. Optimising deliverability is the first place any marketer should start if they want to see improved response rates and email revenue. Without a plan in place to achieve maximum inbox placement, any investment of time and resources to acquire new customers or drive incremental revenue from existing ones is wasted.

So what’s stopping you? Well, it’s quite common for marketers to be intimidated by the often complex technical terminology associated with deliverability issues. Terms like gateway filters, blacklists, throttling and authentication aren’t always part of a marketer’s day-to-day vocabulary.. And while it may be tempting to offload the problem to your technical team, it’s the content and frequency of the messages you’re sending that is often the main culprit behind deliverability failures. When email subscribers don’t like your email, they complain and report your message as spam to the ISPs.

Co-authors of the DMA white paper, Guy Hanson and Simon Bowker, do an excellent job of outlining the major factors impacting on deliverability in simple and easy to understand terms. You don’t need to be a technophile to understand the 10 steps outlined in the paper. It’s important to note that mastering the first step listed in the paper is truly the most important one: know your sender reputation. According to Return Path research, 80% of deliverability problems are caused by poor sender reputation, which is like a composite credit score for your email program. A low sender reputation is often the reason why you get stuck in the net meant for spammers. Start by focusing on making improvements to the factors that affect your reputation (primarily complaints, list hygiene and authentication) and you’ll see results in the form of increased response rates.

Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on the DMA (UK) blog.

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