Takeaways from our DMA Webinar, A Journey to the Inbox

The journey to the inbox is just that – an adventure, not just a destination. Deliverability is hard; it’s part science, part dark arts, and full-time challenge! Getting a better understanding of how over 200 email marketers think about email deliverability, be it challenges, best practices, strategies, and budgets, led to new a report called “Email Deliverability 2020 – A Journey to the Inbox,” in partnership with the DMA.

The report was launched at a hugely successful webinar, which attracted more than 600 registrants.

Tim Bond, head of insight at the DMA, kicked proceedings off with a review of the key findings from the report, including:

  • The single biggest factor impacting on deliverability is poor data quality.
  • The most important deliverability best practice is compliance with laws/industry standards.
  • E-receipts are now the second biggest driver of email acquisition.
  • The average proportion of email budget spent on deliverability is 23%.
  • 91% of respondents made a clear connection between deliverability and financial performance.

Steve Lunniss, head of CRM at Wowcher, then shared a powerful set of insights explaining why many of the report findings are critical to the performance of his email programs. Steve’s guidance included:

  • Fundamentals for good deliverability should include:
    • Validating all addresses at point of sign-up
    • Implementing all forms of authentication (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC).
    • Publishing List Unsubscribe records in all email headers.
    • Operating an aggressive “sunsetting” policy.
    • Getting your program Certified!
  • Good deliverability is a function of good engagement. Optimise subscriber experience by:
    • Providing a preference centre offering real choices around content and frequency.
    • Implementing split-testing programs, including leveraging AI solutions like Phrasee.
    • Making the opt-out process highly visible and easy to use.
  • Measure your program performance using as many different data points as possible:
    • ESP reporting
    • ISP feedback loops
    • Google Postmaster
    • Microsoft SNDS
    • Third-party deliverability insight solutions (such as Validity for Email)

A lively panel discussion where we were also joined by Kate Barrett, founder of eFocus Marketing, covered a range of questions:

  • Many email marketers still don’t understand the difference between delivery (bounce rate) and deliverability (inbox placement) – a classic case of “can’t measure it, can’t manage it.”
  • Email pre-headers are important engagement drivers. Smart senders use them to complement subject lines, increasing the real estate, and strengthening the call to action.
  • During the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen positive implications for deliverability, despite the spate of mass mailings when lockdown first began. Partly because the mass shift toward working from home meant subscribers have had greater flexibility around when to engage with their emails. We’ve also seen a big swing toward more afternoon sends, and inbox placement rates for these are 5% higher than for morning sends. We’ve also seen subscribers reverting to more traditional devices (desktops/laptops).
  • “List bombing” is an important cause of blocklisting. This is a form of cyber-attack where bots are used to submit an email address on hundreds of forms simultaneously, often to obscure a hacking attempt.
  • A robust sunsetting policy should probably use “last click through” as its measure of recency. Open rates as a metric can be skewed by factors such as image enablement/disablement and image caching.

The “Email Deliverability 2020 – A Journey to the Inboxreport is going to prove an important resource as Validity and the DMA help marketers optimize their program performance, and we’re going to be talking about it a lot more over the next few months. Depending on where you are in the world, put the following dates in your calendar:

  • June 17 (Australia): We’ll review the findings from the report, and then investigate how Australian senders can narrow the gap between understanding deliverability best practices and implementing them, and how this plays into a good email deliverability strategy (sign up here).
  • June 30 (UK/EMEA): Tim Bond from the DMA will return to present the findings from the report, and we’ll also be looking some of them through a retail-focused lens. We’ll also be presenting some brand-new Google analytics research showing the vital role email plays in delivering traffic to retail websites. We’ll also be hearing from Westwing as they explain how these insights map onto their own sending activity (sign up here soon).

We’re really excited about using the findings from our report to help senders move the needle on their deliverability performance, maximizing inbox placement, and driving greater ROI from their programs.

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