The Unusual Relationship Between Deliverability and Romance

We work in crowded marketplaces. Competition is ever present and it can sometimes feel like a never-ending uphill battle to attract new customers. Companies put a lot of effort into customer service, but what really matters most is making a good first impression. You only get one chance to convince a prospect—and nobody can afford to lose out on that potential revenue. The first interaction is crucial for gaining their interest. Don’t get it wrong!

Knowing how vital building an email list is for business, I was really surprised how complacent some companies seem to be about losing a huge number of potential customers. Special occasions like Valentine’s Day, the day of love and romance, are a major opportunity for marketers. I’ve always thought that, especially in the case of online florists, this day is crucial. But maybe I was wrong…

A well-known, online florist in our region prohibits their prospects from signing up with Yahoo or Microsoft addresses. Prospects are told that both mailbox providers regularly block their messages and they’re asked to sign-up instead with an email address provided by a local Internet Service Provider.

Here is the sign-up form:

If subscribers attempt to sign up with an Outlook or Yahoo address, they receive the following pop-up window:

Imagine this scenario: “Sorry honey, I really wanted to send you flowers, but the online shop would not accept my email address! I couldn’t sign up and now it’s too late to send you flowers. But I do love you!”.

We all know from our own experience that online consumers are far from patient. Research has also shown that whenever people have a less-than-favorable online experience, they fault the company immediately and simply move on to a competitor.

Put yourself in the position of the prospect; being asked for an alternative email address is unlikely to convince you to stay. What if you just simply have no other address? It’s so much easier to move on to another florist than spending precious time in signing up again with another email address.

This could even lead the prospect to ask “Is this company trustworthy? There must be a reason why Yahoo and Microsoft are blocking them.”

This company is voluntarily missing out a huge opportunity for driving new business—not just on Valentine’s Day—given that Microsoft is currently the third and Yahoo the fifth most used mailbox provider in France.

Is sticking your head in the sand and blaming others the ultimate solution? It’s incredibly frustrating having worked hard creating an amazing looking email and sending it to a legitimate subscriber only to have it blocked by the mailbox provider, but blaming it on somebody else won’t get you anywhere.

Obviously, you can’t control mailbox providers, but you shouldn’t be afraid of them. Keep in mind that mailbox providers just want their users to have a good experience, so they only protect them in sorting, filtering, or blocking incoming messages.

What you can control is your own email program. It is never too late. Be honest and ask yourself what you are doing right and what might be going wrong. No matter how great the email campaign, it will fail if emails aren’t delivered to the recipients’ inboxes.

Unfortunately, there isn’t always a simple answer to the common question: “Why are my emails getting blocked?”. There is rarely a single cause, most of the time blocking is due to complex factors and detailed analysis and investigation are needed to uncover the truth.

Let’s focus on some of these factors:

  • Infrastructure: Maintaining a compliant infrastructure is an important aspect of presenting yourself as a reputable sender. Your emails could contain great content and have a from: address at your registered business domain, but that might not be enough to convince the receiving mail server. Take some time to read this article for further details.
  • Reputation: The reputation of a sender is similar to that of a person, in the sense that when a person has a good reputation, others are generally willing to go towards them and connect. However, the opposite is also true; people generally don’t like to be associated with a person with a bad reputation. Your sender reputation is one of the most influential factors that determines if and where email is delivered. Don’t forget that reputation is based on past behavior–you can see it like an indicator of your trustworthiness. Pay attention to blacklisting, your complaint rate, your acquisition method, and list hygiene. For additional insight, look into the subtle factors that drive your reputation.
  • Engagement: Your company may have stellar sender reputation, but specific campaigns may still end up in the junk folder. Why? Simply, because it may not have received enough interest and positive engagements from your subscribers. So let’s look at some specific ways that you can work to increase email subscriber engagement.

Ultimately, email deliverability is a complex topic but that’s no reason to be afraid of particular mailbox providers. If you do things the right way everything should be fine. Becoming successful with email marketing is a process; the combination of monitoring and analyzing data is crucial for the improvement of your program. But there is only one way to learn and to improve—try it. You need help? Return Path is happy to assist you.

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