All posts by Rebecca Downing

Email Blacklist

Not Everyone Looks Good in Black — Especially Your Email Campaigns

By | Email Delivery Tracking, Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

Black is a classic fashion look that pretty much everyone looks good in.  However, as a marketer, black, as in being blacklisted, isn’t a color you want to find your emails dressed in.

After you’ve put all that time and hard work into an email campaign, the last thing you want to discover is that your emails aren’t reaching the target audience because you’ve been blacklisted.  Let’s take a few minutes to dive into what blacklists are, what to do if you ever find yourself on one, and how to avoid them in the first place.

Blacklist: The Blackhole Syndrom for Emails

An email blacklist is a real-time review of emails by ISPs to determine if an email that is coming through could be considered as spam.  The goal is to minimize the number of spam emails that reach their email users.  Each ISP manages their own list, so you may find yourself on one or multiple at any time.

People, countries, companies and other entities that are deemed to be untrustworthy could find themselves on a blacklist without warning.  ISPs are focused on preventing fraud and protecting their users, so if an email displays any suspicious signs or characteristics, that sender will be added to the ISPs blacklist and all emails from that sender will be dropped immediately.

As with most things, there is an opposite to blacklists and that, not surprisingly, is known as a whitelist.  This is the list you want to stay one as all senders on this list will have their email delivered to their targeted end users.

From Blacklist to Whitelist

Should the worst case scenario occur and you find yourself blacklisted, don’t despair…it will take some effort, but you can rectify the situation.  Typically you’ll receive notification that you have been blacklisted with specific instructions.  However, that’s not always the case.  Since one of the top reasons companies get blacklisted is due to being marked as ‘spam’ by end users, it’s not a bad idea to add an email delivery audit to your end of month reporting processes.

Here is a list of the top six to check:

  1. Spamhaus –The Spamhaus project is one of the most reputable blacklisting companies providing real-time anti-spam protection for internet networks worldwide.
  2. SURBL –SURBL is a second tier filter that works in conjunction with Spamhaus to identify some of the most difficult unsolicited messages to track.
  3. Barracuda Reputation Block List –BRBL is a free DNSBL of IP addresses known to send spam.
  4. Invalument –The Invalument anti-spam DNSBL is a subscription-based service that specializes in blocking elusive types of spam where the sender is sending 100% unsolicited bulk email and escaping traditional detection methods.
  5. Spamcop –The SpamCop Blocking List (SCBL) lists IP addresses that had mail reported as spam by SpamCop users.
  6. MultiRBL –This free multiple DNS Blacklist service that cross-references other blacklists by IPV4, IPV6, or domain.

Reputation Monitoring is Key

Reputation monitoring is a critical component to ensuring that your email deliverability rate stays as high as possible.  By managing your complaint rates and watching for delivery dips in your campaign metrics, you’ll be able to see trends and stop issues before they start.

Working with companies such as MailMonitor that offer a suite of services to help you better manage your reputation will make it easier for you to stay on top of things.  With features such as Inbox Monitoring, Reputation Tracking, and Spam Filter Testing you’ll be able to maximize your deliverability rate and minimize you propensity for landing on the dreaded blacklist.



Email Re-engagement

Email Re-engagement: Show Love to Sleeping Users

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

As an email marketer, it’s easy to create engaging content for your active users, but how do you connect with your inactive or sleepy users?  Too many marketers just write this group off, which is a huge mistake!

Typically, these users still want to connect with you, but they’ve just been busy.  This is why a well-developed email re-engagement strategy needs to be part of your overall email marketing plan.

Email Re-engagement: Identify the Sleepers

The first thing you’ll want to do is identify these sleepy, non-engaged users on your email lists.  Then create a separate list for just them.  Once they are back into the swing of things you can move them back to their appropriate list.

The users you are looking for are those who haven’t opened or clicked on an email in a while.  Depending on how often you send emails, ‘a while’ could be for 30 to 60 days or more like within the past year if you only send out emails once per month.

Email Re-engagement: Create a Plan

When designing your campaigns, develop them for the long run and don’t go into it with a ‘one and done’ mentality.  You don’t want to force the issue, but rather nurture the user back into your relationship, reminding them of everything they love about your brand.

Part of your plan should probably also include some of the features found in the MailMonitor application:

  • spam filter testing
  • a display preview in various browsers and ISPs before sending

These extra steps increase your chances making it to the user’s inbox and will also ensure that they are able to see the beautiful images and content you’ve created.  Think about it, if you’re trying to re-engage with someone, you don’t want to send them an email with broken images or links.  An email like that looks sloppy and sends the message that you don’t care.

Another key component to your plan is to set up some kind of automation to catch sleepy users.  You’ll set up your marketing automation system to trigger a series of “re-engagement emails” to users who display the behavior of a  sleeper.  The goal here is to identify them and re-engage with them before you lose them.

Email Re-engagement: Redeveloping Brand Relationships

Yes, we do mean ‘relationship.’  (Those of you with relationship-phobias, just stay with us on this one.)

Your connection with your audience develops into an ongoing relationship, so, just as with any other real-world personal relationship, you need to foster and grow that relationship over time.  You never want your users to feel like you’ve moved on to something better or that you just don’t appreciate them any longer.

In your re-engagement emails, consider using dating terminology.  A recent study found that users react to this type of language better than the standard business language.  We aren’t saying be schmoopy, but rather, consider incorporating phrases like ‘Miss You’, ‘How long since we last talked’, ‘Are you still interested?’ or ‘We Want You Back!’  Test out a couple and see what resonates best with your audience.

Need a little inspiration?  Check out this Pinterest board!  It has over 71 of the best re-engagement email design and content ideas.  Just remember to keep things more relaxed and friendly….just have some fun with it!


Automate Email Marketing

Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 6 – Automate Your Email Marketing

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

You’ve made it to the last blog in our series, ‘Your Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing‘!  Now let’s wrap things up with the final steps and tips you need to know to create amazing, spam-proof email marketing campaigns.

It’s time to automate your email marketing process and convert your email marketing campaigns into a money making success stories.

Auto-responders can be considered an email marketer’s most influential tool for converting leads to sales.  They are essential when it comes to engaging your email lists, building strong value, developing relationships with your audience and converting them into buyers.

The coolest thing about auto-responders is that once you create them, they’re on their own and you really don’t have much after that.

Automate Email Marketing with Auto-responders

An auto-responder can be defined as a series of emails that are automatically sent to specific segments of people in your email list, triggered entirely by specific events taken by them, like joining your list, browsing your website, abandoning the cart, downloading a lead magnet or buying a product.

You will be creating the content of these auto-responder emails in advance and setting the emails up to be sent out at the appropriate times with the help of whichever email marketing service you choose (for a full list, see part two of our series).

Auto-responders are important for two major reasons:

  1. They help in nurturing your leads by giving them valuable information and insights while at the same time, teaching them how to have a better buying experience with you.
  2. They directly help in converting prospects into customers by building good communication and trust with your leads without ever looking too desperate or out of touch.

Choose a Goal for the Auto-responder

Let’s start with the first step in creating effective auto-responder series – setting up your goals.  There will always be one or a combination of these goals for your auto-responder series:

  • A welcome sequence for new subscribers – This will be a message that you’ll send to your new subscriber right after they give you the permission.  This will commonly contain a link to a lead magnet for easy downloading followed by a thank you message and a call-to-action to check out your other similar offerings. This is your chance to make a lasting impact on your new subscribers.
  • A lead magnet/link to a freebie – Auto-responders can also be effectively used as a lead magnet to attract the new subscribers.  You can send out a free mini-course or other freebies with a promise of a series of emails containing more such deals.
  • Bringing sales on autopilot – These days, all leading e-commerce businesses are creating sales funnels out of email auto-responder sequences.  This can include a series of linked, educational videos and resources, followed by other follow-up emails to sell your products.  It can also include promos and deals on your products to attract the right subscribers who have just viewed these products on your website.
  • Up-sell and cross-sell your products – Auto-responders can be equally effective for existing customers who have already purchased your products or services.  You can use them to up-sell and even cross-sell relevant products and services that you deem that particular segmentation of customers would find attractive. For example, if your customer just bought a course on PPC marketing, you might be able to sell a course on SEO strategies at a discounted price tag.

Map Out Your Sequences

The next thing you’ll want to be doing is mapping out the entire sequence of your auto-responder.  For this, you will need to figure out the length of the sequence, including the number of days and the number of emails.

Keep in mind that there is no universal rule to how many emails you need to have in an auto-responder sequence. You just need to make sure that your sequences are long enough to accomplish the goals that you have established.

You will also need to structure the gap that you would like to keep between your emails going out.  While it might be okay to send out an email once every two days for a start, keeping this as a habit, in the long run, might simply annoy your good subscribers.  Try and maintain a healthy balance here and you will be fine.

Most importantly, as we mentioned in our previous blog post, the quality of your emails and the level of value they are adding for your subscribers is critical to your success.  As a standard, you can follow an 80/20 rule, in which 80% of your emails will be around giving value and only 20% around making a sale.

Next up, you can create outlines for all of your sequences, from start to finish, underlining the topics each email will be covering and the call-to-action that you will have in place.

Create a Series that Converts

It might be a difficult task to actually write the emails for your auto-responder series. If so, we recommend that you outsource this task to a professional copywriter.  If you’re confident in your own abilities, then keep the following points in mind while crafting your series:

  • Keep your Focus on the Reader – Remember to always write out emails to address the genuine needs of your subscribers instead of your sales goals.  As the marketers say: “People don’t buy products, they buy solutions”.  Try and offer a solution rather than bombard them with your offers.  Understand the major pain points of your subscribers and address them in your emails.
  • Personalization is the Key – The more you personalize the content in your emails, the better. Personalized emails will definitely look more valuable and relevant to the subscribers.  And by this, we don’t mean simply adding the name of your subscriber.  You will have to put forth the time and effort to actually tailor the content of your emails.  Give them true value and be a true friend to their needs.
  • Keep Nailing the Subject Lines – As marketers, it’s all about the headlines.  As email marketers, it’s all about the subject lines (well, most of it!).  So think like a subscriber and don’t accept any subject line that will not really move you enough to click on an email.  Make sure you concentrate on the personalization here as well to make the subscriber curious about the highly relevant content that might be lying there in their inbox.

Control & Improve

While auto-responders, as the name says, are mostly a hands-off task after being successfully set, we still recommend that you loosely monitor the progress and performance of these emails.  It’s this close monitoring that might be all the difference in the end.  You will want to identify all areas that are not performing and might be improved.  Try A/B testing of little things to see if there are any improvements (always make sure you test little things and don’t perform drastic changes).

Pay attention to the following when analyzing your auto-responder campaigns:

  • Open Rates – If the open rates are less than ideal, then revisit the steps in part five of our series to see if the auto-responder is relevant to your subscriber lists and/or if the subject lines are appealing enough.  You might also want to check the timings of your auto-responder emails.
  • Click Through Rates (CTR) – Once your subscriber opens your emails, are they actually taking any action on them?  Having a low CTR might be signaling a weak body copy.  You might want to check the relevancy of your email copy with the subject line and if the content actually offered value to the subscribers.  You should also check to ensure that the CTR is clear enough and that the links or buttons are easy to find.
  • Unsubscribes – Remember that unsubscribes will always happen.  Having said that, a high or unusual unsubscribe rate should not be taken casually.  If this happens, you should check to ensure you’re delivering the promise that you initially made to get subscribes to join your mailing lists.  You will have to check the relevancy of the content of your auto-responder and also see the ratio of your email content that is sales-oriented and maybe cut down on that and work on adding more value.

Well, that’s the end of our series.  You now have enough knowledge to go out, set-up, experiment, and master the art of spam-proof email marketing.

As always, Mail Monitor is here to support you in your journey and helping you transform your email marketing campaigns into sales machines.  Contact us with any questions you might have about our tools and offerings and check out some of our other blog posts for more tips and tricks on being successful with your business emails.

Email Open Rate

Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 5 – Improve Email Open Rates

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

You’ve done the hard work and have managed to establish a good email list and segmented it properly.  However, there is still one more very crucial thing to do – and that is to improve your email open rate.

In part five of our email series ‘Your Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing’, we will talk about all of the factors that go into creating an email that gets opened.

Improve Email Open Rate by Staying Away from Spam Filters

First and foremost – you need to do everything possible to stay out of the subscriber’s spam folder.  If you obtained permission from your subscribers and are using one of the email marketing services mentioned in part two of our series, you’re off to a great start!

Now, let’s review some best practices that will ensure you stay out of spam folders:

  • Use a good, reliable IP address for all your email campaigns.  This IP address should not have been used by anyone to send out spam emails in the past.
  • Use verified domains to send out emails.
  • Make sure that your emails are using code clean templates.
  • Ask your subscribers to add you to their address books and encourage them to whitelist your business.
  • Refrain from desperate, sales language (some common spam trigger words include: buy, discount, cash or clearance).
  • Have clear, relevant subject lines.
  • Always include your location in your emails.
  • Have an easy process for subscribers to opt-out or unsubscribe.
  • Luckily, most of these points are taken care of by the email marketing services mention in part two of our series.  You can also use MailMonitor’s preview and rating services as another line of defense.

Get Rid of Inactive Subscribers

While you can try your luck with re-engaging with your inactive subscribers, you should consider getting rid of them if there is no response at all.  It is imperative that you keep your email lists fresh.  It is equally important to maintain regular communication with your lists to avoid them getting stale.

An inactive subscriber can vary, depending on your business, but as a general rule, anyone who doesn’t engage with you for over 6 months is a stale contact.

Before giving up on them, try sending the last email in an effort to re-engage with them with a subject line that might catch the subscribers’ eye, such as: “We miss you. Come back soon!”

It’s All about Timing

Your timing can make all the difference between a campaign’s success or failure, so be extra careful about the time and the day of the week you choose to send out your emails.

While you will not be able to identify the perfect time right away, it’s something that you will understand over time.  You can use A/B testing to establish the best time-frames in which to send your emails to get maximum engagement.  You can also find some support from the email marketing services like MailChimp as they can also guide you with selecting the perfect time for your campaigns.

Have a Killer Subject Line

As far as your open rates are concerned, the subject lines are the most critical part. So, understandably, your subject lines need to stand out.  You can follow these tips to create those killer subject lines:

  • Trigger curiosity, but don’t overdo it. You just want to create that sense of curiosity in the subscriber’s mind to open your emails, not confuse them.
  • Use numbers.  It’s just something that draws the eye (consider a subject line like ‘5 amazing deals just for you!’).
  • Use a conversational, human tone. Als, make sure your sender email address has a human name.
  • Speak in a tone that your subscribers can relate to – a tone that they use while talking to their friends.

Don’t make it Generic

While drafting subject lines and message content, most email marketers have a tendency to think of thousands of people and get stuck in writing generic lines.

Try creating subject lines that speak to an individual instead of a whole crowd.  It’s this added personalization that can make all the difference in whether or not a consumer opens your email.

This is why it’s important to know your buyer personas inside out and to craft the perfect subject lines for each.  You should be able to understand their wants, needs, values, likes, dislikes, and problems.  You can conduct little surveys with lead magnets of their own to get a better understanding of your subscribers’ personalities.

Be Friendly

Say goodbye to your corporate hats and write as a genuine friend.  This is perhaps the only way to really appeal to your subscribers and make your subject lines stand out.  A friendly subject line could be something like: “You’ve got to see this deal I got just for you.

Our experts feel that this will make the email look more personalized and it significantly reduces the chances of your emails getting deleted.  With all those other, robotic and cold corporate subject lines clouding a subscriber’s inbox, be the friend who is actually there for them.

Write Quality Content, Consistently

It should also be kept in mind that the content of your email is equally as important.  While you might be able to get one email opened from a subscriber based on your subject line, if the quality of your email content isn’t good, then you shouldn’t expect opens in the future…even if your subject line is remarkable.

Consistency with this quality content is mandatory.  Your emails shouldn’t be sent out just for the sake of sending out emails – they need to hold real value and purpose for the subscribers.  Consistently sending out good, valuable emails should get you loyal customers and fantastic open rates.

Add a Little Humor

Humor, if done right, can be a wonderful thing.  It’s personal and light-hearted and stays in people’s minds for a long time.  Having said that, you need to be careful and witty and not overdo it.

For effective humor in your emails, try to understand your audience intimately. Knowing their likes and dislikes, preferences and pain points will make it a whole lot easier for you to crack a joke that they would like.

You can also add funny GIFs and videos, but remember that you are not a comedian, so keep it professional.

Be Mobile Friendly

The world we’re living in is moving towards mobile domination at an alarming rate.  More and more users are checking their emails using mobile phones as their primary device.

Make sure that all of your email campaigns are mobile-friendly, with loadable media and responsive formatting. Also, do account for the smaller screens of the mobile phones so keep your fonts readable and subject lines shorter.

Try to follow these tips to appeal to mobile users:

  • Keep simple formatting, under 600px wide.
  • Images might be turned off automatically, so make sure your emails look good without them.
  • Have smaller images and other media to reduce the load time.
  • Have a clearer and bigger call-to-action buttons that are easier for mobile users to click.
  • Avoid placing two links on top of each other to help users easily click on them.

Don’t be discouraged if the results don’t turn out to be as expected right off the bat.  Try different things and make subtle changes to see what might work.

And don’t forget to check out the final post in our series, ‘Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 6 – Automate Your Email Marketing‘.

Personalized Email Marketing

Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 4 – Personalized Email Marketing

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

While email marketing experts agree on the importance of building email lists, it is equally important to get your segmentation right and create personalized email marketing.

In this, part 4 of our email series ‘Your Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing,’ we will look at ways to segment your lists and create personalized email marketing messages.

Personalized Email Marketing: List Segmentation

Email List Segmentation is the process of breaking down your subscriber list into smaller groups according to their interests, wants and needs.  This segmentation is essential for you to be able to send out personalized and extremely relevant emails to each of the groups.

Instead of sending out each and every email to each and every subscriber, segmentation will allow you to send each email only to the subscribers you’ve deemed to be the most interested in the content, leading to a much higher rate of conversion and a much lower rate of being considered as spam by an end user.

Personalized Email Marketing: Importance of Segmentation

Segmenting your email lists is a proven way to improve your email open rates, decrease the rate of unsubscribes and bump up your click-through rates.  This is the reason why the most successful email marketers use email list segmentation to the fullest to improve the effectiveness of all of their email marketing campaigns.

You will have to tag your subscribers into different segments to ensure that you send out powerful, customized auto-responders and not just some automated, generic robotic communication.  These will be a series of emails sent out automatically to the relevant subscribers, based on certain conditions, enabling you to better nurture your leads and achieve higher conversions and sales.

Segmentation also allows you to better structure your subject lines and messages for specific groups of people instead of sending out generic stuff that won’t hit the bull’s eye for your entire email list.

So how do you divide your email lists into segments?  Here are a few ways to help get you started:

  • New Subscribers – For sure, you will be sending out welcome emails and a series of other introductory emails to them.
  • Interests – What do your subscribers like? Are they fans of rap music or are lovers of Jazz?
  • Preferences – Segment subscribers based on what offerings of yours are they the most interested in.
  • Location – This will help you target local subscribers when there is an event held be you near them.
  • Inactivity – Touch base with inactive subscribers, telling them what they’re missing.
  • Open Rate – Rewarding more engaging subscribers is always a good idea!
  • Shopping Cart Abandoners – Remind these users that they haven’t checked out – maybe add some incentives there.
  • Lead Magnet – Send customized emails based on the kind of lead magnet they opted for.

How to Improve Your Email Open Rates

Now that you have your email marketing service, your opt-in form, lead magnet and your email segmentation, you’re ready to create great emails.  The first step is to ensure you stay away from spam filters and prevent unsubscribers.

Check out part five of our series, ‘Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 5 – Improve Your Email Open Rates.’