MailMonitor: State of the Company

By | General | No Comments

It is with a heavy heart that we need to inform our customers that our Founder, Jay Wadley, has passed away.  His passing has taken us all by surprise and has left many of us with a profound sense of sorrow.

While Jay has served as the heart behind Mail Monitor from its launch, we are determined to move forward, aggressively enhancing our offerings and seeing his vision succeed; both as a tribute to him and in continued support of his family.

Our acting CEO, Chris Maeda, and our VP of Growth, Adrian Patel-Delaloye, will be reaching out to each of our clients personally to discuss account status and how Mail Monitor can better assist in helping you achieve your goals.

Our top priority is ensuring that our customer’s needs are met throughout this challenging time.  We are excited about the opportunities ahead and the future for Mail Monitor.

Email Blacking 101

By | Features and Updates, Marketing Email Deliverability, Services | No Comments

We are living in an age where effective direct marketing has become a continually changing and growing challenge.  With so many brands looking to be heard and consumers become super savvy, marketers seek new ways to be heard above all the inbox noise.

In this competition and struggle to be noticed it’s not uncommon for email marketers to bite off more than they can chew, often delving off into efforts which ignore best practices for email marketing.  Such rogue adventures typing end up in your brand being blacklisting.

 

What are Blacklists?

To put it simply, blacklists are lists of bad marketers.  These generally include spammers; however, legitimate mailers can also easily end up blacklisted just by not adhering to the best emailing practices.  While most blacklists are usually IP based, they can also be URL or domain based.  Typically blacklists are run by independent operators, hosting companies, corporate mail managers or organizations who cater to ISPs.

 

What Makes You Get Blacklisted?

Blacklist operators are always actively using networks of spam traps to track and catch spammers and bad, unethical marketers.  If you’re emailing to spam trap addresses, then that becomes a clear indicator that you are not following the best practices in list acquisition and list management, since these addresses are phony and don’t belong to a real user.  This can cause you to be flagged as a spammer or even worse, get yourself blacklisted.

 

What Happens When You are Blacklisted?

Blacklists are commonly used by mail receivers like ISPs and hosting companies to clock all unwanted “spammy” emails from suspicious mailers.  Another thing to note is that the number of your emails blocked also depends on the blacklist that you have ended up in.  One of the most widely known blacklist is Spamhaus and it is used by the majority of mailbox providers. If you end up in their list then you have a big problem for your business on emails.

 

How Can You Resolve a Blacklisting?

Keep in mind that each blacklist has its own process for removal.  Once blacklisted, the most important thing to understand is how you got there in the first place.  Once you have that figured out, you can reach out to the blacklist operator and formally request them to remove you from their list.

Best rule of thumb though is to stay off the lists entirely.  Some of the ways to ensure that you stay off of blacklists include:

  • Send out emails to users who have engaged with you in the last 90 days.  This can vary from campaign to campaign, but keeping within this range will ensure you don’t get flagged.
  • Remove users who haven’t engaged with you in over a year.  If you don’t, you might end up in recycled spam traps and getting flagged for unethical email practices.
  • Employ double opt-in methods to avoid emailing repeatedly to spam trap addresses because they will not be able to click the confirmation links.
  • We also advise that you always follow the best practices for email list acquisition.

Preview and Rate Marketing Emails Before Sending

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Product Features, Services, Tips and Resources | No Comments

Laptop_PostfachLet’s be honest here – how many times have you discovered, after sending out an email to your subscribers, an embarrassing typo or that you completely missed out on inserting a link to a button? Happens to the best of email marketers out there!

What might seem like a harmless little mistake can cost you a customer, and even worse, can land you in the spam folder. Your efforts and hard work will go to waste as a meaningless, amateur email when landing your potential customer’s inbox.

To avoid this heartache, we at Mail Monitor strongly recommend that you always preview and rate marketing emails before sending them out.

 

What Does An Inbox Preview Do?

Most of the leading email marketing services out, such as MailChimp and HubSpot, will allow you to have a complete preview of your email campaigns, giving you the final preview that your subscribers will see. This allows you to preview all your email campaigns before sending them out and gives you the opportunity to check them to see if they look professional and are readable and up to your quality mark.

Reviewing and optimizing your messages before sending them out will:

  • Ensure that your emails look accurate and are aesthetically correct for all devices and screen types; and
  • Will guarantee that your emails don’t get blocked by any spam filters based on an unforced error on your part

Performing this final check will also enhance your chances of increasing your response rate and minimize your unsubscribes.

 

What If You Don’t Do Inbox Previews?

Inbox Previews are essential marketing tools to quickly identifying any issues before deploying a campaign. Failing to do this can lead to:

  1. High Spam Requests/Unsubscribes – You increase your subscriber’s likelihood to mark you as spam or simply unsubscribe from your mailing lists altogether. Imperfect emails are a real turn off for anyone and it looks extremely unprofessional and suspicious.
  2. Email Your Reputation – You need to make sure that your messages look perfect on all kind of devices. Failing to do so will definitely reduce your business’s reputation online.
  3. Increase in Block Rates – All renowned organizations rely heavily on email marketing to send the message across. Sending out faulty emails that might contain missing texts or images, broken links or invalid landing pages will increase the risk of being blocked, killing off the entire object of the marketing teams.

 

Rating Your Emails

Below are some of the things that you should always check when previewing your emails:

  • No words are misspelled – First and foremost, make sure your content has no typos or even worse, any grammatical errors. Make proofreading your best friend and maybe also involve another team member in the process.
  • The images are all working fine – Always double check to see that your images are being uploaded properly and/or are hosted on your public server, free from any password protection.
  • Links are working perfectly – Ensure that all of the links in your email are leading to the right place. Check each and every link and certify that none of your links used are blacklisted – something that you should consider critically.
  • Email layout is proper – Check the spacing of all elements and the overall layout of your emails for various devices, including the padding, margin changes, color and fonts.
  • Looks good on all inboxes – You will have to make sure that your emails look good across all inboxes and not just a few. Check how they look on test accounts across all inbox services.
  • Headlines and subject lines looking good – Your emails should have a good headline as well a subject line that is relevant to the content of your email.

How to Create a Successful Email Re-Engagement Campaign

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

Reengagement EmailsYour relationship with your subscribers goes through all the stages of any other relationship in your life. At the start your subscribers are usually extremely excited about your emails and your offerings and look forward to anything that you send their way. All those exclusive discounts and personalized emails get them to blush with surprise and anxiously wait your next emails.  However, just like with any other relationship, this honeymoon period doesn’t last forever and soon their interest tends to wane. After all, you need to be more than just about offering discounts and sending monthly newsletters to keep their attention and move your relationship forward.

While many brands tend to accept this as a sad, unfixable truth, it doesn’t have to be the case. Implementing strong, personal and strategic email re-engagement campaigns will make you unforgettable in the eyes of your subscribers.

 

Why do a Re-Engagement Campaign?

There are many reasons why subscribers stop engaging with a brand’s emails. With time, it is common to see a drop in open rates and clicks on emails. While a lot of the subscribers can also be considered as not the perfect fit for you, you’ll be surprised by how many of these can be won back with cleverly executed re-engagement campaigns.

Re-Engagement campaigns are opportunities for you to remind all those inactive subscribers why they liked engaging with your brand in the first place. It’s also important for you to target these non-responding subscribers because they can have serious negative effects on your deliverability. ISPs these days focus on things beyond content of emails to determine spammers, and are more concerned with the ways in which subscribers respond to your emails. All of this makes it important for you to take re-engagement campaigns seriously.

In our re-engagement strategies, we will be looking at the following three major steps:

  • Determining the People to Re-Engage With
  • Creation of Your Re-Engagement Campaigns
  • Knowing When to Quit

 

Determining the People to Re-Engage With

Even though the exact definition of an inactive subscriber varies from one company to another, they all agree it’s basis to be a subscriber who doesn’t open or click on an email in a certain period of time.

You will need to consider these when defining your timeframe:

  • Behavior Types – Most re-engagement strategies tend to be based on the email behavior, including lack of opens and/or clicks over a certain period of time, such as within the past 60 days. If significant, you might also want to consider on-site behavior and other purchase behaviors.
  • Email Frequency – Depending on your business, you will have to adjust your timeframes for inactivity. For example, a classifieds websites that specializes in daily and weekly deals might consider an inactive subscriber to be someone who hasn’t engaged in 90 days while a realtor who sends a monthly newsletter might consider a much longer timeframe such as 6 months or even a year.
  • Customer Journey – If the customer journey in your line of business is fairly long or your customers are more infrequent in their purchase cycles then you might want to consider inactivity time frames that are much longer to mirror this behavior.

 

Creation of Your Re-Engagement Campaigns

The first thing to keep in mind here is that since your subscribers haven’t been responding to your regular emails, you will need to send out something different. Some of the things that you can play around with include:

  • Content – Staying true to your brand values, mix up your content and communication, staying within the guidelines and present something out of the ordinary. Sending out extremely personalized emails with special messages and customized promo codes can help. Test things out and see what works here. Highlighting new offers and/or any changes to your business might be of interest to them. Some companies also consider sending out incentivized surveys to get valuable feedback while at the same time re-engaging with your subscribers. People like sharing their opinions and they LOVE being considered important.
  • Style – It is highly likely that your existing emails have been designed in HTML, having your brand as the “From” name. You should consider sending out plain text email from a customer support representative with a human name. This representative should contact inactive subscribers as a “check-in” to see if they have any questions about your products or services and if they would like to see something change. You should also be prepared for responses on such emails and should have an SOP on how to approach them. You should however, still use HTML to create the appearance of the plain text emails, allowing your email service provider to include an open tracking pixel.
  • Pausing – Subscriber inactivity usually happens due to email fatigue, meaning that you have sent out too many emails to make them ineffective. If that is the case then it is a good idea to pause all activity on your inactive subscribers for a while before resuming with any kind of communication. Having said that, we also do not suggest that you keep them dormant for too long that they forget they opted-in to your communications in the first place.

 

Knowing When to Quit

Keep your campaign performance expectations as realistic as possible. Since these subscribers haven’t engaged with you in a long time, you shouldn’t expect any fireworks from them all.  While initial numbers will most likely be small, any win should be appreciated as you are managing to awaken some of your most difficult subscribers. Even having the most thorough re-engagement strategy will convert just a fraction of these inactive subscribers so you should know when to quit.  After understanding that nothing is working, it might be a good idea to send out an email on parting ways.

You don’t necessarily have to remove them from your list, but it is a good idea to stop annoying them with your emails when they ask or fail to engage in order to help improve your deliverability and your overall reputation score among different ISPs. We do not recommend removing these subscribers because they might still find a way to crawl back into your active, engaging lists.

Reputation Tracking – Why is it Important for You?

By | General, Product Features, Tips and Resources | No Comments

Email Reputation TrackingIn our recent blogs, we have been talking about ways in which email marketers can stay away from the recipient’s dreaded spam folder. This week, let’s touch on another essential way in which you can avoid getting your messages from being marked spam: Reputation Tracking.

Reputation tracking, also commonly referred to as Sender Reputation Tracking and is closely linked with the IP address of the mail server that is being used to send messages to your subscribers. ISPs review multiple factors of your email marketing activities and will award you a sender reputation score based on their findings. This score indicates to the ISP the level of your trustworthiness when it comes to sending non-spam related emails. While there can be some differences in how each ISP reviews and assigns trustworthiness, there are some common factors that you, as an email marketer, need to familiarize yourself with in order to help yourself score higher.

Newcomer Penalty

As with many other things in life like credit scores and finding your first job, being a new kid on the email marketing landscape can cause some initial issues.  If your company and email address are brand new, you shouldn’t be surprised to see yourself land in the spam box at first, as a new IP having no history whatsoever is typically treated suspiciously by all of the ISPs. With time, however, you can make considerable improvements.

 

The Importance of Clean Lists

Reputation Tracking is closely connected with having a clean list for your email campaigns. To repair your sender reputation you need to ensure that your subscriber list is of quality because this will affect your bounce rates and damage your score. If your bounce rate is above 10% then you need to look into your subscriber lists to see what the problem might be. Also, a hard bounce can be even more damaging – this is when you send your emails to invalid email addresses. These are often referred to as spam traps as they appear to be valid email addresses, but in reality, they are anything but valid. According to most of the ISPs, a hard bounce rate can drop your reputation score by 20 points with just one such invalid email address, so you will want to be vigilant about monitoring for this. Some of the things that you should try to avoid include:

  • Poor List Sources – Avoid paid subscriber lists at all costs.
  • List Aging – Use bounce management tools to filter out any old email addresses that might be used by spam traps.
  • List Poisoning – Inserting Opt-In approach can help you minimize getting those invalid email addresses.

 

Spam Complaints

You should be concerned if you are receiving multiple spam complaints for every 1000 emails that you send out; a ratio like this can damage your sender reputation. Whenever a recipient clicks on the “spam” button on your email, a complaint is logged at the ISP level or will be notified to the sender if there is Feedback Loop. To prevent this negative reporting, ensure that your ‘opt-out’ and ‘opt-in’ messaging is clear to understand and easy to access and/or update if necessary. You should also review the content of your emails in case you continue to get a high level of spam complaints even after integrating opt-ins. Sometimes, your content just isn’t relevant enough for your subscribers.

Here at Mail Monitor, we have a dedicated team that works tirelessly to help our customers with improving their reputation score. With our support you can be sure to land a consistently high score after the ISPs perform reputation tracking on your email marketing campaigns. You can find more about our features here.

How and Why to Establish an Email Deliverability Audit

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

Email AuditAre you worried about your email strategies? Is there uncertainty around the effectiveness of your messages or even worse, are you sure your emails are even reaching the intended recipients?  The answer to all these questions is simple: In order to be sure, you need to perform an email deliverability audit.

When performed quarterly, an email deliverability audit is helpful in improving the performance of your email marketing campaigns. While the term “audit” can seem to be broad, meaning a variety of tasks, in common terms it is the overall assessment of your email marketing processes.  You can think of it as your company’s way of putting the email marketing campaigns under a microscope and figuring out what does and doesn’t work.

 

Why Should You Conduct An Audit?

An audit should be performed for several reasons, with the core purpose of evaluating one or a group of the following issues:

  • Security
  • Reputation
  • Content Quality
  • Deliverability
  • Effectiveness

In most cases, an audit will cover most of the areas above, with specific issues identified as well as their apt solutions. If performed correctly, an audit should also reveal all areas where your email marketing is working effectively.

Additionally, it is important to note that while any quarterly deliverability audit can reveal a variety of problems, some of the most common ones to look for include:

 

How Can You Establish A Quarterly Deliverability Audit?

Okay, so now you know all the great things an email deliverability audit can do for you. I’m sure your next question is: How can I perform an email audit for my email campaigns? Not a problem — leave that to us! When MailMonitor performs your email audit, we cover the following areas:

  1. Perform an Interview – First off, you need to become the Sherlock Holmes of your company and do some detective work. Talk to your staff and team members, especially those involved directly with your email marketing campaigns in any way, including content generation and technical executions. Also engage with your clients and contact lists in gathering useful information, asking them of their experiences with your emails, including surveys, polls and questionnaires.
  2. Perform a Process Analysis – Have a list prepared of all the processes that are involved in any email campaign’s evolution, from the initial concept to delivering the finished product. Prepare a flow chart with timelines if that helps. Some of the likely parts In your process analysis list will include:
  • Concept Ideation and Creation
  • Subject Line Creation
  • Header Creation
  • Text and Format of the Main Content
  • Message Template Design
  • List Acquisition and Management
  • Email Delivery
  • Testing and Evaluation of Deliverability
  1. Gather Useful Information – This includes studying your samples, using historic data for evaluation and tracking trends to predict any possible changes. Look at your email campaigns with a critical eye, from a neutral standpoint. You might also want to engage with your ISP or email service provider in getting you any useful information that you can use.
  2. Have a Reputation Analysis – You need to be critical with this, as your company reputation can be seriously damaged by your email campaign’s reputation. Bad emails from your end, even few, can get you straight to the spam lists, destroying any chances of salvaging a decent delivery rate. You need to be regular at identifying your email reputation and quick with cleaning it up. Feedback loops are a great way to track your reputation.
  3. Compile Existing Delivery Data – After all investigations have been performed and process understood, you need to compile your data. You need to have a strong focus on your next email campaigns. Monitor all steps identified and watch out for any pitfalls and/or trouble hotspots. Some of the crucial type of data to compile includes:
  • Bounce Rate, Open Rate and CTR
  • Text-Only Mail vs. HTML Ratio
  • Opt-Out Figures

We understand that all of this can be overwhelming and to put things in autopilot, we recommend that you try the MailMonitor Email Deliverability Tool. Our deliverability suite has you covered,, reporting you in real time on dozens of ISPs, giving the much needed visibility to the delivery performance at all major ISPs worldwide. You can sign up for a 30 days Free Trial, with no contracts or hidden fees.

You’ve Been Blacklisted….Now What?

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

Shocked businessman working on a laptopIn some of our previous blogs, we’ve reviewed the reasons why you might have ended up in a blacklist.  The reasons may vary, but typically the service provider will inform you as to the specifics around why you might have been blacklisted.  So now that you’re on the list, let’s discuss options for how to get yourself back in good standings, or white listed.  

The first step is to establish what type of blacklist you have landed on. You can discover this information by running a blacklist test on your domain name and/or IP address inside your Mail Monitor account. This check will show you all places you are currently being blacklisted.

Once you have the list you will then need to begin the arduous task of going through each of the blacklist(s) and determining the requirements and procedures for removal. Some blacklist removals are as easy as simply filling out a removal form; however, for most you will need to fix out the fundamental problems and wait it out.

Blacklist monitoring should be reviewed daily as it can occur at any time and interrupt your email campaign deliveries.  The MailMonitor Blacklist Monitoring product will send you notifications when your IPs or domains are listed.   This way you can get an immediate jump on resolution and delisting.

If you use an ESP (email service provider) to send your mail and have a dedicated IP, you are solely blacklisted due to sending and/or list practices.  You may have acquired spam traps and are sending to them, or have other issues due to not using double opt-in practices when sending.  You’ll need to diagnose the issue, take actions to resolve the issue, AND reach out to the blacklist provider to request removal.  If you have an explanation and explain the steps taken to resolve the issue, you are likely to have much better luck with getting off the blacklist and keeping it that way.

If you use an ESP (email service provider) to send your mail and use a shared IP pool, your ESP *should* be aware of an IP blacklisting before you are and work to resolve it.  Regardless, you should definitely monitor your domain to make sure it is not blacklisted through your Mail Monitor account.

To diagnose the problem you may want to  take out some time to go through our blogs on 6 Best Practices for Email List Acquisition and An Introductory Guide to Spam Traps.

10 Ways to Keep Your Email Engagement Fresh and Optimized

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

email best practiceEmail Marketing continues to be one of the strongest, most trusted, ways for marketers and businesses to reach new customers and stay connected and engaged with current customers.  If executed with purpose, and strong message and in an optimized manner, it is the most effective outlet for marketing hands down.

Email marketing optimization is the best way to ensure success of email campaigns; however, it’s often one of the most neglected practices, specifically for smaller companies and entrepreneurs as they don’t always have the time and resourced available to devote to the process of optimization.

For those finding themselves in this position, the suite of tools offered by Mail Monitor will allow you to optimize like a pro and enhance the overall performance of your email campaigns.

Email optimization is cost-effective, versatile, immediate, personal and of course, trackable.  However, all of this is true only if your emails are opened.  So how do you achieve a good open rate? We look at some of the 10 easy ways to keep your email engagement fresh and optimized.

  1. Segment your email lists into targeted user groups. Segmenting your email database should be a top priority for you. Segmenting will provide you with the ability to create targeted email messages that will appeal to a particular group, which will directly increase your click-through rates.
  2. Always send from a real person that recipients can reply to. Gone are the days of using a standard, impersonal info@companyname.com.  Emails from such email addresses will typically now go straight to a user’s trash folder.
  3. Make the subject line your moment to shine. You can make all the difference to the open rates with a killer subject line, so think carefully about this one.  Also, avoid long subject lines, keeping them under 50 characters for maximum impact, and refrain from excessive punctuation, such as multiple exclamation marks.
  4. Have a killer preheader. This is where you can capitalize on the interest created from the subject line. Give your recipients a taste of what to expect from the email.
  5. Define clear expectations for your subscribers. Before you start sending out emails, it is a good idea to let your recipients know what type of content and emails they should be expecting from you. Avoid the standard lines like “Can’t red this email? View the web version.”
  6. Highlight your Call-To-Action. It is recommended that you display your CTA near the top so that the recipients can see it even without scrolling.
  7. Have emails optimized for mobile. More and more emails are now being opened on a mobile device. It only makes sense to make sure you have your email marketing campaigns optimized for mobile and other portable devices.
  8. Personalization is the key. The moment you personalize your emails with the recipient’s name, you have increased your chances of getting better open rate and a superb click-through rate as well as stronger conversion rates. Use your recipient’s name in the subject lines as well as the main body.
  9. Give complete control to your recipients. It makes no sense in being pushy with your email marketing campaigns. It is better to give all kinds of control options to your subscribers, including opting in or out, type of content and frequency of emails. Sending too many emails can seriously damage your chances of conversion so be balanced.
  10. Monitor and analyze everything. Keep studying the behaviors of your customers. What time of the day do they open the emails the most? What type of links are they clicking in your emails? What are their interests?