Avoiding The Spam/Junk Folder

Considering what’s thought of as “Spam” by the general public, it’s no wonder when many believe that most advertising email campaigns are simply “Junk” and quickly classified as such.   Marketers should be apprehensive with two major concerns where Spam/Junk perception is concerned:  1) email clients mistakenly routing CANSPAM-compliant offers into the Spam/Junk folder (or not delivering to the in-box at all), and 2) recipients erroneously reporting such emails as Spam/Junk thereby degrading the Spam reputation of the advertiser. The first can result in a failed campaign; the second threatens to thwart many future campaigns. So what’s an email advertiser to do?

Tim Watson offers some good pointers in his recent piece “Why Your Emails get Sent to Junk”.  One of his points, however, deserves discussion/clarification when it comes to 3rd party promotional email:  He claims that unfamiliarity with the sender causes many recipients to classify such emails as Spam/Junk.  Further, with respect to utilizing 3rd party email, he states, “Not recognizing the sender is one reason why using 3rd party data hurts inbox placement, the person receiving the email doesn’t understand why the sender is sending them email, since the sender and brand are different to the brand that collected their email address.”  While I agree that unknown senders raises ‘legitimacy’ concerns and therefore cause many to report as Spam/Junk, the implication to therefore shy away from 3rd party promotional email demands a counterpoint.

The Circle of Life

Email advocates love the medium because it delivers the highest ROI when compared to other direct marketing channels.  This return can be attributed to email’s low relative cost as well as its nimble nature, being able to quickly interpret results and then efficiently scale.  But there’s an elephant in the room:  Such gaudy results stem from emails who have already opted-in to that advertiser’s offers.  Acquisition is a much different story.

Basic direct marketing principles tell us that channel consistency be maintained whenever possible.  Meaning, if we want to market to clients/prospects via email, it’s best to obtain opt-in permission from the email channel as that behavior of opting-in is more likely to be replicated in the prospect’s buying behavior rather than a purchase through some other channel.  And that brings us back to the optimal way to acquire new opt-in emails; the use of 3rd party data providers.

So many choices…

Knowing which providers to avoid is as critical as knowing which to use.  The first red flag are those that are willing to sell and actually part with their data thus allowing the advertiser to deploy to the emails from their own domains. This will cause a large occurrence of what Mr. Watson espouses – confusion as to why recipients are seeing such offers and a high likelihood of Spam/Junk reporting.  However, using data providers who are conscientious with the management of their emails – characterized by a willingness to only rent their emails vs. sell - will mitigate this occurrence almost completely. This is due in part to the email deployment emanating from such list owner’s “From” line and Domain so recipients are more likely to open as they are familiar with the sender.  This will lower the incidence of reporting as Spam/Junk.

Beyond understanding targeting precision and costs in the list vetting process, also ascertain how often each individual on the list is permitted to receive 3rd party offers.  That is a standard vetting requirement of LavaMail email providers as it’s the one question that typically goes unasked as part of the list qualification process.  And it is often the key to conversions.

Key Takeaways

So, to ensure that 3rd party email usage isn’t dooming your email campaign nor your spam reputation, be sure to…

  1. … avoid providers that are willing to sell or give you their actual email addresses.
  2. … use list sources where the ‘From’ and Domain are that of the list that you are renting.
  3. … ascertain the frequency by which individual emails are permitted to receive 3rd party offers and factor that frequency into your email list vetting process.

Cover off on these topics and you can confidently squash most Spam concerns within your acquisition email campaigns.