How Financial Marketers Can Keep Their Emails Out of the Junk Folder

As privacy concerns grow, no financial brand that relies on email marketing can ignore erosion in messages that make it to prospects. Banks and credit unions blithely blasting away will find unopened emails counting against them. Internet service providers increasingly tap artificial intelligence to fight spam. Some even monitor what recipients do after they open emails.

Despite the popularity of newer communications platforms like texting, mobile apps and social media, email remains the gold standard for brands for building relationships with consumers.

There’s just one problem: No matter how brilliant your subject line or how tempting your offer, your email campaign won’t convert anybody if they don’t see it.

In a recent report, Shar Van Boskirk, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, emphasizes email’s importance as a revenue driver and notes that investment in email marketing is rising. But she also warns that for a variety of reasons, making sure emails reach the intended recipient is increasingly difficult.

Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

Many email marketers simply aren’t aware of evolving deliverability challenges that can divert what could’ve been a highly converting campaign away from prospects’ inboxes.

For instance, major mailbox providers such as Gmail, Outlook/Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo are constantly tightening spam filters to protect users from receiving unwanted emails. Add to that consumer privacy regulations like the European Union’s earth-shaking General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which present further deliverability barriers, forcing email marketers to submit to unprecedented email privacy expectations.

There are pros and cons to contemporary email marketing challenges and their solutions. Asking consumers to opt-in to receive email can shrink the email list, but on the upside the smaller list of people who have opted in is more likely to engage. And there are plenty of organic touchpoints to grow it.

An Email Delivery Solution Whose Time Has Passed

As for barriers erected by Gmail and the like, email marketers can turn to seed testing services that utilize a “seed list” of email addresses to check if the path to the inbox is clear before launching campaigns.

Yet there are three problems with this solution.

First, seed testing vendors typically test too few email addresses to create a statistically valid sample.

Second, and a more serious, problem: The tests don’t emulate human behavior. This makes the exercise useless against increasingly sophisticated spam filters driven by artificial intelligence. These state of the art filters measure what customers actually do with an email that lands in their inbox and build sender reputation ratings around those actions.

Finally, traditional seed testing doesn’t reflect user engagement. Panel-based data captures user behavior, but only if the panel statistically represents the demographic, geographic and sociographic makeup of the email audience.

The next generation of email deliverability monitoring now includes “smart seed” solutions, which tap machine-learning. This creates behavioral models based on the activity of real consumers. These virtual users provide senders with the control of a seed-based solution with the accuracy of real user behavior.

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Why Emailing Without Paying Attention Will Cost You

Customer behavior is key because gatekeepers at internet service providers track email engagement factors, and deliverability depends on it.

Persistent emailing of nonresponders isn’t just a waste — it will count against your brand.

Let’s say a sender whose emails are opened 60% of the time keeps sending email to the 40% who don’t respond. The proportion of inactive recipients will grow over time. Eventually, the portion of inactive recipients will grow so high that it damages the sender’s reputation, and in that scenario, even people who want to buy will no longer receive the company’s emails. They will be blocked.

Data quality is also essential because deliverability issues erode profits. About 20% of permission-based marketing emails from the most trusted senders get flagged as spam, and that percentage climbs to over 40% for the least trusted. Maintaining a low spam rate is important because the lower the spam rate, the better ROI.

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Finding the Right Technology and Engagement Strategy

There are steps email marketers can take to manage technical challenges and engage consumers more effectively when they’re ready to stop leaving money on the table.

The first is simple, yet all too often marketers are unaware it’s an option: Lock down the company’s domain with authentication protocols so scammers can’t spoof outgoing email.

The second is to partner with an accredited company that provides an advanced deliverability monitoring platform and data that precisely reflects where emails end up. This can help eliminate the technical impediments to deliverability and improve engagement.

Open rates are important, but only the beginning. To truly measure the effectiveness of email campaigns in this new permission-based environment, email marketers should focus on the most important metric — revenue generated by the campaign. With a modern platform and the right data and testing tools, email marketers can beat spam filters, build stronger customer relationships, and generate more revenue at the same time.

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