Improve Your Email Inbox Placement - Is Your Organization a Spammer?
I'm just going to be honest here. I can see this topic as raising hairs for some people. Some people will just simply answer "no" in their mind and click to some other website. For those that stay, I applaud you for having the ability to self evaluate your company's emarketing practices honestly. If you get to the end and you can actually say honestly that you know all this and follow it faithfully, then you deserve to pat yourself on the back. However, for the vast majority, there is going to be content you have never considered or you may have to work with your company to change your emarketing strategy.
This blog here is just scratching the surface on this topic. We will flush this out with best practices to later posts to follow! This article is primarily targeted toward those using Act! Marketing Automation. However, many of these principles are universal regardless of the emarketing provider you choose. If you are using another service, I would suggest looking up their specific requirements.
It's not what you think, it's what you do.
The hard question, "Do I think I'm a spammer?"
The better question is, "Do my recipients think I'm a spammer?"
Most emarketers don't see themselves as sending spam or junk emails. Of course, their company's emails are super relevant and important for everyone to see! Unfortunately, how you view yourself has almost no bearing on how the internet world views you.
How recipients view your emails is the only factor which matters when you ask that question.
It All Boils Down to Permission
Many companies may have large legacy databases or lists of contacts. It's so tempting to mass email to as many people as possible. Years ago, I heard someone call this "spray and pray." I'll send out emails to as many people as possible and hope that at least some of them are interested. Once upon a time in the infancy of emarketing that might've worked. These days, that strategy is emarketing suicide. (More to come on why in later articles in this series).
Legal vs. Industry Best Practice
Depending on the country your recipients live in, the legal requirements in regards to email marketing may be surprisingly low. However, the emarketing industry has self regulated itself to a much higher standard (yes, GDPR in Europe certainly gave it a kick start). So just because you CAN send something legally, doesn't shield you from the effects of not following the industry norms. Here's a chart that compares what's legal versus industry standards:
What is Act!'s definition of "Explicit Permission?"
- Freely given – Truly voluntary. Denial or withdrawal of permission must not imply negative consequences for the recipient.
- Specific – Recipients should know the specific purpose for which they are providing their email address, and if there is more than one purpose, there should be separate consent for each.
- Informed – Details of the permission must be clear and distinct from other text - not buried inside a paragraph or terms of service.
- Unambiguous – Permission must be indicated through an affirmative act or declaration, preferably a checkbox that is defaulted to un-ticked. A pre-ticked box or lack of objection (e.g.
What is a "Ticked Box?"
So you now understand you need people's permission to send them emails. So you are going to start collecting people's contact information, including proof of emarketing permission. You might create a "Contact Us" type web form on your website. Or maybe you have a signup page to download a PDF white paper. What this is saying is you can't trick someone into signing up for your emails. The default is to not signup. They must do an extra action to signify they are opting in. This also can not be required on the form.
What records must be kept and where?
At minimum you should be able to prove that you have permission to email to contacts in your database. Some suggestions for things to track:
- Email Address - obviously you need the email address to lookup data
- Date of Opt-in - when did they give you emarketing permission
- Method of Opt-In - How did they give you permission.
- Email Type(s) - Are they signing up for all emarketing from you? Just newsletters?
Where you keep this is not defined, but it would make sense to keep it in your Act! CRM so you can use this as criteria when making your emarketing send lists. You might consider:
- Adding custom contact fields to track opt-in dates and methods
- Have your forms and landing pages map to those fields automatically
- Review your send results and periodically remove any that have unsubscribed
- Note - You may be asked to prove permission on certain emails, so plan to have this easily searchable wherever you choose to store this data.
Bad Email Sending Behavior - Act! Will Lock Your AMA Account
Act! reviews AMA sending activity. If they see any questionable behavior, they may lock your account and contact you about your internal emarketing policies and list maintenance practices.
Behavior that will get your AMA account locked:
- Spam Complaints over 0.1%
- Hard Bounce rates must not exceed 5%
Official Documentation from Act! Regarding Sending & List Maintenance:
Need more assistance with your marketing efforts?
At AspenTech CRM, we meet these challenges head-on. We address every issue you might have with your CRM – whether it involves selection, technology, training, or process – and create a manageable plan. We then work with you to implement that plan so you can use your CRM to its fullest potential, giving you a 360° view of your customers – and your business. Call 866-880-4228 to start a conversation with one of our CRM experts.
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