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IP Reputation: Don’t confuse symptoms and causes

by Andrew O'Halloran, Chief Privacy Officer

AOL's Blog posting on IP Reputation

You probably already saw AOL’s recent Postmaster blog posting: “IP Reputation, the Whitelist, and Inbox Delivery at AOL”. If not, I would strongly encourage you to read it. In my opinion, AOL and its team do a good job at communicating important and valuable information openly to the email marketing community and you should make full benefit of this. In fact, AOL wants you to because in the end it will not only benefit you, but will also benefit AOL, its customers, and arguably, the entire permission based email marketing industry.

Frame your deliverability issue correctly

Increasingly, I get the sense that many senders are confusing symptoms and causes. You can see this reflected in some of the comments posted to AOL’s blog posting (note: it beats me why the comments seem so negative!). The “symptom and cause” confusion usually comes out in the following type of questions “How can I reduce the number of complaints”; “Why am I starting to have delivery problems on my whitelisted IP”; “How can I entice more people to click on the links”?

Fever - Treat the cause and not the symptom

SPAM complaints are like a fever. Yes, the fever is a problem. But more accurately, fever is a symptom or sign caused by a health issue occurring within the body. In the end, you want to get to the bottom of the problem and treat the cause such as infection, virus, etc…. Similarly, a high “spam complaint” percentage is not THE problem but rather the symptom of an underlying cause – the people complaining did not want to receive your message. Not only did they not want to receive the message, but they were also highly motivated in some way to express this by complaining “This is SPAM!”.

The question “How can I reduce the number of complaints”(fever) should more accurately be asked as “How can I improve my practices and strategies so that I am delivering value?” (cause).

Know “Thy customer”

The key in the end is to really understand your customer base: who they are, what they are interested in, and more importantly, what they do not want. Unfortunately, it seems that in many cases this mantra seems disregarded as if it only applied to the past, or in traditional marketing where there was a cost to sending each piece of marketing collateral. If you got anything from Christine’s AOL Postmaster blog, it should be the understanding that reputation plays a critical role in deliverability. In a real sense, the “cost” in email marketing to not applying and adhering to best practices is poor deliverability:

The reward

If you send relevant and targeted campaigns, your reputation will be positive and you will be rewarded so to speak with good deliverability.

The Punishment

By contrast, if you don’t invest and take the time to invest in applying best practices, then your reputation will turn negative and you will be punished so to speak with poor deliverability, temporary deferrals lasting 24+ hours, loss of whitelisting status, etc… I won’t even go into the fines and possible imprisonment that can happen for legal noncompliance problems.

Pulling it together

Whole books have been written on email marketing. As well, you can find many different online resources on various email tactics. In the end, however, the key is bringing all this together into a comprehensive strategy AND executing. For some it may seem a daunting challenge, but one that is very realistic to achieve – and in most cases without any change to revenue.

The catch?

It takes time, energy, focus, and diligence.

The payoff?

Huge! Email marketing and deliverability will become increasingly difficult as time goes on. The better you can get now means the better success you can have now and into the future.

Are you worried about list burnout and wondering what is the right mix between promotional and informative emails? Then let Cypra Media figure it out and do your email marketing for you! Find out how easy and affordable our services are.

Or contact Cypra today for a free consultation and email marketing assessment.