SparkPost http://www.yuye14.icu SparkPost is the world’s #1 email delivery service. Fri, 24 Jan 2020 23:19:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 A New Year! A New Recipient Validation! http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/new-year-new-recipient-validation/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/new-year-new-recipient-validation/#respond Fri, 24 Jan 2020 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48619 Recipient ValidationRead up on significant changes and enhancements for SparkPost’s Recipient Validation - an easy way to verify if email addresses are valid before you send.

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In December 2018, SparkPost launched its first version of Recipient Validation. By August 2019, we made improvements with a stronger algorithm to identify undeliverable and risky email addresses based upon hard bounces in our email data footprint. Now to ring in the new decade, we are introducing some significant improvements to bring you the most powerful and truly data-driven Recipient Validation tool on the market!

?SparkPost’s Data Footprint Works Harder with Delivery and Engagement Events

SparkPost now leverages delivery and engagement (clicks and open) events, in addition to hard bounce events to train our validation algorithm, bringing you one of the most powerful data-driven email validation tools on the market. The inclusion of these additional hundreds of millions of events gives you confidence in email addresses that we categorize as valid – our data indicates we have seen deliveries and/or active engagement associated with the email address and do not have data suggesting that it is an invalid email address for any reason.

New Typo Result Category: Make it Easy and Simple to Identify Potentially Misspelled Domains

Working with customer feedback, we improved how we present? misspelled domains as an additional attribute for valid, risky, and undeliverable email addresses to make it easier to filter out and quickly take action.? To make it even easier, we pulled out the “did_you_mean” typo domain attribute and made it a top-level category result, giving you a clearer and cleaner split of your email list to identify potentially misspelled email addresses. No more drilling down to figure out which email addresses were typed incorrectly!

New Neutral Result Category: Straightforward and Honest Email Validation based on Data

Before we were able to leverage delivery and engagement events, our category result valid was comprised of email addresses we had either (1) never seen a hard bounce for, (2) an email that may have hard bounced in the past but had not had any subsequent hard bounces for a significant amount of time, or (3) a default status for email addresses we had no hard bounce data for. We’ve quickly moved away from this model to give you clearer and upfront validations without any ambiguity. Email addresses that we categorize as neutral mean that they:

  • Have been checked for proper syntax, proper domain, existing MX record
  • Still provide a check against role-based domains, free domains, and disposable domains?
  • Have not had a hard bounce in our data footprint, but also have not had any delivery and/or engagement events in our data footprint?

We cannot confidently tell you that email addresses categorized as neutral? are completely valid, as we have not seen a delivery and/or engagement event. The neutral result helps you make better informed data-driven decisions when dealing with recipient email addresses. Our best recommendation for neutral email addresses: If you are risk-tolerant and can afford to send to some potentially undeliverable email addresses, try sending to neutral as there is a potential low risk. If you are completely risk-averse and must only send to completely valid email addresses, avoid sending to neutral for the time being.?

How to Get Started with Recipient Validation

As more of our beloved customers test and integrate Recipient Validation into their email sending, our team is committed to continuing our research and development to improve our ability to identify email addresses accurately so you can be confident in your sending, instead of relying on outdated and inaccurate checks. We always welcome and super appreciate feedback as it helps to shape and inform our roadmap decisions!

Jump into the SparkPost app (EU) to validate your email address lists now! Dig into the documentation and start validating email addresses in real-time with our real-time API!

Happy New Year!

— Isaac Kim, Group Product Manager

@isaacswkim

? Special thanks to Sailakshmi Pisupati, Scott McCammon, Nupur Kulkarni, Doug Remsberg, Matt Gray, Ian Scherer, Nathan Durant, Chris Iwaskiw, George? Schlossnagle, Nick Lemmon, Lynn Murphy, Aubrey Altmann, Paul Koprowski, Aaron Sunhao Shen, Jason Soni, Angelica Garcia and to everyone at SparkPost involved in making this next iteration of Recipient Validation so awesome!

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3 Reasons Why Deliverability Monitoring Matters http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-reasons-deliverability-monitoring-matters/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-reasons-deliverability-monitoring-matters/#respond Wed, 22 Jan 2020 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48547 deliverability monitoringCustomer Success Manager, Sarah Parrino, explains 3 major reasons deliverability monitoring should matter to you and your company.

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Deliverability. It’s the seven-syllable word that can either excite or intimidate you.

Even with the rise of social media, email continues to be the most ubiquitous medium for marketers today. And what’s not to love about it? Email is easy to set up, used globally, and it has a great return on investment (if done right).

Although email’s importance seems everlasting, its ability to reach a customer’s inbox isn’t guaranteed. ?On average, a staggering 20% of all permission-based emails never make it to the inbox. Instead, these messages land in the spam folder, which hurts both your reputation and the revenue you could be generating via email.

Are your campaigns part of that statistic?

If you don’t know the answer, then you may be someone that finds deliverability intimidating. And that’s okay. Perhaps you’re a marketer, or an IT professional, or an expert basket weaver, and deliverability monitoring may not part of your everyday life. However, if you (or your company) sends email, deliverability should matter to you. Here’s why:

?1. You can see how strong your customer connections are.?Deliverability monitoring goes beyond reporting on the inbox and spam folder. Depending on the provider’s platform, you can also monitor engagement rates (whether someone is reading or deleting) and inactive rates (if a previously-engaged subscriber is no longer opening your messages).

Since deliverability is strongly based on subscriber engagement, these metrics are essential for higher inbox placement.

A low average read rate paired with a high inactive rate puts your email messaging at high risk for the spam folder. If there was a Goldilocks inactive rate, it would hover around 40%. Do you know your inactive rate and how it’s changed over time?

Screenshot from our Inbox Tracker platform. This dashboard uses a monthly aggregate to show you how your inactive rate is trending.

An independent view of these engagement rates allows you to take action to address any problem areas that could be hurting your overall deliverability. If lower engagement rates are a problem for you, look into solutions such as list pruning, segmentation and personalization within your campaigns. For more, check out my last blog post on how to boost your engagement rates?here.

2. It tells you what is or isn’t working.?Let’s say your marketing team spent hours developing a new campaign: The subject line is enticing, the graphics are eye-catching, and the deals are unbeatable. And yet, when you finally press “Send”, the campaign’s inboxing looks something like this:

Less than half of your audience saw this email in their inbox. Although this (luckily) is a hypothetical scenario, these situations happen?all the time?in the email world. As unfortunate as this scenario may be, the good news is that proactive deliverability monitoring can help prevent these problems from reoccurring.

As stated earlier, deliverability monitoring goes beyond inbox placement. On the surface, the email itself may look fine, but spam placement may be indicative of a deeper issue. For example, did you know some ISPs will examine certain words in your subject line to determine whether it’s spammy or not? Other template issues include not having a working unsubscribe link, the HTML email size exceeding 102 KB, or using a higher ratio of images to text.

Luckily, this is where pre-deployment software comes into play. Our Design Tracker platform, powered by Litmus, lets you preview your template before sending:

Preview your campaign through all the different email clients to make sure it’s completely optimized.

You can use the Spam Score tab to see specific campaign components of your message that could hurt your chances of landing in the inbox.

3. You may discover issues beyond your immediate control.?Continuing with the above scenario, perhaps you’ve tackled all your campaign’s content issues. You fixed the broken links, removed the word “free” from the subject line and cleaned up your list. Now all your spam problems will go away, right?

Unfortunately, some cases aren’t that easy.

Depending on your configuration, there may be underlying set-up related issues that are unfavorable from an ISP’s point-of-view. And this information is not easily accessible on your own. So you can either ignore the problem(s), hire a deliverability expert (they are expensive and hard to find), or you can invest in deliverability monitoring software that will alert you on these hidden problems.

For example, built into Inbox Tracker is an on-demand deliverability audit called Reputation Advisor. Each time you load the page, it performs over 100 checks on your configuration, IP reputation, and authentication, and addresses any set-up-related items that may be hurting your deliverability.

Say you are regularly being spoofed (a sender is using your domain pretending to be you). You can see these instances from our Inbox Tracker Dashboard:

Spoofing is usually a sign that you are missing a crucial DNS authentication record that legitimizes your domain to the ISP, such as a DMARC record:

From there, you can use our in-house DMARC Policy Manager to create the record. Using the provided record will also grant you access to our DMARC Dashboard, which allows you to monitor potential threats to prevent further spoofing incidents.

Use the DMARC Policy manager to easily set up your DMARC record.

Once your record is?published, easily?monitor threats to ensure no unauthorized users are attempting to send mail from your domain.

Publishing this record is one small step you can take to ensure your messages land in the inbox. Without a deliverability monitoring platform, you may never know about outsider attacks or lack of authentication within your email infrastructure.

To conclude, deliverability monitoring is multi-faceted and will benefit anyone who sends email. Knowing engagement rates, what is or isn’t working, and discovering underlying set-up-related issues will ensure the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts. If you would like additional information on the products mentioned in this article, contact us!

~Sarah

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[Webinar] Decoding Emerging Elements for Email Marketers in 2020 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/webinar-decoding-emerging-elements-email-marketers-2020/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/webinar-decoding-emerging-elements-email-marketers-2020/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 14:00:31 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48593 emerging elementsJoin Jennifer Cannon, Senior Editor at MarTech Today, and April Mullen, Director of Strategic Insights for a chat on emerging elements for email marketers.

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It takes a great deal of optimization and deliverability smarts to reach subscribers in the inbox, yet, so many senders are still in the dark on what to do. It’s not a surprise given that inbox provider algorithms are getting more complex, data regulations are increasing and subscribers are more distracted than ever, even if your emails make it to the inbox.?

What’s an email marketer to do to navigate this challenging climate? Our friends at MarTech Today created a useful resource called the Periodic Table of Email Optimization and Deliverability. It’s a comprehensive email resource to guide you on how to reach your subscribers in meaningful ways through implementing better deliverability and optimization techniques.?

Want to see this exciting resource in more detail and learn about how you can up your email game in 2020 when it comes to optimization and putting emerging trends to work?? Explore the email periodic chart and its “elements” with its architect, Jennifer Cannon, Senior Editor at MarTech Today, and me, April Mullen, Director of Strategic Insights at SparkPost and co-founder of Women of Email during this exciting webinar happening on January 23, 2020 at 1:00 pm EST.

April and Jennifer will be taking a look at some of the emerging elements and trends that brands and email marketers need to embrace in 2020, including:

  • What you need to know about BIMI (Brand Indicators for Messaging Identification)
  • Artificial Intelligence vs Machine Learning for email marketers
  • How Voice Assistants will play into how email marketers develop emails this year
  • Compliance — what you need to know about GDPR, CCPA and maintaining a compliant data set
  • The impact of AMP for Email on brands’ email marketing efforts

Want to attend this webinar where April and Jen will be droppin’ some serious email knowledge? You can register here.

~ April

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[Webinar] Email Resolutions for 2020 and the Year Ahead http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/webinar-email-resolutions-2020-year-ahead/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/webinar-email-resolutions-2020-year-ahead/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48581 email resolutionsJoin SparkPost's April Mullen and Iterable's Jen Capstraw for a webinar on email resolutions to keep and marketing trends to ditch in 2020.

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It’s that time of year again, Marketers! The extreme planning and resolution setting for 2020 is in full swing. While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new year with big goals and lots of plans, it’s also easy to suddenly feel overwhelmed and afraid that you won’t be able to accomplish everything that you set out to do. Additionally, depending on your team’s resources, it may not even be possible to implement every idea on your list without sprouting a whole crop of gray hairs! So, what’s an overly ambitious marketer to do? How do you prioritize all of the cool trends in email that need to get implemented yesterday?? I’m glad you asked!

On January 22nd, two of our favorite email experts (and Women of Email Co-Founders!) will be coming to you live to discuss email and marketing trends to try (and trends to ditch) in 2020. April Mullen, Director of Strategic Insights at SparkPost, alongside Jen Capstraw, Director of Strategic Insights and Evangelism at Iterable, will be hosting a fun and interactive session on all things email.

They’ll cover:

  • The trends of the last decade that are driving email marketing forward
  • An easy-to-follow calendar with monthly milestones to keep your resolution efforts on track
  • The email innovations that will really drive results and the ones you should leave behind

They’ll also answer your questions in real-time, so bring some tough ones! If you’re excited for the new marketing challenges 2020 will bring, and are looking for additional motivation, inspiration and a few recommendations to completely crush it this year, don’t miss this talk.

You can watch the replay of the webinar here.

Enjoy!

~ Jen

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New On-Premises Releases: Beginning the Decade on a High Note http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/on-premises-releases-beginning-decade-high-note/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/on-premises-releases-beginning-decade-high-note/#respond Mon, 13 Jan 2020 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48565 Technical Product Manager, Harold Vass, dives into the details of our newest on-premises releases for both PowerMTA and Momentum.

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The new year is here!??

PowerMTA

PowerMTA launched two new versions in Q4 2019. A version for our newest product release 5.0 as well as our legacy product 4.5. We had a fantastic time meeting with our customers at the PowerMTA Summit in Amsterdam back in September and were even able to include a few feature requests we received into these releases. A special shout out to Tamara Bond at DotDigital for the top feature request in the 5.0r2 release! We appreciate your support and feedback to help make the product something you love to use.?

Here are a few of the 5.0r2 features we released at the end of the year, for a full changelog visit the PowerMTA download site or get in touch with us!?

  • Added a per-queue “retry-after-dns-error” directive that can be used to specify a different and shorter retry time for a queue when DNS resolution fails since it likely does not need to wait long to try again;
  • Improved our opportunistic DANE feature that launched with PMTA 5.0;
  • Added the ability to configure send and receive timeouts for connections in.NET submissions API; and
  • Upgraded to OpenSSL 1.1.1, adding support for TLSv1.3.

One more thing for PowerMTA’s newest major version. I partnered up with Scott Habicht – Senior Director of Support and expert all things PowerMTA to create a new type of resource for PowerMTA. This knowledge base article is a great place to start learning about how the features in 5.0 can help you get the most out of your sending program whether you’re a seasoned sending vet or a PowerMTA newbie. Did I mention it has gifs? Because it has gifs. They’re educational and informative as opposed to the ones in this blog; which are purely for your enjoyment.

We also just released PowerMTA 4.5r20! Although the upgrade from 4.5 to 5.0 is ridiculously easy (you should do it and if you’re current on your Support it’s included!) we totally understand that you’re busy and a major version upgrade might need to hold off a bit longer.? Because of that, we still want to deliver some features we think you’ll find incredibly valuable as well as some bug fixes we’ll leave for the changelog.?

For 4.5r20 we have two heavy hitters and a handful of improvements and fixes we’ll leave to the changelog. The big ones include:

  • Adding support for HAProxy protocol version 1 for outbound traffic from PowerMTA to make setting up a more resilient network easier when you have multiple PowerMTA instances; and
  • Adding the ability to specify custom message IDs for Signals events using an X-header; this feature can be used to support reporting of engagement tracking events in Sparkpost Signals.

You may be asking yourself, what is SparkPost Signals. Oh, just the world’s most awesome and powerful email analytics and optimization suite powered by a company that sends over 37% of the world’s B2C email – NBD. One of the really awesome things about this product is that it can work with your on-premises instances of PowerMTA. Steve Tuck, SparkPost Senior Solutions Engineer did an awesome write up about using Signals with PowerMTA here late last year.?

Momentum

We also just launched a new version of Momentum – version 4.3.1. This is Momentum’s first release since March of 2019 and contains a bundle of features and fixes. Since our Momentum community is so widely varied in their use and application of the product, I’ll briefly touch on a couple items that (I believe) are universally applicable and would refer you to the release notes for everything else.?

  • Updated the libssh2, HTTP/2, Cyren, and CSAPI to resolve vulnerabilities and improve performance. ??; and
  • Added the TLS status of messages and AMP labels to the Events field to help you analyze your streams.

Keep an eye out early this year as we overhaul the entirety of the Momentum support documentation into an easier, more searchable, and more teachable(!) format right here on the SparkPost website.

Signals for On-Prem Bonus! Steve Tuck, in his infinite awesomeness also did an entire article on Momentum Signals for On-Prem. The article does a great job walking you through the (simple) process of getting your on-prem instance of Momentum ready to play nice with our cloud analytics platform – Signals!

Thanks

A huge, massive, colossal thank you to everyone that has made SparkPost On-Prem land a delight to be a part of including Tom Mairs, Joal Barbehenn, Gene Marshburn, Bridey Medeiros, Scott Habicht, Steve Tuck, Avinash Kulkarni, and the PMTA team, Julie and the SMTP Delivery team, and so many more here at SparkPost plus all of our users and friends that have provided powerful insight and recommendations that we use every day to make these products better. We’re looking forward to another year of learning and growing with you. Happy Sending…?

~ Harold

 

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Decision 2020: Email from the Presidential Contenders – January Update http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/decision-2020-email-from-the-presidential-contenders-january-update/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/decision-2020-email-from-the-presidential-contenders-january-update/#respond Thu, 09 Jan 2020 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48535 presidential contendersManager of Research Analytics, John Landsman, analyzes the email activity and performance of the top eight polling 2020 presidential contenders.

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Four months ago, when we last talked about the email campaigns we were tracking from the Democratic Presidential hopefuls, they were a crowd of at least twenty-two.? The winnowing that’s taken place since then —ten official dropouts — leaves us with fourteen, including the more recently launched campaigns of Mike Bloomberg and Deval Patrick. Among the more prominent dropouts from that earlier crowd were Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke.????

In the table below, we analyze the email audiences and recent thirty-day activity and performance of the eight top polling contenders whose campaigns survive.? Q4 fund raising is also included for each. President Trump’s activity is also included as comparison, because he continues to mail actively to his base. The Democratic candidates are listed in order of their current polling numbers, which may have changed somewhat by the time you read this piece.

As we’ve reported previously, the largest email audiences among the Democrats are in general owned by the strongest polling candidates.? Biden and Sanders show the largest audiences; Bloomberg the smallest. Trends over the past four months are a mixed bag. Biden’s polling eroded somewhat, as did his audience.? Sanders’ audience also eroded, but his polling increased by three points. Warren’s audience grew, but her polling eroded. Buttigieg grew both is polling and his audience. Bloomberg wasn’t in the race four months ago, and his $30 million self-funded advertising campaign seems to have quickly bought him a 6% polling position.? Yet, he has barely any email audience or activity. Yang is also new to this “top eight” group from last August, but does have an active email program, though it’s not one of this group’s top performers. He was also a respectable Q4 fund raiser.??

Sanders and Warren deployed the largest number of campaigns among the Democrats, and the largest number of emails.? Klobuchar and Booker are on the low end for both deployed campaigns and emails sent. Inbox performance is spotty for all of these Democratic candidates.? We consider at least 90% the minimum standard for acceptable inbox performance; yet none of these Democratic campaigns exceeds 80%, with most considerably weaker than that.? Klobuchar’s are only 58%, and Buttigieg has the worst inbox performance of them all: only 49% of his emails are reaching his supporters’ inboxes, which means that he has a 51% spam rate.? Part of Buttigieg’s inbox problem is that he is over-mailing. His email audience may— each — be receiving up to four messages per day.? That’s overkill, and it’s clearly creating spam issues.

But as we know, politicians are not bound by the strictures of CAN-SPAM regulations, and most tend to have sloppy list acquisition and send practices that result in inbox challenges.?

Buttigieg’s inbox issues are especially ironic since he owns one of the higher read rates in this group, and the second highest Q4 fund raising total, behind Sanders.? It’s interesting to think of how much better Buttigieg might be doing with less of his email going to spam.??

Biden and Warren were the other top Q4 fund raisers in this group

Trump continues to show a much larger email footprint than any of the Democratic candidates, while deploying a midrange number of campaigns, and the second largest (behind Warren) number of actual emails.? He’s been using the impeachment battle as the basis for intense fund raising to support his anti-impeachment messaging and reelection campaign. While his inbox performance reflects cleaner practices than his days as a serial spammer during the 2016 campaign, his current inbox rate leaves much room for improvement.? Trump’s read rates are on the high end of the range shown for this period. And he outraised his nearest Democratic opponent by more than 30% in Q4.??

???(*) Source:? Real Clear Politics Survey Composite as of dates shown

??(#) Source: CBS News

The table below shows the strongest overlaps between the candidates’ email audiences, revealing the degree to which individual candidates may truly be competing in the eyes of voters who favor them.? So, for example, Biden has two strong overlaps: 12% of his audience is also receiving email from Warren, and 12% are receiving Buttigieg’s email. Buttigieg’s audience has significant overlaps with five other candidates, most strongly with Biden, Sanders and Warren.? Bloomberg’s email program is as yet too new and too small to have any overlaps. Overlap relationships also provide insight into where certain candidates’ supporters may end up if/when their favorite contender drops out of the race.?

?(*) Reads:? 12% of Biden’s email audience is also receiving email from Warren; 12% from Buttigieg..25% of Sanders’ email audience is also receiving email from Biden; 22% from Warren, etc.

Related subject lines tend to reflect how we’re already likely to perceive the candidates themselves.? Here are some of the high performers from the top four candidates.

  • Biden:
    • “Donald Trump is a coward.”? (35% read rate)
    • “Ted Cruz is lying about Joe Biden.” (33%)
  • Sanders (note the unusual length of his subject lines):
    • Can you take our short survey and tell Bernie what your top priorities are for his administration when he’s inaugurated and we are in the White House?” (47%)
    • Can you chip in $2.70? There’s a debate in two days. Our final quarterly FEC deadline before Iowa is in two weeks. If we want to win, we need to step up again?”? (41%)
  • Warren:??
    • Will you join our Persistence Training in [location]? (33%)
    • “I’m tired of freeloading billionaires.” (33%)
  • Buttigieg:
    • “[REDACTED] here are your talking points on climate change” (47%)
    • “The attacks on Pete last night” (35%)

Subject lines can have many areas of focus (e.g., policy issues, volunteer recruitment, local visit announcements, survey requests).? Some may even say, “Not asking for money,” but in truth the call to action in virtually all of these messages is about money.? Thus is it ever.

And so the beat goes on. ? For better or worse, we’ve got eleven more months of this drama.? The Iowa Caucuses are on February 3rd; the New Hampshire Primary on February 11th.? Let’s see where we are after that.

~ John

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3 Ways to Make Your Email Program More Gender-Inclusive http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-ways-make-email-program-gender-inclusive/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-ways-make-email-program-gender-inclusive/#respond Tue, 07 Jan 2020 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48527 Email Program More Gender-InclusiveSocial Media Manager, Erica Weiss, goes over best practices you can implement to make your email program more gender-inclusive.

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Over the past few years, we’ve been fortunate enough to witness and be part of a shift in the hegemonic understanding of gender. For fear of over-simplifying, I won’t even try to list the socio-political pressures that have lead us to this important cultural moment. Rather, I’ll focus on the actionable steps we can take to address gender inclusivity through our email programs.?

While we certainly can’t ignore that diversity and inclusion are good for business, my aim in this blog post is to stray away from your company’s bottom line and instead focus on you. How can you make meaningful changes to your email program that reflect the importance of gender inclusivity and connect with all of your customers? How can you use your powerful platform as a marketer to represent more types of people in your email marketing programs?

Here are some easy ways to get started:

Use gender-neutral pronouns

Language is obviously an incredibly powerful tool that we as marketers (and human beings) have at our disposal. However, as we all know, language is incredibly fickle– words and phrases that may have been widely accepted even 5 years ago may no longer work in today’s world. And, even trickier, words can take on new meanings altogether. They is a perfect example of this and is in large part why Merriam-Webster named it their 2019 Word of The Year. According to the dictionary publisher, lookups for they increase by 313% over the previous year.?

Accordingly, one of the most simple ways to make your emails more gender inclusive? Ditch gendered pronouns like he and she and use the gender-neutral they instead. Using they instead of he and she allows you to be more inclusive of those whose gender identity is non-binary. This easy change will allow you to include a group of people who up until recently were not represented in English pronouns.

Segment based on behavior rather than gendered assumptions

In their study, the American Psychological Association found that a person’s gender has little to no bearing on their personality. More than that, a study found that 81% of Generation Z believes that gender doesn’t define people as much as it used to. With such staggering findings surrounding gender, it’s time that marketers stop making assumptions about their customers purely based on gender.?

When segmenting audiences, avoid grouping customers based solely on gender. As evidenced by the aforementioned research, many people have interests that don’t conform to “traditional” gender roles. Rather than using gender as a criteria for segmentation, focus more on customers’ behavior like their tendency to open your emails. This sort of analysis will allow you to target more nuanced personas rather than just those of the staunchly blue or pink variety.

Add more gender options to your email sign-up process

Sign-up is a great time to collect important personalization data about your customers. Beyond asking users what their email is and what types of messages they’d like to receive ask for their gender pronouns. This will allow you to not only learn more about who is engaging with your email programs but will allow you to personalize when necessary. For instance, if a customer writes in with a question, it’s important to have this information so your support team can address the customer in the most respectful way possible. In order to be sensitive to and understanding of your customers’ needs, sometimes all you need to do is just ask!

I encourage you to employ these 3 tips when structuring your email marketing program. Small adjustments like these can mean a lot to an individual customer. And, while at the end of the day our goal as marketers is ultimately to sell, I believe we can do so responsibly by understanding, representing, and even empowering customers through the language and marketing strategies we choose.

~ Erica

P.S. Do you have more strategies for creating gender-inclusive emails? I’d love to hear them! Drop me a line on LinkedIn.

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[Video] Experiments in Email http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/video-experiments-in-email/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/video-experiments-in-email/#respond Fri, 03 Jan 2020 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48514 Experiments in EmailInterested in hearing all of the amazing insights our OptIn'19 panelists had to offer? Watch the instant replay of the Experiments in Email panel today!

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Email marketing experiments can deliver big results. Dynamic content, layout, design, timing, and frequency tests can all help invigorate your email marketing efforts. But, do you know what you should be testing? Are you testing correctly? And, even if you do get accurate results are they significant enough to justify making major changes to your email strategy? At OptIn’19 we gathered experts from Holistic Email, EveryAction, and eDataSource to answer these very questions. Here are a few of the insights they touched on:

CEO & Founder of Holistic Email, Kath Pay, spoke largely about the lack of training surrounding email testing. She said that because very few email marketers have been formally taught how to test, most don’t do as great of a job as they could be. Many email marketers are fixated on testing subject lines and CTAs rather than looking at the bigger picture:? what motivates the customer? If the variables you’re testing don’t align with your customers’ goals, the results of your test won’t be very significant.

President at ActionKit, Patrick Kane, talked about his experience using email testing to increase contributions to his clients’ political campaigns. Kane mentioned that ActionKit had a client who had tested placing a CTA in the upper right hand corner about 10 years ago and had seen great results. Accordingly, many other similar organizations adopted this same convention without testing it themselves. ActionKit re-ran the experiment more recently and found that this design choice actually caused negative conversions on mobile devices, thus proving the importance of understanding testing as an iterative process requiring marketers to retest over-and-over again.

Similarly to Pay, CEO of eDataSource, G.B. Heidarsson, focused on how many email marketers don’t actually know what they’re testing for. For instance, he’s seen that many marketers test creative based on subject lines, which begs the question: if a customer has to open an email to see the creative, how can the design of the email affect open rates? Moreover, he talked about how open rates are not necessarily an indicator of success. If customers are opening your emails but not converting this could lead to major problems down the road.

Interested in hearing all of the amazing insights on experiments in email our panelists had to offer? Watch the instant replay of this panel today!

~ Erica

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Cloud and On-Premises: Building a Hybrid Email Solution http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/cloud-premises-building-hybrid-email-solution/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/cloud-premises-building-hybrid-email-solution/#respond Mon, 30 Dec 2019 14:00:43 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48501 email solutionDirector of Customer Success, Tom Mairs, explains why you should consider leveraging a hybrid SaaS Cloud and On-Premises email solution.

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Overview

Momentum and PowerMTA have been the two fastest, most effective on-premises MTA solutions in the industry for the past two decades. In 2014, we introduced the SparkPost Cloud delivery engine to that suite and made the power of those high volume on-premises MTAs available to the SaaS Cloud market. Empowering our customers to build on a cloud solution backed by the world’s fastest on-premises solutions was a revolution in the industry, but it also introduced a rarely discussed side benefit which is the ability to leverage our platforms as a hybrid.

When we talk to our customers about hybrid solutions, that really can take three different forms and we will discuss those in detail below. In general, what we mean is that you can deploy one of our on-premises solutions (Momentum or PowerMTA) to your own data centers and also use the SparkPost Cloud SaaS solution together in some fashion.

Diversifying Mail Streams

The SparkPost cloud can operate as an extension to your existing on-premises deployment.? In many cases, you can take advantage of the fact that we have a highly scalable infrastructure or specialty services that are not available in your own data center. For instance, we have a proven ability to deliver effectively into China, one of the most difficult delivery regions in the world. Routing your China-bound traffic through SparkPost could be the solution you are looking for while keeping your domestic traffic in your local data center. Another use case is to separate your time-sensitive notification messages off to SparkPost for delivery while your less time-sensitive messaging is still delivered from your data center.

To make this work, your on-premises configuration should use SparkPost as a “smart host” for specific mail streams. In Momentum you can use a gateway configuration in a binding stanza. In PowerMTA you can use a queue-to directive in a domain stanza.

In either case, only select message streams are relayed to SparkPost for onward delivery.

Maximizing Deliverability

Another use case is to use Momentum or PowerMTA to do all the pre-conditioning, and customization of the message in your data center, then forward ALL the mail to SparkPost for onward delivery.? This can help you reduce your data center footprint and Enterprise customers can take advantage of Technical Account Managers, Deliverability Professionals, and our highly scalable infrastructure to ensure onward delivery of the message.

The easiest way to do this is to add a global configuration that forwards all mail to SparkPost for delivery.? You can do that in Momentum with a Gateway command and adding the required API Key and TLS security as shown below.? Making the change in PowerMTA is similarly simple.

Disaster Recovery

SparkPost’s distributed architecture can be accessed via API or SMTP. In the event of a disaster, it can serve as a hot-standby or failover to ensure business continuity.? In order to make this work effectively, you will want to split your traffic so that a reasonable amount of volume is shared across both platforms. Ideally, this is configured as a hot-hot solution so there is no concern about IP warmup.

If you follow the instructions below to configure the systems, You can select specific mail streams, or portions of them to route through one or the other platform.? You can then trigger the failover in a number of different ways depending on your injection processes. For instance, active load balancing with an external device can route messages only to the systems that are responding. If the hardware data center fails, all traffic natively routes to SparkPost and vice versa.??

You may also want to control that programmatically for times when you want to perform data center maintenance and route all messages through SparkPost during that downtime.

The Nitty Gritty Details

Momentum Configuration

SparkPost requires SMTP injection using TLS and SMTP_Auth.? Momentum has the ability to do both with configuration. You can route all traffic with a static GATEWAY directive or you can route programmatically with Lua.

Configure a binding stanza with a GATEWAY pointing to SparkPost.? Aside from making SparkPost a smarthost, you can also set the TLS configuration here.

Binding PushToSparkPost {
??Gateway = "smtp.sparkpostmail.com"
????TLS = "required"
????TLS_Certificate = "/etc/pki/tls/certs/trymsys.net.crt"
????TLS_Key = "/etc/pki/tls/certs/trymsys.net.key"
????TLS_Ciphers = "DEFAULT"
}

Configure a domain stanza with the target port (587 or 2525) and the required SMTP_Auth information.? You can copy and paste all of this and just replace the SMTP_AUTH_pass value with the API key from your own SparkPost account.

?Domain "smtp.sparkpostmail.com" {
??Remote_SMTP_Port = "587"
??Outbound_SMTP_AUTH_Type = "LOGIN"
??Outbound_SMTP_AUTH_user = "SMTP_Injection"
??Outbound_SMTP_AUTH_pass = "13d5a82redacted6f16redacted4ca"
}

In Lua, you can use an X-Header to route to the binding above and the rest is automatic.

local bindingname = msg:header("X-Binding")
local err = msg:binding(bindingname[1]);

Now when you inject a message to Momentum with X-Binding: PushToSparkPost, the message will automatically be routed to SparkPost for onward delivery to the recipient.

That is all that’s needed to make a static route.

?You can optionally let Lua selectively route based on the sending domain or target domain or other factors.? In the sample below, I assign different bindings based on the recipient domain. If the recipient is at a Yahoo address, it will deliver with SparkPost, otherwise, it will deliver with Momentum.

-[[ Sample to selectively route to SparkPost Cloud ]]--
 
require("msys.core");
require("msys.extended.message");
require("msys.extended.message_routing");
require("msys.extended.ac");

local mod = {};
 
--[[ Modify these as necessary ]]--
local sproutedomains = { "yahoo.com", "yahoo.co.uk" }
 
--[[ Set Binding function ]]--
function mod:validate_set_binding(msg)
  local domain_str = msys.core.string_new();
  local localpart_str = msys.core.string_new();
  msg:get_evelope2(msys.core.EC_MSG_ENV_TO, localpart_str, domain_str);
  local mydomain = tostring(domain_str);
  local mylocalpart = tostring(localpart_str);
  local validdomain = "false"
  local bindingname = msg:header("X-Binding")
 
-- Test to see if the TO domain is in the routing list
  for i,v in ipairs(sproutedomains) do
    if v == mydomain then
    --  print ("Routing to a valid domain: " .. mydomain);
      validdomain = "true"
      break
   end
  end
 
--[[ 
 This conditional assumes you have bindings configured so that 
 a binding named something_sp will route messages to SparkPost for delivery and a binding named something will route messages via Momentum for delivery
]]--
 
  if (( bindingname[1] ~= "" ) and (bindingname[1] ~= nil ))  then
    if validdomain == "true" then
     -- Append "_sp" to the name
      local err  msg:binding(bindingname[1] .. "_sp");     else
      local err = msg:binding(bindingname[1]);
    end
  else
    local err = msg:binding("catch-all");
  end
  return msys.core.VALIDATE_CONT;
end;

msys.registerModule("policy", mod);

PowerMTA Configuration

If you are using the PowerMTA platform, you can configure it in a similar way.? Though TLS is not absolutely required, SparkPost does recommend using TLS with SMTP_Auth, so you should make those configuration changes as described in the PMTA User Guide in section 10.4.3 Implementation for Outbound Connections. There is also a more comprehensive description in this knowledgebase article: http://www.yuye14.icu/docs/integrations/power-mta/

First, you need to configure a domain directive to specifically use SMTP_Auth with TLS.? As with the Momentum configuration above, the password is the API key from your SparkPost account.

<domain sparkpost.rollup>
 use-unencrypted-plain-auth yes
 auth-username SMTP_Injection
 auth-password xxxYourSparkPostAPIKeyGoesHerexxx
 route smtp.sparkpostmail.com:587
 use-starttls yes
 require-starttls yes
 max-smtp-out 10
</domain>

Now you can route ALL mail to SparkPost with a wildcard domain directive

<virtual-mta SparkPostRelay>
  <domain *>
    queue-to sparkpost.rollup
  </domain>
</virtual-mta>

Or you can selectively route mail streams using a pattern-list directive

<pattern-list domainsRelayedToSparkPost>
    mail-from /@email.mydomain.com/ virtual-mta=SparkPostRelay
</pattern-list>

Bringing it all together

Being able to leverage both SaaS Cloud and On-Premises software in a coordinated Hybrid approach gives you the most flexibility and highest resiliency.? If you want to know more about enabling a hybrid in your environment, let us know.

~ Tom

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5 Steps for Communicating Bad News to Customers http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-steps-communicating-bad-news-customers/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-steps-communicating-bad-news-customers/#respond Fri, 27 Dec 2019 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46664 communicating bad news to customersRead up on 5 steps you should follow when communicating bad news to customers, along with some real-world examples of effective apology emails.

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Everyone makes mistakes. Your customers know that.

How you handle those mistakes, though, determines whether your customers click that unsubscribe link. Don’t ignore the error – 51% of people won’t do business with a company again after a single bad experience. But don’t labor over it either – one study found that extended apologies actually tend to backfire.

Here are 5 steps you should follow in such a situation, along with some real-world examples of effective apology emails.

1. Determine the severity of the problem

Did you misuse a possessive or misplace a comma? Don’t sweat it, and don’t worry about sending an apology either.

On the other hand: Did you accidentally send an email template? An offer that’s already expired?

Did you send an email to the wrong customer segment? Did a popular item go out of stock? ??Did you suffer a data breach?

Your problem likely lies somewhere along that spectrum, from “mistake that probably irritated some people” to “this is a major issue and we need to go into crisis mode now.” Figure that out and then decide what course of action you should take.

2. See if there’s anything you can do without sending another email

You may be able to correct the error and mitigate most of the damage by updating image files, fixing redirect links, or simply changing landing page copy. If that’s the case, then you probably don’t need to send a follow-up email. Most people aren’t excited to receive yet another email, so skip the apology if you can.

3. If you need to send a follow-up, figure out what tone you should take

In the case of an errant email template, or an expired offer, you could simply resend the message with a revised subject line and a brief note at the top of the body. Don’t get into an extended explanation of what went wrong – just offer a sentence or two. In the case of something like an expired offer, extend the deadline or give them a new deal to make up for the mistake.

If the faux pas was more serious than that, though, you’ll want to send a follow-up email. You may also want to alert your customer service folks, social media team, PR department, and anyone else who could have to deal with the fallout from the problem.

Here are 3 companies that appropriately handled this kind of email:

Framebridge: “We think you’re pretty awesome”

Someone at Framebridge was diligent about managing their email list, which is crucial for any company that wants to maintain a strong sender reputation. Unfortunately, they sent their “Do you still want to get email from us?” message to the wrong group of people. Oops.

Luckily, this was the kind of “What a silly thing we did” error that allowed the marketing team to have some fun with their follow-up message. They kept it brief but pleasurable, even going so far as to quip: “It goes without saying, but we think you’re pretty awesome and we’re honored to frame the amazing items from your life.”??Note that they didn’t try to slip in a promotional message since that wouldn’t have gone over well, and they closed with an invitation to send them some feedback, which was a nice touch. After all, they goofed, so why not take a moment to let customers voice their opinions?

Barnes & Noble: Sorry this sold out, but here’s a gift card

Barnes & Noble’s new Nook Glowlight Plus eReader turned out to be so popular that it quickly sold out. That was good for the company, but irritating for customers who wanted one and missed the boat.

Rather than just email the people who placed orders that couldn’t be filled, B&N messaged all of (or a large chunk of) their list. It was a smart way to get in front of the situation while scoring some goodwill with an offer to receive a $10 gift card with a purchase of the device when it’s back in stock.

The “Notify Me” CTA button made sense here, since customers who want one will appreciate the chance to be alerted when it’s back in stock.

SPARK: We have some bad news…

In January 2019, SPARK, an organization devoted to autism research, suffered one of the worst things that can happen to any business: a data breach. Unfortunately, they weren’t aware of it until several days after it happened, and then they needed a few more days to assess the damage. They decided to send two emails, one to all their customers and another to people whose personal data may have been accessed.

They handled the mass email, as well as any organization, can in such a situation. They laid out the details in an FAQ format, making sure to put key information in a bold font and closing with an invitation to email them with any questions or concerns.

Some marketers might quibble with their decision to apologize at the end, rather than at the beginning, but they clearly thought it made sense to get the bad news out of the way before saying how sorry they were about what happened. At a time like this, people often want to get the bad news upfront, rather than scan through an apology to find information about the incident.

4. Watch your metrics after sending the email

As with any message, you’ll want to check, among other things, your:

? Open rates
? Click-through rates (if applicable – avoid CTA buttons unless they’re warranted)
? Unsubscribe rates (yes, even an apology email needs an unsubscribe link)
? Bounce rates (always apply good list management practices)
? Spam complaints (those shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s good to keep an eye on them)

You’ll likely notice a higher-than-usual open rate, but that doesn’t mean you should adopt a pseudo apologetic tone in future emails to increase your metrics. For example, saying “We’re sorry…” in a subject line might get more people to open your email, but if the body header says “For the discounts we’re offering,” you’ll likely see a higher unsubscribe rate and other long-term ill effects. Most people don’t like feeling tricked.

5. Create a plan for next time, if you don’t have one already

You likely won’t make the same mistake twice, but there’s a decent chance another type of error will pop up in the future, or something beyond your control will affect your customers. You should have an action plan in place for such a possibility, along with templates for the different types of apologies you’ll want to send, from “Forgive our silly goof” to “We sincerely apologize for this bad situation.”

You may also want to keep in mind some words of wisdom from Chad S. White at Litmus, who said in a blog post: “Yes, email marketing mistakes aren’t great, but not making any could be a sign of much bigger structural problems with your email program and within your company.”

He said that because, according to Litmus’ 2018 State of Email Survey, over 50% of brands didn’t send an apology email for an email marketing error during the previous 12 months. While some might see that as a good sign, he viewed it as a likely possibility that mistakes were happening and not being addressed.

Don’t be one of those companies.

~ Casey

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Performance Email Marketing Tips for 2020 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/performance-email-marketing-tips-2020/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/performance-email-marketing-tips-2020/#respond Mon, 23 Dec 2019 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48464 Performance Email Marketing TipsProduct Marketing Lead, Angélica Garcia, explains three performance email marketing tips marketers shouldn't sleep on in 2020.

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Lately, it can feel like performance marketing is under attack. With continually updating algorithms, lack of clarity in governance, and more twisted content making its way through our streams, it is becoming increasingly difficult to not just to cut through the noise but filter through what’s relevant and not and engage in meaningful ways. The bottom line, in 2020, you can’t afford to put email performance on the back burner.?

Powerful AIs. The world of performance marketing is programmatic, and it’s more important than ever to dig into data and identify what works for your business to achieve success in these shifting landscapes and to get your message to the right person at the right time.

Predictive Insights are going to be your BFF. Know the difference between actionable predictive insights and historical data reporting. Not all analytics are created equal, and while we all love graphs and charts, past performance is only one piece of the analytics puzzle. Clear insights that dig beyond surface metrics and gives you a warning if you’re about to hit obstacles that will impact your success, will give your teams the power to course-correct before your business takes a hit.?

Optimize or Get Left Behind. Teams that don’t make it a priority to collect and synthesize data to inform their optimization are going to have a pretty hard time going against competitors using robust predictive algorithms to inform their email optimization and deliver value to their customers. Whether it’s A/B testing, content optimization, or time of send; optimizing your programs for a personalized experience is key to increasing engagement and conversions.?

What does all of this mean? It means that if your teams are going into next year without a real peak under the hood of your email performance, you are going to have a tough time playing catch up. Your competition is already doing these very things and finding the best ways to optimize email to engage and re-engage their customers. Cutting through the noise is essential, but how can you deliver thoughtful, relevant, and personal content to users at the time when they are most likely to engage? Predictive insights will be critical to identifying highly engaged or fatigued users, giving you the information you need to tailor your content and time of delivery to delight and engage your customers.?

~ Angélica

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On-Premises to Cloud Email Migration Guide http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/on-premises-cloud-migration-guide/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/on-premises-cloud-migration-guide/#respond Fri, 20 Dec 2019 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48435 Email MigrationDirector of Customer Success, Tom Mairs, shares his playbook for migrating from an on-premises installation to SparkPost's cloud platform.

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So many times, we hear the question, “Do you have a playbook of some kind that lays out the process for migrating from an on-premises installation to SparkPost”?

Why yes, yes we do. Keep reading.

First, some back story. The SparkPost Cloud service was created in 2014 out of the enormous success of the On-Premises Momentum MTA solution. Momentum sits at the core of the SparkPost Cloud, providing high-speed delivery and traffic shaping for thousands of customers on the cloud service. Because of this, Momentum receives a large portion of our engineering attention, but the results of that work are often buried in performance improvements that don’t get a great deal of press.? Momentum customers see the benefits of this work every time a new public release of Momentum is published.

This does NOT mean that SparkPost is just “Momentum in the Cloud”. SparkPost is much more than that and can have added benefits for customers who choose to migrate or use them in a hybrid approach.? In addition, we have made it very easy for PowerMTA customers to migrate or use PowerMTA with SparkPost in a hybrid configuration as well. The rest of this document will describe in detail how you can migrate your message streams from Momentum or PowerMTA to the SparkPost Cloud service.?

There are really two separate scenarios to consider when migrating to SparkPost from Momentum or PowerMTA.?

  1. ?You are ready to leave the on-premises world entirely, shut down your physical data centers and no longer manage any on-premises MTA directly.? This means eliminating Momentum or PowerMTA from your deployment and sending messages directly to SparkPost for message handling.or
  2. You have reason to keep some on-premises footprint for one reason or another.? Some possibilities might be:
  • specific delivery streams that require pre-processing in Momentum
  • capacity splitting for burst or disaster recovery needs
  • supporting legacy customers in PMTA while shifting new customers to SparkPost

?…then you want to forward the other messages on to SparkPost for onward message handling.??

In either situation, you need to be aware that SparkPost will only accept SMTP messages for delivery that are injected over port 587 or 2525 and use SMTP_Auth with a specific username and password (See SMTP docs here). We also highly recommend connecting with a TLS connection, but that is not strictly required. If you are replacing your MTA layer entirely (scenario 1), then you may also want to consider using the Transmissions REST API which can accept messages over HTTPS connections. Documentation on that API is here.

Which option do I choose?

To figure out if you are in option #1 or option #2, consider these factors:

  • Do you use Momentum’s Lua scripting engine for anything more complicated than message routing?
    • Lua is a comprehensive script tool for manipulating messages in-line, but the vast majority of our users only use it to select a binding for delivery.? If that is the case, you can modify your generation code to add an ip_pool attribute to the X-MSYS-API header and have SparkPost assign the route for you.?
    • If you use Lua to do more complicated things like body filtering, Mail_From rewrites, or message cadence calculations, and it’s not feasible to move that logic into your injecting application, you may want to consider switching to the Option #2 camp.
  • Is your generation system able to send messages over port 587 using TLS and SMTP_Auth?
    • Some campaign management systems can only push mail out on port 25 in cleartext. This causes a security problem for SparkPost so you may want to consider Option #2
  • Are you using PowerMTA substitution syntax or other in-line message modification?
    • If you can move this function up into your generators or use the SparkPost Template Language, then you can still use option 1, but otherwise, you may need to think about keeping a PMTA node online for this message modification before shipping to SparkPost for delivery.
  • Do you require any inbound AV/AS scanning before injection? While this is possible in Momentum and PowerMTA, SparkPost assumes you have already performed all those checks.? You may want to consider doing that before injection.

No matter which way you go, it is sure to affect your commercial relationship.? As you can imagine, this is not our first rodeo. Be sure to loop in your Commercial Account Manager and Customer Success Manager so we can help you through the details and make sure you are getting the best value for your dollar.

For Option #1 Camp (Going “cold turkey”):

Let’s assume you are OK with option 1 and you are ready to shut down your on-premises MTAs and you have decided to continue using the SMTP injection method, not changing your message creation systems at all.? Your generation systems should create a fully formatted SMTP message, then push to Sparkpost over TLS using SMTP_AUTH where the username and password are as described on this page. Remember that the “password” is the API key you generate in your SparkPost account with the SMTP delivery option turned on.

If you are in the Option #1 camp, consider switching to the REST API right out of your generation system. In most cases, we find that customers’ processing systems are already using JSON over HTTP and have to convert to SMTP before injection. You can skip that step and send it directly to us as a JSON formatted REST payload.

If you choose to inject with the REST API, you may need to alter your content creation system a bit, but it may be worth it.? You can find out more here.

One of the biggest concerns large ESPs have with a Migration is IP Warming. Typically they have spent many years grooming their inventory of IP addresses with great care so the thought of abandoning all that work is painful. SparkPost has worked out a Bring Your Own IP (BYOIP) process that takes care of that issue. If you have at least one contiguous /24 CIDR block, SparkPost can use those existing IPs for delivery which saves you the pain of having to warm them up again. If you are able to take advantage of that option, you can skip the section here on IP warmup.

If you feel you are ready to go here, skip ahead to “Making it happen

Leveraging Option #2 (on-prem pre-processing):

If, however, you are on team Option #2, then you will want to add some configuration changes to your deployment. The least painful way to migrate some select message streams from Momentum or PMTA to SparkPost while still using SMTP injection from your generation systems is to add a special route in your config.

For Momentum:

  1. Set up a version of Momentum > 3.6.23.?
  2. Install a valid SSL Certificate and open outbound port 587 so Momentum can talk to SparkPost Configure an outbound domain so you can route a message through Momentum to SparkPost.?
  3. With the configuration below, any message hitting this configuration will be routed to smtp.sparkpostmail.com using port 587 and SMTP_Auth with the username and password defined there.
    outbound_smtp_auth { }
    Keep_Message_Dicts_In_Memory = true
    Domain "smtp.sparkpostmail.com" {
    ? Remote_SMTP_Port = "587"
    ? Outbound_SMTP_AUTH_Type = "LOGIN"
    ? Outbound_SMTP_AUTH_user = "SMTP_Injection"
    ? Outbound_SMTP_AUTH_pass = "17258redacted8bd6cd7a8redacted8c22bce"
    }
  4. Configure the bindings you want to relay through SparkPost with TLS and gateway them to the domain you defined above.

    Note:
    TLS is not strictly required but is a strong recommendation. If TLS is not possible for some reason, then IP whitelisting the API keys is also a strong recommendation.
    binding “CustomerA-Outbound” {
    
    ? Gateway = "smtp-demo.sparkpostelite.com"
    ? ? TLS = "required"
    ? ? TLS_Certificate = "/etc/pki/tls/certs/trymsys.net.crt"
    ? ? TLS_Key = "/etc/pki/tls/certs/trymsys.net.key"
    ? ? TLS_Ciphers = "DEFAULT"
    }

For PowerMTA:

  1. Set up a version of PowerMTA > 4.5.0
  2. Install a valid SSL Certificate and open outbound port 587 so PowerMTA can talk to SparkPost.
  3. Configure an outbound domain path so you can route a message through PowerMTA to SparkPost. With the configuration below, any message hitting this configuration will be routed to smtp.sparkpostmail.com using port 587 and SMTP_Auth with the username and password defined there.? In PowerMTA, this is also where you can set TLS. Note this is also documented more fully here: http://www.yuye14.icu/docs/integrations/power-mta/And in the PowerMTA User Guide starting at section 10.4.3?

<domain sparkpost.rollup>
???use-unencrypted-plain-auth yes
???auth-username SMTP_Injection
???auth-password YourAPIKeygoesherewhenyougenerateit
???route smtp.sparkpostmail.com:587
???use-starttls yes
???require-starttls yes
???max-smtp-out 10
</domain>

4. Configure the VMTAs you want to relay through Sparkpost with the {sparkpost} rollup config you defined above.

<virtual-mta SparkPostRelay>
????<domain *>
????????queue-to {sparkpost}
????</domain>
</virtual-mta>

Once you have those configuration changes made, any messages sent to the selected “binding” or “VMTA” should be routed automatically through SparkPost for delivery.??

Making it happen

When you start down this road, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is an overnight operation.? Doing this right will take some time and care.??

  1. Setup your SparkPost account and fully test using a development subaccount so you can filter out that traffic later.? You will need to do this for either option because you will need the API key for the SMTP_Auth password either way.
  2. If you are using SMTP injection, plan to add an X-MSYS-API header to incorporate all the metadata and message attributes needed.? Any X-Headers should be re-written as metadata and you should include the ip_pool and campaign attributes as well. A sample is available here:? https://developers.sparkpost.com/api/smtp/#header-using-the-x-msys-api-custom-header?
  3. If you are NOT using BYOIP, then you should make sure you set up slightly different sending domains for use with SparkPost so that you can run both environments in parallel for as long as it is needed.? If your current sending domain is mycompany.com, maybe set up sp.mycompany.com specifically for SparkPost delivery.? This allows you to migrate slowly and carefully while not compromising either domain.
  4. Make sure you have full domain alignment and security features enabled.? In DNS, set up DKIM, SPF, DMARC, bounce and tracking domains so they all look like they belong to the same organization.
  5. Configure Automatic IP Warmup on your defined IP_Pools.? If you are using the previously mentioned BYOIP option, you can ignore the warmup step.
  6. Start with one message stream and move forward from there.? Just like IP Warmup, you don’t want to do this all at once. Redirect a few hundred messages first, then 10% of the volume, then 20% the following day and increase until you have moved all the volume over. If you are an ESP, select a customer you can work with and test the process with their feedback.? If it all works well, move on to the next one. If you run into problems, take the time to fix it and work it into the process for the next one.
  7. Automate as much as possible with APIs.? Outside of the DNS changes, the SparkPost config can be mostly automated with a few API calls.

Data Collection from SparkPost

SparkPost reports message delivery in a webhooks feed or in the message events API.? Accessing SparkPost plain text logs is just not possible. You can pull this data back to your environment with a webhooks collector or by calling the Events API periodically and consuming the data.? We recommend using webhooks and have some recommendations on doing that right.? In its most basic form, a PHP webhook collector can be deployed in a few? lines of code:

<?php
$verb = $_SERVER['REQUEST_METHOD'];
??if ($verb == "POST") {
????$jsonStr = file_get_contents("php://input");
????http_response_code(200);
????$rnum = rand(1000,9999);
????$t = date("YmdHis") . $rnum;
????$Jfile = './data/data_'.$t.'.txt';
????if (file_exists($Jfile)) {
???????$fn = basename($Jfile,".txt");
??????$seq = 0;
??????$ftail = substr($fn,-2,1);
??????if ($ftail == "-"){
????????$seq = substr($fn,-1);
??????}
??????$seq++;
??????$Jfile = basename($Jfile,".txt")."-".$seq.".txt";
????}
??????$fh = fopen($Jfile, "w") or die("Unable to create file!");
??????fwrite($fh, $jsonStr);
??????fclose($fh);
??}
?>

While you are experimenting, you can try them out with free collectors such as http://webhook.site/. Then when you’re ready to create production-grade webhooks collector code, take a look at http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/webhooks-beyond-the-basics/

Once you have collected all the webhook data, you can read that into a data store for additional processing.? There are also ways to push Webhooks through services like StitchData and Segment.

The same information is available in the Events API if you have a need to PULL the data and cannot accept PUSH data.? Here is a sample Event API call:
GET https://api.sparkpost.com/api/v1/events/message?/

recipients=recipient@example.com&templates=my-template&events

That API is fully documented with samples here:? https://developers.sparkpost.com/api/events/#events-get-search-for-message-events

And there is a very helpful blog post here too:??

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sparkpost-message-events-api/?

If you really need the event data back in a form that looks like PMTA or Momentum logging, that is possible as well if you employ some additional conditioning code. The great news is there are a few examples to steal from already.

Recap

  1. Make sure you talk to your Sales and Success Management team.? We’ve done this before and can help you through it quickly and cost-effectively.
  2. Figure out if you are in Camp #1 (able to move entirely from On-Prem) or Camp #2 (Still need some on-prem MTA).
  3. Sign up for a free test account to evaluate the integration details.
  4. Decide on SMTP or REST API injection methods.
  5. If you are using SMTP injection, figure out how to get header data and message attributes into an X-MSYS-API header.
  6. Confirm if you can use our BYOIP process.
  7. Update your DNS with new domains if necessary.
  8. Build a small sample to test your migration.? You may need to adjust your config.
  9. Ramp up the volume until all the traffic is migrated
  10. If you fit into Camp #1, you can finally shut down your on-prem MTAs after all the traffic is migrated.

It ain’t over till it’s over

We would love to help you through this process.? We’ve been there and know how hard it can be to get On-Prem MTAs into the cloud.? We encourage you to read through our journey to the cloud and let us help you get there too.? When you finally get to the place you want to be, we can help you celebrate. Here are a few additional resources that may be useful.

Getting Momentum in the Cloud

Our DevOps Journey

The SparkPost Getting Started Guide

~ Tom

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EBAWU – The Newest Acronym in Email Success http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/ebawu-newest-acronym-email-success/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/ebawu-newest-acronym-email-success/#respond Wed, 18 Dec 2019 14:00:24 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48418 EBAWUTechnical Product Manager, Harold Vass, explains how Engagement Based Automated IP Warmup (EBAWU) makes building an email reputation easy.

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Engagement Based Automated IP Warmup Makes Building Reputation Easy

Being “in the know” is cool.? Especially when what you know can save you time, headaches, money, and precious roadmap space. Today we’re launching a major enhancement to our Automated IP Warmup feature that we’re excitedly referring to as EBAWU (eee-bah-Woo!). EBAWU stands for Engagement Based Automated IP Warmup and we think it’s one of the best products we can provide you as a sender when you need to add dedicated IPs.?

EBAWU works by segmenting your recipients to specific IPs based on their last interaction with your mail. Has this recipient engaged recently, do they seem interested in your mail stream, are they opening, clicking, and acting on your mail? EBAWU! That recipient’s mail is delivered through your warming IP to help it build a positive sending reputation.?

What if a recipient hasn’t engaged recently? Maybe they’re on vacation, maybe they’re taking a break from technology, maybe they’re dopamine fasting and your messages simply bring too much joy. Whatever it is; EBAWU! We make sure that recipients that aren’t as engaged are delivered over your already warm and reputable IPs.?

Because this feature requires a little bit of finesse from a Technical Account Manager, this is currently only available for our Enterprise Customers. If you’re passionate about that changing or just want to express some excitement for the newest email acronym – tweet us using #EBAWU @SparkPost! Check out the newly updated article about Getting Started with Automated IP Warmup to learn more about how and why it is important that we warm IPs.

EBAWU – it’s just another one of the ways that combining delivery and predictive analytics makes us #BetterTogether. It’s nice to be in “the know”.??

Happy Sending and Happy Holidays,?

~ Harold Vass

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5 Things Email Marketers Can Learn From That Peloton Ad http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-things-email-marketers-can-learn-peloton-ad/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-things-email-marketers-can-learn-peloton-ad/#respond Mon, 16 Dec 2019 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48407 peloton adSenior Manager, Digital and Content Strategy, Jen Lacey, explains 5 strategies email marketers can learn from that Peloton ad.

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Peloton is the latest craze sweeping the fitness world and earlier this month, it swept the airwaves (and Twitter) with an infamous ad that has been garnering a lot of backlash. There’s no doubt that the commercial was weird and off-putting but there’s also no doubt that it’s got the Peloton brand name on the tip of every reporter and internet commentator’s tongue. With any marketing blunder, there are lessons to be learned and refined for the next time – here are a few takeaways any email marketer can apply when looking to make a splash with their own efforts

Create divisive content to spark conversation

Depending on the brand you work for and how much creative control you have, this is easier said than done. But sometimes, there are big payoffs in not playing it safe. Experiment! Do something outside the box. It’s doubtful Peloton knew how controversial viewers would perceive the ad to be, so we can’t say this was fully planned, but as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Stand by your campaign

Did you complete the step above and make a splash? I think one of the remarkable things about this ad is that Peloton issued a statement and stood their ground. They’re sticking with it, and I think there’s something to be said for a brand who releases a campaign, gets people talking, and doesn’t sway their stance on the issue because people disagree with it.?

Note** Use your best judgment. If you publish something that is truly offensive, off-color or just plain wrong PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE own up to it, apologize and make it right.

Know your champions

As a brand, you’re bound to screw up. When you do, both your haters and die-hard fans will show up. This is a good opportunity to identify some of your own brand champions. If you have a community or customer advocacy program, make sure these people are added to it or put into a special nurture campaign. There are endless opportunities here for product education and upsell (Peloton treadmill, anyone?).

Capitalize on the trickle effect

Maybe you didn’t make a splash but another player in your space did and there’s a way for you to quickly incorporate that into a campaign. Within days of the controversy spike, Aviation Gin hired the Peloton commercial actress (Monica Ruiz) and shot a response commercial, gently poking fun at the controversy while promoting their own product. Again, use your best judgment here, but if there’s an opportunity to be a part of the buzz and you can do it in a tasteful way, sometimes nothing is more appealing to consumers than humor and a brand that keeps their finger on the pulse of the pop-cultural landscape.

Bask in free feedback

I can’t tell you how many tweets I saw where people exclaimed that they own and love their Peloton but they too hated the ad! Single working parents, athletes recovering from injuries, people in remote locations who can’t make it to a gym because of distance, weather, etc, the list goes on. This feedback is a goldmine for any marketing team. What an opportunity to better understand your customer base, what they love about your product, and how they’re using it. Capture all of this feedback for your product teams and use it to influence your roadmap and ideas for future campaigns.

Whether you loved the ad or hated it – it got people talking about the Peloton brand, created buzz and awareness which was the whole point! I challenge you to emulate this in at least one of your 2020 campaigns and let me know how it goes. Just not from 5-5:30 am – that’s when I do HIIT and hills with Cody Rigsby. ??

~ Jen

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How Email Marketing Drives the Biggest Week of Online Sales http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/email-marketing-drives-biggest-week-online-sales/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/email-marketing-drives-biggest-week-online-sales/#respond Fri, 13 Dec 2019 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48384 biggest weekLet’s take a look at what we can learn from the merry marketing emails that went out during the biggest week of online sales in 2019, shall we??

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Give it up for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday: quite possibly the most important days of a retailer’s marketing year.?

According to the Practical Ecommerce sales report, this week-long period has demonstrated healthy year-over-year sales growth. Cyber Monday was the single most profitable sales day of 2018 in the U.S. We wager that $7.9 billion in revenue (up 19.3% from 2017)? is a darn good reason to look at some of the best emails that go out around this time of year. Black Friday isn’t too shabby either – it generated the second most online sales in a single day, a cool $6.22 billion.

So let’s take a look at what we can learn from the merry marketing emails that went out during the 2019 holiday sales season, shall we?

Mix it up!

In keeping with an obvious but effectively simple theme, many large brands opt for a black background to announce Black Friday deals. While you may want to A/B test (okay, always A/B test) ?to see how this performs for your brand, it’s good to note that this is the perfect time to experiment.

This is the week that most brands break away from their traditional email templates and dabble with other colors and formats. It’s a great opportunity to see what resonates with your audience by trying new formats while keeping the tone organic to your brand.

Keep it simple

Bed Bath & Beyond is an excellent example of a brand that’s keeping it simple and to the point. They embrace the black background too, use emojis in their subject lines and really just emphasize their offers with bold, contrasting colors. They tend to use a lot of emojis in the subject lines of all of their marketing emails, so it feels on-brand even as it stands out in your inbox.

BB&B also make a clear announcement of their early opening time, a helpful tip for buyers that saves them having to look it up. Adding in helpful tidbits of this sort can go a long way with your audience.

Amazon operates in a similar manner; they keep their email very simple, highlighting some of the deals they’re offering at the moment. Given that Amazon is a household name around the world, their readers know exactly what to expect from the brand. The sale ‘teaser’ included just tempts consumers to log in and fill their carts to the virtual brim.

In a truly powerful marketing move, Amazon keeps consumers checking back every few hours by offering new deals all day. It’s an incredibly effective way to keep people hooked on your site – and (ideally) add a few unplanned items to their cart, too!

Food delivery service Foodora sends a slightly more text-heavy message to its audience but takes a great approach with the way they present their service. With a clean use of animation and signature bright pink theme, they suggest “supporting” Cyber Monday shopping by offering discounts on the sustenance that can keep you going.

As this week grows in revenue and popularity, a lot of other industries are cashing in by taking a unique stance. Take a note from Foodora and don’t let retail have all the fun!

Extend (and change) offers

Extend your Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sale and weave it into a feel-good Giving Tuesday. Not only can it give you an edge over the competition by extending your sale, but it also gives you a chance to focus on giving back to your community. That’s an approach that’ll resonate with consumers anytime, but particularly during the holidays.

Take a look at this email by Peace Collective; it does a great job of extending their sale while doubling their usual charitable donation (5 meals donated for every garment sold) to encourage consumers to make a difference while spending money. It’s a win-win for your business, your shoppers and your community!

Peace Collective also did a fantastic job offering exclusive merchandise throughout the week. Both Cyber Monday and Black Friday had limited edition garments for purchase – and who can say no to an exclusive? Take a page out of their book and offer up some special items to encourage some spur-of-the-moment buying.

Giving Tuesday is also a great time for non-retail companies to email their subscribers. The Royal Ontario Museum, for instance, asks for donations with an emotional ‘lifelong learning’ message showcasing varied exhibits that appeal to a wide audience.

Embrace a sense of urgency – while still having fun!

Counting down the clock is a great way to remind your audience that they need to act fast to get these great deals. Some companies even use an actual countdown timer – just make sure it fits your brand.

This email by Clinique has a gentle nudge in the subject line – take 30% off before it ends! Other brands might use capitalization, emojis or the number of hours left in their sale, but this simplicity works well with Clinique’s brand voice. (Again, this is a great time to experiment, but the emails you send should feel organic and not jarring.)

Their use of animation works the same way. The first email showcases the variety of free gift options the reader can benefit from, while the second ‘clean start, new price’ message resembles faint glitter or snow, evoking all that holiday feeling! It’s a beautiful email, as they manage to add some fun to the message without taking away from the main focus or overwhelming the reader.

Don’t forget, seen below is what most people’s inbox looks like this particular week. Standing out may not be easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort. Start planning next year’s email campaign for these three key dates early, so you can watch the sales roll in!

~ Casey

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Jingle All The Way: Seasonal “Cliche” Email Subject Lines That We Love To Read http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/jingle-way-seasonal-cliche-email-subject-lines-love-read/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/jingle-way-seasonal-cliche-email-subject-lines-love-read/#respond Wed, 11 Dec 2019 14:00:21 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48360 cliche email subject linesSenior Marketing Manager, Silvana Theodoropoulou, pokes fun at some cliche email subject lines she's seen this holiday season.

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Don’t you just love December? The festive season is upon us, and most of us would happily embrace the festive spirit. Putting up decorations around the house, creating long shopping lists, diving into coziness by a wood-burning stove, and building up excitement and anticipation, these are clear signs that we are slowly but surely getting carried away. These, and the fact that we often read the “cliche” emails we ‘ve received with genuine interest and a smile.

And there are so many of them! Perhaps due to the fact that, as consumers, we tend to be less critical and more open and susceptible in December, we don’t seem to realize that many of those Business-to-Consumer emails lack originality, and tend to reproduce the same old cliches that we love to read:

  • The “Yule Love” Recipe. With family gatherings for lucullan dinings on our agenda, many of us will aspire to be “the host with the most” and look for impressive merry-licious delicacies (only to go for the traditional “turkey with all the trimmings” at the end). But going through those amazing recipes for reindeer-shaped caramelized meatloaves is an all-time favorite…. Oh well, maybe we’ll try that recipe next year.
  • “Deck the Halls”. A snowman. Lights. And a tree. How about a new sofa for the living room? Or that cute duvet with the snowflakes? As we are getting ready to open up our hearts and home to friends and family, we are also keen to open the emails that give us ideas for cozy furniture and smart decorations. But we have to be careful; that horrible sofa is not just for Christmas, it’s for life.
  • The “Most Wonderful Time of The Year”? Hardly. For most of us, it’s a very stressful time, with work and family commitments piling up fast. Still, we want to believe in the magic, and make sure to be jolly just because ‘tis the season to be. Yes, we’ll fall for this cliche every time.
  • The Discount “Advent Calendar”. With the promise of a new and exciting offer every day, Advent Calendars tend to work really well; as long as the countdown works too. It’s really confusing to receive emails telling you that it’s seven… no, six… no, seven days left for 2020. Whatever!
  • The “Santa-mental” Presents. OK, an office Secret Santa means we have to get a little something for that annoying “know-it-all” colleague, but most of the time we’ll buy presents for people we care about; and put a lot of thought and sentiment in the process. That’s why a “click for the most Santa-mental gifts” email will get our attention, even if it’s the fourth we’ve received… today.

I am not being a grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge. The truth is, I love December and everything it brings. I love going through my inbox and reading the cliche email subjects, often impressed with the brilliant ways businesses choose to approach their database. I believe these emails bear small but effective doses of joy and laughter. “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor”; and not being that original myself, I am only quoting Charles Dickens here.

~ Silvana

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OptIn’19: What is Email Intelligence? http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/email-intelligence/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/email-intelligence/#respond Mon, 09 Dec 2019 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48340 email intelligenceCopywriter, email marketer, and OptIn Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship winner, Mariana Santiago, share what email intelligence means to her.

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Depending on the kindness of strangers has been my modus operandi for most of my adult life. The kindness of strangers is what brought me to OptIn ’19. While it’s a life approach that’s worked well for me, it’s not one I think email recipients should be forced to rely upon – neither to ensure a pleasant email experience nor to feel confident that their data is being used wisely.

OptIn ’19 leads me to believe that the email marketing industry is moving towards a mindset in which we expect email marketers (mostly strangers to the recipients of the emails we craft) to use what you could call “email intelligence” to create enjoyable customer experiences that not only drive ROI, but foster a culture of respect for our subscribers.

As one of two fortunate recipients of a Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship, I attended OptIn ’19 thanks to the largesse of SparkPost and of Women of Email, a professional organization I’m honored to have joined. The kindness of these groups of strangers allowed an email copywriter and strategist from an unconventional background to attend an industry-insider event – and I hope what I learned will benefit the many recipients of the emails I’ve created since the conference and will create over the course of my career.

Over the two days in late October, OptIn ’19 attendees enjoyed the opportunity to attend a number of panels and sessions that forced us to reconsider what the term “email intelligence” really means and perhaps even reconsider what the phrase should mean. “Email intelligence” could be used to describe any number of ideas within the email marketing industry. As an email copywriter and strategist, I hope the term “email intelligence” comes to refer to a sort of emotional intelligence in email marketing that results in fuller, more empathetic attitudes towards email recipients.

That core belief is much of why I was particularly struck by the Wednesday morning keynote presented by data scientist Hilary Mason. Her brilliant insights on the potential and evolution of data science forced me to reconsider most of what I thought I knew about data science. “Personalization at Scale”, a panel discussing exactly that, was similarly thought-provoking. The idea of “personalization” in email marketing loses any value when you take a one-size-fits-all approach to the concept. The way you personalize an email intended for a long-time Cracker Barrel customer has to be different from the way you’d personalize the email experience of, say, someone making their first purchase from a firm in a high-tech field in a B2B setting.

As email marketers, we have far more data points on our customers accessible to us than anyone speaking on the subject thirty years ago could have predicted. Instead of an opportunity to see this as a marketing free-for-all, this is a chance to create more fulfilling customer experiences through consideration, empathy, and common sense. As email marketers, we’re duty-bound to guard our subscribers’ data and – extrapolating from that – their privacy. However, it’s also worth considering whether our own choices regarding usage of the data we can access results in easier, more pleasant customer journeys, or if we’re simply using data to “personalize” our emails just because we can.

I’m confident that most email marketers use the data available to them prudently. Attending OptIn ’19 reaffirmed that belief and left me convinced that the terms “email intelligence” and “emotional intelligence” would only grow closer in meaning as our technological capabilities advance, as the email marketing industry evolves, and as consumer preferences change over the years.??

Are you interested in watching some of the panels I was able to attend at OptIn’19? Don’t miss SparkPost’s Winter Wednesday Webinar series. Register for the first of the series, titled “Leveraging Data in Marketing” on December 18th.

~Mariana

Mariana Santiago is a copywriter and email marketer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. She develops email strategies that meet your customers and prospects along each step of the customer journey. You can find her at www.marianawrites.com.?

 

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[Video] Leveraging Data in Marketing http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/video-leveraging-data-marketing/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/video-leveraging-data-marketing/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48329 Leveraging DataLearn how to leverage key data that your company already has to improve the relevance and performance of your email marketing campaigns.

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How can you leverage key data that your company already has to improve the relevance and performance of your email marketing campaigns? This was the exact question that our panelists tried to answer during the “Leveraging Data in Marketing” chat at OptIn’19. We gathered experts from Madison Logic, Phrasee, Kayak and Havas Helia to discuss how their organizations make use of data to inform their marketing campaigns and improve customer experience. Moderated by Cory Johnson, this panel proved to be about more than numbers.

Jenn Steele, CMO of Madison Logic, began the conversation by discussing her experience working with Amazon’s vast data set versus Madison Logic’s, which is a much more manageable size. She made the point that having too much data can lead to major issues for marketing teams but also went on to say that “people with smaller data sets are more averse to testing which is a shame because you don’t get better if you’re not testing.” For Jenn, data sets of any size come with their own unique challenges.

Olivia Knighton, Sales Manager at Phrasee, focused on the pitfalls of using old data. Knighton said that a huge part of her work revolves around challenging the analysis and insights gained from older data sets. One way to turn old data on its head? According to Knighton, you should stop segmenting by “traditional” categories like men vs. women and opt for groups that reflect specific language patterns? (rather than just their gender).

John Ferris, Director of Engineering at Kayak, spoke to his organization’s strategy when recommending travel options to their customers via email. While Kayak certainly has a huge wealth of data about their customers, he said that Kayak tries to make very few assumptions about things like how much users are willing to spend on flights or hotels. Additionally, he focused on how Kayak was able to use trends in their data to identify the “Iceland Boom” before it happened and offer cheap tickets to Reykjavik to their email subscribers!

Finally, Michael Kinstlinger, Sr. Email Campaign Manager at Havas Helia talked about how his organization uses data to stratify customers into engagement tiers. By sending to those that have historically been the most engaged first, his team has seen positive impacts to deliverability. Additionally, he mentioned that when his team implements email strategy for their clients they use different subject lines for those who tend to open emails versus those who have never opened one of their emails before.

From AI to machine learning, our panelists discussed how to best leverage the right data in email marketing to maximize return. Want to hear all of the amazing insights our panelists shared during “Leveraging Data in Marketing” at OptIn’19? Be sure to watch the instant replay of the panel ASAP!

~ Erica

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Mission Impossible? How Email Marketers Face Patchwork Data Privacy Laws http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/mission-impossible-email-marketers-face-patchwork-data-privacy-laws/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/mission-impossible-email-marketers-face-patchwork-data-privacy-laws/#respond Wed, 04 Dec 2019 14:00:11 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48321 data privacy lawsLearn about the growing patchwork of state data privacy laws, and the enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on January 1, 2020.

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Federal data privacy legislation is currently wishful thinking in the United States. There’s a growing patchwork of state legislation, and with the enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on January 1, 2020, there’s mounting pressure for even more states to chime in with new legislation.?

These will potentially end up creating issues for email marketers that are trying to function within this maze of state-by-state regulation.??

The impact of the CCPA?

The CCPA requires disclosure from the marketer, when requested, detailing which parts of a consumer’s personal information might be shared with a third party, the category of the third party, and an explanation of the sharing of information. The CCPA uses an opt-out agreement whereby a business doesn’t need permission to collect personal information, but the consumer can ask to access it, opt-out of its sale, or ask for it to be deleted. With the CCPA, information is likely to be “bought” from consumers, rather than just merely shared, for the CCPA specifically authorizes “businesses to offer financial incentives for the collection of personal information.”?

In the event of a personal data breach, the CCPA also gives consumers the power to sue companies through the state attorney. ?This is a game-changer, and it’s potentially expensive: For each consumer data file that’s been part of a breach, or sold without permission, or retained even when the consumer requests deletion, the minimum fine is $2500. That can escalate to $7500 for various reasons. Multiply that times the thousands or even millions of files often involved in a data breach, and you can imagine the costs.

Another wrinkle? The CCPA will be implemented by California, but will travel across state lines – it protects residents of California even when they’re out-of-state. Plus, companies dealing in their data don’t have to have a physical footprint in the Golden State to be subject to the law.

As this affects businesses that market to Californians but are located in other states, different systems will need to be set up in different states with differing guidelines. So in this case, one state’s legislation that’s intended to mitigate confusion only amplifies it, thus causing a cry to Congress to set up a national standard.

Will it affect email marketing?

Up until now when it comes to regulating electronic marketing in the US, emails are regulated by CAN-SPAM, with an opt-out requirement. That means websites can send commercial emails until the consumer decides to unsubscribe, which must be cost-free and easily navigable from the original commercial email. Text messaging is more tricky and involves electronic or written consent.?

Depending on the scale of the company and its marketing reach, its email marketing may or may not be directly affected by the CCPA legislation, but in time will probably indirectly be impacted in one way or another.?

More states are getting in on the act

Amplified and more ambitious, the state of New York is aiming to pass privacy legislation that will include the right for citizens to sue companies autonomously, so the big names in tech have voiced a refusal to work with the state of New York if its privacy act passes with its current terms.? One deviation from the CCPA? Small businesses aren’t big enough to be liable under the CCPA would have to abide by New York’s legislation, which specifies no minimum size.

The New York law is just one of many state regulations springing up across the country, with many others having enacted or contemplating new laws. Some are closer to the CCPA than others, creating an uneven data privacy compliance landscape.

Hidden costs of ensuring data privacy

As if that weren’t enough, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, privacy rules like the CCPA are not beneficial for the business and the consumer alike. This has to do with “hidden taxes” in costs paid for by the consumers, and a hindrance on innovation that affects both sides. The hidden tax results from companies paying Data Protection Officers and other staffers to ensure the quality and security of their data, costs that are passed along to consumers.

The costs of implementing data compliance within a company will put more pressure on the marketing department and email campaigns, too.? They may lose significant quantities of consumers through opt-outs, for instance, or find it risky to use third-party lists or outside vendors who may not be compliant.?

Another problem with state laws? They may be counterproductive by causing constitutional problems with the Dormant Commerce Clause, the First Amendment, and may in turn cause America to lose footing in the global marketplace.?

There’s also a fear American-style capitalism may be at stake with the emergence of regulations like the CCPA, though this breaks down along partisan lines, as usual. According to CNBC, Some Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) have said they won’t support a federal bill that ‘weakens’ California’s standards, while tech companies and some Republicans favor a national law that would override, and possibly ease, state requirements.”

How can email marketers cope?

There’s a six-month grace period after January 1 before CCPA enforcement measures are taken, but as we’ve shown, there’s a bigger issue at stake due to the lack of cohesive national regulation.? So what are a few basic measures email marketers should consider in dealing with the CCPA and other state data privacy laws, in light of this lack of a nationwide policy?

  • Map your data so you know where it is, where it’s coming from, and where it goes; analyzing this is essential to provisions under some laws regarding the consumer’s “right to be forgotten” and data deletion requests.
  • Make sure you thoroughly audit all your data; you probably have more information than you realize about people, like IP addresses, web form locations, opt-in locations, and more, all of which is behavioral data that might make them subject to these laws.?
  • Review third-party relationships with any of your own contractors or partners who might have access to consumer data; if they’re in violation of a state law, you’re exposed, too.
  • Limit what you collect about consumers; marketers can be guilty of gathering more data points than they’ll ever possibly use about people. Instead, collect only the minimum necessary for use right now or in the very near future. If you want to assemble an email list, don’t ask for snail mail addresses or phone numbers, for instance.?
  • Ask permission from the start from consumers; the new laws may demand you can show proof of permission from each subscriber before you send them anything, so begin obtaining consent at the point of acquisition, and make it explicit to consumers exactly what kinds of emails and messages they’ll be receiving after their opt-in.
  • Set up an internal data privacy review initiative that goes beyond just the marketing department, because they’re not the only ones who have to reckon with CCPA, GDPR, CASL compliance. Sales, Legal, IT and others need to sit at that table and take the right measures together.

~ Casey

The post Mission Impossible? How Email Marketers Face Patchwork Data Privacy Laws appeared first on SparkPost.

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4 Questions to Determine Which Email Segments Are Right for Your Brand http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/4-questions-to-determine-which-email-segments-are-right-for-your-brand/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/4-questions-to-determine-which-email-segments-are-right-for-your-brand/#respond Mon, 02 Dec 2019 14:00:37 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48309 email segmentsContent Marketing Manager, Anna Cunningham, discusses which questions you should be asking when determining which email segments are right for your brand.

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Looking to connect with your audience in a way that feels personal, but scalable? Email segmentation helps marketers build targeted, personalized emails that feel more like one-on-one conversations than spam.?

Segmentation is a powerful tool that lets you group contacts by qualities that are important to your brand, like location or purchase history. This lets you use your data to gain deeper insight into subscribers and make sure you’re sending the right emails to the right customers.

But where do you begin? When the possibilities are endless, it can feel overwhelming to decide which segments you should build. And you probably don’t have unlimited bandwidth – you need to carefully choose how you spend your time, and what strategies to test when it comes to your marketing.?Ultimately, the best email strategies tie directly back to your company’s goals. Use these as a jumping-off point to determine what’s important to your brand, and then reflect on your current and prospective customers to build your segments.?

Here, we’ve broken down the questions you can ask to decide which email segments are right for your brand:

How do your customers naturally group?

First, you’ll want to look at your current customer base. How do your customers naturally group?? Are there obvious demographics that stand out from the pack? And do these groups behave in any specific way??

You might have customers in Australia that love beachwear. Maybe half of your customers are students. Or your product is popular with pet owners. You’re likely familiar with these different personas already.

You’ll want to identify these groups and add them to segments based on their defining attributes (e.g. demographics or purchase behavior). Another way to think about these segments is to use them for the things you have to track over and over, and the people you send to repeatedly.

What does email engagement look like for you?

Segmenting your subscribers based on their email engagement is a fundamental piece in a strong segmentation strategy. Subscriber engagement dictates how ISPs rate your sender reputation, and therefore your overall deliverability.

Thinking about segmentation by engagement level will help you prune out unengaged and inactive subscribers, maintain a healthy list, and make sure your emails land in inboxes. But when segmenting on email engagement, you’ll need to determine what engagement is actually meaningful for your brand.?

Are you looking at opens? Clicks? Article reads? How often do you want the average subscriber to be engaging with your content? The types of engagement you use as metrics for your email marketing should lead your segmentation strategy.?

Then, you can send more frequent content and special offers to your most engaged subscribers, and build automation to win back your inactive subscribers.

How do you plan to use your segments?

The segmentation options are endless. You can segment based on your highest-value purchasers, send campaigns built for different interest groups, or retarget subscribers who engaged with a specific email.?

When deciding which email segments are right for your brand, you need to consider how you’ll be using them. Segments can be multi-purpose, acting as triggers for automations like welcome or win-back series, or offering deeper insight into customer data. Or maybe you’re hoping to power one-off email marketing campaigns.

In all likelihood, you’re hoping to achieve some combination of the above. No matter how you’re hoping to use your initial segments, it’s important to keep how you’ll be using them in consideration when deciding what to build. This way, you can focus on the segments that will actually help you achieve your goals.?

What’s your capacity??

The sky may be the limit when it comes to segmentation, but your marketing team can only do so much. You’ll have to look at how much bandwidth your organization has to focus on email marketing when deciding which segments to build.?

Your bandwidth will affect the complexity and scale of your segmentation strategy since you’ll be designing campaigns that target these segments on an ongoing basis. Based on this, you can determine if you’d like to segment on your most important groups or if you want to get more intricate.?

Do you have time to build that automation you’re hoping to trigger, or should you start with individual campaigns? Do you have the manpower to build campaigns for your smaller demographics, or should you focus exclusively on your heavy hitters?

No matter what, any level of segmentation will improve your email marketing strategy and ROI.

Now get started!

Don’t let segmentation intimidate you. Start small and work your way up – segmentation is a powerful email marketing tool to help boost subscriber engagement and revenue, even in small doses.

~ Anna

Anna Cunningham is the Content Marketing Manager at Hive.co, a data-driven email marketing CRM that gives brands deeper insight into customer behavior so they can sell more. She creates content that fuels customer experiences across all marketing channels.

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How the Travel Industry is Powered by Email http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/travel-industry-powered-email/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/travel-industry-powered-email/#respond Wed, 27 Nov 2019 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48283 travel industryLearn how travel agencies, airlines, hotels, auto rental firms, and every other cog and wheel of the worldwide travel industry all depend on email.

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One sure way to measure the importance of email to a particular industry? Google a quick search for “[INSERT INDUSTRY NAME] Email Templates” and check the results.

Try that for the travel industry and it becomes pretty obvious how travel agencies, travel apps, airlines, hotels, auto rental firms, and every other cog and wheel of the worldwide travel business all depend on email.

Triggered emails make up a huge share of that.? That’s because a customer’s journey with your brand begins the very instant they engage with you, and the first email you send them is a big step along that path. Just as you want to be delivering a seamless travel experience that’ll keep them coming back for their next jaunt, you want email engagement to be just as flawlessly consistent.

So emails that are automatically triggered by customer actions and behaviors allow a travel-centric marketer to build that consistent experience both on the 1:1 basis and at scale across their customer base.?

Now onboarding all passengers…

What’s a good example to start with? Well, right at the start. Virgin America does a solid job of welcoming customers into the fold by including some subtle rock-and-rolla swagger in their trigger “welcome” messages, which give recipients a quick orientation on what’s to come, and links to fare deals they might be interested in.

It still has a certain plumminess and upscale frisson, though, in keeping with the brand.? JetBlue covers a lot of the same ground with its welcome emails, though they tend toward the punny and fun-loving in their copy – which seems like mandatory positioning for a discount airline nowadays, right?

Celebrating their loyalty

The classic triggered email tactic of recognizing red-letter dates holds for travel services marketers, too. As long as we’re looking at JetBlue, here’s an example of how they do it for customers who’ve been engaged with them for an entire year.? Tongue planted firmly in cheek, right down to the sassy final paragraph.

 

Knowing where they want to go

Tracking visitor behaviors at a website can give the marketer good hints at where a travel services consumer might like to go. So a triggered email like the example from Eurostar below includes deals on the very destinations they were just browsing.?

Plus, it looks like they may have identified their target as a bit of a foodie, so they’re able to add even more personalization to the message.


Keeping them on track

Cart abandonment emails are just as important in the travel industry as they are in any other area of eCommerce. Here’s a case in point from Virgin Trains that’s instructive on two levels: A) It shows how you can cleverly re-engage with a customer who may follow through just because they like your sheer cheek, and B) did anybody even know there was a Virgin Trains brand??

Fostering their feedback?

Once they’ve had that dream trip of a lifetime to exotic destinations – or just took a short hop to Passaic for their second cousin’s wedding – it’s an opportunity to deepen engagement with the customer by soliciting their feedback with a triggered email.

Airbnb has never been a slouch at this and has actually been a bellwether for others in how to do it right, as you can see from the survey email below.? One way to go even further than they do? Attach a targeted discount or premium offer to encourage them to participate…and, as importantly, be incentivized to use you again.

Keep them on top of their travel

One of the reasons people enjoy frequent flyer programs? Beyond the savings, it’s the sense of achievement; there’s an element of competitive gameplay in building up miles or capturing discounts.

JetBlue (yet again!) understands that, and this example of its points program recap lets its loyalists have some data-driven insights into how and others have been using their points.

Another way to help them out? Simply by reminding them they’ve got a trip coming up and making sure they’re set to go – and also driving them to use your app (and downloading it if they haven’t got it installed yet).

Surprising and delighting

By delivering unexpected good news – and evidence of their superior service to users – Kayak scores points with triggered emails like this that recognize how some customers might be eligible for compensation for that all-too-common annoyance, a delayed or canceled flight.

 

Any marketer’s engagement campaign should include some calculated moments of surprise-and-delight for customers because that helps go a long way toward personalizing the relationship you’re trying to build with them.

Delaying their departure

What’s the one good time to keep a traveler from taking flight? When they’ve decided to unsubscribe from your emails, or otherwise shown evidence of moving on.?

A triggered message will remind them of why they signed up in the first place, and what they’ll miss after the breakup. And once more, JetBlue shows us how to go about it with good humor and just the right amount of insistence that they really, really ought to stick around.?

~ Casey

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Brightwave’s Email Spotlight Delivers Weekday Fun and Killer Vendor Pitches http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/brightwaves-email-spotlight-delivers-weekday-fun-killer-vendor-pitches/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/brightwaves-email-spotlight-delivers-weekday-fun-killer-vendor-pitches/#respond Mon, 25 Nov 2019 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48264 Brightwave's Email SpotlightDirector of Strategic Insights, April Mullen, shares some of her favorite company pitches that she heard at Brightwave's Email Spotlight.

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Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending what I’m endearingly referring to as an “email family reunion” in Atlanta. Brightwave hosted their Email Spotlight event at their beautiful Buckhead office, which lived up to its promise to mix education with fun.?

The event, which hosted nearly two dozen vendors in the email and MarTech space and hundreds of brand-side marketers, was chock full of good southern eats, drinks and a lot of laughter and cheer. The first hour for networking flew by so quickly, that by the time the programming started, I was still waving across the room at familiar faces that I hadn’t made my rounds to yet.?

You might think that programming might have slowed things down a bit, but Brightwave knows how to keep the momentum going at all of their events and Email Spotlight was no exception. 23 vendors were invited to come up and each give 2-minute pitches, using only a mic and whatever props they decided to bring. Here were some of my favorites:

  • Branch* presented while wearing a Burger King hat to promote how it helped the brand to drive press-worthy “Whopper Detour” results. (1.5 million app downloads in 9 days!!)
  • 4Cite touted its web visitor identity solution while wearing a Cookie Monster costume. I commend the presenter for wearing it all night–even after his presentation was done. Double kudos for the photobomb.
  • Iterable’s* Jen Capstraw wrote an email rap song and performed it while the audience clapped. So gangster, Jen! Can we get a video?
  • Cordial’s* presenter made a joke about usually being the token Brit in the room, only to have to follow another Brit. It was a hilarious moment that had the room laughing.?
  • Women of Email’s Aysha Zouian talked about what our organization (I’m a co-founder) has been up to in terms of mentoring and placing women in speaking spots globally and how we’re nearly up to 4,000 members on six continents. (Anyone out there in Antarctica that wants to join us to make it all of the continents?)?
  • Last, but not least, the presentation by our very own Casey Martin spoke to the audience’s hearts about how SparkPost is better together with our new colleagues at eDataSource, but more importantly, how the email industry overall is better together through our collective innovations. We’ve all made our beloved channel one that has withstood the test of time.?

Thanks to Simms Jenkins and the Brightwave* team for throwing a great party to get us over hump day, providing good connections and for allowing vendors to share what makes their offerings compelling. It was quite a memorable event!

*Huge shoutout for being a SparkPost partner. We love working with you.?

All event photos here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/BrightWave/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10159091958865760

~ April

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Stored Templates Gets a Complete All-New Refresh http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/stored-templates-gets-complete-new-refresh/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/stored-templates-gets-complete-new-refresh/#respond Fri, 22 Nov 2019 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48241 stored templatesTechnical Product Manager, Isaac Kim, explains the exciting updates to one of our most popular features: stored templates!

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Similar to the auto industry where iconic cars such as the Corvette, Supra, and Bronco get completely redesigned, we are refreshing our own iconic feature, the very popular: templates!

But why templates??

Templates are critical for so many of our senders on SparkPost. Templates store, edit and reuse email content. SparkPost’s Template Language recognizes powerful customization and personalization opportunities.?

Rather than (sending inline content), save time by leveraging content you’ve already created.?

While the underlying API and templating language remain intact and untouched, we’ve completely changed the in-app experience, with an intuitive user experience that is more responsive and simpler to use. In other words, everything under the hood stays the same, but the exterior has been reworked to give you an enjoyable, template building and managing experience. We’ve heard friction points, and streamlined the template creation process to get you sending emails a whole lot faster!?

We want to create a seamless and great experience for you, and get you sending emails a whole lot faster!

So what’s so different? What can I expect to see??

There are a number of changes to the entire template experience in the SparkPost app. Let’s dive into them one by one!

Revised Template List Management

On the Template List page, you’ll find small changes that make a big impact; find, search, access, duplicate, and delete templates quickly. Most notable is the new Recent Activity section, which allows you to quickly jump into the last four templates you edited in draft mode or published. Also, you can now duplicate or delete templates directly from the Template List page, saving you time while managing your growing list of templates!

Intuitive Template Creation Process Flow


Get started faster with templates with a shorter process to create a template. Simply name your template (the template ID is automatically created as you type in the template name!), provide a subject line, and lastly the email address you’d like to send from. That’s it! Those are the only required fields that are between you and taking off onto the highway. Click on the Next button, and you’ll be taken directly to the template where you can begin developing your content immediately!?

Side-by-Side Code Editor

Our new code editor is a huge step forward for us! Watch your email content render live on the right-hand side as you create your HTML, AMP HTML, and text content. The subject line and From email address are rendered in the preview, as you’d see the email in the Inbox. You’ll also find we added a Mobile Preview option for your content.

Under Template Settings, you can adjust a variety of fields pertaining to the template, as well as adjust Open and Click Tracking at the template level.

AMP for Email Boilerplate?

Right now, there’s a bunch of excitement around AMP for Email. It’s easy to get started with testing with your own AMP email with our new template editor. On the AMP HTML tab, you can easily insert an AMP Boilerplate to get started faster with a basic template. As you start to edit your AMP email content, you’ll find we added an inline AMPHTML linter that provides feedback on potential issues or alternatives and ultimately ensures you’re not making any mistakes that would prevent your AMP content from rendering properly.?

Just like on the HTML tab, as you build your AMP email components, the live preview on the right-hand side will render in real-time, giving you a good sense of what to expect in the inbox! Honestly, who doesn’t want kittens in their inbox, right?!

Intuitive Test Send

Sending a test message is no longer hidden behind the Preview Page! You can easily send a test as you build your email content, directly from the side-by-side code editor page. Just enter in the recipient email address and send off your test message to the desired inbox.?

How can I get started with these new Template features?

Navigate to your SparkPost dashboard and under Content, you’ll find Templates. If you have any questions about our SparkPost templating language, check out our support page.?

The template refresh was built and completed with you in mind, to make your experience with sending emails an easier and more delightful experience. If you were already creating templates on SparkPost, they have all been transferred over to the new format, and you can easily manage those templates with the new Template List management page. No templates or data lost, just efficiencies gained and precious time in your workday given back!

Go explore our new stored Templates and if you have any feedback, reach me on Twitter or on LinkedIn at anytime!

– Isaac, Technical Product Manager


??Shoutout to Nick Lemmon, Brian Kemper, Lynn Murphy, Aubrey Altmann, Nathan Durant, the entire Transmissions Team, and to all the Product, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams whose feedback for templates was invaluable in making our product and service better.

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Deploying Signals for On-Premises: Momentum Integration – Part 3 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/deploying-signals-premises-momentum-integration-part-3/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/deploying-signals-premises-momentum-integration-part-3/#respond Wed, 20 Nov 2019 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48198 Momentum IntegrationIn part 3 of his series Senior Messaging Engineer, Steve Tuck, dives into the details of connecting your Momentum server to SparkPost Signals.

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Part 1 of this series introduced SparkPost Signals for on-premises deployments. Part 2 walked through setting up PowerMTA step-by-step. In this part, we’re going to dive into the details of connecting your Momentum server to SparkPost Signals. You’re going to need:

  • A host running Momentum 4.x
  • The Signals Agent rpm file and User Guide
  • A SparkPost account with API key permission for “Incoming Events: Write” as per Part 1

We’ll set up Momentum to stream events up to your SparkPost account, then you’ll be able to use the following Signals Analytics reports:?

Unlike PowerMTA, which requires external engagement-tracking, we’ll use Momentum’s built-in engagement tracking to capture recipient opens and clicks. That way, the Health Score, Engagement Recency, and Engagement reports all work immediately.

Configuring Momentum for Signals

There’s a lot of flexibility when setting up Momentum, and each setup will be different. This section will cover adding Signals integration to an existing working Momentum setup, as that’s what I expect most folks are interested in, so you don’t have to wade through a lot of basics that you already know. For the truly motivated, the details of our demo setup are covered in the “Annex: Momentum Signals demo configuration” section at the end.?

Firstly, follow the steps in the “Signals Agent User Guide” that you’ll receive with your SparkPost Signals account. On completion, you’ll have your specific API key stored within the script?

/etc/init.d/signals-agent

.. and your file

/opt/msys/ecelerity/etc/conf/default/ecelerity.conf
will have (near the end)

include "signals-agent.conf"
?

.. and the file signals-agent.conf will be present in the same directory.

There is nothing special you need to do for clustered installations.? The Signals Agent must be installed on each node and each node reports events independently.

Momentum Engagement Tracking

If you’re already using Momentum Engagement Tracking, you can skip this section!

The setup of Engagement Tracking shown in some detail here, because it helps to get the most out of Momentum / Signals integration.

For this example, our Momentum demo server is on

momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
?with a single elastic IP (and an A record pointing to it).

After following the Support instructions for enabling engagement tracking, I checked that mails delivered through our demo containing html have their links wrapped correctly, and an open-tracking pixel added. I chose to use port 81, and simple http (not https) tracking; your setup may vary. I saw the following, inside delivered mails.

<img border="0" width="1" height="1" alt="
" src="http://momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:81/q/rCZ3YpEEJBOHGGI06Rw9OA~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRfOCDVPhdCCgAAVe1WXbth_Q
BSGHN0ZXZlLnR1Y2tAc3Bhcmtwb3N0LmNvbVgEAAAAAEEIAC6rdFwAAPoJUQQAAAAARwJ7fQ~~">

As per the above instructions, I configured nginx, establishing the internal endpoints that will receive the clicks and opens on port 2081.?Here’s my setup in

/opt/msys/3rdParty/nginx/conf.d/click_proxy_upstream.conf
:

upstream click_proxy {
  server momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:2081;
  least_conn;
}

This port is not exposed to the Internet. Instead, I use nginx to forward traffic on port 81 to the internal endpoint. I also set the headers to make Momentum “look like” SparkPost engagement tracking (so that my demo will follow the links). Here’s my setup in

/opt/msys/3rdParty/nginx/conf.d/my_click_proxy.conf
:

# Simple pass through to internal engagement tracking
# SMT 2019-08-16
#
# some basic additions to harden the server (tokens off) and
# make the endpoint behave more like SparkPost (set Server: type)
#
server {
??listen 81;
??server_name? momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net; ? # put your server name here
??location / {
????proxy_pass http://localhost:2081;
??}
??server_tokens off;
??more_set_headers 'Server: msys-http';
}

Controlling what information your server presents publicly, by using settings such as

server_tokens off
??is generally good security practice. Now we test the nginx configuration:

service msys-nginx configtest
nginx: the configuration file /opt/msys/3rdParty/nginx/conf/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /opt/msys/3rdParty/nginx/conf/nginx.conf test is successful

Once

iptables/firewalld
configuration was done, and (in our case) AWS EC2 inbound security rule configured, we can test that our open pixel can be fetched from outside, using
curl
? from another host:

curl -v http://momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:81/q/rCZ3YpEEJBOHGGI06Rw9OA~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRfOCDVPhdCCgAAVe1WXbth_QBSGHN0ZXZlLnR1Y2tAc3Bhcmtwb3N0LmNvbVgEAAAAAEEIAC6rdFwAAPoJUQQAAAAARwJ7fQ~~
* About to connect() to momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net port 81 (#0)
* ? Trying 34.211.7.3...
* Connected to momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net (34.211.7.3) port 81 (#0)
> GET /q/rCZ3YpEEJBOHGGI06Rw9OA~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRfOCDVPhdCCgAAVe1WXbth_QBSGHN0ZXZlLnR1Y2tAc3Bhcmtwb3N0LmNvbVgEAAAAAEEIAC6rdFwAAPoJUQQAAAAARwJ7fQ~~ HTTP/1.1
> User-Agent: curl/7.29.0
> Host: momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:81
> Accept: */*
>?
< HTTP/1.1 200 OK
< Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2019 18:38:46 GMT
< Content-Type: image/gif
< Content-Length: 44
< Connection: keep-alive
< Cache-Control: no-cache, max-age=0
< Server: msys-http
<?
GIF89a???????!?
* Connection #0 to host momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net left intact

That response beginning

GIF89a
is the server delivering the open pixel, as a GIF file, back to our client. We can see the contents more easily by piping through
hexdump
?
:

curl http://momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:81/q/rCZ3YpEEJBOHGGI06Rw9OA~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRfOCDVPhdCCgAAVe1WXbth_QBSGHN0ZXZlLnR1Y2tAc3Bhcmtwb3N0LmNvbVgEAAAAAEEIAC6rdFwAAPoJUQQAAAAARwJ7fQ~~ | hexdump -C

00000000? 47 49 46 38 39 61 01 00? 01 00 80 00 00 ff ff ff |GIF89a..........|
00000010? ff ff ff 21 f9 04 01 0a? 00 01 00 2c 00 00 00 00 |...!.......,....|
00000020? 01 00 01 00 00 02 02 4c? 01 00 3b 00 |.......L..;.|
0000002c

That’s all you need to have Engagement Tracking running on your server, and you should see Open and Click events appear in your linked SparkPost account:

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for …

After a day or two of running, you’ll see Health Score data building up:

Reporting facets

Here’s how Momentum attributes map onto SparkPost Signals Analytics reporting facets:

Momentum attribute Signals Analytics facet Comment
Sending domain Sending domain No config needed, this is the same concept.
binding Sending IP Your Momentum binding name reports in SparkPost as “Sending IP”.
binding_group IP pool Your Momentum binding_group name is reported in SparkPost as the “IP pool” name which is an equivalent concept.
Custom header
or X-MSYS-API
Campaign See “Setting Campaign” below – Momentum is flexible here.
Subaccount Create the subaccount in SparkPost account. Tag mail with the (numeric) subaccount ID in injected message header “X-SP-SUBACCOUNT-ID” and you’re good to go.
IP address of the remote host (logfile %H) ip_address Address that Momentum delivered the message to (recipient mail server).

 

Setting Campaign

Being able to report with Campaign as a facet is really useful. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Set up the X-MSYS-API header as described here. This special header provides various features as well, such as control of open and click tracking and metadata on your Momentum traffic stream. This is the method we used in this demo setup.
  2. Create your own custom X-header to carry a campaign identifier, and map this in the signals-agent-config.lua file. For example, this makes Momentum accept an X-Job header carrying campaign ID, just like PowerMTA:

local cfg = {}
-- to add more custom headers it would look like this
-- custom_header = { ["X-SP-SUBACCOUNT-ID"] = "subaccount_id", ["X-CUSTOM-HEADER"] = "custom1", ["X-CUSTOM-HEADER2"] = "custom2"}
cfg.custom_header = { ["X-SP-SUBACCOUNT-ID"] = "subaccount_id", ["X-Job"] = "campaign_id" }
-- set to true if you are using your own click tracking
cfg.click = false
-- set to true if you are using your own open tracking
cfg.open = false
return cfg

That’s everything you need for Momentum / SparkPost Signals integration. If you want to know more about our demo configuration, read on.


Annex: Momentum Signals demo configuration

The config file structure can be found in

/opt/msys/ecelerity/etc/conf/default/
. A reference copy of selected files from our demo server config is on Github here.

File Description
ecelerity.conf
Top level config file. Notably includes signals-agent.conf (supplied for you, not given here).
msg_gen.conf
Declares the open & click tracker scriptlets and engagement_tracking_host
lua/policy.lua
Policy that permits relaying for selected “safe domains” only
conf.d/bindings.conf
Declares minimal binding_group and bindings for our demo
conf.d/dkim.conf
Declares our signing domain
conf.d/ecelerity_mods.conf
Declares our port 587 listener, TLS cert/key, auth login, engagement tracking, FBL handling, OOB bounce handling
dkim/momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net/?
Signing domain keys live here ..
private key has been redacted

Momentum offers Auth login & STARTTLS on injection

Our demo has user/password protected message injection on Port 587, as we did with the PowerMTA demo and SparkPost itself. Following the inbound TLS setup instructions, we have:

ESMTP_Listener{
??Listen ":587" {
????Enable = true
????# TLS key/cert for *.trymsys.net??
????TLS_Certificate = "/etc/pki/tls/certs/trymsys.net.crt"
????TLS_Key = "/etc/pki/tls/certs/trymsys.net.key"
????# Reference client CA bundle from https://curl.haxx.se/
????TLS_Client_CA = "/etc/pki/tls/certs/cacert.pem"
????TLS_Ciphers = "DEFAULT"
????TLS_protocols = "+ALL:-TLSv1.0:-SSLv3"
??????AuthLoginParameters = [
????????uri = "file:///opt/msys/ecelerity/etc/unsafe_passwd"
????????log_authentication = "true"
????]
????SMTP_Extensions = ( "ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES" "STARTTLS" "AUTH LOGIN" )

????# Engagement tracking
????tracking_domain = "momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:81"
????open_tracking_enabled = true
????click_tracking_enabled = true
????click_tracking_scheme = "http"
????open_tracking_scheme = "http"
??}

A fresh reference CA bundle was fetched from haxx.se. Legacy TLS versions (prior to v1.1) are disabled here for safety. You can prove that by comparing the output you see (from another host) between

-tls1
?,
-tls1_1
?
and?
-tls1_2
?
?from another host using

openssl s_client -connect momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:587 -starttls smtp -tls1

Momentum out-of-band bounce processing

Firstly, we set up DNS MX records for our

Return-Path:
? (which will be
test@momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
?). Check using:

dig MX +short momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
10 momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net.

The FBL and OOB listener on port 25 is separate to the injection port 587, and defined in

ecelerity_mods.conf
?:

# FBL and OOB listener - no auth, but NOT open relay
#
??Listen "*:25" {
????Enable = true
????Open_Relay = false?
??}
}

Now we check (from an external host) that this listener is NOT open-relay:

swaks --server momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:25 --from steve@bouncy.test --to bob.lumreeker@gmail.com
=== Trying momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:25...
=== Connected to momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net.
<-  220 2.0.0 ip-172-31-22-249.us-west-2.compute.internal ESMTP ecelerity 4.3.0.67725 r(Core:4.3.0.0) Tue, 26 Nov 2019 12:30:34 +0000
 -> EHLO steve-tuck-macbook-pro
<-  250-ip-172-31-22-249.us-west-2.compute.internal says EHLO to 81.105.42.190:52896
<-  250-8BITMIME
<-  250-PIPELINING
<-  250 ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES
 -> MAIL FROM:<steve@bouncy.test>
<-  250 2.0.0 MAIL FROM accepted
 -> RCPT TO:<bob.lumreeker@gmail.com>
<** 550 5.7.1 relaying denied
 -> QUIT
<-  221 2.3.0 ip-172-31-22-249.us-west-2.compute.internal closing connection
=== Connection closed with remote host.

That “relaying denied” message tells us we’re safe. Next, we check it does accept messages destined for the bounce processor. This is not a true bounce message, but is enough to check the routing is correct.

swaks --server momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:25 --from steve@bouncy.test --to test@momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
:
<-? 250 2.0.0 OK 7D/00-30572-40C655D5
?-> QUIT

Momentum FBL processing

The file

ecelerity_mods.conf
?contains:

#
# FBL content added to outbound mail - SMT 2019-08-15
#
Enable_FBL_Header_Insertion = enabled
fbl {
  Auto_Log = true # default is "false"
  Log_Path = "/var/log/ecelerity/fbllog.ec"     # not jlog
  Addresses = ( "^.*@fbl.momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net" )  # default is unset
  Header_Name = "X-MSFBL"           # this is the default
  Message_Disposition = "blackhole"         # default is blackhole, also allowed to set to "pass"
}

FBLs on a subdomain (in fact any address on a subdomain) is taken care of with a wildcard CNAME record:

*.momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net. 34 IN CNAME momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net.

This resolves via the return-path MX:

host fbl.momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
fbl.momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net is an alias for momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net.
momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net has address 34.211.7.3
momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net mail is handled by 10 momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net.

We check basic connectivity with swaks (not actually generating an FBL here, as such):

swaks --server fbl.momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:25 --from steve@fbl.test --to test@fbl.momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
:
:
<-? 250 2.0.0 OK B4/80-24808-BCA12BD5

Putting test traffic through Momentum

Firstly we check with a single message:

swaks --server momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:587 --from test@momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net --to test@bouncy-sink.trymsys.net --auth-user demo --auth-pass __YOUR_KEY_HERE__ -tls
:
:
<~? 250 2.0.0 OK C4/80-24808-00C12BD5

Then we use this Traffic Generator to inject periodic message batches through Momentum, which delivers onwards to the Bouncy Sink. The Bouncy Sink accepts, opens, clicks, and in-band-bounces messages, and occasionally generates Out-of-Band bounces and FBLs.

. setenvs.sh
pipenv run ./sparkpost-traffic-gen.py?
Not replacing URLs for tracking, before injection
Established SMTP connection to momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net, port 587
Successful LOGIN with user=demo, password=********************************
Sending to 42 recipients in batches of 10
Basic stats for day in month: Spam trap = 0.0077%, Spam complaint = 0.1032%
Today scaling factor = 0.6645, giving Spam trap = 0.0051%, Spam complaint 0.0686%
??To? ? 10 recipients | campaign "Password_Reset" | ..........OK - in 0.157 seconds
??To? ? 10 recipients | campaign "Password_Reset" | ..........OK - in 0.147 seconds
??To? ? 10 recipients | campaign "Password_Reset" | ..........OK - in 0.137 seconds
??To? ? 10 recipients | campaign "Welcome_Letter" | ..........OK - in 0.146 seconds
??To ? ? 2 recipients | campaign "Holiday_Bargains" | ..OK - in 0.035 seconds
Done in 0.6s.
Results written to redis

We can check this is working as expected by looking in Momentum logs;

mainlog.ec
??shows lots of deliveries such as

1571875206@4F/E2-01988-589E0BD5@4F/E2-01988-589E0BD5@3E/BB-01988-489E0BD5@R@test+00096118@not-hotmail.com
.bouncy-sink.trymsys.net@test@momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net@34.210.87.20@3009@esmtp@general@generic

Momentum

bouncelog.ec
? shows these are processed, then “blackholed” as expected, i.e. does not try to forward them anywhere.

==> /var/log/ecelerity/bouncelog.ec <==
1571877606@4B/03-01988-6E2F0BD5@4B/03-01988-6E2F0BD5@19/DB-01988-6E2F0BD5@B@fbl@fbl.momo.signalsdemo.tryms
ys.net@test+00096899@fbl.bouncy-sink.trymsys.net@general@generic@22@25@0@@551 5.7.0 [internal] recipient
blackholed
1571877606@9C/03-01988-6E2F0BD5@9C/03-01988-6E2F0BD5@99/DB-01988-6E2F0BD5@B@test+00134362@not-yahoo.co.uk.
bouncy-sink.trymsys.net@test@momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net@default@default@21@10@5715@@550 [internal] [oob]
The recipient is invalid.

You can deliberately cause FBLs and OOBs, by sending to specific bouncy sink subdomains (as per this table).

swaks --server momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:587 --from test@momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net --to
test@fbl.bouncy-sink.trymsys.net --auth-user demo --auth-pass __YOUR_KEY_HERE__ -tls

swaks --server momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net:587 --from test@momo.signalsdemo.trymsys.net --to 
test@oob.bouncy-sink.trymsys.net --auth-user demo --auth-pass __YOUR_KEY_HERE__ -tls

Checking results

Looking in our SparkPost Events Search report, we can see Spam Complaint and Out of Band events showing up:

Showing the reporting facets

Our demo has a set of example subaccounts.?Messages are assigned to specific bindings, via injected message headers.?The campaign ID is set using the

X-MSYS-API
? header, for example:

X-Binding: medium
X-Sp-Subaccount-Id: 3
X-MSYS-API: {"campaign_id": "Charlie's Last Minute Savings"}

Subaccount
ID
Name Binding
0 (Master account) trusted
1 Alice’s Adventure Travels new
2 Bob’s Brewhouse trusted
3 Charlie’s Creative Advertising medium
4 Diana’s Dog Grooming medium

We see message streams are flowing through these subaccounts on the Summary report:

We see the individual campaign names:

“Sending IP” (aka Binding) can be used as a reporting facet:

We can also use “IP Pool” (aka Binding Group) as a reporting facet:

~ Steve

The post Deploying Signals for On-Premises: Momentum Integration – Part 3 appeared first on SparkPost.

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5 Ways Your Emails Compare to Thanksgiving Sides http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-ways-emails-compare-thanksgiving-sides/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-ways-emails-compare-thanksgiving-sides/#respond Mon, 18 Nov 2019 14:00:29 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48175 thanksgiving sidesDiscover how the elements of your emails are like the Thanksgiving sides that round out the feast and leave everyone satisfied and happy.

The post 5 Ways Your Emails Compare to Thanksgiving Sides appeared first on SparkPost.

]]>

As millions of people prepare to indulge in their annual Thanksgiving meals, let’s give thanks for the bountiful feast that triggered, transactional, and promotional emails offer your company and thousands of businesses like yours. In fact, customers who make website purchases via email links spend on average 138% more than other people, according to Campaign Monitor, making email a key ingredient in your marketing meals.

Since we’re feeling a bit peckish, let’s imagine that your email marketing strategy is the main course in your Thanksgiving meal – it’s a perfectly cooked turkey that feeds a table full of guests and still provides leftovers for the three-day weekend that follows. And we’ll assume the elements of your emails are among the side dishes that round out the feast and leave everyone satisfied and happy.

The gravy: Your sender reputation

This is the part of the meal that makes everything taste a bit better. It may not be the first thing people notice, and they may not enthuse about it afterward, but they’ll appreciate that it was there.

That’s your sender reputation, which dictates whether the gatekeepers at Gmail, Yahoo!, and other providers deliver your emails to inboxes, relegate them to the promotions tab, or dump them in a spam trap. A sender reputation that leaves a poor aftertaste will quickly ruin the perfect email meal.

Keep your sender reputation fresh by:

  • Quickly honoring unsubscribes
  • Adopting an opt-in policy
  • Pruning dead email addresses
  • Looking closely at bounce codes and acting on them
  • Giving people reasons to open your emails and click a link or two
  • Creating and executing a warm-up plan before you start sending emails from a new IP address

The stuffing: Your header

?Everybody appreciates a good stuffing, especially one that’s created from scratch and is baked for the right amount of time. It will complement the main course, and that’s exactly what your “from” and “reply-to” addresses, your subject line, and your preheader text should do.

This promotional email from The Criterion Channel serves up a tasty serving of intrigue with a subject line that simply says “Somebody’s watching you.” The preheader text elaborates on that rich idea: “Paranoia reigns in a series of Hollywood thrillers and art-house classics that…” – the rest cut off on an iPhone 8 Plus, which gives you an idea of how much space you have on a larger smartphone screen.

While that subject line would be creepy coming from another source, subscribers to The Criterion Channel are likely aware that it’s packed with classic movies, so their marketing team can get away with it. While you may not want to go that far out on a limb with your subject line, we encourage you to be creative and try text that will get people’s attention without making them feel like you sent them click-bait.

The “from” and “reply-to” names and email addresses used here are straight-forward, which helps the recipient know that the message is from a trusted source, not a spammer trying to trick them. While reply-to addresses aren’t as important in promotional emails, it’s useful to have ones for triggered and transactional messages that are functional and send a reply somewhere useful, such as a customer’s CRM record.

The mashed potatoes: Your email body

Good mashed potatoes are inextricably linked to the rest of the meal. If you’re like us, you give them a good dollop of gravy and add them to the turkey, stuffing, and other parts of your plate. That’s also the body of your email, which binds together all the elements of your marketing strategy – if it’s not made well, everything else tastes flat.

Before you begin creating the body of your email, make sure you’re using a responsive template, which means your messages will automatically adapt to your recipients’ devices. They should have the same experience whether they’re using a computer with a huge screen or a several-generations-old smartphone with a tiny display, and responsive email design enables you to deliver that.

This triggered email from NerdWallet, which is sent weekly, is a status update that they cleverly call “Your Nerd’s eye view,” complete with a simple illustration of a bird singing dollar signs. They lead with something a lot of people like to stay on top of – their credit score – and let this user know that they have two key features they can still unlock and start using.

A useful “Did you know…” item links to a page on their site, and they close with a pitch for their mobile app. The chosen photo, as well as the subject matter in the “Did you know…” part, makes it clear that they’ve done some audience segmenting and are targeting a younger audience with this weekly update.

The cranberry sauce: Your footer

Cranberry sauce seems to be a Thanksgiving meal staple, even if not everyone is a fan. That’s kind of like your email footer, which needs to be there and contain some basic information, even if it’s not the most exciting part of the email. To be fair, though, we’ve had some great cranberry sauce, and there’s no reason why your email footer can’t give your email strategy the right amount of zing.

The footer is where you’ll want to include:

  • A logo and/or a motto: It doesn’t hurt to do a little branding here and inject some business personality to close your message, if it makes sense.
  • Social media links: It’s always useful to let people know where they can keep in touch with you online, especially when many of them would rather send a direct message on social media than make a phone call.
  • Contact information: A phone number and/or a mailing address are always useful for people who prefer getting in touch that way. They also help legitimize new and relatively unknown businesses.
  • An unsubscribe link: Make sure it’s easy to see: hiding the link will just annoy people and greatly increase the chance that some of them will report your email as spam to get off your list, which will harm your sender reputation.
  • Legal disclosures: This is crucial, especially if you’re running a contest or offering a special deal that has terms and conditions. They’re also typically required for financial services emails. Check the applicable laws to see what you need to include here.

Depending on your business vertical, you can have a little fun with the footer, such as leading with, “Hey, thanks for reading to the end. Here’s some stuff you should know.” It’s kind of like cranberry sauce from a can versus the made-from-scratch variety, but sometimes you need to take a basic approach, such as in the financial services world.

This email footer from Simple is a good example of a no-frills approach that checks the right boxes.

 

 

If you’re looking for an example of an email footer that uses a more unique recipe, check out this one from online retailer Moosejaw, who like to have fun with their messages. Coincidentally, it was sent around Thanksgiving, so it includes a pumpkin pie tip as an Easter egg.

Pumpkin pie: What happens when they click

If you’re not a pumpkin pie fan, imagine your choice of dessert here. This is where you top off the experience with something sweet and delightful that ensures your guests will want to return next year or click-through in your next email.

Make sure the destination matches customers’ expectations. For example, if your call-to-action (CTA) button in your email is “Shop Now,” they should be taken to your online store, or a sub-section of it, if that was the focus of your email. Or if it’s “Apply Now,” they should see a webpage with a form.

You can use click tracking to see how much traffic came from the email versus other sources, such as social media posts or organic searches. Doing so involves adding unique information to each click-through URL. There are many third-party services for that.

And if people weren’t satisfied with what you served them and want to unsubscribe, you can try a few strategies on the unsubscribe page to keep the relationship going in some fashion.

  • Try an opt down: Let them choose less frequent emails or different types of mailings.
  • Offer other channels: Include links to your social media accounts, your blog, and anywhere else you like to communicate with customers. At least you know they’ll still hear from you somehow.
  • Find out why they unsubscribed: Offer a short survey to help you find out why they’re opting out. You can also use it to surface the other channels mentioned in the previous bullet point.

If it turns out they can’t devote a few hours at your place but would rather swing by for some post-meal dessert and coffee, there’s nothing wrong with that. Let your customers define their relationships with your company.

~ Casey

The post 5 Ways Your Emails Compare to Thanksgiving Sides appeared first on SparkPost.

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3 Strategies to Sell More Digital Products with Email http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-strategies-sell-more-digital-products-email/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-strategies-sell-more-digital-products-email/#respond Fri, 15 Nov 2019 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48147 sell more digital productsContent Marketer, Cyn Meyer, looks at three key ways Podia creators leverage email marketing to run and grow their businesses.?

The post 3 Strategies to Sell More Digital Products with Email appeared first on SparkPost.

]]>

If you’re a creator turning your side-hustle into a full-time passion gig, it can be overwhelming deciding how to spend your time.?

It’s tough enough to make it as an entrepreneur, let alone always knowing exactly where to focus your efforts.?

Some uncertainties that come to mind:

  • Should you focus on social media marketing?
  • What about SEO?
  • Your blog could use some TLC… is that your big priority?
  • How many marketing channels do you need, anyway?

Well, fret no more.?

Today, we’ve got one marketing channel that’s a must-have in your business: email marketing.?

Why? Simply because it works.?

A whopping 81% of businesses rely on email marketing to acquire customers. Another 80% rely on it for customer retention.

Plus, there’s a great ROI. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect $32 on average of return.

But they say seeing is believing, so rather than tell you about how email marketing can help, I’m going to show you. Today, we’ll look at three key ways Podia creators leverage email marketing to run and grow their business.?

#1. Use email to boost your content marketing efforts

A powerful way to use email is to notify your subscribers about exclusive, valuable content, products, or information. Whether it’s a new blog post or a new feature, a good announcement email can go a long way.?

For instance, Becky Mollenkamp, founder of the Gutsy Boss Club, provides educational content to her email subscribers on topics related to her mindset coaching business.?

Source

?Email provides a channel for delivering relevant and exclusive content to her subscribers, which takes on a variety of formats.?

Delivered content can be as straightforward as announcing a new blog article or as custom as Becky’s 365 Journaling Prompts PDF.?

As you can see in Becky’s addition at the end, subscribers who benefit from her PDF can also opt for her paid offerings like her Master Your Mindset and Crush Your Goals online courses.?

You can follow in Becky’s footsteps and ship off a variety of helpful content to your email recipients like ebooks, guides, and articles. For the best results, though, consider including educational videos in your emails.?

Doing so could increase your click rate by a staggering 300%.?

Source

Here’s how Becky entices her email recipients with a video embedded in her email.

Main takeaway:

If you’re selling info products, digital products, or memberships, use email to deliver educational and exclusive content to your audience. Or, if you’re adding a new feature, use email to keep your customers in the loop with every improvement.

#2: Support your customers after they purchase with key email messages

There are two effective ways creators can use email to support their customers post-purchase. The first is onboarding.??

An impressive 82% of welcome emails get opened. Unlike other email types, customers actually want (and need) your onboarding emails.

Source

So, it’s important to send a welcome email that brings your new customer into the fold as soon as they opt-in for your offerings. Timing and content are key to this type of triggered email.

Take, for example, Larry Silverberg, the master behind True Acting.

Source

Immediately after someone joins his Actors Revolution membership site, Larry emails pertinent login credentials and site access details, like so.?

For anyone who’s setting up a membership site, launching an online course, or selling digital products, successfully delivering your onboarding emails is vital to your business. Without it, your customers can easily lose their information or forget they signed up altogether.

Another way to support your customers post-purchase is by sending customer support emails.?

Check out Rebecca Holman, founder of Low Content Book Mastery, as an example.

?

Source?

Any time a customer has a question or request, Rebecca immediately delivers a customer support email that:

  • Confirms her customer’s request has been received
  • Sets the customer’s expectations for the time until resolution
  • Informs them that a ticket has been opened

With an email like this delivered immediately, Rebecca’s customers know she’s on top of it, which fosters a positive customer experience — something that’s crucial for your business.?

(And why email deliverability is such an important feature of an email service provider.)

In fact, 86% of consumers will pay more for better customer experience, and by next year, customer experience will be more important than price and product when it comes to differentiating your business.

Source

Bottom line:?

Send prompt onboarding and customer service emails to support your customers when they opt-in for your offerings. This will boost your customer experience and overall business growth.

#3: Turn your customers into loyal repeat customers with email marketing?

Just because a customer purchases from you doesn’t mean the selling stops there. Just as you promote to prospective clients, continue to promote to your current clients.?

Yep, it’s a thing. It’s actually a big thing.?

Promoting additional online products to your current customers can save you a lot of capital. It costs five times more to market to a new customer than to market to an existing one.

Source

This means it’s worth retaining your current customers, and one way to do that is by emailing them offers for more of your digital products.?

Or, put another way, email is a powerhouse tool for customer retention, loyalty, and sales, and to succeed in today’s market, you need a channel that can do all three.

No less, and maybe a little more.

For example, consider the case of successful entrepreneur, Justin Lee. He has multiple digital products on his storefront, all of which complement each other.?

A student who has completed his Finding Purpose online course could certainly benefit from his Finding Purpose Journal product.

Source

This gives Justin the opportunity to send nurturing emails to his current clients, promoting additional (and relevant) products that continue to solve their problems.

So, if you’ve got several digital products such as online courses for sale, you’ll want to follow suit and feature them in emails to your current customer base, which will make your marketing dollars travel further.

(And if you want your marketing efforts to go even further than that, then check out this 12,000-word guide on how to create, sell and profit from online courses.)

For those of you who are afraid of peppering your client base with too many emails, don’t be. Clients who are happy with their purchase and fans of your brand want to hear from you — on a weekly basis, in fact.?

That’s right. Word on the street is 49% of customers want to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands each week.?

Source

Another option is to send emails to your customers that offer a loyalty program, another tactic that will contribute to your annual earnings.?

In fact, if you refer your customers to loyalty programs, they’ll spend an average of 13% more each year.?

All in all:?

Use email to continue nurturing your clients into repeat customers. It’s an effective way to keep solving their problems with your other offerings — like digital products and loyalty programs — and turn them into lifetime customers.??

Make like successful Podia creators and prioritize email marketing to grow your business

Growing your business as an entrepreneur (or solopreneur) doesn’t have to be overwhelming.?

If you have the right tools in hand, you can shortcut your way through a ton of trial-and-error and streamline your efforts.?

Email marketing is one surefire way to grow your business. Neglecting email marketing, likewise, is another surefire way to leave money on the table.

Here’s to profiting off your passions (and delivering amazing emails while you’re at it).

~ Cyn Meyer

Cyn Meyer is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites — alongside their creators — thrive. Check out our free 12,000+ word guide to creating profitable online courses, even if you’ve never done it before.

 

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Like & Subscribe: How Influencers use Email http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/like-subscribe-influencers-use-email/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/like-subscribe-influencers-use-email/#respond Wed, 13 Nov 2019 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48084 influencers use emailSocial Media Manager, Erica Weiss, explores how influencers use email and the strategies they use to build their lists and keep subscribers engaged.

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With the rise of social media, Influencer Marketing has proven to be one of the most notable emerging marketing strategies. In fact, according to Digital Marketing Institute the Influencer Marketing industry is expected to hit $10bn by 2020. While Influencers no doubt play a huge role in marketing spend for start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike, it’s important to keep in mind that in addition to creating sponsored content for things like hair pills and “tummy teas” influencers are also selling their personal brand— marketing oneself as a brand.?

Just as marketing leaders at traditional brands employ myriad communication channels to build awareness and drive revenue, so too do the “CMOs” behind some of the most successful personal brands out there. While many influencers tend to stick to the channels you might expect, like Instagram and Youtube, there are many who have expanded their marketing programs into their fans’ inboxes.? Whether it’s to sell merchandise or keep followers up-to-date via a newsletter, influencers big and small use email to communicate with their fanbase. Check out some of the strategies influencers use to build their lists and keep followers engaged via email:

Turning Followers into Subscribers

One of the most challenging aspects of email marketing is maintaining a list of engaged recipients. While Influencers have an audience of followers who are presumably interested in what it is that they do, those fans don’t necessarily translate to email subscribers. One way to turn a follower into a subscriber? Provide Value.?

In the example below, Casey Goode more commonly known by her Instagram handle (and personal brand), @OfficiallyQuigley, explains the benefits of signing up for her email list. Those who join Goode’s “newsletter family” can not only expect to hear about her “secrets” first but also will receive a free copy of her “Guide to Writing Instagram Captions”. For those who follow Goode, these benefits can be particularly enticing as much of her Instagram content focuses on how aspiring influencers can create engaging content. By offering her free guide in exchange for fans’ email addresses she creates symmetry wherein both she and her subscribers benefit.

Welcome Subscribers to the Club

The efficacy of Influencer Marketing is predicated on followers feeling like they have a personal relationship with the influencers they choose to follow…even though they don’t. These fabricated and yet deep connections to influencers can lead big sales (and are the reason I ONLY buy Bounty paper towels). Once a follower has converted into an email subscriber, it’s important to bring that same personal touch they apply to their youtube videos to their email sequence.?

Check out below how Emma Chamberlain, arguably one of the most prolificzoomers” out there, welcomes her newest subscribers to her club. Not only does she thank them for signing up, but also includes a signature quirky photo of her blowing a kiss. More than that, she includes three featured pieces of merchandise from her online store to seamlessly move the message from “Welcome!” to the CTA of “Shop Now”. While this welcome email is far from personalized, it does harken back to Chamberlain’s Instagram aesthetic, making the transition from the ‘gram to the inbox seamless.

The Beauty of Transactional Messages

As we saw in the previous example, it’s not uncommon for influencers to monetize their personal brand by selling merchandise. Accordingly, many beauty influencers have begun selling their own make-up, many of which garner a cult following like the Conspiracy Collection by Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star which completely sold out within hours of its release. With those kinds of sales, you can bet beauty influencers are sending a ton of transactional email.?

Take a look at how beauty guru, Nikita Dragun, uses transactional email to give her customer an order update without diluting her personal brand. Rather than simply saying “Your order has shipped” Dragun lets the customer know that they should “Get ready to slay” since “The secret to selfie slayage is on the way!” Dragun’s triggered email copy is written in her tone and with her vocabulary, making what could have been a downright boring email fun, engaging, and on-brand.

Goode, Chamberlain and Dragun prove that there is no shortage of applications of email in the world of influencing!

See ya on the ‘gram!

~ Erica, Social Media Manager

P.S. Are you as obsessed with Instagram as I am? Follow us on Instagram to keep up to date with all things SparkPost!?

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What it’s Like to be a Working Parent at SparkPost http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/working-parent-sparkpost/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/working-parent-sparkpost/#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 14:00:04 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48068 working parentsBenefits and Culture Manager, Michelle Cunningham, explains why SparkPost is a great place for working parents to be employed.

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According to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center, 65% of working parents with college degrees– reported that it was “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to meet the simultaneous demands of work and family. Knowing this, I knew rejoining the workforce after being home for seven years with my two girls, now 10 and 12 was going to be a big adjustment for our family. I had been lucky that a significant part of my earlier career had been spent at an accounting firm, RSM that valued their employees and offered many programs for working parents with lots of flexibility. So, I knew that when I went back to work, I wanted to find a company that offered similar programs and that had an inclusive culture. I found that culture and fit at SparkPost when I joined the company in early 2017.

SparkPost is a company that values its employees and it shows within our culture, and our values. It’s evident in our normal workdays and in the programs we have in place. We offer flexible work hours, and all employees are able to work remotely on Fridays. We also have a significant amount of employees that work remotely every day. We demonstrate the value of flexibility knowing we hire the right people for a particular job even if they don’t live close to one of our offices.?

For me, I’m able to juggle working on meaningful projects and am still able to pick my kids up from school many days. Of course, all working parents juggle competing priorities, and at times, it can be overwhelming. Author and executive coach, Daisy Waderman Dowling recently wrote an article for Harvard Business Review, called A Working Parents Survival Guide. Her writing reinforces for those of us that are working parents that we all face conflicts and stressors while we try and balance home and work life. The author highlights different challenges we tend to face and five powerful strategies to consider as part of our toolbox as a working parent. Some other useful tips are being “present’ when you are at work, sharing how you can be contacted and when you are accessible. And learning it’s okay to set boundaries whether it’s in relation to work or in other parts of your life.

The leaders of SparkPost know, that working parents make up a huge part of our company. Our Managers look out for their team members, help them reprioritize work and give them encouragement when needed. It’s all about transparency and open communication. Our team members know that they have the flexibility they need to handle a family issue, see their child perform in a band concert, or attend a school play. One Manager in our Customer Success Team feels empowered to lead his team, handle customer issues and coach his daughter’s soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse teams.?

SparkPost provides many different benefits for employees. One benefit that supports our working parents is our eight weeks of Parental leave for those employees that either welcome a new baby into their family, choose to adopt or foster a child. There is definitely no negative judgment for those that use this leave. Some employees take all eight weeks at once, while others take it over a few months. No one size fits all. Speaking of which, we also have a Flexible Time Off policy which allows employees the opportunity to schedule vacations, volunteer, coach or address family situations that arise. Individuals are able to use the time when they need it and don’t have to worry about accruing time off.?

As a working parent, one of our favorite days of the year is Take your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This is a really fun day where we share SparkPost with our kids. The whole office gets involved in activities that day. It’s a day in which the kids are so excited to come to work, and the parents and our teammates have a fun day.?

While not every day can be a party in the office, I find that many of us do want to work at a company that makes you feel valued and is committed to your professional growth. As a working parent, you spend a lot of time with those you work with, so it is important to find people that you like to work with as well. I feel lucky that I work with a great group of people at SparkPost. I want to send a shout out to all my coworkers that work hard every day and do their best in balancing their families and work life. It’s not always easy. And some weeks may seem harder than others. But together, we can make it work!

Interested in seeing what it’s like to work at SparkPost? Follow us on Instagram!

~ Michelle

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Looking Back at OptIn’19 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/looking-back-optin19/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/looking-back-optin19/#respond Wed, 06 Nov 2019 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=48036 Jen Lacey, Senior Manager, Digital and Content Strategy, shares her experience at our first-ever vendor-agnostic conference, OptIn'19!

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What a week! We just held our first ever OptIn conference down in Carmel, CA and it was incredible! We’ve done conferences and events in the past but this was our first ‘vendor-agnostic’ conference. What does that really mean? We pushed really hard to make sure folks from all corners of the email industry were invited and encouraged to attend – it was super important to our entire team to put together a conference where everyone in our industry (and beyond it) felt welcome. Competitors, industry pundits, journalists and plenty of folks NOT using SparkPost all gathered listen in on talks about email and the exciting strides they’re making with email. The weather was perfect, and attendees got to warm up to the conference on Day 1 by participating in hiking, archery, cooking, crafting or yoga before a delicious welcome dinner.

It’s incredibly exciting to me to watch our events evolve over the years and so promising to see the increasing number of women and minorities as both attendees AND speakers. A personal favorite was definitely Michelle Poler talking about her 100 days without fear project, where she conquered a fear every day for 100 days and documented the entire process. Her talk on pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to achieve true growth resonated with everyone in the audience and of course, got the wheels turning on how we can all apply this philosophy to our day jobs and beyond.

 

The Diversity and Inclusion panel by the Women of Email was also very impactful, highlighting (among other things) the importance of representation on teams when hiring and recruiting in ANY industry. They also touched on accessibility in email, as well as authentic ways that brands can incorporate social messages and support for minorities and underrepresented groups into their messaging and campaigns.

As I said, the conference was jam-packed full of sessions on all things email, data, engagement & growth. I think you could probably poll our attendees (don’t worry, we did!) and learn that they felt their conference tickets were money well spent. We hope to see you at OptIn’20!?

Happy Sending!

Jen

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5 Tips for Integrating SMS Into Your Email Marketing Campaigns http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-tips-integrating-sms-email-marketing-campaigns/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-tips-integrating-sms-email-marketing-campaigns/#respond Mon, 04 Nov 2019 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47980 integrating SMSHere are 5 tips for integrating SMS into your email marketing campaigns, so you can deliver customers a consistent experience across communication channels.

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Of the 7.7 billion people on the planet, it’s estimated that about 3.5 billion of them have Internet access, and over half of them use email. That’s pretty impressive, but did you know that around 5 billion people can send and receive SMS (short message service) messages, also known as texting? It helps that SMS can be used on non-smartphones too.

Among consumers, according to TechJury, 75% of them don’t mind receiving SMS messages from brands (after they’ve opted in, of course). They also redeem coupons delivered via SMS 10 times more than coupons sent to them in other ways. In general, SMS messages have an astounding 98% open rate, with 90% of them read within 3 minutes of being received.

Before you stop reading and rush off to send SMS messages to your customers, though, there are some best practices to keep in mind. Here are 5 tips to help you integrate an SMS strategy into your email marketing campaigns, so you can create an omnichannel marketing approach that delivers a consistent experience everywhere you communicate with customers.

1. Approach SMS the same way you handle email

First, you need your customers’ permission to send them SMS messages, like email sending usually requires. In the United States, the FCC requires written consent before sending commercial texts, which you can handle by asking for cell phone numbers and then sending people an SMS message that requires them to reply with “yes,” or some other form of consent, to receive future messages from you.

As always, though, check the laws that apply to you and consult with legal counsel at your company, if necessary.

Next, you’ll want to segment your list of SMS message recipients, as you do with your email list, so you can speak directly to those cohorts in your messages. Many SMS message sending services offer personalization, so you can insert first names, birthdays, cities, and other information. Just don’t overdo it, since space will be at a premium.

Finally, make sure you honor unsubscribes sent via SMS too. You will hurt your company’s brand equity if you send SMS messages to people who have unsubscribed, and there’s a good chance that they will complain to their carriers, who will likely block you as a spammer. You could also incur the wrath of the FCC or other government agencies.

2. You can send triggered, transactional, and promotional SMS messages

Consider sending different types of communications via SMS, just as you do with email:

  • Triggered messages alert customers to events, such as order shipments, suspicious account log-in attempts, upcoming due dates for bills, and monthly reports.
  • Transactional messages are sent in response to customers’ actions, such as purchases, bill payments, new account creations, and password resets.
  • Promotional messages let customers know about new products, special deals, rewards based on their activity, and other ways that you drive sales. You can also create upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Given the immediacy of SMS messages, they’re useful for communications that have more urgency than an email would. For example, you could send a coupon code that’s good for one day only, or let customers know about a new product or service, complete with a shortened link that will take them to your mobile website. (Your website is responsive, correct?)

SMS messages are also a good way to offer two-factor authentication for user accounts, which allows you to provide a useful layer of security for your customers.

If you’re going to send a lot of SMS messages, you may want to invest in a short code so carriers don’t consider you a spammer. A short code is a five- or six-digit phone number that’s typically pre-approved by mobile carriers for use with commercial activity. Try choosing one that spells out a word, so it’s easy for people to remember. For example, Kmart uses 562-78, which spells out the name of the retailer on a keypad.

3. Brevity is the soul of SMS messages

SMS messages can’t be more than 160 characters long, so while your emails should be short and to the point, your SMS messages need to make every letter count. It may be tempting to string multiple SMS messages into one communication, but doing so will increase the odds that your recipients will start opting out in droves. Try not to send SMS messages more than a few times a week, at the most.

If you had experience writing marketing messages on Twitter before the character limit for tweets was increased, then you should apply what you learned here. Limit each SMS message to one thing at a time, saving the fuller storytelling for emails.

Consider how your SMS messages can complement your emails. For example, if you email your list about a special deal that has an expiration date, you could send a follow-up SMS message reminder shortly before the deal ends. You can schedule SMS message sending, allowing you to orchestrate your marketing campaigns.

An SMS message can also be useful for alerting your customers to time-sensitive news, such as a delay with shipping an order or a problem with their account.

4. Use simple, relevant keywords and reply immediately to messages

When you publicize your new SMS message service, you can ask customers to text a word or phrase to your phone number (ideally, a short code) to enroll. Try using something memorable. For example, if you have an online store that sells women’s clothes and accessories, you could ask people to text “fashion” to your number to enroll.

Use an auto-responder to ensure customers receive an immediate response when they enroll. Welcome them to the service and let them know what to text back to unsubscribe, such as “stop.” Make sure it’s easy for them to opt-out, and acknowledge them when they do, so they know you will honor the request.

You can also set up and publicize keywords to enable customers to do other things, such as getting directions to your business location or to an event or receiving a link to download a mobile app. In addition, you can use SMS messages to gather information, such as asking people to text you their first names.

5. Find the right partners for your omnichannel marketing strategy

SMS messaging allows you to complement your marketing efforts via email, social media, your website, and other channels. That’s important because today’s typical consumer uses an average of nearly six touch-points per purchase, whereas 15 years ago, they often used two. In addition, 90% of consumers expect to see consistent interactions with businesses across channels.

Companies that implement omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, and those customers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop with one channel.

If you’re using SparkPost to send email, you’ll be glad to know that we have a strategic partnership with MessageBird, a cloud communication platform that extends your messages across channels, including SMS. MessageBird’s platform is highly scalable and offers unrivaled speed and reliability for message sending anywhere in the world. You can read more about our partnership with MessageBird on our blog.

~ Casey

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Questions to Ask Your Next Email Vendor http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/questions-ask-next-email-vendor/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/questions-ask-next-email-vendor/#respond Fri, 01 Nov 2019 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47951 Email VendorSenior Manager, Digital and Content Strategy, Jen Lacey explains how to enhance your RFP and email vendor selection process with our RFP checklist.

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There is nothing I love more than a good checklist. There’s something about having a tactical plan of action that makes you feel in control of your day, productive and efficient. But a checklist is only as good as what’s on it, and sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. When you’re in charge of sourcing a new tech vendor, it’s easy to come up with the hard-hitting questions that affect your role, but maybe not so easy to understand how a new piece of tech might impact other functions of your organization.

As email and technology solutions become more integrated with every aspect of a business’ overall software stack, it’s important to be cognizant of how a new solution will impact other functions of your org, not just your role.

That’s why we thought it would be helpful to put together a checklist of questions you can use when creating an RFP to evaluate email vendors. We’ve grouped the checklist by category so it’s easy to quickly skim areas where you might need more assistance. An email marketer probably has their needs and use cases down to a ‘T’ but if they’re the sole purchaser, what technical or compliance questions might they need to be aware of?

This quick checklist will guide you on important aspects of an email service purchase including topics like:

  • Pricing: How is pricing measured and how will you be billed? What features are considered included vs. add-on?*
  • Analytics: What are the reporting functionalities of the tool or service you’re evaluating? How much detail is included in the reporting? Is there any kind of predictive data modeling offered?
  • Integration: What kind of functionality is available via webhooks? Are there automated alerts available?
  • Support: What kind of onboarding assistance is included? What support SLAs are issued with a standard contract?

The full checklist with suggested questions can be found here. As always, if you have any feedback or comments on something you think is missing, give us a shout!

We hope this list makes you feel a bit more prepared in your search for an email service.

Happy Sending!

Jen

*an important factor to hold constant when comparing vendors! Make sure all pricing packages are offering the same features

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SparkPost To Acquire eDataSource http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sparkpost-acquires-edatasource/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sparkpost-acquires-edatasource/#respond Tue, 29 Oct 2019 11:05:03 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47912 sparkpost acquires edatasourceWe are excited to share with you that SparkPost has entered an agreement to acquire eDataSource!?Learn more about the acquisition here.

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Today I am excited to share with you that SparkPost has entered an agreement to acquire eDataSource!

This milestone allows us to continue delivering on our promise to provide the best email sending and analytics platform for brands in the easiest and most efficient way possible.

The email market has been impacted by two conflicting scenarios: The increasing complexity of inbox strategies and an influx of marketers returning to email as the most efficient method for engaging their customers and opted-in prospects.

By combining SparkPost, the world’s largest sender, with eDataSource’s leading deliverability and analytics capabilities, we will enable our customers to successfully navigate the new email environment and enhance the distinguished portfolio of products and services we offer.

The new offerings planned for the next few quarters will enhance the transparency and efficacy of email sending without the growing friction between the sending layer and analytics layer that marketers seek.

I’m incredibly excited to welcome eDataSource to the SparkPost family. We share values with eDataSource, and their culture matches our own. Many joint customers will quickly benefit from the combination, and we will be bringing much more value to all customers in the near future. We are thrilled to bring these two organizations together.

You can read more about the acquisition here, and as you can imagine we’re excited to embark on this next chapter of our company. We look forward to hearing from you with your questions and suggestions on how we can best serve your email needs.

– ?Rich Harris
CEO, SparkPost

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Birthday Email Marketing: Have Your Cake and Send It, Too http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/birthday-email-marketing-cake-send/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/birthday-email-marketing-cake-send/#respond Mon, 28 Oct 2019 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47873 birthday email marketingLet’s take a look at some of the better examples of birthday email marketing we’ve seen, and what they’re doing right to engage their customers.

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Everyone knows birthdays are a big deal but did you know they can also be a great time to send out big deals?

Most successful marketers do. In fact, in September 2019 alone, Sparkpost sent out 88,394,863 emails with a subject line containing the word “Birthday.”

That’s a lot of b-day celebrations.

With 51% of marketing leaders choosing to treat their customers to birthday emails and 73% of them rating their birthday campaigns as effective or highly effective, they’re a proven way to connect with your customers and show them some love on the day that’s uniquely theirs.

Birthday emails regularly outperform other promotional emails. Take a look at some of these KPIs; birthday emails have…

  • 481% higher conversion rates
  • 342% higher revenue per message
  • 179% higher unique click rates
  • 89% higher open rates

While holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day have their own appeal for marketers, birthdays are special for two reasons. First, everyone has a birthday, while not everyone celebrates the same holidays. Second, a birthday feels uniquely yours, with good reason.? It makes you feel special and celebrated just for, hey, being you.

So there’s obviously plenty of opportunities to take advantage of birthdays every month. And with performance statistics like those just mentioned, there’s a good chance you already are, if you’re a marketer with a subscriber list. The question is, are you doing it as effectively as you could be?

Let’s take a look at some of the better examples of birthday email marketing we’ve seen, and what they’re doing right to engage their customers.

Every birthday is a gift – so offer them one!

Everyone wants to be celebrated on their birthday. Put a smile on your customer’s faces by spoiling them with an exclusive offer that can help boost your sales too. Sephora is no slouch at email marketing with a personal touch and drops a birthday treat to customers on their special day each year.

When sending out these offers, something to keep in mind is that you should add an expiration date to the offer to create a sense of urgency. Without a clear expiration, it’s far more likely that your customer will save the email to come back to at a later time…and then forget about it altogether.

Timing is another aspect of birthday emails to keep in mind. 55% of these are sent on the actual birthday, while 38% are sent one to three weeks earlier. It can feed into the recipient’s building sense of excitement, and even encourage them to treat themselves for their big day. This way, you’ve got time to send a few reminders, prompting them to take action before the offer expires.

A popular expiration date for birthday offers is 30 days after issuance, such as this sweet birthday promotion by Sweetgreen (and we can’t resist a great veggie-related pun).

What’s the big date?

A major challenge with these emails can be obtaining the customers actual birthday. Customers are less likely to opt-in if they have to provide more information about themselves when signing up for a product or newsletter.

One tactic is to be blunt. Hinting at an exclusive offer or gift may be enough to encourage your customers to share their information, and asking in a cute, fun way makes them feel better about giving their birthday out than filling out a form when opting in.

Seamless did a great job here by being straightforward and having a clear CTA (even including step-by-step illustrated guidance).

Bodyrok has done something fundamentally smart in this next example. Without going into a deeper level of personalization, this email makes sure the birthday offer can apply to everyone. The offer of 25% a retail item is a fantastic way to be inclusive and definitely something to keep in mind if you offer a subscription-based service that may render your birthday offer moot.

Not all successful birthday emails have to include a gift or promotion. Especially for companies who aren’t in retail, it can be impactful to emphasize the relationship you have (and have had) with your customer.

Intuit shows the way with a yearly recap of sorts – it’s a good reminder to check your numbers but sugar-coated (ha!) with an optimistic look forward to the upcoming year.

The main ingredient?

While it might seem like obvious advice, it stands repeating: have fun! Birthdays are a celebration, after all.

In that vein, what better way to celebrate another year of life than by really energizing your emails? GIFs and animation are a favorite of ours, and we’re willing to bet they’ll appeal to your customers. Take a look at these examples by Payoff and Artifact Uprising that sparkle with promise.

~ Erica

 

 

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9 Interview Questions You Should Be Asking Email Marketing Manager Candidates http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/9-interview-questions-asking-email-marketing-manager-candidates/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/9-interview-questions-asking-email-marketing-manager-candidates/#respond Fri, 25 Oct 2019 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47856 email marketing managerIn the process of hiring an email marketing manager? We’ve put together 9 questions that can help you during the hiring process.

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Email may be the oldest form of digital communication, but it’s currently used by over half of the people in the world, with the population of email users expected to reach more than 4.3 billion by the end of 2023.

In addition, over 293 billion business and personal emails are sent and received every day, a number that will exceed 347 billion by the end of 2023. And if you’re worried that email usage could die out, never fear: 78% of teenagers use email.

Given its ubiquity, email marketing remains a key way to build brand equity, develop relationships with customers, and, of course, grow revenue. In fact, every dollar spent on email marketing can bring in an average return of $38, according to Constant Contact.

That’s why it’s important to hire the right person to manage email marketing at your company. We’ve put together 9 questions that can help you during the hiring process.

1. Which companies currently do email marketing well?

This question helps you set a baseline for the interviewee’s industry knowledge. This shouldn’t be a tough question for them, so if they struggle with it, then you know they’re not up to speed on the latest trends. Just because email has been around since the early 1970s doesn’t mean it’s a static medium.

The word “currently” helps ensure that they won’t cite an email they received from Amazon five years ago. You could follow up by asking for specific examples of email marketing campaigns from the companies they mention, as well as why those campaigns work well.

2. What’s the best email marketing campaign that you’ve created?

This is their chance to show how they apply what they know about the industry and its trends. After all, staying up to speed on their chosen profession is one thing – putting those lessons to use is another.

A good follow-up here could involve asking them to walk through that campaign and point out specifics about the subject line, preview text, tone of the text, and the imagery that was used. Bonus points if they can discuss the intended audience and why the email was geared toward them.

3. How do you develop the voice for your email campaigns?

Anyone who’s thrown off by this question, unless they need you to explain what you mean by “voice,” likely doesn’t understand audience segmentation, which is a red flag. No company should have a “one size fits all” approach to their email marketing, so it’s crucial that the interviewee be able to explain how they target their messaging to different audiences.

Bonus points if they toss in a few literary references. Sure, your email campaigns aren’t the second coming of Hemingway, but it’s never a bad thing if your email marketing manager takes a few cues from literary giants in their work. You’ll also get a sense of what they’ll be like to work with on a daily basis.

4. What are some of the ways you’ve used A/B testing in your campaigns?

Ideally, your new email marketing manager will understand the industry well, know how to target their messaging, and possess the desire to A/B test their content to see what works well. Every email marketer knows that no matter how well they’ve dialed in their campaign, they should try a test to make sure they don’t have any blind spots in their setup.

This is a good open-ended question that should involve not just a simple “We tested this” response but also an explanation of why they chose that variable to test. The interviewee should know that you test one variable at a time, to avoid muddying the results.

Bonus points if they’ve tried some tricky tests, such as seeing what kind of imagery resonates best with an audience.

5. How do you judge the success of your email campaigns?

The ideal email marketing manager should be as comfortable creating a style guide as they are digging through data. Ideally, they look at open and click-through rates, as well as conversion rates on a landing page or other destination. Hopefully, they’re well-versed in more advanced metrics too, such as deliverability rates, mobile vs. desktop email stats, and ROI.

A good follow-up here could involve how they’ve applied past lessons to future campaigns, with specific examples. Bonus points if they can show how they’ve moved the needle on a KPI (key performance indicator) with at least one campaign.

6. How have you used different kinds of emails as part of a customer lifecycle strategy?

Any good email marketing manager understands the difference between triggered, transactional, and promotional emails and how to use them as part of a customer journey. The interviewee should be able to explain how they’ve crafted a strategy that takes a new customer from onboarding to tenured status to a win-back situation where they’ve stopped making purchases or have closed their account.

Bonus points if segmentation is part of their strategy. For example, do they treat customers in one demographic different from those in another? Do they consider how long people have been customers, how much they spend monthly or annually, and how they’ve engaged with emails in the past? Ideally, they have developed parallel customer journeys that take those things into consideration.

7. How do you handle deliverability problems?

Anyone who’s been around the block a few times with email marketing understands that just because you send a message to someone, it doesn’t mean it will actually land in their inbox. It could end up in their spam or promotion folder, or it could simply never arrive.

An interviewee should demonstrate knowledge of sender reputation and how it affects deliverability. Bonus points if they can relate some examples of how they’ve fixed deliverability problems on their job, and extra bonus points if they understand Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKey Authenticated Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC), as well as how they use those security standards as part of their deliverability efforts.

They should earn some big bonus points if they’ve used an analytics dashboard, like the one SparkPost offers, to diagnose deliverability problems at a deeper level.

8. How have you reacted to an email marketing campaign that failed?

After giving an interviewee the chance to show off what they know and how they’ve shined in their work, this is a chance to understand how they handle adversity. Every email marketing manager will have failed campaigns, so they should be able to explain what they learned and how they applied those lessons to future campaigns.

Bonus points if their answer has a mix of technical detail, such as how they tackled a deliverability problem, and behavioral insight, such as how they handled the failed campaign within their company.

9. How do you manage your daily work?

Anyone with the word “manager” in their job title should be able to work independently, stay organized, and follow up on their to-do list. They should also be able to demonstrate how they work with their teammates, as well as their cross-functional stakeholders in engineering, product design, and other parts of the company.

Bonus points if they can relate situations where they’ve shown the initiative to tackle certain tasks without being told to do so. Extra bonus points if those tasks were outside their job description and/or their comfort zone.

~ Erica

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How to Build an Email Program to Increase DAUs http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/build-email-program-increase-daus/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/build-email-program-increase-daus/#respond Wed, 23 Oct 2019 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47792 increase DAUsLearn how to build an email program that will bolster and sustain meaningful engagement with your app as well as increase DAUs.

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If you’re marketing an app, you likely keep a close eye on how many daily active users, or DAUs, are taking action within your app.

Why? Well, many companies consider DAUs to be the most significant measure of product stickiness and growth – two factors imperative to measuring the success of your app.

Okay, so you have your DAUs. Any app does. What’s the issue?? It’s how, over time, the retention stats don’t look great for a typical app.

According to an in-depth study by Quettra, the average app loses 77% of its DAUs within the first 3 days of installation. Within 30 days, it’s lost 90% of DAUs. That’s pretty drastic.

Now before you think “that study has to be incorrect; our own experience is different, we’re seeing lots of regular engagement,” note that a lost DAU is not completely inactive – it may be a user that’s taking action a few times a month. Losing a Daily Active User isn’t the same as losing a Monthly Active User, but they do correlate.

So how do you bolster and sustain meaningful engagement with your app, and retain existing DAUs and even convert others into using it more frequently?

Why use email to drive DAUs?

As we’ve mentioned before, email isn’t going anywhere. With a predicted 255 million users in just the US by 2020, email is a channel that retains enormous reach and effectiveness. After all, it’s all about reaching your audience, and chances are pretty high that your audience is looking at their inbox at least once a day (if not constantly).? And a lot of younger or more app-savvy consumers view email as a key channel.

What’s wrong about relying mainly on push notifications? With the number of apps on individual devices soaring, consumers are growing more likely to download apps and then abandon them. Email is a channel to reach them that’s both non-intrusive and effective because of the fact its users feel they’ve got more power over it.

Source

Push notifications, on their own, may not be enough to recover users who have forgotten about your app or may be slacking off in usage.? They’ve got a short character limit and rigid structure; even with emojis, there’s only so much a marketer can do with that. Plus, once they’ve abandoned the app, users are likely to turn off notifications, if they haven’t already. Some users simply don’t want to see them.

Email offers way more leeway in grabbing the user’s attention. As a marketer, focusing on optimizing what you do within their inbox opens up a world of possibility with images, messaging and personalization options.

We aren’t saying you should overlook other channels – omnichannel marketing succeeds by integrating different ones seamlessly. Stir in your push notifications and targeted ads, but with its wide reach and range of possibilities, don’t neglect email.

Source

Types of DAU-directed emails

Here are some of the building blocks of a campaign aimed at retaining DAUs, or turning other users into DAUs. But one reminder: Don’t forget to test. No matter what type of email program you mount, A/B testing of different message types, timing, frequency, copy, creative, and incentives is always the key to success.

Welcome

A simple welcome email can bring your app to the front of mind for users and tip some of them into usage.? Beyond reminding them why they downloaded your app, you can offer help with set-up, quick tips for using or navigating the app, or just thank them for their download.

Thank-you emails have an engagement rate of 62% and every marketer pulling his/her weight should be tapping into that. Everyone likes being thanked!

Onboarding

Sending users step-by-step instructions helps them become comfortable with your app, making them more likely to engage with it. Depending on your app’s functionality, you may want to have a more protracted onboarding campaign to get them really enmeshed in the orientation process over a longer time.

There may be hidden features or options and settings that are tricky to navigate, or that you can deliberately “reveal” at later stages of the campaign.

Re-engagement?

Whether a user didn’t complete signing up or has simply been inactive, email can provide the perfect tool for re-engagement.

This example from eFax, for instance, doesn’t offer anything new – the free trial is always included on signup – but it serves to remind the user why they signed up in the first place. They highlight some of the major features they offer, but place emphasis on messaging that’s structured around a keen financial motive: Stop wasting your money. Hard to argue with that, isn’t it?

Plus, eFax offers an incentive (more on these below) for customers to re-engage with the app: they’ll get a free month of service.

Here’s another approach to re-engagement: Cornerstone cares enough about the user’s reasons for not engaging with the app that they want them to fill out a survey. And by the way, they’ll give you free store credit for doing so.

Incentives

As we’ve just seen, another popular method of encouraging DAUs? Offer incentives. We’re only human, after all, and putting something in our pockets, or helping us save, always draws attention.

Emails that offer users a reason to return (particularly for financial reasons) get traction with users. While many products offer sign-up incentives, using them, later on, can lure a user back to engagement. Motivating customers to come back is crucial and it doesn’t have to be costly; a discount, free upgrade, or “Exclusive! Limited availability!” feature unlock might do the trick without breaking the budget.

One good point to remember about using incentives? A DAU isn’t necessarily generating value for you unless s/he’s taking specific actions that drive revenue, like buying stuff or shelling out for upgrades. Incentives help steer them down that path.

One company that constantly sends rewards and special offers through email is Starbucks. While the rewards are easily loaded into the app, most are first sent to the inbox and require users to engage before they activate.

Community Announcements

Everyone wants to think they’re hanging out with the popular crowd, right? So as your user community grows, make sure members know they’re part of a burgeoning bunch of fellow cool kids. Or at least like-minded people.

This accomplishes a few things: It lets the user know you value him/her, and that others have ratified that user’s app choice – the sheer popularity of a product can be motivating for some users. Also, it makes you look successful and stable, implying the app will be more likely to be updated and supported in the future.

Here’s an example from Readdle that hits that mark:

Usage Updates

One personalization tactic? Celebrate user engagement! This shows a user you’re paying attention, and you’re going to recognize them for engaging with your app. Or you can go even farther, in an entertaining way. Lyft provides a great example below: their “year in review” emails are really just showing users their own usage data, yet it’s a fun way for them to feel connected to the company and the use of its app.

By providing your users with a sense of accomplishment, you give them a reason to come back to you every day.? Create some usage mileposts as the basis of a DAU-targeted campaign, even if they’re arbitrary or whimsical ones, to power emails that reward users with recognition so they can celebrate with a smile or a fist-pump.

~ Jen

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Diagnosing and Solving Deliverability Issues with Email on Acid http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/diagnosing-and-solving-deliverability-issues-with-email-on-acid/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/diagnosing-and-solving-deliverability-issues-with-email-on-acid/#respond Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47773 Solving Deliverability IssuesRead up on what we discussed during the twitter chat we co-hosted with Email on Acid titled Diagnosing and Solving Deliverability Issues.

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Earlier this month we co-hosted a Twitter chat titled Diagnosing and Solving Deliverability Issues with Email on Acid, a pre-deployment email tool that helps you to find & fix email mistakes while you QA, even if you don’t know HTML. During the Twitter chat, Email on Acid tweeted out deliverability questions and welcomed anyone who was following along to respond in live time.

Through this casual Q&A format, we intended to educate our followers on the basics of deliverability, something that can get lost in the shuffle when addressing high-level concerns about delivering to certain ISPs or increasing open rates. With Email on Acid’s email expertise and the overwhelming amount of #emailgeeks we have over here at SparkPost, together we answered and addressed deliverability questions big and small:

Here are the questions Email on Acid asked during the Twitter chat:

  1. What is the difference between delivery and deliverability?
  2. How can you determine if your email campaign is successful?
  3. How can you ensure that you are sending to legitimate addresses?
  4. How can sending to invalid addresses negatively impact deliverability?
  5. How does engagement affect my deliverability?
  6. What steps should you take to warm-up your IP address(es)?

Check out the answers to these deliverability questions below!

 

While the above questions may seem very basic to a seasoned email pro, there is no harm in re-reviewing their answers as concerns around deliverability are ever-changing. On the other side of the coin, these questions and answers offer a great jumping-off point for those just getting started in email sending.

For those looking for more information about deliverability, we recommend checking out our guide: The New Rules of Email Deliverability. In addition to addressing the changes to deliverability seen in recent years, this guide also includes new rules and techniques that email senders should be following. Additionally, if you’re looking for a quick read check out some of my favorite blog posts on deliverability:

17 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability

10 Steps to Email Deliverability for Beginners

Deliverability: Half Art, Half Science

How to Segment your Subscriber Data to Improve Deliverability

We hope that our Twitter chat with Email on Acid was helpful and would love your feedback! What topic should we focus on for our next Twitter chat? Feel free to drop me a line and let me know!

~ Erica

new rules email deliverability best practices

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Macabre Marketing: Why Marketers Should Care About Halloween http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/macabre-marketing-why-marketers-should-care-about-halloween/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/macabre-marketing-why-marketers-should-care-about-halloween/#respond Fri, 18 Oct 2019 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47758 halloweenWhether you’re in B2B or B2C, we suggest pulling up your spooky socks and getting to work on your Halloween marketing campaign.

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It’s that leaf-crunchin’, apple pickin’, scarifyin’ time of year!

Everything around you is pumpkin-related, spiced or spooky. And as the end of October creeps closer, black cats, broomsticks, and bones seem to spring up everywhere.

But if you’re not selling jack-o’-lanterns or IT costumes (yes, that creepy clown seems very popular this year), is Halloween really a holiday marketers should care about?

Absolutely.

According to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending will reach $8.8 billion this year. If you’re wondering where that stands in comparison to other years, that makes it the third-highest amount in 15 years.

172 million people plan to celebrate Halloween this year. So whether you’re in B2B or B2C, we suggest pulling up your spooky socks and getting to work on your Halloween marketing campaign.

Go big or ghost home?

“Ghost home.” Ouch. But it’s a season for puns, not all of them good.

A Halloween-themed email campaign should start with smart subject lines that sprinkle in a little Halloween wordplay but still serve as great CTAs. It’s the perfect time to test that pumpkin emoji you’ve been looking at. Just be sure to keep everything relevant. It’s too easy to be carried away by “boo”-related puns and bat graphics, so invest in messaging and design that’s more imaginative and doesn’t get buried in clichés.

But whatever you do, quickly relating the creative concept back to your product or service is essential.

Here’s an example of how a Halloween theme can “go big” across an omnichannel B2C campaign. While makeup certainly comes to mind when one thinks of Halloween, it’s more along the lines of face paint and glitter.

That’s why retail cosmetics brand Lush is a superb example of a brand that executes a powerful Halloween marketing campaign by relating their products to the holiday in a unique way.

Despite selling two fairly non-Halloween-esque products – bath bombs and body scrubs – their facebook campaign is relevant, creepy and cute all at once.

While that post has the most interactions, it was the first in a currently ongoing campaign that beautifully switches between adorable and chilling throughout the spooky season. What’s particularly powerful about this is that it’s just a body scrub – but the photography immediately relates it to something darker.

Social media is a solid avenue for engagement, particularly for a brand like Lush where you don’t want to email your audience every few days and overwhelm them with product announcements. By consistently posting thematically-congruent images and copy, Lush scares up better response.

But Lush complements its social media campaign with email that draws on the same spookified sources of inspiration. Here’s one that gives the customer a last-chance opportunity to grab seasonal specials:

Their website is tuned into the same idea – everything on their homepage is consistent with the countdown to Halloween.

All in all, this makes for a seamless, immersive customer experience that just screams Halloween.

Re-animating sales

A jolt of electricity to Dr. Frankenstein’s little re-animation experiment got his monster up and moving.? Why not use a similar tactic to animate sales lift during the Halloween window? It’s the right time to apply fun approaches that might be a bit offbeat for a brand.

This GIF-animated promotion from The Knot drives greater engagement from current registrants by offering the chance to win a $500 gift card just for reviewing their vendor list at the site. They know, of course, that users may take them up on a few featured offers at the site, or add other providers.

Black and orange is so in vogue for an October wedding…isn’t it?

Postable attempts something in the same vein. Though we’re not that sure about how effective Mr. Pumpkinhead is. That outfit does him no favors whatsoever.

Creep-ified content

As always, your audience doesn’t just want fun Halloween-related content – they also want it to be useful.

The U.S. Department of Energy provides a great example of this. Their video, “4 Tips to Keep Your Energy Bill From Haunting You” is fun and does a nice job relating helpful tips to the season.

Beyond this video, the Department of Energy developed other themed assets to play to the spirit of October. Their Spooky Energy Units Calculator, for instance, shows how your energy consumption stacks up against the energy found in candy (and chainsaw hours, because why not?) It’s fun, it’s consistent but most of all, it’s useful.

B2Beast: What’s the trick to treating yourself?

Okay, so a B2C marketer can get away with putting a ghoulish twist on their campaigns. But what if you’re in B2B?

B2B marketers need to work harder to make their holiday themes really resonate, and not simply look silly. Which is one reason many they may shy away from Halloween campaigns – and is exactly why a well-judged, well-executed campaign will have greater impact on the audience.

This example from Dun & Bradstreet from a few years ago highlights a great way to connect data and the Halloween spirit. It really makes a statement with its imagery and clear message, highlighted by a statistic taken from the accompanying report.

The timely image linked to a B2B Marketing Data Benchmark Survey, making an otherwise fact-heavy report (ironically enough) come to life.

Data storage and marketing site provider StorEDGE, on the other hand, uses email to deliver a time-sensitive offer for a free Amazon gift card just for filling out a demo form. This particular offer will turn back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight Halloween evening.

~ Erica

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6 Real Life Examples of Financial Services Emails That Don’t Use a “One Size Fits All” Approach http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/6-real-life-examples-financial-services-emails-dont-use-one-size-fits-approach/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/6-real-life-examples-financial-services-emails-dont-use-one-size-fits-approach/#respond Wed, 16 Oct 2019 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47742 financial services emailsRead about 6 different examples of financial services emails that do a good job of speaking to specific customer personas.

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Marketing emails remain a strong way to engage financial services customers and drive sales. According to OptinMonster:

  • 60% of consumers subscribe to brand email lists to get promotional messages
  • 44% of people check email when they want to find a special deal
  • 60% of consumers have made purchases after receiving marketing emails

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the messages your customers receive are relevant to their needs. If they’re not, the fallout can be deadly: according to SuperOffice, when people see emails that aren’t tailored to them:

  • 60% of them delete the message
  • 27% click the “unsubscribe” link
  • 23% do the worst thing possible: they mark the email as spam

All of those things can not only hurt your engagement numbers but also do damage to your sender reputation, which can make it tougher to reach your customers’ inboxes.

Create personas and develop a customer journey

The best way to keep that from happening and avoid the “one size fits all” approach is to slice your customer list into segments according to specific criteria, such as:

  • Customer’s ages, if you know that
  • How long customers have been with you
  • The last time they interacted with your company, such as opening an email or logging into their account
  • Where your customers live (certain financial services products may not be available everywhere, depending on local laws)
  • Which of your products they use (useful for cross-selling and upselling)
  • How much they spend per month or year, or if they’re only using free services (helpful for ROI calculations for different segments)

You can then create personas for those segments. For example, look at the data for your new customers and imagine who they are and how they feel. Do they tend to be younger or older? What are they likely hoping to get out of their relationship with your company? (That could be different from what your long-term customers want.) How do they feel when they get that welcome email? Excited? Nervous? Relieved that they’ve completed a difficult process?

Repeat that exercise for each segment. If necessary, create a quick profile of who the typical customer is in each segment, so you can write your marketing emails as if you’re talking to them. For example: “John is 28 years old. He downloaded our mobile app and created an account for the first time. He’s single, or possibly newly married, and has some extra money to invest every month, before he starts a family and those funds are diverted to other things. He’s open to riskier investments with bigger potential payoffs, such as crowd-funded start-ups, but he’s also nervous about losing money on them.”

Here are 6 examples of financial services emails that do a good job of speaking to specific customer personas.

1. QuickBooks: “We’re so glad you’re here!”

Intuit has carved out a nice chunk of the market by providing financial software to small businesses as well as accountants and other sole proprietors in that space. Their welcome email sets the right tone by making the customer feel like they made the right choice and, in a nifty bit of personalization, acknowledging why they’re there. (“You told us you want to send invoices.”)??The email is short and simple, as a welcome message should be, and puts the main focus on what the customer wants to do, complete with a list of steps and a CTA that sends them to the right place to get started. Intuit still does a little bit of cross-selling by closing the email with a list of other things that the customer is likely to be interested in too, but it wisely avoids any hard sells.

2. Weekly report from Mint: “Here’s how you’re doing”

This is a good example of a triggered email sent to a customer who has had an account for a while. Mint lets users link their bank accounts, credit cards, investment portfolios, and loans to one account, as well as create budgets and set financial goals. It drives revenues from referrals to financial institutions, credit cards, and other financial services products.

The company sends a weekly email that lays out everything the customer needs to know about their account, providing them with a useful visual snapshot of a point in time, so the customer understands the complete picture of their financial health. They adopt a breezy, conversational tone, speaking to the customer as if they’re a good friend giving them some useful advice.

Mint also uses the email to drive engagement if the customer hasn’t completed their account setup, with comments like, “You spent $0.00 in the last week. Wait, that can’t be right…” They make sure to include value props, so the customer understands why they should click through and finish those tasks.

3. ScholarShare 529: “The new year brings a new opportunity”

ScholarShare 529 helps parents save for their kids’ college educations, or private elementary and high school educations, by setting up 529 plans, which are college savings accounts that are exempt from federal taxes.

This promotional email was sent out during the first week of January, so it assumes the recipients are likely making personal improvement resolutions and feeling optimistic about getting a fresh start. It also acknowledges that the reader is very likely a parent, so it adopts the tone of a financial planner who’s letting their client know that they should start thinking about saving for college and, by the way, it’s never too late to get started on that.

4. Wells Fargo: “Depositing checks is as easy as snapping a photo”

This marketing email from Wells Fargo is aimed at longer term customers – probably older Gen Xers and Baby Boomers – who haven’t made the leap to smartphone-based deposits yet by showing them how easy it is. The lifestyle photo conveys the idea that members of an older generation can do it too: “Look how easily her daughter is making a deposit,” it seems to say.

The bullet points reinforce the idea that depositing a check with your phone is easy, convenient, and secure, and the Sign On CTA button takes the recipient straight into their account, which makes sense given how many people read email on their phones.

5. Great Lakes: “Your 2018 Student Loan Tax Information”

This triggered email was sent to all student loan borrowers at the end of November, a time when many people are not only thinking about the holidays but also wrapping up their finances for the year. The lifestyle image and the text assume the recipient is probably in their 20s, or maybe 30s, and needs a prompt to remember about accounting for their student loan interest on their taxes.

That’s why the tone is a bit parental, like someone sitting down with their adult child to remind them about something that may not be top of mind at tax time, when they’re more likely to be thinking about W-2s, 1099s, charitable contributions, and other items that tend to get more focus.

6. Acorns: “Let’s talk mortgages”

We’ll wrap up with a promotional cross-sell message that’s also aimed at a younger crowd. Acorns is an investment service that rounds up its users’ purchases to the nearest dollar and puts the leftover change into investment funds, so it fosters many partnerships with financial companies that can be useful to their customers.

This email is written as if it’s coming from a parent, or perhaps a financial advisor, who wants to explain how the home buying process starts before segueing into a pitch for a partner who can help with the first step in that journey. The message also assumes that the reader has been a customer for a while and trusts Acorns to steer them in the right direction with their financial decisions.

 

~ Casey

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3 Key Strategies for Announcing New Features via Email http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-key-strategies-announcing-new-features-via-email/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-key-strategies-announcing-new-features-via-email/#respond Fri, 11 Oct 2019 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47716 announcing new featuresEmail is the best strategy for announcing new features, and we have some quick tips that’ll help ensure your customers love what you want them to know.

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Rolling out new application features or content is exciting. Or it ought to be, for providers and users alike. As a software marketer, you know in your heart of hearts you’re launching highly valuable enhancements; of course, your customers should want to know what’s new with your product!

The challenge is to be conveying this in an exciting, immersive way. In short, your marketing has be equal to the coolness of your new feature or content – and that’s what we’re here to look at.

Your users need to know they’re top-of-mind, as far as you and your team are concerned, and announcing updates and new features can build their faith. If you fall flat in communicating these updates, either by providing poor information or uninspired execution, they may think you aren’t putting enough work into building the relationship.

Or worse? That your product isn’t evolving enough. Email is the best way to announce these new features, and we have some quick tips that’ll help ensure your customers love what you want them to know.

Keep it concise

While the meat of your announcement is important, the actual language and messaging relating new features can easily fall into being bland and – worst of the worst! – boring. Yet this doesn’t have to happen.

As seen here in this example by VWO, announcement emails don’t need to be long and drawn out. Introducing the launch of SmartStats, this email works because it keeps it simple.

With an attractive, on-brand color palette and a clear and very compelling CTA, the message conveyed here is effective because it’s simple. If reducing your testing time by half interests you, as a user, just go ahead and click ‘learn more’. It seems pretty apparent that any current customer of VWO would want to explore this update. Explaining not just the new update but the benefit it gives your current customer base makes it successful.

When the points of difference (PODs) and CTAs you communicate are strong, it’s essential to make sure they’re delivered clearly and cleanly. Think of a POD as a car design: A well-designed car will look good even in base white because it doesn’t need fancy paint jobs or overdone trim. A well-crafted POD statement doesn’t need flourishes – or should inspire creative execution ideas that flow naturally and directly.

Use your imagination – add animation or video

While we may never learn the correct way to pronounce GIFs, they can be a fantastic tool for email marketing. By keeping animation short but to-the-point, you add more interest to your announcements than just a static picture.

They aren’t a new tool – in fact, way back in 2014, Dell launched a GIF-centered email campaign and the results spoke volumes. Compared to quarterly campaign benchmarks, they saw a 6% increase in open rate. ?Not convinced yet? Wait for it…

They also say a pleasant 42% increase in click rate, a 103% rise in conversion rate and a whopping 109% bump in revenue!

Some things to keep in mind with animation or video – especially GIFs?

Once again, make sure you keep your animation on-brand and focused. GIFs or video can be fun, but it’s easy to get carried away, and it’s important you stick to your main message. Just because a GIF may be popular at the moment with, say, Millenials, doesn’t mean it properly reflects your brand, your message, or your audience. Be careful to make sure you don’t overwhelm your reader with arbitrary-seeming use of animation.

You’re also more likely to lose your audience if you use animation you’ve scooped off the web. Customized animation or explainer video that shows off your new features is more likely to resound.

Sprout Social knocked it out of the park with a simple animation to announce their iPhone and iPad app. It’s personal, quick and helpful. The immersive demonstration of their new app is much more engaging than a longer video, which many customers wouldn’t sit through in its entirety.

Don’t lose the fun

Just because an update may be somewhat technical or low-key in nature doesn’t mean your email has to be, as well. Mint regularly sends out tres engaging emails, and this is a great example of how they make them fun.

As always, they include a message to remind you that you matter most (you really are important to us!) and the tone of the message is familiar and friendly. The language serves to remind you that Mint works tirelessly for you, your money and your savings.

Combining positive, unambiguous message execution with user-directed personalization just plain works in optimizing engagement, no matter what kind of email campaign you’re setting up. Check out our tips on personalizing your next Martech email campaign.

~ Erica

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How ZipRecruiter’s Emails Empower Job Hunters http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/ziprecuiters-emails-empower-job-hunters/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/ziprecuiters-emails-empower-job-hunters/#respond Wed, 09 Oct 2019 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47679 ZipRecruiter's emailsEdTech Customer Success Manager, Stephanie Weiss, shares how ZipRecruiter's emails made her feel well-informed and empowered when searching for a new job.

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Job hunting can be scary and stressful particularly when making a big career change. When I began looking for opportunities in the EdTech world after years in front of the whiteboard as an elementary school teacher I was overwhelmed to say the least. During that time I found that while there was no shortage of job board websites there were few that made the job hunting process feel personalized to my needs and skills.

After looking through tons of job reqs on every site you can think of I found ZipRecruiter, an employment marketplace with a focus on tailoring the job hunting experience to each candidate (and their resume). One of the major ways ZipRecruiter executes on a highly-personalized customer experience is through triggered email. Whenever there was a position posted that they thought could be a fit for me, I received an email notification within moments. This allowed me to apply for positions as soon as they hit the market and be an early applicant for jobs that I was really excited about. When I saw the email to be an Account Manager at an EdTech company I jumped at the opportunity and scored the job!

In addition to helping job seekers, ZipRecruiter also helps companies find qualified candidates for their open roles. Hundreds of thousands of recruiters rely on new candidate notification emails to help them identify great applicants for the jobs they are hiring for. With such a great focus on email communication with customers and applicants it’s no surprise that ZipRecruiter relies on SparkPost to send their messages. In fact, SparkPost takes care of sending the 20,000,000 emails that ZipRecuriter sends daily!

Now, 2 years later, my days of checking my email for ZipRecruiter notifications feel like a world away. ZipRecuriter’s emails made me feel well-informed about job opportunities and empowered during a process that was at times incredibly taxing for me. With the help of ZipRecruiter and their personalized triggered emails I was able to find a meaningful career helping teachers and students across the country.

~ Stephanie

Stephanie Weiss is a Customer Success Manager at an EdTech company. With a Masters in Education and years of teaching experience, she is passionate about helping educators find new ways to engage their students.

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Peeking into Email Validation Techniques http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/peeking-email-validation-techniques/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/peeking-email-validation-techniques/#respond Mon, 07 Oct 2019 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47656 email validationA long time ago in an era far, far away...email validation was very different from what it is today. Learn about the different eras of email validation.

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?Email validation has gone through a few different eras

A long time ago in an era far, far away… it started with Syntax Validation

Checking an email address for syntax accuracy has been the simplest version of email validation. The core elements of a valid email address are the local part, the @ symbol, the domain, and finally, the extension (.com, .org, etc.). To help standardize all the various syntaxes, specifications called Requests For Comments (RFCs) were published to determine what characters would be acceptable for local and domain parts. These RFCs eventually became quite extensive and created the need for open-source libraries to help validate email syntax in many languages.

Validation SMTP Command and The Attack of the Spammers

Recognizing the need for help on validating email addresses, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) started to build in email address validation functionality. Thus, “VRFY” (also known as Verify) was built as an SMTP command which enabled senders to ask a receiving mail server if an email address was valid. With the hope to use VRFY to bring peace and order to the galactic Internet, it soon fell into the wrong hands of the dark side; spammers. After wide-scale abuse of this functionality, ISP administrators disabled VRFY, leaving email address validation in disarray.

SMTP Ping (The Spammer Menace)

After the fall of VRFY, senders creatively devised SMTP Ping, a different method to verify whether or not an email address was valid. SMTP Ping would be used to check against a remote mail server to see if an email address was alive. A connection to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) remote mail server, such as Gmail, would be made as if actually sending an email, but abruptly cut short without actually sending the email.

Typically, the conversation held in the connection between the sending mail server and the receiving ISP mail server would look like this:


In some scenarios, the ISP could provide feedback like this instead:

With SMTP Ping, senders could cut the conversation short after seeing the response back from the ISP, after requesting to send mail to the specified email address. This became a way to ping against an ISP to see if the receiving mail server found the email addresses to be valid or invalid, with some degree of confidence.

The Dark Side of SMTP Ping

ISPs consider SMTP Ping as spammer behavior. ISPs can easily tell that you’re doing this by looking at the conversation patterns: Calling in and hanging up repetitiously, with no (or very little) messages actually being sent, ends up in their mail server logs, After the history with SMTP VRFY, this type of behavior is now known to be spammy. ISPs are cracking down on this behavior and cracking down hard. Microsoft for example, considers this type of practice to be malicious and Hotmail finds SMTP Ping as evidence of a directory harvest attack. SMTP Ping attempts in progress will typically drop a hard block on all connections from the sending IP address. ISPs dislike SMTP Ping, and so do blacklist operators. Keep it up, and you’ll almost surely end up getting blacklisted. Long story short, it’s a really bad practice.

A New Hope: Data-Driven

Rather than rely on SMTP Ping, there’s a different data-driven approach that does not make enemies with ISPs. Validating email addresses can be done by looking up against a large data set, with event data including hard bounces, deliveries, and engagement, as well as incorporating syntax validation, typo detection, DNS queries for valid domains, and quality checks for free, role-based, and disposable email addresses.? This method heavily relies on the depth and breadth of the data the email validation tool or service is built upon, instead of depending on the ISP to provide back a specific response. You may not want to judge Master Yoda based on his size, but you’ll want to judge an email address validation tool by its data size.

SparkPost’s Recipient Validation is built on top of its large email data footprint, sending more than 37% of the world’s B2C and B2B email. Our data science team has done a thorough analysis of billions of email bounces and delivery events. Our findings establish that a single hard bounce isn’t enough to establish you shouldn’t send to an address. Using our data footprint, we are constantly updating our list of recipients and our algorithms to capture the true validity of a hard bounce, and analyzing all related email events to best answer the question: Can you deliver to this given email address?

As we continue to build and iterate upon our Recipient Validation, our goal is to make ours the most dependable and fastest validation tool on the market. Rumor has it our Recipient Validation will be able to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, or at least something along those lines…

— Isaac Kim, Technical Product Manager

@isaacswkim

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Spamhaus’ Crackdown on Abusers http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/spamhaus-crackdown-on-abusers/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/spamhaus-crackdown-on-abusers/#respond Fri, 04 Oct 2019 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47607 spamhausRead up on the new changes renowned blacklist operator Spamhaus recently announced to its DNSBL (a.k.a. blacklist) products.

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Renowned blacklist operator Spamhaus recently announced some changes to its DNSBL (a.k.a. blacklist) products, and while we don’t think it’ll have a big impact on SparkPost customers, we wanted to bring it to your attention all the same.

Spamhaus has long had a policy of allowing free use of its DNSBLs up to a point, a policy that’s clearly spelled out on their website. Basically, if you’re a small site making a relatively limited amount of queries, you can make use of Spamhaus’ public DNS servers to facilitate your use of their DNSBLs. This usage came with the caveat that such queries couldn’t be made indirectly through open public DNS resolvers, such as those offered by Cloudflare (IP address 1.1.1.1) or Google (8.8.8.8), but instead would have to come directly from you. Those sites with higher volume query needs are required to become subscribers to the DNSBL products and pay Spamhaus an annual fee for a data feed.

In its latest announcement, Spamhaus is indicating that they’re stepping up enforcement of both of these rules. Like all DNSBLs, the Spamhaus DNSBLs function by answering DNS queries, returning a pseudo-IP address (e.g., 127.0.0.2) if the subject of the query is listed, and returning the DNS code “NXDOMAIN” if it’s not. Most mail server software and other tools that query DNSBLs rely on the answer to this query to determine what action to take, with different IP addresses meaning different things.

What Spamhaus is doing is adding two new IP addresses to the list of possible returns:

  • 127.255.255.254 if the query came through a public resolver
  • 127.255.255.255 if the query came from a source that has issued too many queries

Spamhaus believes that it “will be quite uncommon for most Spamhaus users to encounter these codes”, but we here at SparkPost know from our own data that there are some sites out there that appear to be misconfigured in their use of DNSBLs. Those sites tend to be small ones that not many people send mail to, but the subset of those sites that try to make use of Spamhaus may encounter issues related to this change that causes them to incorrectly refuse mail that they might otherwise accept. Should this happen, we anticipate that they’ll figure it out in short order, especially if their inbound mail stream dries up, but we at SparkPost will do our best to spread the word about this change if we see it having a large impact on our customers.

~Todd

new rules email deliverability best practices

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How to Incorporate Marketing Messages into Your Transactional Emails http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/incorporate-marketing-messages-transaction-emails/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/incorporate-marketing-messages-transaction-emails/#respond Wed, 02 Oct 2019 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47558 Transactional EmailsDiscover 7 best practices to keep in mind when creating double-duty transactional emails that also include a marketing message.

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Every email has a recipe. Sometimes it’s a really simple one, such as a transactional “Your order has shipped” message. Other times it’s a perfectly crafted concoction, like a personalized marketing message that tells the recipient about new products that have been chosen just for them, based on their purchase history.

Like fusion cuisine, you can also mix different kinds of emails to create something unique, such as putting a marketing message in an email that has an order confirmation or an account update notice. According to Experian, transactional emails are opened 8 times more often than regular marketing emails, so that gives you an opportunity to slip in a marketing message.

However, if you don’t do it right, you’ll end up with an email that leaves a bad taste in your customers’ mouths, so here are 7 things to keep in mind if you want to spice up your transactional emails.

1. Be careful with certain kinds of transactional emails

When looking at your suite of transactional emails and considering which ones could benefit from some marketing, consider how your customer will feel when they receive the messages.

If it’s an order confirmation or a shipping notice, they’ll likely be in a good mood. The same should apply for new account creations, as well as triggered emails that contain monthly account activity summaries and similar types of information. That means you can probably slip in a marketing message.

However, if the transactional email lets them know that a product they ordered is on backlog, or it’s a password reset, your customers probably won’t be as receptive to an additional marketing message. The same goes for triggered emails such as suspicious log-in attempts and notices about upcoming payment due dates.

While you’re conducting that email audit, it’s also a good time to check for outdated information, review the conditions that cause those emails to be sent out, and so forth. Even the copyright notice at the bottom of an email should be looked out to make sure it’s current.

2. Watch your mix of transactional and promotional messaging

A good rule of thumb is 90/10: Roughly 90% of your email should contain the primary information while about 10% can be reserved for a promotional component. You could probably adjust it to 85/15 if needed, but it’s a good idea not to push that ratio too far. Promotional content should almost always reside toward the bottom of the email unless there’s a really compelling reason for putting it near the top.

Not only do you have to worry about how customers will react to your email, but you also have to consider any laws that apply to marketing activities. For example, the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States notes that transactional emails are exempt as long as they don’t “contain false or misleading routing information.”

You should also be careful with your subject line since email providers will typically handle a transactional message differently from a pure marketing one. (Consider Gmail’s Promotions tab.) Your subject line should only refer to the primary purpose of the email, such as an order confirmation. It’s a good idea to follow the same rule with the preview text.

While it’s tempting to throw a little marketing spin into the subject line and/or preview text, you run the risk of irritating customers and causing them to flag your email as spam. That will not only damage customer loyalty but it will also hurt your sender reputation, which will make it tougher to reach people’s inboxes next time.

3. Try cross-sells

Amazon is one of the masters of this technique – in fact, they’ve said in the past that up to 35% of their revenue comes from cross-selling, thanks to the “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” notices that are found all over their site.

They’re also good at cross-selling after a purchase has been made, such as in this order confirmation email. Note that the bulk of the messaging applies to the email’s primary function.

This is an easy way to scoop up a few extra sales post-purchase, and you can even apply it to emails like product backlog notices. Yes, we noted in the introduction that consumers who receive such emails probably aren’t receptive to additional marketing, but cross-sells and upsells can be an exception to the rule. It’s an opportunity to let the customer know that even though the product they want isn’t available right now, there are similar items they might prefer instead.

4. Follow up after the purchase

Yes, this isn’t an example of putting transactional and promotional messaging in one email, but it is a way to leverage a sale for additional cross-selling or to simply follow up with some customer care. Making customers feel good about their purchase decisions doesn’t always lead to immediate additional sales, but it goes a long way toward creating goodwill that typically leads to loyalty.

This Apple email is a good example of a purchase follow-up. The buyer of an Apple Watch is invited to schedule a session with an Apple Specialist, and, of course, there’s a link to accessories at the bottom of the email.

5. Offer related information

Another less sales-y way to build goodwill with customers is to give them useful information, such as links to blog posts, how-to guides, and events, or short notes about things like referral programs.

You can also include relevant reminders, such as letting a customer know about mobile app deposits in a transactional email confirming an in-person deposit. And it never hurts to include links to your social media accounts, so customers can interact with you there.

This email from Airbnb does a good job of giving the user links to useful how-to information while confirming that their listing has been published, which is clearly stated in the subject line. The links address three concerns that many users are likely to have, so the email is a nice way of helping give them peace of mind.

6. Help people connect with the community around your business

People like to connect with each other in various ways, even if it’s as simple as reading product reviews. Just about any business can benefit from that, whether that means creating a forum where people can talk to each other, engaging customers on social media, or simply hosting product reviews and testimonials.

Appliance parts might seem like an unlikely topic of conversation, but Appliance Parts Pros has built a niche for itself by catering to do-it-yourselfers. This order confirmation email does a nice job of connecting its community by including links to relevant DIY stories with each part purchased. While the email could use some design tweaks, it’s a good example of building customer connections.

7. Check out examples of emails that do it right

In addition to the examples shown above, we wanted to close with an email that does a great job of balancing transactional information and promotional messaging. This order confirmation from Apple clearly lays out everything the customer needs to know about the expensive Apple Watch they ordered, since that’s what they’re likely most concerned about when they open the email.

The company leaves the promotional message for the end of the email. In typical Apple style, the email takes a Spartan approach, with minimal text and just a few images.

~ Erica

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Deploying Signals for On-Premises: PowerMTA Integration – Part 2 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/deploying-signals-for-on-premises-powermta-integration-part-2/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/deploying-signals-for-on-premises-powermta-integration-part-2/#respond Mon, 30 Sep 2019 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47491 PowerMTAIn part 2 of his series Senior Messaging Engineer, Steve Tuck, dives into the details of setting up PowerMTA for SparkPost Signals.

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Part 1 introduced SparkPost Signals for on-premises deployments. In this part, let’s dive into the details of setting up PowerMTA for SparkPost Signals. You’re going to need:

  • A host to run the latest version of PowerMTA on – either new, or an existing machine
  • A SparkPost account with API key permission for “Incoming Events: Write” as described

We’ll set up PowerMTA to stream events up to your SparkPost account, then you’ll be able to use the following:

Signals reporting such as Health Score and Engagement Recency will take more setup surrounding PowerMTA for engagement tracking, covered in a coming article.

Firstly, install (or upgrade) to PowerMTA 4.5r20, following the usual instructions which are pretty straightforward. Then we’ll work through the following steps:

  • Configure PowerMTA connector to SparkPost Signals
  • Select which PowerMTA traffic streams to report to Signals
  • How to use meaningful names that show up well in reporting.

We’ll also cover the other specific PowerPMTA setup aspects used in our Signals demo:

  • FBL events (Spam Complaints) and remote (out-of-band) bounces
  • Injection configuration, including DKIM
  • FBL and OOB configuration
  • VirtualMTA setup and naming (and how this appears in your SparkPost Signals reports)

Finally, there’s a “bonus feature” with code to ensure your campaign names are compatible with PowerMTA

X-Job
? name conventions.

Configure PowerMTA connector

The Signals configuration is described in the User Guide section 10.1. Here we’ll start with “Use Case #2”, which enables Signals for all traffic from this PowerMTA host.

#
# SparkPost Signals
#
<signals>
  api-key ##my ingest API key here##
  upload-url https://api.sparkpost.com/api/v1/ingest/events
  log-verbose true
  engagement-tracking true
  min-free-space 1G
</signals>
enable-signals true

Here’s what each attribute does:

api-key

This is unique to your SparkPost account, it’s the value you got from SparkPost earlier.

upload-url

This needs to match the address of your SparkPost API service, whether it’s US or EU. For more info see here. The usual values are:

SparkPost (US):

https://api.sparkpost.com/api/v1/ingest/events

SparkPost EU:? ?

https://api.eu.sparkpost.com/api/v1/ingest/events

log-verbose

This directive is optional and when enabled, gives a bit more info in the pmta.log file, which can be useful during setup to confirm that everything’s working correctly. Each minute, even when there’s no traffic, you’ll see:

2019-07-26 11:47:57 Signals: Discovered 0 files

With traffic, you’ll see something like:

2019-07-26 11:50:57 Signals: Discovered sp1-0000000000003FBD.json
2019-07-26 11:50:57 Signals: Transferred sp1-0000000000003FBD.json successfully.
2019-07-26 11:50:57 Signals: Discovered 1 file, transferred 1 file successfully

engagement-tracking

With this flag set, PowerMTA tells SparkPost Signals to look for engagement events (opens and clicks) relating to email deliveries. The open and click tracking requires an external integration, covered in part 3 of this series, rather than coming from PowerMTA itself.

min-free-space

This tells PowerMTA the disk space threshold at which it should start to delete the oldest SparkPost JSON event files to make space for new files when disk space is running low.

enable-signals

This tells PowerMTA to upload to Signals, in this case globally for all traffic (more info here). You can be more selective about what traffic streams to upload if you wish.

You can also mark particular PowerMTA traffic to be reported as belonging to a SparkPost subaccount – this is another way to distinguish one particular traffic stream from another.

Select which PowerMTA traffic streams to report to Signals

You can select Signals to be active:

  • Globally (this is what we used in the above example)
  • For some Virtual MTAs and not others
  • For some Virtual MTA pools and not others
  • For specific “Sender” or “From” addresses relayed by PowerMTA, in combination with the Virtual MTA / Virtual MTA pool selections

This configuration is very powerful and is illustrated through a series of example use-cases in the User Guide.

Testing

Here’s a view of SparkPost Signals, connected to PowerMTA. You can see on July 19, about half-way through this sequence, that engagement tracking (described in part 3) is switched on and begins to drive the health score. (Until you have that, the health score will just show values around 50).

The Campaign names are available as reporting facets, along with Subaccount, IP Pool, Mailbox Provider, and Sending Domain.

Using meaningful names that show up well in reporting

Setting up the PowerMTA VirtualMTA Pool names and Job names to be meaningful and human-readable is well worth doing. These show up directly in your SparkPost Signals facets and the Summary report.

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to create these pools in your SparkPost account. SparkPost picks them up from your PowerMTA configuration.

Here’s how PowerMTA configuration terms translate to SparkPost terms.

PowerMTA term SparkPost Reports / Signals term
Recipient Domain
(domain portion of “rcpt” field in Accounting file).
Recipient Domain
The domain portion of the “Sender” or “From” header in the message relayed by PowerMTA.
(domain portion of “orig” in Accounting file).
Sending Domain
VirtualMTA (name)
VirtualMTA Pool (name)
(“vmtaPool” in accounting file)
IP Pool (name)
smtp-source-host a.b.c.d
(“dlvSourceIp” in accounting file)
Sending IP a.b.c.d
Job (name)
(“jobId” in accounting file)
Campaign ID (name)
Template (name)
“Subaccount” is not a native PowerMTA concept.

However, PowerMTA can tag virtualMTAs, virtual MTA Pools, or Sender-or-From domains with a subaccount ID for SparkPost reporting purposes.

Subaccount ID (number)
FBL (event) Spam Complaint (event)
Remote Bounce (event) Out-of-Band bounce (event)

 

Setting up at least one

smtp-source-host
? address also enables SparkPost to correctly identify the sending IP address so that it shows up on Injection and Delivery events, as well as in the Summary report view.

Job names are set in PowerMTA via a header in the injected message. As well as enabling individual job control (pause/resume etc) which is useful in itself, PowerMTA passes the names through to SparkPost Signals reporting as “campaign ID”. See User Guide section 12.8 “Tracking a campaign in PowerMTA with a JobID”.

There are a few things to be aware of regarding job naming. While SparkPost (with JSON format, and JSON escaping) allows characters such as

<SPACE>
? in campaign names, mail headers are more restrictive. Valid characters allowed in the
X-Job
? header are:

A-Za-z0-9!#$%&'()*+,-./:;<=>?@[\]^_{|}~?

In other words, disallowed characters include

<SPACE>
, double-quotes
? and backtick
`
. If you’re used to working with
X-Job
names, this won’t be surprising, and your campaign ID names will “just work” on SparkPost reporting. If like me, you learned SparkPost first, you might want a tool to ensure your
X-Job
values are safe; see the bonus feature at the end of this article.

FBL events (Spam Complaints) and remote (out-of-band) bounces

PowerMTA can receive and process FBL events (known in SparkPost as Spam Complaint events) and remote bounces (known in SparkPost as out-of-band bounces, because the reply comes back some time afterward, rather than during the SMTP conversation).

There are articles in the Port25 Support Forum on how to set up the Bounce Processor and the FBL Processor. If you are an existing PowerMTA user, you probably already have these.

Here’s the configuration I made for a demo, based on these articles and oriented towards hosting PowerMTA in Amazon EC2.

Injection configuration

We’ll use port 587 for injected messages, which will come over the public Internet from another host. We need to stop bad actors discovering and abusing this service, so we apply username/password authentication and optional TLS, similar to SparkPost SMTP injection endpoints.

We want to be able to send messages from sources that are properly authenticated to any destination. We also want a separate listener on port 25 for FBL and remote bounce responses that don’t require authentication

#
# IP address(es) and port(s) on which to listen for incoming SMTP connections
#
smtp-listener 0.0.0.0:587
smtp-listener 0.0.0.0:25

In the following

<source>
? declarations, we’re using username/password authentication and optional TLS to defend against rogue message injection. We also set rate limits on connections making failed password attempts.

Your setup might be different; for example, if you have a private network between injector and PowerMTA, you won’t need password authentication.

# One source rule for all injection, internal or external. Enforce auth, except for bounces and FBLs
#
<source 0/0>
  log-connections false
  log-commands  false   # WARNING: verbose! just for dev
  log-data    false   # WARNING: even more verbose!
  smtp-service  true    # allow SMTP service
  smtp-max-auth-failure-rate 1/min
  allow-unencrypted-plain-auth false
  allow-starttls true
  rewrite-list  mfrom
</source>
<source {auth}>
  always-allow-relaying yes # only if the auth succeeds
  default-virtual-mta default
  process-x-job true
</source>

The

<source {auth}>
? declaration (see here) applies once authentication has passed. Here, it allows onward relaying, sets up the default virtual MTA group to use, and adds the
X-Job
header (which will be reported by SparkPost Signals as
campaign_id
).

The rewrite-list maps injected messages to use a specific MAIL FROM domain (aka bounce domain or Return-Path:).

#
# Rewrite the MAIL FROM address to match the bounce domain
#
<rewrite-list mfrom>
  mail-from *@pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net *@bounces.pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
</rewrite-list>

Then we set up our TLS configuration and SMTP username / password.

#
# Secure the inbound service with username, password and TLS. SMT 2019-05-31
#
smtp-server-tls-certificate /etc/pmta/pmtasignalsdemo.pem
smtp-server-tls-allow-tlsv1.1 true
smtp-server-tls-allow-tlsv1.2 true

#
# SMTP users (authenticated via SMTP AUTH)
#
<smtp-user SMTP_Injection>
  password ##PUT YOUR PASSWORD HERE##
  authentication-method password
</smtp-user>

We can check that the (insecure, deprecated) TLS v1.0 is not accepted using my favorite SMTP test tool,? swaks.

swaks --server pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net --port 587 --to test@trymsys.net --from any@sparkpost.com --tls --tls-protocol tlsv1

We see:

*** TLS startup failed (connect(): error:00000000:lib(0):func(0):reason(0))
*** STARTTLS attempted but failed

Let’s also apply DKIM signing on our outgoing messages, as it’s good practice (I followed these instructions to set up the key).

#
# DKIM
#
domain-key mypmta, pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net, /etc/pmta/mypmta.pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net.pem

FBL and OOB configuration

Now .. finally .. we declare which specific domains are open for remote bounce and FBL responses. We don’t want to relay those anywhere (to prevent backscatter attacks), just internally process those responses.

#
# Enable Bounce and FBL processing on specific domains
#
relay-domain pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
relay-domain bounces.pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
relay-domain fbl.pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
<bounce-processor>
  deliver-unmatched-email no
  deliver-matched-email no
  <address-list>
    domain pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
    domain bounces.pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
  </address-list>
</bounce-processor>
<feedback-loop-processor>
  deliver-unmatched-email no
  deliver-matched-email no
  <address-list>
    domain fbl.pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
  </address-list>
</feedback-loop-processor>

You can see I set up two bounce domains, as I was playing around with using/not using the

mfrom
? rewrite rule.

The FBL domain is usually then registered with external services such as Microsoft SNDS; see this article for more information. For this demo, the FBLs will be coming from the Bouncy Sink, so no need to register.

Testing the SMTP listener

It’s important to test that your SMTP listener is requiring authorization for any general destinations, rejecting any messages that are not specifically addressed to the FBL and remote-bounce domains.

swaks --server pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net --port 25 --to test@strange.pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net --from any@sparkpost.com

The response, as expected, shows that relaying is denied:

550 5.7.1 relaying denied for recipient in "RCPT TO:<test@strange.pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net>

VirtualMTA setup and naming

PowerMTA VirtualMTAs (and VirtualMTA pools) are powerful features for managing message streams, and PowerMTA / SparkPost Signals reporting features work best with these active.

#
# Route all outgoing traffic through this virtual mta / pool.
# Declare the delivery IP address here, so that SparkPost signals ingest injection (aka "reception") events
# will carry the correct sending_IP attribute
#
<virtual-mta mta1>
? ? smtp-source-host 172.31.25.101 pmta.signalsdemo.trymsys.net
</virtual-mta>
<virtual-mta-pool default>
? ? virtual-mta mta1
? ? <domain *>
? ? ? ? max-smtp-out? ? 20? ? ? ?# max. connections *per domain*
? ? ? ? bounce-after? ? 4d12h? ? # 4 days, 12 hours
? ? ? ? retry-after? ? ?10m? ? ? # 10 minutes
? ? ? ? dkim-sign? ? ? ?yes
? ? </domain>
</virtual-mta-pool>

The

virtual-mta-pool
? setting is reported in SparkPost as “IP Pool”, and is available as a SparkPost Signals reporting facet (the drop-down menu underneath the charts).

The Summary Report also shows IP Pool as a “Group By” reporting facet.

As noted earlier in this article, setting up at least one? smtp-source-host address also enables SparkPost to correctly identify the sending IP address, so that it shows up on Injection and Delivery events, and on the Summary Report:

That’s all you need to get a basic integration working between PowerMTA and SparkPost Signals. You’ll find the full config file example here.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll set up Engagement Tracking alongside PowerMTA and stream the events into SparkPost. That will enable the Health Score and Engagement Recency charts to provide useful information, as well as making open and click events available on the Events Search and Engagement reports.

Before you go, here’s the bonus feature I mentioned.

Bonus feature: X-Job name checking/filtering

To ensure any character string is safe for use as a PowerMTA

X-Job
? name, here’s a simple Python function to map any unsafe characters to an underscore “_”

import re
def pmtaSafeJobID(s):
? ?"""
? ?:param s: str
? ?:return: str
? ?Map an arbitrary campaign ID string into allowed chars for PMTA X-Job header.
? ?See https://download.port25.com/files/UsersGuide-4.5.html#tracking-a-campaign-in-powermta-with-a-jobid
? ?Specifically disallow <sp> " ` but allow through most other chars.
? ?"""
? ?# Note have to escape ' - [ ] and double-escape \ - see https://docs.python.org/3/library/re.html
? ?disallowedChars = '[^A-Za-z0-9!#$%&\'()*+,\-./:;<=>?@\[\\\\\]^_{|}~]'
? ?return re.sub(disallowedChars, '_', s)

This uses Python regular expressions in a specific way. It declares the set of disallowed characters using the “set complement” operator ^ rather than list all allowed chars. That means we catch (and make safe) characters beyond the usual 7-bit set. We can show that using this test fragment:

s=''
for i in range(32, 256):
  s += chr(i)
print(pmtaSafeJobID(s))

Giving

_!_#$%&'()*+,-./0123456789:;<=>?@ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ[\]^__abcdefghijkl
mnopqrstuvwxyz{|}~___________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

You can see that

<SPACE>
, double-quotes
, and backtick
`
, as well as all characters beyond ~ are mapped to underscore.

~ Steve

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Why Data Integrity Matters http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/data-integrity-matters/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/data-integrity-matters/#respond Fri, 27 Sep 2019 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47477 data integrityLead Deliverability Analyst, Tracey Crawford, explains how and why senders should maintain data integrity when it comes to building email lists.

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Hello SparkPost Readers,

I’d like to introduce myself, my name is Tracey Crawford and I am the Lead Deliverability Analyst at SparkPost and this is my very first blog!? Today’s post will discuss why data integrity matters and how Recipient Validation can help improve your data integrity.

I know you may be asking yourself, what does data integrity mean? And, why does data integrity matter to me? I mean, SparkPost is already automatically removing invalid users, spam complainers, and list unsubscribers, what else is there? Well, I am here to answer these questions.

What is Data Integrity?

Data integrity is ensuring that your data is accurate and valid. For email delivery, this means ensuring that your email addresses consist of legitimate recipients. And, those recipients have consented to receive your content and are actively engaged.

Why Does Data Integrity Matter?

By maintaining data integrity, you are proving to mailbox providers that you are a responsible sender.? Mailbox providers look at data integrity along with other factors to determine deliverability, all of which ultimately dictates where your email lands.? If you do not maintain data integrity, you risk your reputation with mailbox providers and may suffer one or more of the following negative consequences, all of which result in low open rates:

  • Junk folder placement
  • Delayed acceptance of email
  • Blocking/Blacklisting

How can Recipient Validation Help my Data Integrity?

I am glad you asked. Keep in mind the first part of the definition of data integrity– ensuring that your email addresses consist of legitimate recipients.? How are you determining that your email addresses are coming from a legitimate source?? SparkPost has a new tool that can help, it’s called Recipient Validation and it can help you maintain your data integrity.

Some of the typical reasons for failing to send to a recipient are: sending to an address that has been incorrectly entered upon signup (aka fat-fingering), sending to an old address that is no longer active, and sending to an invalid address that was entered by more unscrupulous means (bot activity).? Let’s see what Recipient Validation can do to help with these issues:

  • Fat-Fingered Domains – ?Use the Recipient Validation tool to identify when a user inadvertently enters an incorrect email address, for example, “gmial.com” instead of “gmail.com”.? Correcting mistyped domains at signup will help you reach the intended user and eliminate the possibility of sending to an unknown or invalid domain.
  • Old Addresses – Sending to old addresses that are no longer active will hurt your reputation at mailbox providers and may cause your email to be placed in the spam folder, deferred, blocked, or even blacklisted if the old email address has become a recycled spam trap. To help you identify these old addresses, Recipient Validation makes use of SparkPost’s global data footprint to flag previously identified old accounts, saving you the hardship of discovering them on your own.
  • Invalid Address – Use Recipient Validation to identify email addresses with invalid domains.? Addresses that are inadvertently added by bots or some other method can result in sending to addresses that don’t exist.? Although this does not hurt your reputation (since the email never leaves SparkPost), it does use resources and these addresses are continually retried until they expire.

Remember, Recipient Validation is not intended to replace the industry-standard best practice of confirmed opt-in for acquiring email addresses, however, it can support your current opt-in methods by adding an additional level of checking to help maintain your data integrity.

To learn more about how Recipient Validation works, please click here.

Happy Emailing!
Tracey

new rules email deliverability best practices

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What Traditional Financial Services Firms Can Learn About Email from FinTech http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/financial-services-firms-can-learn-email-fintech/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/financial-services-firms-can-learn-email-fintech/#respond Wed, 25 Sep 2019 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47459 financial services firmsDiscover what traditional financial services firms like banks and brokerages can learn from FinTech companies when it comes to email marketing.

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There’s no denying that FinTech startups are disrupting the financial industry. Every day, more startups enter the financial scene with new trends and ideas. Searching for “FinTech” firms on AngelList as of this writing brings up nearly 2,800 of them. Is it time for traditional financial services companies – like an example we’ll call the Old Reliable Bank & Trust – to throw in the towel?

Absolutely not.

With these newbies eating away at market share, revenue and profits that used to belong to traditional financial services providers like the Old Reliable, the latter are being forced to adjust their marketing strategies. It’s adopt and adapt time, and luckily this is where they can swipe adapt a few things from FinTech.

According to McKinsey Panorama, nearly 80% of financial services institutions had entered FinTech partnerships as of December 2018, either as investors or through strategic partnerships. While this is a logical approach – “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…or own ’em” – some might not be able to take that avenue, or may still want to go it alone, or just want to apply a partner’s best practices to their own marketing.

It’s time to take a closer look at what FinTech does well. More to the point, what can a traditional bank, brokerage or other financial firm learn from FinTech email marketing to become more effective?

Keep on keepin’ on

Sometimes, the lesson is to just keep doing what you’re already doing, because the new kids on the block are endorsing it, too.

With roughly 281 billion business and consumer emails sent and received per day last year, it’s safe to say that people check their inbox pretty darn frequently. In this day and age, email is a tentpole marketing channel for any industry.

But more specifically, email works for both FinTech and Financial Services. Especially when personalized.

According to an Epsilon report from 2018, 89% of consumers would be more likely to do business with a web- or app-based financial provider if it offered personalized experiences. When asked how they’d prefer to receive personalized experiences, 55% responded their most preferred channel would be email, which led all others.

As for financial institutions with brick-and-mortar footprints, the findings were similar. 77% of consumers would be more likely to do business with companies that offer personalized experiences. But again, email was the most preferred method of delivering personalization, picked by 61% of consumers.

In other words? Personalized email marketing is a top performer among both mobile/app and lobby-loving financial consumers.? It’s why FinTech marketers have embraced email – and why the traditionalists at the Old Reliable Bank & Trust should never overlook its power, or be tempted to replace it with some shiny new pretender.

Be sure you’re doing the right personalization

The problem isn’t that personalization is a newfangled thing to the folks running the Old Reliable.? According to the Digital Banking Report, 76% of organizations believed that personalization has a “strong” impact on relationship building. Still, a humungous 94% of financial institutions were unable to deliver on the “personalization promise” in 2018.

Why is this so hard? One reason might be that financial information is a sensitive subject. Not only are people less likely to broach subjects like money problems in open discussion, but they’re also wary of sharing information. In fact, 25% of consumers view personalized offers as “creepy” and 32% believe that personalization is not worth giving up their privacy.

Marketing guru, and OptIn’19 moderator, Neil Patel has an interesting take on personalization, and why people are put off by how some marketers attempt it. Just inserting a target’s first name into an email, he says, isn’t enough: everybody knows it’s sent by a robot, right? That’s what makes it “creepy.” Instead, personalization has to happen by customizing message content so it offers relevant value to the recipient.

FinTech companies are constantly re-designing their products and services around customer wants and needs, with marketing that articulates that focus. That’s a deeper form of “personalization” than merging names from a list.? So in financial services marketing, avoid telling them how lucky they are to have signed on with you, how established, large, and impressive the Old Reliable is.

Younger consumers, especially, don’t give a whoop: they expect you to be catering to them, first and foremost. 71% of millennials would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks are trying to tell (or sell) them.

Streamline and simplify

To get past those financial services privacy concerns we mentioned, and make the Old Reliable come across as approachable?? Send them authentic, needs-focused onboarding emails. App providers have made a high art of this over the years, making sure messages seem genuine and tuned-in to the real motivations that brought people to their product.

Another way to accomplish this?? Simplify the complex. Ease-of-use is one of the main selling points of FinTech products, so why not emulate that when you’re trying to get customers engaged with financial services products? One of the biggest obstacles facing the Old Reliable Bank & Trust is how hard it is to grab and keep a customer’s attention because finance simply ain’t synonymous with sexy. Barring the occasional outlier, most people aren’t excited by the thought of retirement planning or mortgage rates.

So avoid complexity and remove confusion; they’ll appreciate plain speaking that seems transparent and sounds human, not legalistic. This example from ExpenseIt helps users jump right into, well, using the product, and makes the process easy-peasy.? Find ways of doing the same in your onboarding.

A.B.G.

Instead of A.B.C. (“Always Be Closing”) as espoused by this guy, we should recognize what many app marketers already know and leverage: Always Be Giving from the start of any engagement with prospects or customers. What are you giving? That’s easy: something of value.

What kind of “value” do we mean? It might mean special content, a personal consultation, or a bonus offer or added service (just like a surprise feature unlock on an app) that keeps them interested. Here’s an example – cited by Neil Patel – from Carrot, a platform aimed at real estate investors and agents.

Notice something? It doesn’t ask for anything from the customer but simply offers up value on a very human level. In a world where most customers desert a brand or company because of perceived indifference, giving them a steady stream of value-oriented messages via email shows you care. That’s why FinTech companies, who survive or die based on user retention, pay close attention to keeping customers engaged through every means possible, especially email.

The Old Reliable should pay attention to optimizing its email campaigns for mobile, just like FinTech providers do; check out the best ways of doing this.? A couple of scary stats? An email that doesn’t render correctly on a mobile device is likely to be deleted in 3 seconds or less, and up to 15% of recipients will unsubscribe in that situation, says Campaign Monitor.

So in the end, what’s the biggest lesson for the old guard down at the Old Reliable Bank & Trust?? To stay flexible, innovative, and customer-centric in they market themselves, and to never forget the very significant power of the one tool they’ve already got in their arsenal: email. Because those in the FinTech universe are already all over it.

~ Casey

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How Zillow’s Emails Ease the Home Buying Process http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/zillows-emails-ease-home-buying/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/zillows-emails-ease-home-buying/#respond Mon, 23 Sep 2019 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47413 Zillow's EmailsThere are few purchases that are more time-sensitive than buying a home. Read how Zillow's emails help make the process of buying a home less stressful.

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Anyone who’s ever shopped for a home knows what a grueling process it can be. While it can be a very exciting time, it also tops the list for one of the most stressful things you can experience as an adult?

Having recently been through the process, I thought it was cool to know that Zillow, the leading real?estate database company uses SparkPost technology to send their emails! While we did work with a real estate agent through the process, Zillow was an awesome supplemental tool in our search. Zillow made it easy to quickly rule things out or favorite items to add to our weekend open house circuit. The tool allows you to save specific search parameters based on location, budget etc and get notified immediately via email as listings hit the market.

Before our agent could even dial my number, any listing that had gone on the market fitting my search parameters would be in my inbox. In a hot real estate market, delays in those emails could make a huge difference to home shoppers. With only a limited number of houses hitting the market each week, it was so important to get these emails as close to instantly as we could – and it was really sweet to know that SparkPost was responsible for making that happen!

Below is a bit more detail on how Zillow uses SparkPost to communicate and why it’s such a cool application.


When it comes to purchases, there are few that are more important and time-sensitive than buying a home. Not only do prospective homeowners have to handle timing their buy with the rise and fall of the housing market, but on a much smaller scale, they must make time in their schedules to go to open houses.

Launched in 2006, Zillow has become the dominant marketplace for real estate information online relying heavily on email to deliver up-to-date content to homebuyers. And, with over 110 million U.S. homes in its database, it’s critical that Zillow provides its users with timely notifications as to which homes are up for grabs. More than that, messages need to be sent out in time for users to build out their open house viewing schedules for the upcoming weekend. If a user’s dream home is open for viewing on Sunday but they don’t get the email message regarding the open house until minutes before the showing…that just won’t work!

That very scenario is why Zillow relies on SparkPost to send their email. In fact, Justin Faris, Director of Product at Zillow, said “SparkPost’s API and reliability have been solid. SparkPost can handle surges in our email volume any time those bursts occur, such as when we need to deliver messages for the time-sensitive weekend open house and buying cycle.”

Zillow carefully sends email notifications to customers based on where they are in the homebuying process. Are they just starting their search for a home? Are they in escrow? These two different customer profiles require different kinds of emails at different cadences. With such attention to detail and an overwhelming amount of customer personas, it’s not shocking that Zillow has chosen SparkPost to make sure emails are sent to users without any hiccups.

With SparkPost, Zillow has seen a 161% increase in open rates indicating that email continues to be one of the core ways that Zillow’s customers interact with their brand. Zillow’s continued reliance on and success with SparkPost isn’t rare. As the world’s #1 email sender, trusted to send 37% of the world’s business email, it’s no surprise that when great companies like Zillow need to get email right they choose SparkPost.

~ Jen

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SparkPost Navigation Updates: What’s Changed? http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sparkpost-navigation-updates-whats-changed/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sparkpost-navigation-updates-whats-changed/#respond Fri, 20 Sep 2019 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47389 Read about the new simpler and reorganized navigation in the SparkPost app. We are so excited to announce these navigation updates driven by user feedback!

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Today we are releasing some major navigation updates in the SparkPost app! Driven by user feedback, the new navigation is simpler and reorganized, with all the related sections grouped together.

And don’t worry – next time you visit the app, there will be a guide to assist you through these changes. If you have questions, you can learn more about the reorganization.

Why the change?

Over the past year, we’ve shipped a lot of new and exciting features. For most of them, we’ve created new pages and navigation items in the SparkPost app.

Here are some of the things we’ve launched:

Behind the scenes, we’ve been preparing for some substantial investments and improvements in the user experience of our app, big and small alike. This constant cycle of new feature development and improvement means that from time to time the navigation can get a little messy. We’re excited about the opportunity to start putting the pieces back together in a way that fits our users.

Research & process

To figure out the right information architecture for our app, Aubrey – our Director of User Experience – and her team ran a card sorting exercise with 50 SparkPost users. Without any outside help, each user sorted 33 cards into categories that made sense to them, and then named the categories. Using the results from the exercise, we created a plan on how to move our product towards the ideal state, with this update as the first step!? We were tempted to borrow Hogwarts’ Sorting Hat and have it decide on our behalf, but our User Experience team has been stirring up some magic of their own ??

Our other goal with this change is to rethink how Signals is presented in the app. When we first pushed Signals live, we shipped it under its own navigation item. But when we talk about Signals, we aren’t just referring to Health Score, Engagement Insights, and Spam Trap Monitoring; all of the SparkPost analytics features are part of Signals – from the Events search to the Summary report. PowerMTA or Momentum users who wire Signals up get access to all of our analytics features. This change aligns the product with your experience and access. Professor Trelawney, Hogwarts’ Professor of Divination, couldn’t find better alignment in her tea leaves.

What’s next?

We’ve got lots of improvements coming down the line that will make you a more successful sender. Check back in October for an awesome update from @isaacswkim.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Shoot an email to product@sparkpost.com if you have any suggestions on changes or improvements we should make. If you want to get on a call to talk about email, Signals, or anything else, you can reach me at avi@sparkpost.com.

Happy sending!

—Avi, Technical Product Manager

@theavigoldman


?? Thank you to Aubrey Altman, Patrick Sison, Kevin Chu, Cole Strode, Daeyon Griffin, and the Product, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams

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Welcoming PowerMTA 5.0 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/welcoming-powermta-5-0/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/welcoming-powermta-5-0/#respond Wed, 18 Sep 2019 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47175 PowerMTA 5.0Technical Product Manager, Harold Vass, shares the key items included in the launch of the newest version of PowerMTA - PowerMTA 5.0!

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Why On-Premises Solutions are a Vital Part of SparkPost

When I talk to people about SparkPost, it’s easy for the conversation to hone in on one of our cloud offerings. Specifically, SparkPost Cloud or SparkPost Signals – our analytics suite designed to optimize email performance and increase your customer engagement. And who can blame them? These highly performant tools are getting a ton of coverage in the media, growing like a wildfire, and are having a significant impact on customers’ bottom line. In all the hype, it is easy to forget about the steady drumbeat of innovation happening in other corners of the office. Specifically, our massive footprint in the on-premises MTA world made possible by our Momentum and PowerMTA products.

What’s new with PowerMTA?

One of the most exciting pieces of news I get to share about our on-premises products is the launch of the newest version of PowerMTA – PowerMTA 5.0! This product has spent years in development and many of the features included have spent substantial time being used and abused by our great network of early adopters in two separate beta releases. I’ll avoid going into too much detail here but a few key items of the 5.0r1 release include:

  • A huge refresh to our web monitor making things easier to find in a single place and reducing the need to reference the User Manual.
The revised Command Page is designed to create a more user-friendly experience without the need to frequently reference the User Guide.
  • Outbound proxy support allowing IPs to be placed in a centralized external proxy server rather than on each individual MTA.
  • Email submissions via HTTP – more on this below!

Signals for On-Premises (Momentum and PowerMTA)

SparkPost technology is used to send over a third of the entire world’s business email. That means we generate an absolute mountain of data which we can use to power the world’s best email analytics suite – SparkPost Signals. One of the most satisfying puzzle pieces to put into place on our roadmap is bridging the gap between the on-premises world and the cloud. We have dedicated a ton of time and effort in 2019 to building connectors that allow our on-premises Momentum and PowerMTA customers to use SparkPost Signals in a way that wasn’t previously possible for on-premises MTAs.

Not only does Signals provide insight into your own sending patterns but by leveraging our massive data footprint, we’re able to present benchmark data to compare your sending against the world. Leverage like this is the only way to truly optimize your messaging strategies and has never been possible for on-premises MTAs before now.

Here are a few roadmap highlights from out Signals for On-Premises development efforts for 2019. These features are available for Momentum and PowerMTA:

  • Subaccount designation enabling traffic segmentation and creating valuable reseller opportunities to bring the power of SparkPost Signals directly to your customers; and
  • Custom Message ID allowing for integrating your own engagement tracking data directly into SparkPost Signals. Simply let us know which header contains the message ID and we’ll take care of matching everything back up behind the scenes.

Leveraging On-Premises and Cloud Offerings in Combination for Resiliency and Disaster Recovery

Email is, hands down, the most valuable communication channel. A recent study by Litmus put the ROI for email at something close to 38:1. Couple that with the security and general acceptance of email as the go-to channel for transactional messaging and it becomes invaluable to nearly any business. That’s exactly why so many teams are investing heavily in creating a backup plan. Some teams are opting for a dual vendor strategy while others are choosing to use multiple products from the same vendor. Obviously, we’re partial to the latter when customers are choosing SparkPost to provide their solutions so we’ve made investments to improve how we’re able to be your sole provider while making sure we offer comparable resiliency to a dual-vendor strategy without all the extra headache.

One way that’s available now is a hot:hot strategy that uses an on-premises product in combination with SparkPost cloud. This works by simply maintaining an active SparkPost cloud account and an active PMTA or Momentum on-premises instance. Since both will have warm IPs, it’s very straightforward to reroute injections if an issue arises with one or the other. As a bonus, now that PMTA supports REST Injection, many of the processes in place will play nice with one another between SparkPost cloud and PowerMTA meaning a reduced learning curve to get started and less lost time switching between the two.

Looking Ahead

We’re excited about the opportunity to continue to serve both the on-premises and cloud markets into 2020 and beyond. Our on-premises customers can continue looking forward to regular updates as well as enhanced support for valuable integrations such as SparkPost Signals. By combining the security and flexibility of on-premises MTAs with the deep insights of SparkPost’s cloud offering the future for your sending is bright.

If you’re an existing customer that would like to talk shop or a team looking to add an on-premises offering to your existing environment, let’s chat.

Thanks,
Harold

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Deploying SparkPost Signals for On-Premises – Part 1 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/deploy-sparkpost-signals-for-on-premises-part-1/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/deploy-sparkpost-signals-for-on-premises-part-1/#respond Mon, 16 Sep 2019 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47239 deploy SparkPost SignalsIn part 1 of his series Senior Messaging Engineer, Steve Tuck, introduces how to deploy SparkPost Signals for Momentum and PowerMTA.

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You may have heard about the data science tools that SparkPost has created to provide predictive insight into your messaging and your customer relationships. We have been talking about the Health Score, Engagement Recency and Spam Trap Monitoring quite a bit, but were you aware you could get this awesomeness in your Momentum and PowerMTA deployments as well? We’ll go into the specifics for Momentum and PowerMTA in the following parts. Here’s an overview of how the various parts can plug together. Your Momentum Nodes can be upgraded to have the “Signals Agent” onboard. This is configured to talk to your specific SparkPost account, sending packets of data up to the “SparkPost Ingest API”. This feeds the events into Sparkpost analytics. The “Events Search” and metrics/reports that all SparkPost users are familiar with – such as Summary, Bounce, Accepted, Delayed – will show your traffic within just a few minutes. It’s amazing to be able to use Sparkpost Event Search tools to track down specific messages and event sequences in your mail streams that were actually sent by your on-premises MTAs. But wait, there’s more! the real power becomes obvious once you have a few days of running under your belt. SparkPost Signals gives you charts showing your daily variations in:

For PowerMTA, the process is similar. Starting with the latest software versions, a small addition to your config starts an upload process that streams events up to your specific SparkPost account, via the SparkPost Ingest API. Because PowerMTA doesn’t have its own engagement tracking, the events you’ll see will relate to email delivery, bounces and so on, but not opens and clicks. We’ll cover more on how to get open and click events into Signals for PowerMTA customers in a later article.

No stop signs, speed limits…

The SparkPost account you use should be new and unused for other traffic, to keep things straightforward. You don’t need to set up Sending Domains, Bounce Domains, Tracking Domains or any other usual sender configuration of your SparkPost account – after all, you’re already sending the messages via your existing MTAs.

The keys to the kingdom

One thing we’ll need from our SparkPost account is an API key. This needs one (and only one) permission, known as “Incoming Events: Write”. If you don’t see this permission on your account, contact SparkPost to have it enabled. Keep that key-value safe (see security notes here) – we’ll use it to set up our on-premises connector.

You get Signals, you get Signals, and you get Signals!

You can invite more users into your SparkPost account so that many people within your organization can benefit from their own view of SparkPost Signals and analytics reporting. OK, that’s the basic steps needed to get your account ready for SparkPost Signals usage with on-premises solutions. The next part will dive into the details of setting up PowerMTA for SparkPost Signals. ~ Steve

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3 Things You Should Know About Email Validation http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-things-you-should-know-about-email-validation/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-things-you-should-know-about-email-validation/#respond Fri, 13 Sep 2019 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47186 Email ValidationDiscover how Email Validation can protect your sender reputation, drive inbox placement, and improve the performance of your email campaigns.

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Email validation is an important tool for email senders. It can help you protect your sender reputation, drive inbox placement, and improve the performance of your email campaigns. Here are the 3 things you should know as you get started.

1. It helps you protect your reputation

Your reputation with mailbox providers is driven by many different factors. Your content, which people you send to, and whether those people engage or complain about your emails all feed into their picture of you as a sender. Having a bad sender reputation can reduce your inbox visibility, or cause your email to be quarantined or filed into the spam folder.

Sending to people who want your emails is key to being a good sender. One way that mailbox providers can tell that you’re not following this golden rule is if you send email to a lot of nonexistent addresses. Email validation can make sure the email addresses that people give you aren’t undeliverable so that you can avoid those hard bounces.

There are other indicators that can help you decide whether or not you want to actually send to someone. For example, role-based also known as shared email addresses tend to unsubscribe and complain more about emails. An email validation tool can help you avoid those hurtful subscribers.

2. It can increase your ROI

Email is one of the most powerful channels for marketers to drive revenue. But high ROI can hide opportunities for growth. There are hidden problems that are hard to detect that email validation can help solve to help you get more out of your sending. An example of this are human typos. When John is entering his email into your newsletter he accidentally enters “john@gmal.com” instead of “jon@gmail.com.”

Without a validation tool, his typo will slip by unnoticed and you’ll lose the chance to email him. Tools like Recipient Validation can help catch these mistakes and other impactful issues that take away your chance to connect.

3. Validation isn’t enough on its own

While validating emails will help you avoid a lot of potential problems, it isn’t enough on its own. Validation tools won’t catch every problem you’ll run into as a sender.? Implementing other protections and focusing on fundamental best practices will make sure that you are a successful sender.

Now that you’re an email validation expert, learn more about Recipient Validation and check out our guide on 101 best practices to learn about proven ways to boost deliverability and engagement.

Happy sending!

—Avi, Technical Product Manager
@theavigoldman

new rules email deliverability best practices

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5 Best Practices for Helping Prevent Email Address Typos http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/prevent-email-address-typos/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/prevent-email-address-typos/#respond Wed, 11 Sep 2019 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47177 prevent email address typosDiscover our five best practices for helping prevent email address typos when your customers fill out your sign-up form on your site.

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You’ve been diligent about your sender reputation. You know that it impacts how the digital gatekeepers at Gmail, Yahoo!, and other email providers view your sending domain, so you’ve been keeping best practices in mind by:

  • Honoring unsubscribes as quickly as possible
  • Adopting an opt-in policy
  • Pruning dead email addresses
  • Looking closely at bounce codes
  • Making your emails worth people’s effort to open them and click a link or two
  • Creating and executing a warm-up plan before you start sending emails from a new IP address

But you may not have considered one place that can negatively impact your recipient list and lead to a poor sender reputation: your sign-up form. It’s the first line of defense against ensuring that your customers provide correct email addresses.

One wrong character in an email address can create a bounce-back, or it can put your message in the wrong person’s inbox, which can lead to them clicking the unsubscribe link, filing a spam complaint, or simply never opening the email. All of those results negatively impact your sender reputation, which harms your ability to get emails into your customers’ inboxes.

But don’t worry – here are 5 best practices to help you prevent typos in your customers’ email addresses when they fill out your sign-up form.

1. Require them to enter their email address twice and check that they match

That’s a pretty common tactic to ensure an email address is correct, but go one step further by not letting them copy and paste from the first email field into the second one. That way you know that the email address is probably right, since there’s a decent chance that if the user typed the address wrong the first time, they’ll get it right on their second try. Then they’ll be alerted that the addresses don’t match and will fix the problem.

Doing so will add some friction to your sign-up process and could increase drop-off rates, but if you’ve had problems with typos in email addresses, or you foresee it could be a problem, this is likely a worthwhile trade-off. Yes, the owner of email-is-awesome-forever2019@[insert a domain].com may be annoyed, but to be fair, perhaps they should rethink that address.

2. Send an opt-in email to verify the email address

Many companies don’t do this, since it adds a step to the sign-up process and there’s a good chance people will miss the email, or it will never land in their inbox. Then they’ll be left wondering what happened to that thing they signed up for, and they might complain on social media and other places online.

We understand why it’s better to just take the email address they submitted and add it to your list, but the opt-in is a nice way of double-checking that it’s correct. If you decide to implement such an email, this verification from Jimdo is a good source of inspiration. It has a handy button, along with a link that can be copied and pasted, and it ends with a breezy PS to ignore the message if the recipient didn’t create an account, so they hopefully don’t file a spam complaint.

3. Offer a social media sign-up option

The nice thing about letting people sign up with a social media account is that it provides a one-click option that’s about as friction-free as possible, unless they’re not currently logged into that social media account on that device. And you know there’s a good chance that the email address they provided to that social media service is valid.

However, many people shut off email for social media, opting instead for on-device notifications, so they may be using a different email address than the one they provided when signing up many years ago. That old email address might be defunct, it could belong to someone else now, or perhaps they rarely check it anymore – all of those things can ding your sender reputation.

If you do provide a social media sign-up option, make sure you offer a standard registration form too, since some people are leery of giving third parties access to their social media accounts, no matter how benign the intentions may seem.

4. Give people a reason to not sign up with a fake email address

No matter what you do to avoid typos in email addresses, sometimes people purposely sign up with fake email addresses, or so-called burner accounts. That way they can get what they need without dealing with marketing emails, or because they’re not sure they can trust the site.

In fact, there are several services, such as 10MinuteMail, that let users create an email account that doesn’t even live as long as a housefly, simply so they can click a confirmation link or deal with a similar task. Once they do that, your database contains a seemingly valid email address that will start generating bouncebacks and – you guessed it – hurt your sender reputation.

To counteract that problem, make sure you’re clear about how often you’ll email them once they sign up. If they’ll never hear from you unless they need to do something like reset a password, then make sure you’re up front about that, because most users will love you.

Even if you’re going to send them marketing messages and triggered emails, you can still put people at ease by offering them options, such as message frequency and type of contact. If someone considering using 10MinuteMail knows that they can tell you to only send them triggered emails tied to specific account activity, they might be more inclined to give you their actual address.

5. Check out SparkPost’s Spam Trap Monitoring and Recipient Validation tools

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that SparkPost knows a thing or two about email deliverability, since we send 37% of the world’s B2C and B2B email. One of our tools that helps our customers with their sending reputations is Spam Trap Monitoring, which lets senders know how many spam traps they’re hitting, and what types they are.

Spam traps are a way to catch spammers and otherwise well-intentioned senders who don’t follow good list hygiene. They’re email addresses that seem legit but aren’t, and they come in a variety of forms – we have a blog post that contains all the details.

We also offer a feature called Recipient Validation that verifies email addresses are valid before you send them a message. It’s a great way to catch addresses with typos, burner accounts, outright fake addresses, and other problems before they negatively impact your sending reputation. Check it out.

~Erica

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Constant Vigilance: Improvements to SparkPost Signals Reports http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/constant-vigilance-improvements-sparkpost-signals-reports/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/constant-vigilance-improvements-sparkpost-signals-reports/#respond Mon, 09 Sep 2019 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47157 SparkPost Signals reportsTechnical Product Manager, Avi Goldman, reveals our newest improvement to SparkPost Signals reports. Try SparkPost Signals today!

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My fellow Harry Potter geeks probably had an image of Mad-Eye pop into their heads the moment they read the title. This is how I think about product development: “constant vigilance.” As a Product Manager, I’m always on the lookout for ways we can improve our product to better serve our customers.

Creating useful, intuitive products isn’t easy; it feels like there are a million considerations and deciding which problem to solve is quite the challenge to wake up to every day.

The most clarifying activity is simply getting on a call with our users and chatting about email and analytics. Those conversations uncover the most impactful ways we can improve our product and helps me focus on the most valuable problems.

For example, when our users want to compare several different domains or subaccounts or any other filters they have to rebuild the report in different tabs from scratch, which is quite annoying. One of our awesome power users walked me through one of his normal flows through SparkPost and showed me how much frustration this small issue caused.

All this is a very long way to lead up to the fact that you can now right-click on the filter links inside of the SparkPost Signals reports and open up the report in a new tab, as you’d expect.

In the end, this isn’t a big change or major launch, but it is the kind of quiet, behind-the-scenes, incremental improvement that helps make the product better.

So give it a try! Maybe this change will make your day a little bit easier.

As always, we love to hear your feedback. Send us an email to product@sparkpost.com if you have any suggestions on changes we can make to make SparkPost work better for you. If you want to get on the phone and talk about email, analytics, or SparkPost, shoot me an email at avi@sparkpost.com and we’ll find a time.
Happy sending!

—Avi, Technical Product Manager
@theavigoldman


??Big thank you to Kevin Chu, Brian Kemper, Jon Ambas and to all the Product, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams for their effort in making our product and service better

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The Future of Voice in Email: 7 Things to Consider http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/future-voice-email-7-things-consider/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/future-voice-email-7-things-consider/#respond Fri, 06 Sep 2019 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47146 voice in emailThe future of voice in email is here: read up on 7 things to consider when creating emails that could be read by Alexa, as well as other virtual assistants.

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Sure you’ve asked Alexa to tell you the temperature outside or the final score of last night’s big game, but did you know she can also read your emails to you?

Amazon’s Alexa can currently read, delete, archive, and reply to emails, with the ability to read emojis up to Unicode Version 10. However, note that Alexa can’t read Alt tags.

In addition to Alexa’s availability as an app for portable devices, Amazon currently dominates the American smart speaker market, with a 61.1% share compared to Google’s second-place 23.9%. By the end of 2018, there were 66.4 million American adults with smart speakers, comprising 26.2% of that population.

With that in mind, here are 7 things to consider when creating emails that could be read by Alexa, as well as other virtual assistants. While Alexa is currently leading the space, Apple’s Siri can read emails, and it’s not hard to imagine that Google and other companies are working hard to catch up.

1. Consider how your brand voice will sound when read aloud

You’ve likely created a standard for the tone you use when communicating with customers. Whether it’s breezy and informal, serious and business-like, or something in-between, it’s important to maintain consistency in your writing across all channels, especially email.

However, how will your messages sound when read aloud? It’s never a bad idea to read your emails out loud before you finalize the text, to see if you catch any errors or if anything sounds wrong, but doing so is even more imperative now. Ideally, you’ll want to also send a test email to yourself and have Alexa read the message so you know how some of your customers will hear it.

2. Watch your email length

You may discover that emails you think are short actually feel a bit tedious when read aloud. When Alexa reads a long email, it stops part way through, tells the user that it will take X minutes to finish, and asks if they want to continue. That’s a good reason to keep your most important information at the beginning of the message, so it doesn’t get lost if the recipient declines to keep reading.

3. Pay even closer attention to your subject line and preheader text

Writing an attention-grabbing subject line and complementing it with engaging preheader text is Email Marketing 101, but even if you feel you have that area dialed in, you need to revisit it if you think many of your subscribers will have their emails read to them.

One key concern is the fact that Alexa only reads the sender and subject line of an email when going through the user’s inbox, so you can’t rely on preheader text to help increase your open rates. However, Alexa does read the preheader text if the recipient says they want the email read to them, so that’s where you can help ensure that the listener pays attention to the whole message.

That’s particularly important if the email is long enough that Alexa will stop and ask the listener if they want to continue. If you know that’s going to happen, you could, for example, ensure that the preheader references information that will be read in a later part of the email.

Note that Apple’s Siri does read preheader text when introducing an email, so if you find that many of your subscribers are using that virtual assistant, you might want to try presenting your preheader as a question. Doing so will create a natural lead-in to Siri asking “Would you like to reply?”

4. Use a from name that makes sense and a reply-to address that’s functional

From names are another part of Marketing 101 that you’ve probably thought about, debated, and settled on, but they can take on a new dimension in auditory emails. Whereas many recipients may focus more on subject lines and preheader text and only give from names a cursory glance, having the from name read to them will change that mindset.

If you’ve been sending emails with an individual’s name on them, you might want to add “on behalf of,” or similar language, so it’s clear what company sent the message. For example: “Sparky on behalf of SparkPost.”

In addition, the reply-to email address you use is key because Alexa won’t read it. If the recipient decides to reply, they will end up with a frustrating bounce-back, or no response at all, if the reply-to address isn’t valid.

5. Watch out for image-heavy and image-only designs

Sure, an email that’s one nicely designed image is always appealing, but since Alexa ignores HTML and only reads what’s left, your message won’t come through to listeners. The same principle applies with emails that are heavy on images with text on them, as well as call-to-actions that are in images.

6. Use punctuation strategically

In addition to using proper punctuation because it’s important, you’ll also find that you should employ it in certain circumstances. For example, if there’s no punctuation in your header, Alexa could read the beginning of an email like this: “SparkPost News Update Hello! Here’s the latest news from SparkPost.” It will run everything together until it hits a punctuation mark. (Note that it doesn’t actually say “Hello exclamation mark.”)

Of course, you likely won’t want to put punctuation in your header, so that’s where you can employ some hidden punctuation. For example, you can add HTML like this. The recipient won’t know the period is there, and it won’t show up if they read the email, but it will cause Alex to pause at the end of your header.

<span style="display: none; max-height: 0px; overflow: hidden;">.</span>

In addition, you’ll want to tread cautiously with abbreviations. For example, if you write, “This deal is only available in the US,” Alexa will read “US” as “us” because of the lack of punctuation. You’ll want to either write “U.S.” or use a hidden punctuation hack to make Alexa read each letter individually, rather than run them together as one word.

7. Put these tips in a file and revisit them later

While virtual assistants are a new trend, they’re in the early stages of their existence; many people have expressed the kind of skepticism that accompanies any new technology. For example, while 26% of marketers surveyed by Voicebot.ai are enthusiastic or very enthusiastic about virtual assistants, 33% are interested but not fully on board yet, and nearly 40% are either not interested right now or have no opinion on the matter.

Unless you see a surge in subscribers using virtual assistants now, you should keep an eye on the macro trends and revisit these tips later. It might not hurt to include a question about virtual assistants in any surveys you do, so you can track responses over time.

Finally, keep in mind that when Alexa reads an email, it doesn’t trigger an open in your email analytics, so a drop in open rates could mean that many of your subscribers are having their emails read to them. If you can’t explain the decline any other way, maybe it’s time to revisit this blog post.

~ Erica

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Recipient Validation: API-based Validation http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/recipient-validation-api-based-validation/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/recipient-validation-api-based-validation/#respond Wed, 04 Sep 2019 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46679 API-based validationSenior Messaging Engineer, Steve Tuck, explains how to use his simple command-line tool to validate email addresses with SparkPost's API-based validation.

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SparkPost has just launched Recipient Validation, a new paid product feature that checks email addresses for you, prior to sending to them. It provides a way to check for:

  • Email address syntax errors and typos
  • Invalid domains/domains unable to receive email
  • Throw-away addresses on disposable domains
  • Non-existent mailboxes
  • .. as well as telling you if the address is?served by a free email provider (e.g.
    …@gmail.com
    ),
    .. is r
    ole-based? (e.g.
    sales@…
    ),
    .. or looks like a typo (e.g. ask about
    steve@gmal.com
    ?–? we will tell you “did you mean?
    steve@gmail.com
    ”).

SparkPost has the broadest visibility into bounces and invalid addresses on the market because we send 37% of the world’s business email.?

Bulk validation

If you need to validate a lot of email addresses, the most efficient way is to use the page in the SparkPost app described here. This can deal with millions of addresses at a time and is the fastest form of bulk validation.

API-based validation

The API provides a way to validate email addresses one at a time. This could be built, for example, into your website sign-up process, and is an ideal way to ensure your contact database is as clean as possible.

You should call the SparkPost API from your server, not from the client (browser) side – don’t expose your API key, otherwise,?bad things will happen. To demonstrate how to call the API, I’ve built a simple command-line tool that you can play with. First, let’s set out some goals for this tool:

  • Provide a simple, short but working example of how to use the new API
  • Works with SparkPost.com in the US, the EU, and SparkPost Enterprise
  • Easy to configure and get started with
  • “Scriptable” into your own processes and workflows easily
  • Takes either a single address or many addresses
  • Works with the same file formats (.csv) as our efficient bulk-load web app

I found the SparkPost API response time is pretty fast, but the round-trip time between your servers and ours is always a factor worth considering – more on that later.

Getting started

There are just a few steps to follow – see the GitHub repo

README
? for installation steps. You can quickly be up and running once you’ve set your API key, with the required permission. It’s good practice to grant keys with just the least privilege needed.

export SPARKPOST_API_KEY=<YOUR KEY HERE>
./sparkyRecipValidate.py --email 123@gmail.com

You will see:

Scanned input from command line, contains 1 syntactically OK and 0 bad addresses. Validating with SparkPost..
email,valid,result,reason,is_role,is_disposable,is_free,did_you_mean
123@gmail.com,False,undeliverable,Invalid Recipient,False,False,True,
Done

There’s a useful subtlety going on here. The text line “scanned input from …” is going via?

stderr
?– which means it appears on your screen, even if you redirect the tool output to a file.?The
--email
?
parameter accepts more than one email-address, comma-separated; you can also use the short-form
-e
. This costs us nothing in code complexity, thanks to the beautiful
argparse
?
?standard Python library. The command

./sparkyRecipValidate.py -e 123@hotmail.com,fred@example.com > out.csv

Gives:

Scanned input from command line, contains 2 syntactically OK and 0 bad addresses. Validating with SparkPost..
Done

Reading and writing files

You can also provide the tool an input file to process in plain-text .CSV format, the same as the SparkPost UI accepts. Thanks to Python?argparse, we can easily handle named input files, or from

stdin
?so that the tool acts as a “filter”. All the following are valid ways to provide an input file:

./sparkyRecipValidate.py -i valtest.csv
./sparkyRecipValidate.py --infile valtest.csv
./sparkyRecipValidate.py <valtest.csv
cat valtest.csv | ./sparkyRecipValidate.py

The tool can, therefore, act as a Unix-style filter, so it can be easily plugged into your own workflows.?The first three forms allow our code to “rewind” (seek) the input file stream to re-read it. The tool can check, and report on the number of email addresses in the file before starting the actual validation, like this:

Scanned input valtest.csv, contains 15 syntactically OK and 0 bad addresses.
Validating with SparkPost..

The “pipe” form does not allow seeking, so you’ll see:

Skipping input file syntax pre-check. Validating with SparkPost..

You’ll see no actual code in this project for deciding whether to read from

stdin
?or a file and similarly for whether to write to stdout or a file. It’s all taken care of elegantly and automatically by the
argparse.FileType
?
parameter.?Yay! I love Python for things like this. Another sweet trick I should explain, is how the
--email
?
option works. I made the file-input version first, and thought I’d have to refactor everything to handle command-line address inputs. But wait! Python lets you do this:

cmdInfile = io.StringIO(args.email.replace(',', '\n'))
cmdInfile.name = 'from command line'

Oh yeah! That takes the

--email
?argument payload (comma-separated), makes a “file” with newline-separated input, and gives it a filename so the comfort reporting doesn’t look silly. Python makes lazy programmers look like heroes, definitely the bright side of life.?

Bonus feature: syntax pre-check

The tool counts and reports the number of addresses before starting the validation, if it can; so you know whether to go for a coffee, for lunch, or a short vacation while it completes.?Rather than just count lines in the file, it uses the excellent email_validator library to do a proper email syntax check, and report addresses as OK/bad before we start the actual validation. As long as we disable its own deliverability checks (like this) it will be fast.

validate_email(recip, check_deliverability=False)

Every address in the file is submitted to SparkPost, this is just a pre-check before we start.?In case you wish to disable the pre-check, simply add the

--skip_precheck
?flag.

csvkit

You don’t need Excel to work with .CSV files. csvkit is an awesome, free command-line tool kit that enables you to sort, filter, and pretty-print .CSV files, making them much easier to read. These tools also play nicely as Unix-style filters, for example:

./sparkyRecipValidate.py -i valtest.csv | csvlook
Scanned input valtest.csv, contains 15 syntactically OK and 0 bad addresses. Validating with SparkPost..
Done
| email                            | valid | result        | reason            | is_role | is_disposable | is_free | did_you_mean    |
| -------------------------------- | ----- | ------------- | ----------------- | ------- | ------------- | ------- | --------------- |
| postmaster@yahoo.com             |  True | valid         |                   |    True |         False |    True |                 |
| admin@geekswithapersonality.com  |  True | valid         |                   |    True |         False |   False |                 |
| dahoju@heximail.com              |  True | valid         |                   |   False |          True |    True |                 |
| gpiohwxy@sharklasers.com         |  True | valid         |                   |   False |          True |   False |                 |
| kobapracro@memeil.top            | False |               | Invalid Domain    |   False |          True |   False |                 |
| planetaryhacksaw@maildrop.cc     |  True | valid         |                   |   False |          True |   False |                 |
| austein@yopmail.com              |  True | valid         |                   |   False |          True |   False |                 |
| vemugi@banit.me                  |  True | valid         |                   |   False |          True |   False |                 |
| sales@sparkpost.com              |  True | valid         |                   |    True |         False |   False |                 |
| jeff+friendly@messagesystems.com |  True | valid         |                   |   False |         False |   False |                 |
| 123a@gmail.com                   | False | undeliverable | Invalid Recipient |   False |         False |    True |                 |
| sam@hotmal.com                   |  True | valid         |                   |   False |         False |   False | sam@hotmail.com |
| abc@yahoo.com                    | False | undeliverable | Invalid Recipient |   False |         False |    True |                 |
| 123@hotmail.com                  |  True | valid         |                   |   False |         False |    True |                 |
| sweettomatoes@hottomattoes.com   | False |               | Invalid Domain    |   False |         False |   False |                 |

A few random thoughts.?Experienced Pythonistas can skip this section.

common.py

I have found myself forever needing environment-variable readers/checkers, URL fixer-uppers, and other helper-type functions. As a beginner Python programmer, I was copy/pasting these between files. No more! I’ve reached the point where I should have a file

common.py
?with this sort of thing, to bring order out of chaos.

Bringing these into the main code scope “as if they were in the same file” is simply a matter of

from common import eprint, getenv_check, getenv, hostCleanup

To pipenv or not pipenv…that is the question

An?experienced programmer has pointed out to me that

pipenv
? is not good for everything. However, for mini-projects like this, it makes the installation easier for you. Because I make only basic use of external libraries, the Pipfile has:

[packages]
requests = "*"
email-validator = "*"

I don’t put

Pipfile.lock
??into the repo. That means your system fetches the current stable version of the above packages when you install it. If this was 24×7 Production code, having a defined
Pipfile.lock
?
?(with versions and hashes) provides safety i.e. “the version you tested is now the version in Production”.?

I feel that would be overly pedantic for a demo project. The Requests library has had a few recent vulnerabilities found and fixed, and tying you to a specific version seems less good than you getting the latest stable versions.

Travis CI

This is another shiny thing. I love the way Travis tests my code is not broken, and checks for compatibility across several Python versions each time I check changes into Github.? Of course, it works on many languages, not just Python.

Environment variables vs .ini files

I’ve pretty much switched to using environment variables rather than .ini files now, for the following reasons:

  • Security. Having a .ini file lying around with API keys in is not great. You have to remember to
    chmod 0700
    ?it. If you really want to set environment variables up in a file, just create a .sh script (and
    chmod 0700
    it).
  • Heroku. This provides an elegant way to set config via environment variables that you can even edit after deployment on their web UI. I like that.
  • Playing nicely with Travis. It took me a while to realize this. You can set up private environment variables that get used for automated tests. That means your test cases can be “real” i.e. do things via a SparkPost account, exercising more of your code and providing better quality tests for little effort. In contrast, checking in a .ini file with credentials to your repo, so Travis can find it, would be a bad idea.

I think this sentiment applies to any language, not just Python – see here.

More on latency/speed

I found that response time from the UK to our EU service in Dublin was around 40ms, whereas the response time from the UK to the US service is around 200ms. There’s nothing too surprising about that – the difference is due mostly to the distance involved (nearly 10,000 miles round-trip) and the corresponding router hops. I suggest using the service endpoint near your own servers.

On an Amazon EC2 Linux host in US-West2, validating with sparkpost.com, 100 recipients took around seven seconds. As you’d expect, runtime is basically linear for this tool. For large batches, the SparkPost app (web UI) is considerably faster – use it instead of this tool.

Number of recipients Demo tool runtime
(seconds)
SparkPost web UI runtime
(seconds)
100 7 21
1000 62 22
10,000 613 24

It’s a wrap!

We have taken a stroll through Recipient Validation via a tiny command-line tool.?I hope you enjoyed reading this (and using the tool) as much as I enjoyed writing it.?That’s it for now! Happy validating.

~ Steve

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Rest Easy with Real-Time Alerts http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/rest-easy-real-time-alerts/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/rest-easy-real-time-alerts/#respond Fri, 30 Aug 2019 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=47067 Real-Time AlertsRead about Real-Time Alerts, our new feature which sends notifications about changes to important metrics that measure sending performance.

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Keep your finger on the pulse of your email program 24/7 with our new feature: Real-Time Alerts!

We all know how important email delivery is. Whether it’s a password reset or a flash deal, we want our customers to get our emails on time and in the inbox. But sometimes things go wrong. As the old adage goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Without knowing that something is off, you can’t fix it. That unknown danger hanging over your head causes unnecessary stress and worry.

Problems come in many different forms – drops in engagement rate, increase in bounces, and even going over your sending limits.

That’s why we’re excited to announce Real-Time Alerts. Alerts make it easy to receive notifications about changes to the important metrics that measure the performance of your sending. Powerful filters and multi-channel support, give you the flexibility to configure alerts about your important sending resources and ensure those alerts go to the right people.

Monitor key metrics

Bounces

With Real-Time Alerts for hard bounces, soft bounces, and block bounces, you can configure alerts for when any of these metrics spike to dangerous levels. With advanced filters, you can configure your alerts to watch the resources that are keys to your sending and avoid unnecessary noise. For bounces, you can watch a combination of subaccounts, sending IPs, sending domains, and mailbox providers, meaning you can watch many combinations with just one alert.

Health Score

Major Health Score changes or drops indicate that something is wrong with your sending and you’ll likely see a drop in your email’s performance over the next few days. With alerts on your Health Score, you watch for predicted issues the moment they’re available. In fact, you can even set up a single alert for all subaccounts, so you can monitor all senders on your platform.

Monthly Sending Limit

As your business grows, so will your sending volume. It’s important to know when your volume is passing your limits so you aren’t surprised by overages and your emails don’t get delayed. With an alert on your monthly sending limits, you’ll know when it’s time to upgrade your plan before it becomes an issue.

Send alerts to the right place

You can receive alert notifications through email and Slack, so you can direct your notifications to the place that makes the most sense for your team. And with webhook support as well, it’s easy to connect alerts to any tool you use to monitor.

Get started!

Today, Real-Time Alerts are available for all Premier senders. For step-by-step instructions on setting up alerts, visit the User Guide.? We’re excited to see how you use alerts. If you have other metrics you’d like to see supported, let us know!

Happy sending!

—Avi, Technical Product Manager
@theavigoldman


???Special thanks to Aubrey Altmann, Tim Ecklund, Alice Haber, Jim Braman, Tom Thibodeau, Kevin Chu, Jon Ambas, Brian Kemper, Greg Walls, Julian Moyse, Sai Pisupati, Jose Zamora and to all the Product, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams

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How to Segment Your Subscriber Data to Improve Email Deliverability http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/how-to-segment-your-subscriber-data-to-improve-email-deliverability/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/how-to-segment-your-subscriber-data-to-improve-email-deliverability/#respond Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46999 segment subscriber dataBrand Designer at Hive.co, Cynthia Dam, gives tips on how to segment subscriber data to improve deliverability and increase engagement.

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**Today’s blog is a guest post from our friends over at Hive.co, enjoy their tips and strategies on segmenting your subscriber data!

The most powerful data you have on your email list is subscriber engagement data – and every email marketer should leverage this data for healthy deliverability. Why? Email engagement and deliverability go hand in hand. Internet service providers (ISPs) like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo are looking to see if subscribers actively engage with your emails to determine whether to serve your emails to inboxes (in other words, whether you have a strong sender reputation). That’s why it’s best practice to segment your list by subscriber engagement level and use this as the basis of your email sending strategy.

Segmenting on engagement level will help you send targeted emails with a higher chance of getting opens and clicks. Think about it this way – your list is made up of subscribers in various stages of the customer journey. You’ll have some subscribers with no engagement history who have just signed up to your list, and others who’ve established a long history of engaging with your past emails. You’ll want to be sending your core blasts to subscribers who you know are likely to engage, because their engagement will signal to ISPs that you’re a strong sender. It’s riskier to send emails to subscribers you can’t positively say will engage, which makes it extremely important to send strategic emails to engage these segments. Here’s how:

Engagement Levels You Should Segment On and What to Email Them

Actives

Your most active subscribers are those who continuously engage with your emails. This is your bread and butter – these subscribers have engaged with your recent emails and chances are, they’ll likely open and click the next email you send them. You should be sending your core marketing blasts to this segment.

New Subscribers

These subscribers have just joined your list, whether through a signup form, in-store point of sale (POS), or contest. You want to treat new subscribers differently – you have one chance to educate them about your brand and you should use it to engage and convert. It’s best practice to send a welcome email right upon signup. You can automate this by setting up a welcome email series, which we’ll dive into in the section below.

At-Risk Subscribers

It’s natural for subscribers to start losing interest in your brand. When subscribers haven’t opened an email recently (e.g. your last 5 emails), chances are they’ll need a reason to re-engage with your brand. Your typical marketing blasts are less likely to be opened – you should send a winback email that includes an incentive to get these at-risk subscribers to re-engage.

Inactives

Subscribers who haven’t engaged in a while (i.e. your last 10 emails) are likely to never engage again. You’ll want to set an intentional strategy to win back contacts in this segment because they’ll fully lose interest if you send them an irrelevant email. It’s important to spend time designing a winback email for this segment that you actually believe in.

Invalid Subscribers

These are contacts who have unsubscribed from your email list or have been marked as invalid (bounced, undeliverable). You never want to email this segment.

Email Automations to Optimize for Segment Engagement

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to email. You can leverage email automation (triggered campaigns) to engage these segments at exactly the right time with exactly the right content, further improving the chances they’ll engage:

Set Up a Welcome Email Series to Engage New Subscribers

New subscribers have just signed up to your brand, and have signaled that they want to receive email from you. Now’s the best time to send a highly relevant welcome email. With the highest open rate and a CTR 4x higher than any other type of email, it’s a smart move to automate welcome emails in your email strategy so you don’t miss out on engaging any of your new subscribers.

Automate an ‘Update Your Preferences’ Email to Engage At-Risk Subscribers

At-risk subscribers are starting to lose interest in your emails, and it may likely be because of the content you’ve been sending them. You should automate an email campaign with a link to your preferences center, and ask this segment to update their preferences so you can send them only the emails they want to receive. This is also a good time to ask for their birthday, gender, and any personal preferences so you can send more personalized emails.

Set Up a Winback Email Series to Re-Engage Inactive Subscribers

Inactive subscribers haven’t engaged with your emails for a while, and chances are they won’t engage with any basic emails you send. You should set up a winback email series with several emails including incentives that increase in value (e.g. each email includes a higher discount code). If a subscriber enters and goes through the entire winback email series without engaging, you should treat them as invalid since the chances they’ll ever engage again are close to null.

Wrap Up

Every email marketer has access to subscriber engagement data, and this data is a powerful tool you can use to improve your email deliverability. Basing your email sending strategy on engagement level segments will not only boost your email performance, but it’ll also help you send emails your subscribers actually want to receive. Plus, you can leverage email automation to trigger based on unique subscriber actions, so you send email exactly when subscribers are most likely to engage. It’s a win-win for your email strategy and your deliverability.


Cynthia Dam
Brand Designer @ Hive.co

Cynthia is the Brand Designer at Hive.co and creates content fuelling the company’s customer experiences across all marketing channels. Read more of her email deliverability articles on the Hive.co blog.

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The Next Generation of Recipient Validation is Here http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/next-generation-recipient-validation/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/next-generation-recipient-validation/#respond Tue, 27 Aug 2019 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46987 Recipient ValidationRead about the next generation of SparkPost’s Recipient Validation – data-driven email address validation powered by the world's largest email database.

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Data-driven email validation powered by the world’s largest sender.

We are excited to announce the next generation of SparkPost’s Recipient Validation – data-driven email address validation powered by the world’s largest email database. Our Recipient Validation now catches twice as many invalid addresses as before, giving you the best sender reputation protection on the market. Our new data-driven system uses data from thousands of other senders, so you can remove more undeliverable and toxic addresses from your lists before they bounce and hurt your sending reputation. We analyzed a sample of customers using another validation solution and found that on average our Recipient Validation would catch an additional 31% of their hard bounces missed by our competitors, helping you send with confidence. With this release we have also added typo detection and suggestion, plugging a top source of lead loss for customers.

Recipient Validation

One of the hard and fast rules of being a good sender is to only send to real people who have explicitly opted-in. As an email marketer, you want to grow your list with real, high-quality email addresses that are going to engage, without letting damaging addresses through. You need to verify that an email address isn’t going to damage your reputation before you send to it.

Every experienced marketer and deliverability specialist can tell you how damaging it is to send to undeliverable and low-quality addresses. And just as important, you also want to be sure you never miss an opportunity to connect with someone. As a customer of yours, I want you to catch my mistakes before I finish signing up because I really do want to hear from you!

Diving in!

Hard bounces

Back in December, we decided to tackle this universal problem and released a beta of Recipient Validation. With it, we started with the industry knowledge and worked with our team of data scientists to validate best practices and create our solution. With our research, we developed a data-source to identify undeliverable addresses and released Recipient Validation for all SparkPost customers in June. Since then, we’ve continued our research and have constructed an improved system to identify undeliverable and risky email addresses so you can be confident in your sending, instead of relying on outdated and inaccurate checks.

Our data scientists discovered that not all hard bounces are equal – one hard bounce isn’t enough to discount an email address for everyone. When Recipient Validation suspects an email address will hard bounce, we surface that so you can make the decision on whether you want to take on that risk.

Low-quality addresses

Recipient Validation helps you identify low-quality addresses. It identifies disposable domains, including both masked email addresses – addresses that good engagement rates but can’t be tied to a real user – and throwaway email addresses – addresses that hurt your ROI with extremely low engagement rates. With the average engagement rate of less than 0.80%, you can confidently eliminate throwaway addresses. In fact, 95% senders who remove disposable addresses will see no change or an increase in their engagement rate while decreasing their overall traffic.

User experience

We know how important user experience is for your success (keep your eyes peeled for some exciting UX changes in the SparkPost app). That’s why we built Recipient Validation with that in mind. Recipient Validation will catch typos before your user submits, and with the majority of validations completed in under 30 milliseconds, you won’t introduce extra friction.

In sum, Recipient Validation will catch:

  • Email address syntax errors
  • Role-based or shared email addresses
  • Throwaway and masked addresses
  • Accidental typos
  • Potentially undeliverable addresses
  • Known undeliverable addresses

Jump into the SparkPost app (EU) to validate your list now. And dig into the documentation and start validating email addresses in real-time with our real-time API.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback. Send us an email at product@sparkpost.com if you have any thoughts or suggestions for Recipient Validation or our other sending features.

For more information about Recipient Validation?click here.

Happy sending!

—Avi, Technical Product Manager
@theavigoldman


???Special thanks to Sailakshmi Pisupati, Tim Ecklund, Jason Sorensen, Patrick Sison, Brian Kemper, Nick Lemmon, Jose Zamora, Lynn Murphy, Angelica Garcia, Julian Moyse, Jason Soni and to all the Product, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams

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3 Steps to Using Email to Improve Customer Loyalty and Reduce Churn http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-steps-using-email-improve-customer-loyalty-reduce-churn/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/3-steps-using-email-improve-customer-loyalty-reduce-churn/#respond Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46979 customer loyaltyDiscover how incorporating surveys and sentiment analysis technology into your email strategy can help improve customer loyalty and reduce churn.

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Customers are getting harder to please. According to HubSpot:

  • 55% of consumers in the US and the UK don’t trust the companies they buy from as much as they used to
  • 65% of them don’t have faith in company press releases
  • 81% of them prefer to get advice from friends and family rather than a business

It’s also getting tougher to acquire customers. ProfitWell found that overall customer acquisition cost (CAC) is up almost 50% during the past 5 years, so it’s crucial to keep as many current customers as possible. That’s where customer satisfaction comes into play, because it’s typically cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one. High churn rates have toppled many companies.

Luckily, you’ve probably already invested in a communication medium that offers plenty of ways to track customer sentiment: email. You can use email to get a handle on how people feel about your company and its products and services, and then you can tweak your triggered and promotional emails accordingly, along with your products and services and many other things.

When you improve your customers’ satisfaction, you not only grow near-term sales but you create advocates who will recommend your company to their friends, family, and colleagues. That’s a key element of evangelism marketing, in which your customers preach the gospel, so to speak, of your business to others.

Here are 3 steps to using email to help improve customer loyalty and reduce churn.

1. Deliver 1-question surveys via email to calculate NPS, CES, and CSAT

You’d be surprised what kind of information you can glean from 1 question, especially since the low level of effort means customers are much more likely to respond than if you ask them to fill out a multi-question survey. There are a variety of options for 1-question surveys, but 3 of the most popular ones measure different aspects of customer sentiment:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a tool that helps you determine the loyalty of your customers. It ranges from -100 to +100, but any score above zero is considered good, while +50 is seen as excellent and +70 means your most of your customers aren’t leaving for the competition any time soon.

Calculating NPS is fairly simple: You ask your customers, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our [company/product/service] to others?” You can hone in on a specific product or service, if you’d rather measure customer loyalty to it, rather than your entire company. All answers between 0 and 6 are detractors, 7-8 are passives, and 9-10 are promoters.

Toss out the passive answers and subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. For example, if you surveyed 1,000 customers and the passive/detractor/promoter percentages were 15%/31%/54%, your NPS would be +23. Track your NPS over time to see how it changes as you tweak your email strategy, roll out product updates, and make other decisions.

Here’s a good example of an NPS survey from Insurify, an auto and home insurance comparison service:

Any 1-question survey you send by email should be simple like this one. Your goal is to get them to click a response and give you a result, so there’s no reason to muddy the waters with cross-sells, upsells, and other promotional messages. Note that Insurify uses a color range to help cue what the numbers mean, and a simple image reminds the recipient what the company does.

You can take a similar approach when sending Customer Effort Score (CES) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) emails.

Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how customers feel about their experiences with a product or service, including support interactions. They typically choose their responses on a 7-point scale from Very Difficult to Very Easy, although you can also use approaches like “[Product Name] met my expectations,” with a 7-point range from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree.

The scale might be something like this:

  • Very Difficult
  • Somewhat Difficult
  • Fairly Difficult
  • Neutral
  • Fairly Easy
  • Somewhat Easy
  • Very Easy

You can also try a scale of 1-5 that drops the “Fairly” responses or a 3-point scale where the choices are Difficult, Neither, and Easy. Those might be better approaches if you don’t get a good response rate from a 7-point range, which could signal that your customers are having trouble parsing the difference between answers like Fairly Easy, Somewhat Easy, and Very Easy. If they struggle with deciding how to respond, they could decide not to bother.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), as its name implies, measures customers’ satisfaction with a product or service, including support interactions. Like CES, you can use a 5- or 7-point range from Very Unsatisfied to Very Satisfied (or variations on that, such as Awful to Great), as well as a simple 3-point range: Unsatisfied, Neutral, and Satisfied.

There’s no industry standard for measuring CES and CSAT, but the conventional wisdom is that you should average the responses and/or look at the median score, if you’re worried about very low or very high scores skewing the average. Anything above a 5 on a 1-7 scale, or above a 4 on a 1-5 scale, means you’re on the right track.

If you use a 3-point scale, you might want to take an approach similar to the one NPS uses: toss out the 2s (Neutral) and subtract the percentage of 1s (Difficult) from the percentage of 3s (Easy) to create a range of -100 to +100. As with NPS, a score above zero is good, +50 is excellent, and +70 or more is “Wow, people are thrilled with us!”

2. Use Sentiment Analysis to track customers’ tone in the emails they send to you

While many people like to interact with businesses on social media, they still use email and are likely to communicate with your business that way too. However, it can be hard to decipher how they feel, especially if a message is nuanced and people in your company who read it may disagree whether it’s net positive or net negative. And sarcasm, such as “Wow, great job taking a week to send my order,” can sometimes be hard to figure out.

That’s where you can use Sentiment Analysis, which uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to process the raw text in the emails sent by your customers. Then it uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to add a layer of emotion decoding, tone determination, and overall sentiment output. It’s useful for giving you an objective view of how your customers feel, without the bias people naturally bring to any situation.

You should use Sentiment Analysis in conjunction with survey emails to determine how your customers currently feel about your company overall, or a specific product or service, and then track the changes over time. Sentiment Analysis is a good way to add nuances to the data produced by surveys – for example, people may seem happy overall based on their survey responses, but a deeper dive might reveal a specific trouble spot to hone in on, such as lengthy shipping times.

Admittedly, Sentiment Analysis is much trickier to implement than survey emails, so you should do plenty of homework and spend time researching the available tools before creating a proposal for your engineering team.

3. Decide when to send surveys and how to act on the results from them and Sentiment Analysis

Create a strategy for sending your 1-question NPS, CES, and CSAT surveys, which should be triggered by certain actions, such as:

  • Key milestones
    • Time elapsed since sign-up (30 days, 60 days, etc.)
    • Actions taken in an app (the Xth time they’ve done something, for example)
    • User onboarding completion
  • Shortly after an order has been received, to give them time to form an opinion about a product
  • Immediately after a customer support or other 1-on-1 interaction, when their feelings are still fresh in their minds
  • When customers are considered churned, either by canceling their accounts or lapsing their activity for a certain period of time
  • When customers’ status changes in some meaningful way, such as on-and-off customers becoming more regular in their patterns or vice-versa
  • Just before and right after a renewal date, or when you issue a major release or announce important news

If you use multiple survey metrics, each one should have a specific purpose. While you can, for example, use NPS to gauge how a customer felt about a support experience (“How likely are you to recommend our company to others after your customer support call today?”), you should maintain consistency and always use it that way. One way to look at NPS, CES, and CSAT is like this:

  • Send out an NPS survey once or twice a year to get a big-picture view of how customers feel about your company.
  • Send a CES survey when a customer takes an action that can be a pain point for many people, such as calling your customer support phone number.
  • Send a CSAT survey to see how customers feel after receiving a product, or after you release a software update.

As you begin tracking survey scores and potentially adding Sentiment Analysis to the overall picture, decide how you will respond to your findings, such as:

  • Rewarding happy customers, and reactivating churned ones, with incentives or other kinds of offers
  • Addressing a thorny problem area with an announcement: “We’ve heard your dissatisfaction with our shipping times and we’re pledging to reduce them,” for example
  • Handling different customer cohorts in specific ways: For example, you might find that customers who live in certain areas have different needs than customers in other areas
  • Making changes to products and/or services
  • Altering your strategy for triggered and/or promotional emails – your customers may feel spammed, they may want to hear from you more, or perhaps you’re missing an opportunity to email them at a crucial juncture in their customer journey

If you see discrepancies in the data, such as strong NPS and CES numbers but weak CSAT scores, probe deeper to understand why. You might want to send follow-up surveys to customers who answered in seemingly contradictory ways. It’s possible that they are happy with your company except for a specific thing that they’re unsatisfied with. Then figure out a way to fix the problem with that cohort.

Over time, you should see an increase in customer loyalty and a decrease in churn. If not, you may want to try an in-depth survey with an incentive attached (a chance to win one of several gift cards, for example) to get at the root of the problem.

~ Erica

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What it’s Like to be a New Mom at SparkPost http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/new-mom-sparkpost/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/new-mom-sparkpost/#respond Wed, 21 Aug 2019 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46965 New MomIn honor of National Breastfeeding Month Technical Product Manager, Haley Solomon, shares her experience as a new mom at SparkPost.?

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In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, I wanted to share my experience as a breastfeeding mama at SparkPost.

A company’s attitude about breastfeeding can make a huge difference in a woman’s breastfeeding journey. Federal law requires that new mothers be permitted time and a private location to express milk while at work, but there is a difference between companies that “do it because they have to” and companies that truly are trying to enable and encourage breastfeeding. Coming back from parental leave is hard enough without having to worry about needing to assert your right to pump and any potential backlash. I wanted to share my top 4 reasons why I think SparkPost is a great place for new moms to work:

  1. Wellness Room: When SparkPost was designing the layout for its new Maryland office a year and a half ago, there was some extra space that was considered for a variety of uses. In the end, SparkPost decided to turn this into a dedicated Wellness Room, for breastfeeding moms to use as well as any other employees who need a little quiet time. Federal law requires “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk”– but that can be interpreted in so many different ways. Having a dedicated room with a comfy chair, sink, and refrigerator makes pumping a little less sucky (see what I did there? ?? ).? I also love having lockers to store my pump, which means I don’t have to lug it back and forth to work every day. The Wellness Room also happens to be conveniently located right next to the kitchen (see #4 below!).
  2. Remote Work: With most employees split between our two offices in Columbia, MD and San Francisco, as well as a fair number of other remote employees, conference calls are the norm for meetings at SparkPost. Call-in information is included in nearly every meeting invite you receive. This means that even if a meeting happens to fall during my pumping time, I can participate by dialing in from the wellness room. I don’t need to ask for the meeting to be rescheduled, and it’s not an extra burden on the meeting organizer to set up a call since it’s so ubiquitous. I just double (and triple!) check that my camera isn’t on.
  3. Flexible Hours: I’ve heard tales of moms pumping in the car to and from work in order to be able to get enough pumping time without completely disrupting their day. Since SparkPost has flexible hours, I can get my first pump in at home before driving to work, meaning I have one fewer disruption during the day.
  4. Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! Last but certainly not least, SparkPost provides unlimited snacks for employees! Pop culture loves to make jokes about pregnant women being hungry all the time, but the same can be said about breastfeeding women, who generally need an additional 450-500 calories per day. SparkPost has a constant supply of healthy snacks on hand, like greek yogurt, fruit, bagels, and cheese sticks. And there’s also the candy bowl for the days you just really need something sweet.?

-Haley Solomon, Technical Product Manager

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9 Factors You Should Consider When Selecting an Email Vendor [Infographic] http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/infographic-9-factors-consider-selecting-email-vendor/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/infographic-9-factors-consider-selecting-email-vendor/#respond Mon, 19 Aug 2019 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46941 email vendorDiscover which factors matter most when "grading" email platforms with our new infographic: 9 Factors You Should Consider When Selecting an Email Vendor.

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Whether you’re picking an email delivery vendor for the first time, or reevaluating your current provider there is no shortage of information out there to consider. To make an educated decision you not only have to learn all of the industry jargon (can you say Simple Mail Transfer Protocol 5 times fast?), but also sift through the biased reviews left behind by the email marketers of yesteryear. Once you’ve done all of that, you’ll have to narrow down the choices based on which factors are most important to your organization. But, what should those factors be?

In order to help you identify which factors you should use to “grade” email vendors and ultimately make the decision that is best for your business, we created the below infographic: 9 Factors You Should Consider When Selecting an Email Vendor. We hope that this infographic makes your selection process more streamlined and maybe just a little prettier!

While this infographic is certainly a helpful tool in its own right, we recommend using it in tandem with our brand new Buyer’s Guide to Email Delivery Platforms! The guide provides:

  • New trends in email technologies
  • Changes in email over the last 5 years
  • The core elements of email delivery
  • Questions you should ask email providers that you’re evaluating
  • Updated data, privacy and regulatory laws to be aware of
  • A comparison of features across the most reputable email providers

As a driver of nearly 18% of all business revenue, there is absolutely no doubt that email is integral to not only your business but likely your competitors’ as well. With such a great impact on your bottom line, it’s imperative that you select the right email provider the first time (or if you’re reevaluating your current provider…THIS time). More than that, email is often one of the primary ways customers choose to get in contact with businesses. With such a close relationship to the customer experience, email can be make-or-break for customers’ perception of your company. That’s a lot of pressure riding on your email platform!

The good news is that between our Buyer’s Guide and infographic…you’ve got this! We hope that these tools make selecting a provider a little less daunting. It’s time to start your decision-making process, good luck (not that you need it) and happy sending!

email buyer's guide

~ Erica

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Spam Traps: Break it Down http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/spam-traps-break-down/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/spam-traps-break-down/#respond Fri, 16 Aug 2019 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46926 spam trapsFind and fix issues faster with our breakdown of spam traps now available as part of our Spam Trap Monitoring feature inside of SparkPost Signals.

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Spam traps are email addresses that look real but aren’t. Instead, they are used by mailbox providers, blacklist providers and filtering providers as a way to measure the quality of a sender and as a way to catch spammers.

Sending to spam traps can damage your reputation and result in your mail being blocked or placed in the spam folder.

At SparkPost, we know how important email delivery is to your business, and we want to help you succeed. Back in January of this year, we rolled out Spam Trap Monitoring with a superset of existing networks, giving us the broadest visibility across both commercial and non-commercial spam trap networks in the world. In addition, we created automated processes that constantly discover new spam traps so we can provide the most accurate information.

But just knowing how many traps you’ve hit may not give you enough to find the source of your problem, whether it be low-quality sources, no validation, or bad list hygiene.

To help you dig further, we’ve added a breakdown of the type of traps you’re hitting to help you find and fix any issues.

Spam trap types

Knowing which type of spam trap you’re hitting helps you find where your email program may have an issue.
Starting today, you’ll see traps broken down by type: recycled, typo, and parked.

Recycled traps are email addresses that once were real, but have been converted into a spam trap. If you have these on your list it’s probably a sign you need to clean out old unengaged recipients. You can look at your engagement recency cohorts (EU) to see if you are sending to a lot of unengaged recipients.

Typo traps are email addresses hosted on a domain that looks like a real mailbox provider, like gmal.com. These usually get onto your list when a real person tries to sign up but “fat fingers” their email address and accidentally adds a trap instead. These addresses signal that you should work to improve your enrollment process. Using a tool like Recipient Validation can help solve this problem.

Lastly, are parked emails. These are email addresses hosted by a parked domain provider. These addresses can point to list quality issues, though they will not affect your reputation.

Our customers have asked about this after we first launched Signals, and we’re really happy that we get to release this today. So jump into the app (EU) now to find what types of traps you’re sending to! With just a few small changes, you can see improvements in your list quality.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback. Send us an email to product@sparkpost.com if you have any thoughts or suggestions for Spam Trap Monitoring or other Signals features.

Happy sending!

—Avi, Technical Product Manager
@theavigoldman


?? Special thanks to George Schlossnagle, Daeyon Griffin, Michael Curtis, Aaron Shen, Brian Kemper, Cole Strode, Tonya Gordon and to all the Product, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams

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5 Ways to Optimize Your Financial Services Emails for Mobile Devices http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-ways-optimize-financial-services-emails-mobile-devices/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-ways-optimize-financial-services-emails-mobile-devices/#respond Wed, 14 Aug 2019 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46912 mobile devicesDiscover 5 ways to ensure that your financial services emails are opened, read, and acted on by customers receiving them on mobile devices.

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Mobile devices account for 42% of email opens, according to a Litmus analysis of 10 billion email opens. In addition, Litmus found that 61% of emails opened on mobile are read for more than 8 seconds, a percentage that’s been on the rise since 2015, and the average reading time is 13.4 seconds, a 29% jump during the past 7 years.

However, if your emails aren’t optimized for display on mobile devices, your carefully crafted messages will likely be for naught: An email that doesn’t render correctly on a mobile device is likely to be deleted in 3 seconds or less, and up to 15% of recipients will simply unsubscribe in such a situation, according to Campaign Monitor.

With that in mind, here are 5 ways to ensure that your financial services emails are opened, read, and acted on by customers receiving them on mobile devices.

1. Implement a responsive email template

A responsive email template automatically adjusts to the recipient’s device when it’s opened, whether they’re on a desktop computer with a large display, an older generation smartphone with a small screen, or anything in between. People with plenty of display real estate won’t mind a non-responsive email template, but those on the other end of the spectrum likely won’t appreciate having to zoom in just to read your message.

If you can’t create a responsive email template just yet, then opt for a scalable template, which uses a single column with large text. It won’t look pretty on a large screen, but it will get the job done on mobile devices.

2. Use preheader (preview) text, but pay attention to the devices used by your subscribers

The text shown below the subject line on Apple Mail for iOS, Gmail for iOS and Android, and other mobile email clients is known as the preheader, or preview, text. If you don’t specify it, your customers will likely see the first several words from the email, which could be the alt-text from the header image, “Click here to view this email online,” or other non-useful information.

Think of this text as a second chance to get people to open your email, if the subject line didn’t quite do the job. Use the preheader to complement your subject line – for example, if you’re pitching an offer, use the subject line to present it and the preheader to emphasize the expiration date or another key selling point.

While your subject line shouldn’t be more than six words, or about 50 characters, you have a little more room with the preheader. Check your analytics and see which mobile email clients are more prevalent among your customers, since Apple Mail for iOS typically displays about twice the amount of preheader text as Gmail for mobile.

However, note that if your preheader text doesn’t fill the space provided by the recipient’s email app, it may pull in the first several words from the email to occupy the gap. To stop that from happening, check out the hack explained by Litmus – it adds white space after your preheader text to ensure that it’s all your customers see.

3. Keep your content lightweight

While mobile email reading times are on the rise, that 13.4-second average still isn’t much time to engage customers and get them to take action. Use short paragraphs that are just a sentence or two, with a few bullet points that convey key value props or other important information. Your fonts should be large enough to read on small screens – make sure you use ones that are broadly supported by the major email apps.

Don’t be afraid to use multiple CTA (call-to-action) buttons. You might want to include one in the middle, if your email is a little long, and don’t forget to make the buttons big enough that the user can easily tap them with a finger from the same hand holding their device. Your CTAs should complete the phrase “I want to…”, such as “Apply Now” or “Check My Account Balance.”

Keep your image file sizes down, since not everyone has access to fast download speeds and you don’t want to take up too much of their data plans. High-def images are perfect for logos and other key visuals, but the rest of the pictures can likely be lower-def and still look fine on a mobile screen. Make sure all of your images have alt-text, since many email clients turn off images by default.

This email from Paypal is a good example of a mobile-optimized message.

  • The text is short and to the point, with no more than 2 lines in any section.
  • You could read just the 3 sub-heads and get enough information to decide whether to tap that nice big CTA button, which is centered at the bottom.
  • The photos are nice but aren’t needed to understand the email.
  • The subject line, “[First Name], 3 Ways We’ve Made Shopping Easier,” is short and to the point.

4. Consider when you send your emails

Litmus’s state of email engagement report also notes some differences in the best time to send email, depending on which platform is dominant among your customer base. This is important because if you send a message when your audience isn’t likely to be checking their email, your email could end up way down their inbox when they download their messages.

Litmus says the difference also depends on where your customers live:

  • United States: While webmail and desktop opens start dropping after 5 pm, mobile opens are fairly steady between 8 am and 10 pm.
  • United Kingdom: Desktop opens are highest at 9 am but have a little jump between 2 and 3 pm, while webmail is fairly steady throughout the day. Mobile opens are heaviest between 5 and 7 pm.
  • Canada: Desktop and webmail opens peak at 9 and 10 am while mobile usage is heaviest between 9 and 11 am.
  • Germany: Opens on all 3 platforms are strongest between 8 and 10 am. While desktop opens start to decline around 5 pm, webmail and mobile opens experience a bounce around that time before starting to drop into the evening.
  • Spain: Mobile and desktop opens are neck-and-neck between 9 and 10 am. Both of them drop after that but bounce up again between 4 and 6 pm. Webmail opens are steady throughout the day.
  • Australia and New Zealand: Mobile opens have a morning spike at 7 am and another one between 3 and 6 pm. Desktop peaks between 8 and 10 am before declining for the rest of the day while webmail is steady all day.

5. Test your emails on a variety of mobile devices and optimize your landing pages, too

Even if you use a responsive email template, you’ll still want to test your messages on as many kinds of mobile devices and in as many apps as possible. There could be quirks in your code that might create issues.

In addition to making sure your links work, check their destinations on mobile too. Your landing pages should also use responsive design.

Deep links into specific places in an app are possible too – see this article in our Help Center to learn more.

~ Casey

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The Current State of Automated IP Warmup? http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/current-state-automated-ip-warmup/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/current-state-automated-ip-warmup/#respond Mon, 12 Aug 2019 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46871 Automated IP WarmupRead about some of the great results we’ve seen with our feature: Automated IP Warmup, designed to make adding a new dedicated IP a breeze!

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Checking in on one of our newest products that makes email easy.

Early in 2019, SparkPost released an Automated IP Warmup feature designed to make adding a new dedicated IP a breeze. We wanted to circle back around and share some of the great results we’ve seen with this product so far. First things first, if you’ve used the Automated IP Warmup feature or are thinking about using it in the future, I’d love to have a quick chat. Feel free to book me for a quick fifteen minutes to learn more or share your story.

Since releasing this feature, we’ve been able to warm hundreds of dedicated IP addresses with great results. As I’m writing this message, some 1,200 IPs are in the warmup process! Some of our customers have used the feature to warm up to just a couple thousand messages a day while others have gone all the way to stage 22 – that’s 1.75 million messages a day through their IP!

The really exciting part is that the deliverability and health metrics of these young IPs are just as good as the IPs that already exist in the pool! That means that we’ve been able to hone in on a good warm up pattern for most dedicated IPs. Whether you’re just getting started with email, growing your volume, adding a new stream, swapping out IPs, or transferring your traffic to SparkPost – we think you’re going to have a great experience!

We’ve gone through and taken a closer look at a couple accounts to see how their IPs are performing. Here are some great examples of a recent set of IPs that have been added and went through the Automated Warmup Process:

Sender A maintains a dedicated IP to alert customers of critical notifications. To add redundancy to their system, this sender added a second dedicated IP to their critical notifications IP Pool. At the time of writing this blog, the newly added IP is in stage 9 of warmup – capable of sending 50,000 emails per day before falling back solely to the warm IP. Here are the results of how the existing IP and the newly added IP are performing within the same pool for the last 25,000 messages:

Accepted % Hard Bounce % Soft Bounce % Block Bounce % Undetermined Bounce % Open %
Existing IP 98.28% 0.91% 0.40% 0.23% 0.19% 82.21%
Newly Added IP 98.33% 0.96% 0.36% 0.20% 0.15% 83.46%

 

Sender B added two dedicated IPs to an existing pool that previously only had one dedicated IP. Both of these newly added IPs have progressed to stage 8; capable of sending up to a combined 80,000 emails before solely relying on the warm IP. Here’s their performance recently:

Accepted % Hard Bounce % Soft Bounce % Block Bounce % Undetermined Bounce % Open %
Existing IP 99.98% 0.02% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 3.76%
1st Newly Added IP 99.97% 0.02% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 3.63%
2nd Newly Added IP 99.98% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 3.97%

 

As you can see, in both situations the newly added IPs are performing just as well as the other IPs in the pool. This is great news and we’re thrilled to share these results.

Even though we’re excited about the results we’re seeing, we’re not done yet. Our goal is to continue to make email easy for our customers. Keep an eye out in the coming months for more posts and continued updates for our Automated IP Warmup product.

Happy Sending,
Harold and Balu

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Going Places…a Reflection on Ten Years at SparkPost http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/going-places-reflection-ten-years-sparkpost/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/going-places-reflection-ten-years-sparkpost/#respond Fri, 09 Aug 2019 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46864 ten yearsOur Vice President of Customer Success, Laura Rose, reflects on her first ten years at SparkPost from her first day until now.

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Off and Away

Ten years ago on a warm August morning, I left my two young daughters at home with my husband and drove to Samuel Morse Drive for my first day at Message Systems.? I was carrying a new yellow Fossil bag and matching wallet and when I entered the building I really felt I had “arrived”. I was making a big step up from the field of IT consulting to a proper software firm!? I couldn’t believe that a company with technical powerhouses like George Schlossnagle and Dave Gray would actually hire me.? After I put my yellow bag on my new desk things moved very fast – my official start time was 10:00 am. All my forms were filled out and I was up and running on a Mac (another exciting step up) as a “Project Manager” by 11:07 am.? Little did I know then that my journey would continue to accelerate for a decade … never slowing down, always speeding up like a rock hurtling into outer space. It’s been an ever-evolving adventure full of excitement and challenges, laughs and tears, and many friends.

Steer Yourself

From the very beginning at Message Systems, I had complete control of my destiny and my customers’ destinies! Nobody told me what to do or how to do it. I had complete autonomy in managing customer relationships and getting things done. I went with what felt right, but I was able to do that and be successful because I knew my values were aligned with our company values. When I think back, though rather scary, this autonomy was an amazing gift and something many people don’t usually get in their career. I learned so much during this time and I found it deeply satisfying and rewarding. In terms of balancing work and home – again it was in my full control – never once was I questioned about hours worked, my availability or my commitment (many working parents are not so lucky).

Bang-Ups and Hang-Ups

I certainly didn’t always get it right and there many were stressful moments – especially when I felt the heavy burden of being the primary subject-matter-expert on customer deployments. In the summer of 2012, while on vacation in Colorado, I had to help resolve a production issue – no one else had the knowledge and experience to orchestrate the fix. That experience taught me the importance of having a solid backup plan, proper communication, and sharing risk. Whenever I made mistakes, I knew I would always be supported by our team and never feared I would be admonished. The focus was only on fixing the problem and how we could do better.

Another Chance

In late 2014 we started the transition to the cloud (the birth of SparkPost) and that’s when I began working as a “Technical Account Manager” (TAM). This was incredibly challenging because we had to figure out how to support customers in the cloud as we went along. We didn’t have a blueprint to follow but again leaned on some of our core values of empathy, transparency, and gratitude to get us through. That strategy served us well and during that time we developed symbiotic relationships with customers like Zillow (we like to call them “partners”) that still exist today.

As our cloud business grew, I took on a Team Lead role and gradually expanded the team of TAMs. What I looked for the most was a shared understanding of how to approach and treat customers – especially in tough situations. Using that strategy I assembled a strong team of TAMs with a great diversity of experiences, skills, and talents – many more than mine alone. Working tightly together we continue to keep our customers on track and moving forward.

In our SparkPost offices, you will find our values posted on the walls. In that physical context, they can seem abstract, but in our day-to-day world, they are very much alive. We try to consider our values in the smallest of exchanges (like how to phrase a response to a common support request) as well as large and complicated matters (like talking to customers about an outage). Perhaps the phrase “living our values” is overused but I believe relationships are built on the little things (saying “thank you”, a smile, a text message with an update, an extra loop around to pass someone’s desk) and I can’t think of a better way it can be described.

A Great Balancing Act

The past decade has seen my girls grow from toddlers to teenagers and fine lines develop at the corners of my eyes. I no longer have my yellow Fossil bag and we’re a SaaS company now. But things only move faster and now I have a new adventure – the role of VP of Customer Success. I’m excited and daunted by this new challenge but I’ll lean on my experiences of the last 10 years and this company that is now part of me.? And for that, I’m truly thankful.

~ Laura

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Why Security Breaches are Personal http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/security-breaches-personal/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/security-breaches-personal/#respond Wed, 07 Aug 2019 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46852 security breachesOur Vice President of Compliance and IT Security, James Sipe, explains why security breaches are more about people than data.

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A few years ago, previous to my current position,? I was recruited for a leadership position in IT Security and Compliance at a large private company. The position was newly created and included PCI and data compliance. As I was going through the interview process, I found that the company was in a post-breach PCI settlement negotiation. They, like many others in their industry, were an ongoing target for bad actors stealing both credit card data and Personal Identifiable Information (PII); and they, like many others, had suffered a significant breach with costly results both in fines and also in time spent remediating.

I later found out that the opportunity I interviewed for and accepted was a direct result of that breach event. The Board of Directors had instructed management to go on a nationwide search for someone who could not only continue to remediate the breach and run the department but also help ensure a breach event was not repeated.

I had arrived well after the beach was cleaned up by third parties hired by the cyber insurance firm but before substantial and needed technology changes were implemented. Like most IT Security professionals it was easy to identify the missing layers and weaknesses within the technology stack. Even without reading the post-breach report, which was inconclusive in its conclusions after the discovery and forensics process, it was obvious that the investment had not been made for many years in ensuring that there was proper visibility and control to combat the present threats and risks.

In the past, all efforts and security had been focused on the PCI environment since as a private company, in their opinion, they didn’t need to protect anything beyond the PCI scope. In fact, that approach led to creating easily exploited weak areas that could allow for lateral movement of escalated privileges and data. It actually made the bad actor’s job easier. Compliance is not security.

In the first 3-4 months, we replaced every piece of security technology with new technology and added tools where needed to create defense in depth.

We concentrated on making the solutions highly integrated, creating wide-ranging viability and alerting, and took advantage of automation.? We consciously balanced preventive tools with detective capabilities instead of one or the other.

Just four months into the job I asked to present a 3-year plan to our Board of Directors that included both a plan for technology and most importantly, a more mature IT governance and controls environment to support those tools.

In my presentation to the Board in the opening statements I said that “this will happen again despite my plan and the improvements.” We could conduct data classification, improve access control, do user education, encrypt data, buy new technology, however, it was extremely likely that an event would still occur in the future. Maybe not a PCI breach but some other kind of breach like PII or other sensitive information. The key was how soon we knew something had happened, how quickly we could react and stop it, and how resilient our technology was to recover from a catastrophic event. In the end, preventing a future breach actually had less to do with technology than you might think.

Having gone through and seen many events over the years including breaches, attacks, criminal activities, insider attacks and negligent behavior, the one common denominator was, and still is, people.

In my experience, you can buy all the shiny new technology, but it’s useless without solid processes and controls in both IT and the business. Breaches and attacks, regardless of if they are from the inside or outside hinge on the behavior of people. No technology can stop a motivated person with enough time and resources. It can prevent the majority but not plurality.

Specifically understanding people in your organization and if they embrace security is everyone’s responsibility. How well trained and aware IT, IT Security, and their internal business partners are; and how knowledgeable they are in identifying an event (“See something, say something”) — all of these things contribute to a low success rate for cyber attacks and breaches. The time from detection to stopping an event is directly related to the cost of that event.

The behavior of your adversaries (also people) and their motivations and their habits are key. Due to time zones, activities that take place in the middle of the night in Washington DC when people are fast asleep are actually happening in the middle of the day in some of the places of the world where concentrations of bad actors and organized crime reside.

Having highly skilled and dedicated security and compliance professionals (people) is essential. My team at that company was dedicated and over time well trained. I was lucky enough to be able to build on that and those people were the frontline defense.

Most importantly the biggest takeaway is a company’s responsibility to its customers (people) and the employees (people). The breach I described above caused a lot of sleepless nights and hard work for the employees but for the people who’s card data was stolen it was personal.

IT Security and Data compliance continues to evolve and become more complex it seems. But the most successful security approaches are focused on the most complex element, the people.

~ James

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How to Set Up SparkPost as Your SMTP Relay http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/setup-sparkpost-smtp-relay/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/setup-sparkpost-smtp-relay/#comments Mon, 05 Aug 2019 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/?p=9878 SMTP relayA step-by-step guide to setting up SparkPost as an SMTP relay. Start sending emails quickly through any preferred email client with ease today!

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  • This blog post was originally published on 06/24/2016 and was updated on 08/05/2019

Note: If you’re using SMTP to route all of your personal mail through SparkPost, awesome! However, be sure to use an email address with a different sending domain (not one associated with your SparkPost account) for your account login. That way, if you ever run into any issues, you’re still able to contact us for help.

You know you need to send email, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time or effort on it — you just want something that works out of the box. It’s not too much to ask! Many frameworks, languages, and tools come with SMTP support, but the last step is the most important – an SMTP server. SparkPost fills that need with SMTP support and a simple setup process.

Today, I’ll be demonstrating how to set up an SMTP relay, so you can use your own email client to send emails from your personal domain. I’ll be using Gmail as my email client and shopwithkindness.org as my sending domain.

Let’s get started!

How to Setup SparkPost as your SMTP Relay

There are a few things you’ll need before setting up an SMTP relay.

  1. A verified sending domain.
  2. An API key with the “Send via SMTP” permission enabled.
  3. An e-mail client or service which allows you to enable SparkPost as your SMTP relay.

For this walkthrough, I’ll be using Gmail. To begin, navigate to the settings.

navigate to the settings button smtp relay

From there, click on the “Accounts” tab.

click on the accounts tab smtp relay how to

Next, click on “Add another email address you own”.

add another email address you own smtp relay how to

In the pop-up menu, enter the (verified) email address and press next. I’d like to be able to send with “vincent@shopwithkindness.org”, so that’s what I type in.

enter the email address you'd like to use smtp relay how to

Then, enter “smtp.sparkpostmail.com” as the SMTP Server,“SMTP_Injection” as the username, and 587 as the port. Your password should be your API key with “Send via SMTP” enabled. This information can be found under Account -> SMTP Relay in your SparkPost dashboard.

enter your username and port smtp relay how to

 

Let’s get started!

Lastly, you’ll need to login to your inbox to confirm. After that, we’re done! Time to send some Shop With Kindness emails.

Other Resources

If it turns out that SMTP isn’t the right email solution for you, consider taking advantage of the SparkPost API. The API has many pros (and cons). Take a look at Dave’s blog for more information regarding the differences between SMTP and API.

Lastly, if you’re having problems setting up an SMTP relay, join our Community Slack channel or?tweet us!

~ Vincent

Dev Survival Guide Blog Footer

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Free Download: The Buyer’s Guide to Email http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/buyers-guide-email/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/buyers-guide-email/#respond Fri, 02 Aug 2019 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46819 Buyer’s Guide to EmailDeciding on an email vendor to deliver your messages doesn't have to be complicated.?Download The?Buyer’s Guide to Email Delivery Platforms today!

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A Guide When Shopping for an Email Delivery Vendor

In the email industry, institutional knowledge in the form of blogs, guides, webinars, etc. can get pretty niche. As email marketers, email deliverability experts, and product professionals, we need and like to dig into the details. However, there’s a lot of information out there which can be daunting to sift through and cumbersome to find the right information to help make a decision on which email vendor will be most helpful for your needs.

That’s why we’ve put together this Buyer’s Guide to Email Delivery Platforms! This free download is a comprehensive guide to email delivery for those just getting started or those looking to reevaluate their current provider. We believe that while delivering email is complicated, deciding on an email vendor to deliver your messages doesn’t have to be.

Who this Guide is for?

This guide is for anyone who is looking for a new email provider or who would like to reassess their current provider. These roles might include (but are not limited to):

  • Email Marketers
  • IT Decision Makers
  • Product Managers

Why Read this Guide?

This Buyer’s Guide to Email Delivery Platforms will provide:

  • New trends in email technologies
  • Changes in email over the last 5 years
  • The core elements of email delivery
  • Questions you should ask email providers that you’re evaluating
  • Updated data, privacy and regulatory laws to be aware of
  • A comparison of features across the most popular email providers

As a driver of nearly 18% of all business revenue, there’s no argument that email is an important channel. It’s also often the primary way that customers experience your brand. That’s a lot of pressure riding on an email service to deliver your emails.

There are so many factors that go into delivering even a single email. When it comes to mass email communication to your customers, partnering with the right email vendor can be the difference between a so-so and great customer experience. Download The?Buyer’s Guide to Email Delivery Platforms now to find out which email delivery service is right for your business.?You owe it to your customers and yourself to get email right!

~ Jen

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7 Reasons to OptIn’19 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/7-reasons-optin19/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/7-reasons-optin19/#respond Wed, 31 Jul 2019 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46804 OptIn'19Head of Marketing, Tracy Sestili, dishes on why our brand new vendor-agnostic conference OptIn'19 is THE email event to attend this year.

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In the past SparkPost has held customer forums where we’ve only invited existing customers to participate. That seemed kind of exclusive and not reflective of our welcoming company culture. This year, we decided to do away with our customer forum and instead offer a vendor-agnostic industry conference where everyone can learn and benefit from the knowledge of industry pros.

I’m super excited to announce OptIn’19: The Email Intelligence Conference, we’re holding at the stunning Carmel Valley Ranch resort in Carmel, California on October 29-30, 2019. We have a great lineup of speakers and panels, a professional vendor-agnostic moderator, and plenty of networking time!

Through the course of the two-day event, we will discuss topics that explore how leveraging data impacts email, the customer experience, and marketing organizations as a whole, as well as email best practices.

Now I want to give you 7 reasons on why you should opt-in to joining us at OptIn’19.

  1. It’s vendor agnostic. We welcome competitors, peers, analysts, practitioners, and anyone else who is interested in email to thrive, learn, and connect with email. In fact, that’s our internal motto (TLC with Email) and we have shirts to prove it!
  2. Professionally moderated. We’ve hired former CNBC and Bloomberg journalist, Cory Johnson, to moderate the panel. He’ll be doing his own research and coming up with his own questions so it should prove to be nothing short of awesome.
  3. Diverse and inclusive. As part of this new initiative, the conference is offering Diversity and Inclusion scholarships. SparkPost is subsidizing two of those and will offer up to six more if sponsors are interested in subsidizing. The scholarship includes full passes, hotel, and airfare. If you’re interested in applying for a free ticket, hotel, and airfare, please apply here.
  4. Network like no one is watching. There’s a bit more time built into the schedule to network with folks you really want to hang out with and get to know better.
  5. Be a part of something that was first. This is the first email intelligence conference and the only conference that is centered around data and the future of email. We can’t wait to geek out with you over data and email. #emailgeeks
  6. Great speakers. We have a great speaker lineup so far with motivational speaker Michelle Poler, data scientist Hilary Mason, and a popular magician on Netflix. We also have speakers from Google, Women of Email, Virtru, 250ok, Kayak, and more.
  7. Carmel Valley Ranch. Need I say more? Not only is it super relaxing but as part of your registration, you get to experience one free activity of your choice. Choose from archery (who doesn’t want to be Katniss Everdeen??),yoga (namaste), cycling, cooking, hiking, and more.

So, what are you waiting for? Early bird registration ends August 16th. And, if you’re interested in an extra $100 off, you can DM me on Twitter for a discount code.

Need to convince your boss? No problem, here’s a letter for you to copy and paste in an email:

Hi {boss’s name}

I’d really like to attend the OptIn’19 the Email Intelligence Conference taking place on October 29-30, 2019, in Carmel, CA. The conference is vendor-agnostic and will be covering how data impacts email, the overall customer experience, and email marketing best practices.

Here are three ways in which I envision my attendance at OptIn ‘19 strengthening {your Company Name}:

  1. Many of the sessions will cover best practices in {list what will increase efficiency, reduce costs, increase engagement, e.g. email deliverability, email security, personalization at scale, Google AMP for email, and general email best practices} —all areas that we need to get up to speed on to grow our business.
  2. Interactive Q & A sessions and keynote addresses from email and data science industry leaders and experts will bring me up to date on new and developing tools, which will help us build a more realistic and cost-effective short and long-term technology plan.
  3. Networking is also highly encouraged, so I’ll have plenty of time to speak with other attendees and speakers about issues and challenges facing similarly-sized companies like ours.

The cost of the event is $899, however, there is an early bird registration discount of $200, which ends August 16th. There will be additional travel and hotel costs, but I’ll do my best to stay within a mutually agreed-upon budget.

I realize that this is a significant funding request, and would be happy to write a post-conference report or blog detailing what I’ve learned, and provide a schedule detailing how to best implement any new changes that I learned. You can learn more about the event at https://events.sparkpost.com/optin19. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns; I do hope we can make this work as I would really like to attend this conference.

Thanks,
{Your Name}

Hope to see you there!

@tracysestili

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How to use Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning in your Email Program http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/natural-language-processing-email/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/natural-language-processing-email/#respond Mon, 29 Jul 2019 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46742 Natural Language ProcessingDiscover how to implement AI-related technologies like Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning into your next email campaign.

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Do we really need to remind anybody about the fact that email (and email marketing) isn’t going anywhere anytime soon? If we did, we’d just flash this study by The Radicati Group on them, containing such zingers as…

By the end of 2019, the number of worldwide email users will increase to over 2.9 billion. Over one-third of the worldwide population will be using email by year-end 2019.

For those of us who work in email? Stats like that are pretty temptacious, as the kids say. But today’s email isn’t your mom or dad’s email. The continuing success of email lies, in large part, to how its ability to evolve. Going mobile put email into a lot more pockets, for instance.?

Now, with the arrival of AI-related technologies, your email campaigns can become even more precise, engaging, and effective than they’ve ever been.

The arrival of email AI? That’s so 2018?

At the end of 2018, PwC said it had surveyed U.S. execs, and found 27% of them claiming to be already implementing AI in multiple areas.?

On the global front, 30% of companies worldwide will be using AI in at least one of their sales processes by 2020. But only 17% of email marketers considering automation tools gave any thought to incorporating AI.

The laggards might not realize the impact AI has already had on the email ecosystem. One very visible example was how Gmail handles email classification using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to filter incoming emails as Primary, Social, or Promotions messages.?

Here’s a pretty good explanation of how NLP does its job, presented as a primer for coders who want to hack up a spam filter. But if you aren’t interested in all the plumbing, that’s cool. One thing worth remembering, though? NLP and machine learning are only branches of the bigger, broader category “AI” and have specific goals.??

  • NLP is intended to read, decipher, understand, and make sense of human language in a manner that’s useful in machine-human interaction.?
  • Machine learning involves the application of algorithms and statistical models so computers can make decisions and perform tasks without explicit instructions by recognizing patterns in data and drawing inferences.

Right now, there are multiple tools and tactics where NLP and machine learning are being put to use to enhance email programs. Let’s look at some of the places where you could integrate them into your campaigns, shall we..?

Testing

With machine learning, you can now execute multi-armed bandit testing. If you’re used to split testing, brace yourself: Now you’ll be able to run tests continuously and put your findings to work immediately. Over time, you’ll gradually optimize your results, and simultaneously be able to test content and messaging while also sending your best-performing variant out to prospects or customers.

How’s it done? You set up a campaign and a few email variations, and machine learning does the rest, running tests throughout your campaign and fine-tuning it on the basis of test data. What can you test? Pretty much anything you’re already testing, from copy to design to images to timing.?

Copywriting

Machine learning and NLP – and its cousin, Natural Language Genration (NLG) – are being leveraged by multiple providers to deliver solutions that can actually generate subject lines and other copy.

Take a company like Persado, for instance: Its “message machine” applies its grasp of natural language to create copy that speaks in the marketer’s “brand voice,” leveraging a huge database of tagged and scored works in 25 languages, a database that evolves over time as machine learning delivers insights (and makes judgments) about which messages hold the most appeal for your target audience.

Touchstone, as another example, compares your subject line against a database of 21 billion emails, as well as industry trends, to predict its likely impression, click and conversion rates.

Rasa.io automated the newsletter creation process, and uses machine learning to optimize content based on each recipient’s behaviors to provide 1:1 personalization that’s “tailored to your subscribers’ unique interests and personalities, without the time it takes to manually curate your emails.”

Engagement

Want to pull off a little real-time content optimization to drive engagement? Cordial says it can “ingest and process customer event, behavior, and purchase data from virtually any source,” so messages can be dispatched across multiple channels, based on up-to-right-this-instant behavioral data. So onboarding, re-engagement campaigns, and other triggered emails can be aligned with what they’re interested in this very moment.

Another way to engage? Add a personal touch. Well, a virtual personal touch: Conversica proudly claims to deliver “personalized human touch at scale” through AI sales assistants that reach out to a user within minutes of him or her showing interest in your brand or inventory via email or SMS.?

If you’re worried the “conversation” reads like robo-copy, they claim the AI “empathizes” effectively by analyzing replies to tailor the right responses.? Moreover, the platform isn’t intended simply for initial engagement or onboarding but can handle routine dialogues throughout the entire customer journey.

Segmentation

For companies investing in customer data management platforms, being able to milk the greatest possible insight and benefits from big data to deliver highly personalized user experiences, especially in email, is an obvious concern.?

A machine learning solution that’s connected to these potentially enormous pools of data can do insightful segmentation in ways no human being – or boiler room full of human beings – ever could, making continual adjustments and uncovering new associations, even generating product new segments where none were visible before.? SimMachines is one of these providers, calling their particular flavor “dynamic predictive segmentation.”?

Predictive delivery

If you haven’t heard of it before, that’s because it’s a new wrinkle in applying machine learning to email. By analyzing the behavior of trillions of emails, predictive analytics and machine learning are able to optimize delivery and the overall health of an email program.

This means real-time insights are available about deliverability and performance issues, problems can be identified before they happen, and data-driven recommendations can be made about how to optimize engagement and performance.? Outages can be avoided – while ROI is maximized.

And if you’ll allow just one self-plug? It’s new to the game because this platform, SparkPost Signals, is the first and only email intelligence platform of its kind in the industry, and we’re proud to be offering it.

It’s an AI-for-email explosion

These are just a few of the areas where AI, NLP, and machine learning are making a present-day impact on email marketing. If you think it’s the tip of the iceberg – or the first trickle through the floodgates – you’d be right.

One way to see how feverish a new technology segment is getting is to see how many companies and startups have hung out a shingle, using investor or job sites like AngelList. Right now, a search for “email AI” there shows over 600 firms in the space, and there’ll be more to come.

In other words, there’ll eventually be an AI add-on for every facet of your email program.? In the meantime? Putting today’s existing AI tools to work already offers plenty of potential for discovering how NLP and machine learning can improve the way you’re using a veteran marketing channel that’s just as leading-edge as ever.

~ Erica

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The Future of Email: Google Commits to BIMI http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/google-commits-bimi/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/google-commits-bimi/#respond Thu, 25 Jul 2019 21:56:01 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46784 bimi emailGoogle commits to BIMI! Learn what BIMI is and how it encourages legitimate brands and senders to adopt email authentication protocols.

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Google has announced support for BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification). As the world’s leading mailbox provider—27.8% of worldwide mailboxes according to Litmus—Gmail can make or break a new email protocol or technology. This is a huge step for the BIMI working group and a sign of even greater things to come. Google is now the second major mailbox provider supporting BIMI. Verizon Media Group (Yahoo!, AOL) was the first, beginning their BIMI trial in 2018.

BIMI is a vendor-neutral standard that allows brands to display a verified logo in the receiver’s inbox next to fully authenticated emails. The intent of BIMI is to incentivize major brands to adopt proper email authentication—DMARC in particular—when sending mass messages to consumers. Senders who put in the effort to implement DMARC are rewarded with the display of their logo, similar to what appears for brands with a Google Plus profile.

Why do we need to “incentivize” this?

While setting up proper authentication as a sender isn’t rocket science, getting DMARC in place takes time, patience, and expertise. DMARC is a standard, open framework that allows brands (aka “senders”) to tell mailbox providers (aka “receivers”) what to do with mail that does NOT pass authentication on the sending domain.

The long-term goal for a sender is to enact a DMARC policy that specifically tells receivers to reject any mail that does not pass authentication checks on the sender’s domain, thus safeguarding against phishing and spoofing attacks which would otherwise appear to be “from” the domain in question. Because large businesses and major brands have many different streams of mail, there is risk involved: millions of emails could be rejected if this isn’t set up just right.

Feeling lost?

If you are new to email authentication, start by learning about SPF and DKIM, the building blocks of DMARC. These specifications are absolutely essential for any legitimate sender, especially if you have multiple different technology vendors sending email of any kind on behalf of your brand.

In addition to the resources linked above, SparkPost has the expert team to get your email up to snuff and on the road to beautifully branded BIMI emails! Contact us to get started today.

-Scott

 

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Life at SparkPost: National Intern Day 2019 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sparkpost-life-national-intern-day-2019/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sparkpost-life-national-intern-day-2019/#respond Thu, 25 Jul 2019 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46697 National Intern DayIn honor of National Intern Day, which falls every year on July 25th, we interviewed our amazing intern team about their experience at SparkPost so far.

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Here at SparkPost, we are so lucky to bring on an awesome team of interns every summer! In honor of National Intern Day, which falls each year on July 25th, we decided to interview our amazing intern team about their experience at SparkPost so far:

Tell us about a project that you were able to work on and the role you played.?

Isaac Luther, Engineering:?I worked on splitting two of our services off from each other. It was a great introduction to many of the services SparkPost uses since I had to set everything up for the new pipeline.

Matt Leifer, Engineering:?I was able to work on a project to create a new testing and validation system. I implemented part of the system, helped test the system, and helped monitor the system once it was rolled out. Being a part of this project during several different stages was an excellent learning experience.

Joseph Borden, Legal:?There are so many projects I could choose from, and all of my projects have
been rewarding! I wish I could share all of the work Jason has me doing, but there would be nothing to read by the time I finish redacting all of the confidential material.???

What’s the coolest new thing you have learned while being at SparkPost?

IL:?I’ve learned a lot about how different factors can affect productivity. My manager, Tim, has shared a lot of knowledge that he’s learned from books with our team, and it’s helped me understand the reasoning behind a lot of decisions.

ML:?I have learned how to work with several AWS services. I did not have much experience with AWS before this summer, and now I am much more familiar with how to use and maintain the services that AWS provides. With how prevalent and widely discussed cloud computing is today, it really has been exciting to work with it on a regular basis.

JB:?Working with Jason has been an invaluable learning experience thus far.? I have learned a plethora of new things, but the coolest has been learning exactly how legal suggestions/choices can positively impact a business.? For example, the use of a particular word or phrase in a contract can save a company thousands— perhaps millions— of dollars.? I knew lawyers could either anchor or sink a company; however, seeing the immediate impact of good lawyering first-hand has been a tremendous practical and learning experience.

What do you like about our culture?

IL:?I loved how close together everybody on my team was! I think everybody eating lunches together—especially in the office on Tuesday and Thursday—helps make a great team and company environment.

ML:?I really appreciate how willing everyone is to help other members of the SparkPost team. I always feel that I can receive help when I need it, and this has made me feel welcomed and comfortable.

Obviously, the office perks, such as the free lunches, are very enjoyable as well.

JB:?I love that SparkPost is inclusive and diverse; it makes for a great, comfortable workspace and environment.? SparkPost’s culture is what attracted me to apply for this internship and was a huge selling point when I decided to accept this internship.? I am happy to say the culture is better than advertised.

Matt – as a returning?intern?– can you share more about your experience coming back?

ML:?It has been a great experience coming back. Being able to start the summer in a familiar setting allowed me to start learning and working from day one. Also, working on projects that were not around last summer has provided me with many opportunities to learn about new technologies and ideas. Lastly, I really enjoy being around the same people as last summer and meeting new team members. Working with the helpful, friendly people of SparkPost every day makes me even happier with my choice to return this summer.

We also asked Isaac, Matt and Joseph’s respective managers to share their thoughts on our internship program as well:

Nate Durant, Technical Manager, Transmissions:?Interns at SparkPost provide a opportunity for not just or interns, but also our engineers.? They bring unique insight and new academic approaches to our team when dealing with technologies like machine learning and quality assurance.? Our interns, both new and returning, have a tangible impact on our products and are by no means limited to internal projects. I always look forward to their time here, and appreciate all their hard work and enthusiasm.

Jason Soni, General Counsel:?As valuable as my own?internship?experience was at SparkPost,?I’ve come to value the program more even more as a manager. ?While it’s certainly great to get some extra?work done around the house and mentor the next?generation of my profession, what I value most is that?interns?challenge “the?way we’ve always done it” mentality and bring fresh new ideas to the company.??Interns?are good at questioning processes and?can often see a better way of doing things that a manager might not.

Happy National Intern Day! Interested in joining our amazing team? Check out our open positions!

~ Michelle

 

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Getting Momentum in the Cloud http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/getting-momentum-cloud/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/getting-momentum-cloud/#respond Mon, 22 Jul 2019 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46723 cloudRead up on the ability to use any of the SparkPost products in a cloud environment either as stand-alone implementations or together as a hybrid solution.?

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This post is about the ability to use any of the SparkPost products in a cloud environment either as stand-alone implementations or together as a hybrid solution.

If you are a long time Momentum or PowerMTA customer deployed on bare metal in your own data center, you can use this guide to determine a path forward to migrating to a cloud service. If you are a new PowerMTA user wanting to deploy to one of the major cloud services, this is a good guide to a successful implementation.

For the past two decades, the Momentum MTA has been one of the fastest, most agile email engines on the planet.? Whether you know it as the original eCelerity MTA, or Message Systems Momentum, or as the core processing engine underpinning SparkPost, the world’s fastest growing cloud email service,? Momentum has had momentum for a long time. (see what I did there?)

?Alongside Momentum there lived another very similar product called PowerMTA (PMTA), which is equally capable and agile as well as being easy to install and support.? Momentum and PowerMTA were competitors for a long time, but several years ago, came together under one roof and now, along with the SparkPost cloud service, form a trio of email delivery engines that can satisfy any email transport need.

SparkPost lives natively in the cloud – it is built entirely on AWS.? Momentum and PMTA can be installed to run in a cloud platform if needed, but there are many things to consider before committing to a forklift into the cloud. There may actually be very good reasons for NOT doing it, so do your research carefully.

Look before you leap

Chris McFadden, our VP of Engineering wrote about our own journey to the cloud last year and made the very good point that many of the factors in your decision are not technology related at all.? Deploying to the cloud involves a new set of paradigms that you may not be ready for. Business processes may need to change and there may be privacy considerations that were not relevant in a bare metal infrastructure.??

Some time ago, our CTO and Co-Founder, George Schlossnagle wrote about some of the unique considerations for deploying email servers in a cloud service.? Cloud tech is designed for autoscaling and push button deployments that are ideal for stateless systems.? If you have a web service in the cloud, that is one thing, but running a stateful MTA on a cloud platform is a whole new ballgame.

When you deploy in your own data center, you control the environment and it is not unusual to see servers with no individual protection because they rely on the network firewall to protect them.? In a cloud deployment, doing that can be fatal. In the land of elastic computing, you need to be particularly diligent with security. It is extremely important to keep up to date with patches and updates.? Make sure your firewall is well maintained and close any open ports you don’t actually use. Deprecate weak ciphers, lock down ACLs, and remove any packages that are not required for the server’s purpose.

The last clear caveat we can offer is to be wary of the cloud provider’s DNS.? Remember that these systems were designed for web services and databases that only make periodic DNS lookups.? High volume email systems may perform millions of DNS lookups every hour and that has a tendency to break things.? Even running your own separate DNS for the unique needs of high volume email can lead to unforeseen problems.

Pick a cloud, any cloud…

There are many major cloud providers and even more lesser-known services to choose from when making the leap from hardware data centers to cloud services.? Even the concept of “cloud” varies between them. Here is a look at the most common ones we encounter working with our customers.

?AWS (Amazon Web Services)

  • We have the most experience here as SparkPost is built entirely in AWS fabric.
  • While you can deliver on port 25, you can only send very small volumes without attracting negative attention.? If you want to send volume mail, you will need explicit approval from AWS
  • AWS includes a marketplace of 3rd party services you can leverage

?GCP (Google Cloud Platform)

  • Google offers a development platform that enables you to build virtual servers in custom environments on the fly similar to Amazon’s EC2
  • Cannot deliver on port 25 without explicit approval
  • Marketplace of 3rd party services

?Azure (Microsoft’s cloud app platform)

  • ?Azure came later to the party, but has an equally refined tool set.
  • Similar offering to AWS and GCP including a marketplace of 3rd party services
  • Cannot deliver on port 25 without explicit approval

SAP, IBM, Digital Ocean, and VMWare Vsphere round out the list of common cloud environments we hear customers using.

There are some things to remember when moving (forklifting) from a hardware data center to cloud services. As you design your platform deployment, keep these in mind. Tackling these issues during your planning phase will save you a ton of stress and frustration in the long run.? For instance, you may find that your chosen cloud provider denies you access to port 25 under any circumstance.? In that case you need to change providers or consider a SaaS solution like SparkPost instead.

  1. Delivery over port 25 is limited or non-existent,
  2. 1 physical CPU != to 1 virtual CPU.
  3. IPs and MACs tend to change periodically; for instance, with AWS EC2, you have to allocate “elastic IPs” to be bound to your instances (or load balancers) to get stable addresses.
  4. Inter-node communication is not the same in the cloud

Before you decide on a cloud host, make sure you can actually deliver email from it.? Apply for any exception you need in advance because you may be denied – no matter how big a deal you think you are, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are probably bigger.

Get full cost details on not only the compute instance that matches your needs, but also any additional charges for vCPUs, RAM, storage, in-bound bandwidth, outbound bandwidth, static IPs, and billing frameworks.? Each provider calls these something slightly different, but they exist and are often hidden costs unless you do the research.

?A case study

When building out a basic*?Momentum server, we recommend 8 cores, 32 GB RAM, and 600 GB of storage. Keep in mind that 1 physical CPU is NOT equal to 1 vCPU. When calculating virtual server sizes, each vCPU = 1 core.? We specifically quote our requirements in CORES for this reason. If you are building a cluster, you will want to enclose the instances inside virtual private cluster (vpc) with an attached elastic IP so you can control the public-facing IP without concern over whether the compute instance IPs change.? In the AWS universe, an M3 medium instance or larger is typically required.

?One interesting thing that the cloud host providers do not highlight, but has been our experience is that you can expect to see 20 to 30% less throughput in the cloud than with bare metal.? For instance, the Momentum deployment mentioned above should operate at ~1 million messages per hour on a physical server, but you should only expect 700,000/hour in a cloud host. This means you need to “supersize” your server deployment plan and overcompensate in the design.

?One last factor to consider is bandwidth cost.? Cloud host providers charge for outbound bandwidth just like most physical data centers do, but the cost calculations may differ from your expectation.? In addition, you may find that some bandwidth is exempt from billing. With Amazon, much of the bandwidth used within a region is not billed, though inter-AZ and inter-VPC is, and that can add up. If your message generation and delivery nodes are in the same region and you are running out of a single VPC, then you may see significant savings.? However, if your message generation is in the Ohio region and your delivery engines are in Oregon, you may find yourself paying bandwidth fees between those systems adding potentially unexpected costs.

?The above has been particularly important to our customers who use both our on-premises and SaaS solutions in a hybrid.? A customer moving their PowerMTA or Momentum cluster to the cloud and also wanting to use SparkPost SaaS delivery as a failover or alternate channel should be deployed in the same region as our SparkPost deployment for that part of the world.? The cost savings can be significant.

?We recently produced a webinar discussing this and also have blogged about our own journey to the cloud.? Here are some interesting links to those resources for some further reading.

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/hidden-challenge-building-cloud-mta/

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/cloud-migration/

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/this-is-my-architecture/

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/dns-aws-network-lessons/

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/configuration-management-and-provisioning/

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/devops-journey-deployment-automation/

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/undocumented-limit-dns-aws/

https://www.usenix.org/conference/srecon18americas/presentation/blosser

http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/build-scalable-email-infrastructure/

*?A “basic” Momentum install is designed to delivery 1Million message per hour from a bare metal server assuming a 50k payload and 10Gb NIC.? A full hardware recommendation guide is available on request.

~ Tom

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The Risks of Sending Email to Inactive Users http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sending-email-to-inactive-users/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/sending-email-to-inactive-users/#respond Fri, 19 Jul 2019 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46736 sending email to inactive usersOur SVP of Deliverability Strategy, Kate Nowrouzi, discusses the business risks associated with sending email to inactive users.

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When we onboard enterprise customers here at SparkPost, one of the topics we cover is list hygiene: removing inactive users from your mailing list. The definition of “inactive” really varies by email type (marketing, welcome, transactional) and industry (finance, marketing, employment, etc). For example “inactive” in the employment industry could be six months or more, meaning if a user seeking a new job has not opened or clicked on a piece of email sent by your company in half a year, they are considered inactive. But, for a company like Pinterest inactive could be 12 months, as some users might only check Pinterest during the winter months to get outfit ideas for their company’s annual holiday party. So, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to defining “inactive” in the email marketing world.

The challenge is to convince the CRM team to remove inactive users as there can be push back since many see each email address a possible source of revenue. But, the risks of sending to a large population of inactive users are greater than keeping them for the sake of possible revenue.

Here’s why:

  1. ISPs turn old email addresses with no activity into spam traps after 12 months. Hitting too many traps will result in a lower IP/ domain reputation.
  2. Major ISPs take engagement into consideration for inbox placement. If a high percentage of the email addresses on your list have zero open rates in the past 12 months, this is an indication of poor list hygiene which will result in heavy spam foldering.

The truth is if you are sending email to the people who want to receive them, they have a higher chance of engaging with your emails. If they are not opening your emails, even if they signed up for them at some point, it means they are no longer interested. There is little benefit to keeping sending them on your list because there is a high chance that they will get annoyed with your company and could report your email as spam. A high complaint rate will damage your reputation. And, even if there is a small chance that a low percentage of these subscribers will open an email after 12 months of inactivity, the risks of hitting a trap are much greater than the revenue that can be generated from that user.

~ Kate

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Email Emojis: When & When Not To Use Them http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/email-emojis/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/email-emojis/#respond Wed, 17 Jul 2019 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/?p=10869 email emojisEmojis in email subject lines are becoming a "thing" - but are they the right strategy? Here are some tips on when you should use emojis, how to use emojis and some examples of what to do and what not to do.

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  • This blog post was originally published on 09/28/2016 and was updated on 07/17/2019

With the popularity of? Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn’s reactions, Twitter, and text messaging, everyone is expressing themselves with emojis these days. In fact, 53% of Millenials believe using emojis and text together allow people to better understand each other. This?may be why you’re seeing more email emojis in subject lines lately. But is it the right strategy for your email marketing program?

Tips for using email emojis:

  • Be sure you have an emoji that is relevant to your message. For example, Home Depot falls flat when they use falling leaves to signify (I think) the fall season. It’s weak and lacks relevance. Yet, Recchiuti uses a chocolate chip cookie when talking about cookie recipes they crave – very relevant

Bad example
Bad example of email emojis - HomeDepotGood Example
Good example emojis in email - Recchiuti Cookie Emoji

  • Use if your message would benefit from some emotion being added to it. For example, VRBO adds a generic smiley with shades but it’s the effect when you see it in your inbox reminds you that you want to go on vacation somewhere

?Good Example
VRBO uses emojis in email

  • Do use when you think your audience will be able to relate. For example, I’m a big Reddit fan, but Reddit doesn’t use an emoji in their email every time. They use it sparingly. In this example, Reddit uses the apple emoji and the detective emoji when communicating to their audience that a teacher posed undercover as a student on his first day of teaching high school.
    ? ? ? ? ? ?

Good ExampleReddit uses emojis in email

  • Make sure your emoji is legible.?The devices we read email on can be small and emojis are even smaller. For example, Williams-Sonoma uses the number five in a circle, but it’s so small that it looks like a black blob. Not until you open the email can you actually see what it was supposed to be.

WilliamsSonoma-email emojiWilliamsSonoma Email Emoji

  • Don’t overuse email emojis. For example, Last Call Neiman Marcus not only sends generic and not very relevant emojis, but they tend to do it often. The first time I saw it, their message stood out in my inbox. But now, I don’t even notice it.

Neiman Marcus email emojis

  • Be sure to TEST IT. Not all email clients accept the use of emojis in email subject lines and sometimes emojis can trigger spam filters or worse, look like?□ this. Be sure to test your email before sending it out to the masses.

How do you add emojis to your email subject lines?

Believe it or not, you can just copy and paste your emoji into your subject line. Not all email programs are created equal so not all of them will work with emojis.

Here are a few resources you can try in your next subject line.

See you online!
~ Tracy

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The Differences Between Using SMTP or API with SparkPost http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/differences-sending-smtp-api/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/differences-sending-smtp-api/#respond Mon, 15 Jul 2019 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/?p=9790 SMTPSending email through SparkPost can be done through SMTP or using our API. We'll take you through the pros and cons of each method with some examples.

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  • This blog post was originally published on 06/10/2016 and was updated on 7/15/2019

Sending email through SparkPost to your subscribers and/or customers can be done two different ways: using our API, or sending via SMTP. The deciding factor will usually be some combination of convenience for your use case, availability/cost of coding/hardware resources, and the relative priority for your business of things like sending speed and ease of migration.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. Naturally, we think our API is pretty great, and that it has advantages over SMTP, otherwise, we wouldn’t have it. Offering SMTP in addition to our API lets us support a wider range of use cases. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons for both SMTP and our API, as well as examples of each approach.

Sending via SMTP with SparkPost

Sometimes SMTP is the only choice that makes sense, given your constraints. Maybe your legacy system uses SMTP, and nobody is available to write the code to send via API instead. SMTP lowers the friction for this migration path. Common steps such as modifying existing messages by adding a?custom header to set the campaign for different message streams, or enabling open/click tracking tend to be significantly less effort than starting to use a new API.

Which is a nice segue to show a pro/con list for sending with SMTP:

SMTP PROS:

  1. Platform-agnostic – SMTP is accepted everywhere
    • If you want to migrate again, it’ll be easier
  2. You have full control over your “mail merge” process
    • Can generate messages however you like
    • Continue to use existing tools
  3. SMTP failures are in-band and always include context
    • Failed command and error code tell you what failed and why

SMTP CONS:

  1. SMTP is not accepted FROM everywhere
    • Some environments’ firewalls block ports commonly used for SMTP
  2. You have to build your own “mail merge” messages
    • MIME and the?various email RFCs can be tricky
    • This has a resource (hardware & bandwidth) cost, especially for bulk sends
  3. SMTP is a chatty protocol
    • Each message requires several round trips to our servers
    • This adds up to longer bulk send times

Here’s an example of injecting some test content into SparkPost with SMTP, using?swaks. The API key you substitute below will need the

Send via SMTP
?permission, or authentication will fail with
535 5.7.8 Sorry.
?.

$ export SPARKPOST_API_KEY=YSBmYWtlIGFwaSBrZXksIG1hZGUgeW91IGxvb2sh
$ swaks --server smtp.sparkpostmail.com:587 \
	--auth-user SMTP_Injection --auth-password $SPARKPOST_API_KEY \
	--to you@test.com.sink.sparkpostmail.com --from you@sp.test.com \
	--h-Subject 'smtp via sparkpost'
=== Trying smtp.sparkpostmail.com:587...
=== Connected to smtp.sparkpostmail.com.
<-  220 2.0.0 smtp.sparkpostmail.com ESMTP ecelerity 4.2.21.55447 r(Core:4.2.21.2) Wed, 08 Jun 2016 15:55:19 +0000
	-> EHLO test
<-  250-momentum1.platform1.us-west-2.aws.cl.messagesystems.com says EHLO to 54.244.54.135:52798
<-  250-ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES
<-  250-STARTTLS
<-  250-PIPELINING
<-  250-8BITMIME
<-  250-AUTH=LOGIN PLAIN
<-  250 AUTH LOGIN PLAIN
	-> AUTH LOGIN
<-  334 VXNlcm5hbWU6
	-> U01UUF9JbmplY3Rpb24=
<-  334 UGFzc3dvcmQ6
	-> WVNCbVlXdGxJR0Z3YVNCclpYa3NJRzFoWkdVZ2VXOTFJR3h2YjJzaA==
<-  235 2.0.0 Authed. Go on.
	-> MAIL FROM:<you@sp.test.com>
<-  250 2.0.0 MAIL FROM accepted
	-> RCPT TO:<you@test.com.sink.sparkpostmail.com>
<-  250 2.0.0 RCPT TO accepted
	-> DATA
<-  354 3.0.0 continue.  finished with "\r\n.\r\n"
	-> Date: Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:55:20 -0600
	-> To: you@test.com.sink.sparkpostmail.com
	-> From: you@sp.test.com
	-> Subject: smtp via sparkpost
	-> X-Mailer: swaks v20130209.0 jetmore.org/john/code/swaks/
	->
	-> This is a test mailing
	->
	-> .
<-  250 2.0.0 OK 7D/49-16644-7EF38575
	-> QUIT
<-  221 2.3.0 momentum1.platform1.us-west-2.aws.cl.messagesystems.com closing connection

Sending with the SparkPost API

We like our API, and we hope you like it too. We think you should use it, as there are quite a few advantages over SMTP for many use cases, for example, triggering mail directly from your app’s server-side code. Besides, with a paid account you’re really not getting as much as you could for your money without offloading everything from your systems onto SparkPost that you can, which the API allows you to do.

API PROS:

  1. HTTP is allowed by all but the most restrictive firewalls
  2. Generation AKA “mail merge” is handled by SparkPost
    • Removes load from your servers
    • Can mean generation hardware/horsepower is no longer needed
  3. One connection round trip per API call
    • No per-message latency
  4. Async sending and concurrency is handled by SparkPost
    • Up to 10k message batches for best performance
    • Reduces complexity (AKA things to break) in your app

API CONS:

  1. Using our HTTP API means writing code
  2. Replacing in-house generation may require refactoring
    • Things like pre-processing data to format dates differently
  3. Stats are generally out-of-band
    • Some sending errors are in-band (invalid email, for example)
    • Others require processing event data one of two ways:
  4. For larger sends (10k+ recipients) batching or concurrency is recommended
    • This is a performance sweet spot, not a hard limit

Here’s an example with the same test content as above, using cURL. The API key you substitute below will need the

Transmissions: Read/Write
?permission, or the API call will fail with
HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
, and
{"errors": [ {"message": "Forbidden."} ]}
? in the body.

$ export SPARKPOST_API_KEY=YSBmYWtlIGFwaSBrZXksIG1hZGUgeW91IGxvb2sh
$ curl -v -X POST -H "Authorization: $SPARKPOST_API_KEY" \
	--data '{
	"recipients": [
	{
		"address": {
		"email": "you@test.com.sink.sparkpostmail.com"
		}
	}
	],
	"content": {
	"text": "This is a test mailing",
	"subject": "api via sparkpost",
	"from": "you@sp.test.com"
	}
}' https://api.sparkpost.com/api/v1/transmissions
**   Trying 52.34.195.233...
** Connected to api.sparkpost.com (52.34.195.233) port 443 (#0)
** TLS 1.2 connection using TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256
** Server certificate: *.sparkpost.com
** Server certificate: RapidSSL SHA256 CA - G3
** Server certificate: GeoTrust Global CA
> POST /api/v1/transmissions HTTP/1.1
> Host: api.sparkpost.com
> User-Agent: curl/7.43.0
> Accept: */*
> Authorization: YSBmYWtlIGFwaSBrZXksIG1hZGUgeW91IGxvb2sh
> Content-Length: 312
> Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
>
** upload completely sent off: 312 out of 312 bytes
< HTTP/1.1 200 OK
< Cache-Control: no-cache, no-store
< Content-Type: application/json
< Date: Wed, 08 Jun 2016 17:53:12 GMT
< Server: msys-http
< Vary: Accept
< Content-Length: 109
< Connection: keep-alive
<
** Connection #0 to host api.sparkpost.com left intact
{ "results": { "total_rejected_recipients": 0, "total_accepted_recipients": 1, "id": "102364612952283792" } }

So there you have it! As with most things in life, the answer to which will work best for you is (spoiler alert) “It depends.”. We recommend using our API unless there are reasons that won’t work for you, such as lack of development resources to make the switch. SMTP is there as a safety net to help support those cases.

Whichever way you choose, make sure you set up DKIM! Authenticating the source and content of your email is very important, and can have a huge impact on the deliverability of your email. Instructions for setting up DKIM are here.

What were the deciding factors for your choice between SMTP and our API? Let us know on Twitter at?@SparkPost?or in our Community Slack channel!

~ Dave

Dev Survival Guide Blog Footer

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Be Our Guest: 4 Keys to a Great Welcome Campaign http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/be-our-guest-4-keys-to-a-great-welcome-campaign/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/be-our-guest-4-keys-to-a-great-welcome-campaign/#respond Fri, 12 Jul 2019 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46640 welcome campaignContent Marketing Manager at Iterable, Michael Huard, shares 4 welcome campaign strategies that will make your audience feel like the belle of the ball.

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Put your emails to the test. When a customer subscribes, does your welcome campaign treat them like a valued guest?

The welcome campaign is your chance to show off the bells and whistles of what you have to offer. It’s a golden opportunity to kickstart a relationship with your audience.

It’s also likely one of your most successful campaigns, so it’s worth investing the time and effort to make it the best it can be.

But too often, brands are gruff, impersonal and, frankly, unwelcoming with their welcome campaigns.

That’s why we’re here to provide you with 4 ways to create a welcome campaign that treats your audience like the belle of the ball.

1. Properly Introduce Yourself

Treat the first email in your welcome series like the moment you invite a new guest into your home.

Introduce yourself. Be warm and express gratitude for them choosing your brand. Offer them a treat or gift as a token of your appreciation. After all, they gave you their personal information. That’s a big step for many.

In this process, make sure to fully introduce yourself and any iterations of your brand that may reach out. Establish your inbox identity by letting your customers know what addresses to keep an eye out for.

ISPs are monitoring spam like never before. Your welcome email needs to be clear with your sender identity for better deliverability.

Don’t be afraid to explain the differences between your brand identities. Your “From” name may change based on the type of email you’re sending, but as long as there is a clear connection to your brand, you can avoid the dreaded unsubscribe or spam folders.

2. Personalize by Their Signup Source

There are a variety of ways your customers can find themselves on your list.
Whether it’s a mobile app install, a first purchase, a contest entry, or gated content download, it’s important that you personalize your welcome campaign by the source of their subscription.

Incorporate the foundation of their subscription in your welcome email so they know exactly how you found them and why they are receiving a message. Let them know why you are in their inbox.

In doing so, you are letting the customer know you are paying attention to their actions. Providing relevant information keeps each member of your audience engaged and promotes interaction with your brand.

3. Give Them the Grand Tour

Your welcome campaign is more than an introduction; it’s the start of a tour of your brand. It kicks off the customer journey.

No matter how or why they subscribed, this is your chance to get them further involved in your brand in the ways that you choose.

Walk your customers through your brand experience. Let them know what it means to be a valued member of your community.

Try starting off with information about their account before describing the benefits of choosing your brand. Lead them to your mobile app and lay out the perks of being a member.

ASOS, a leading U.K. retailer, does a great job in their welcome email showing members how to navigate their product offerings by focusing on different categories (ASOS Brands, Labels you’ll love, Face + Body).

ASOS orients newcomers with their category-specific welcome email.

ASOS sells items from over 800 brands, but by giving customers a starting point, they guide them through the experience so they don’t become overwhelmed by all that the retailer offers.

There is a logical path—that you’ve likely set—to make the most of your brand’s offerings, so don’t make your customers search for it.

4. Incentivize Them to Take Action

The guided tour is an excellent addition to any welcome campaign, but what if you have a particular CTA? Perhaps you need customers to complete their profiles before moving further down their journey with your brand.

Hold their hand in this process. This cannot be stressed enough. Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Whatever phrasing will help you remember to not overdo this part of the welcome campaign.

If you want your new subscriber to take a certain step, then make it known. Make your CTA button to complete their profile big, central, and bright. The goal here is twofold: engagement and progressive profiling.

Expand on this concept by building a full welcome series that culminates in the completion of your desired action. Topshop, another popular retailer based in the U.K., incentivizes action in their welcome email with a discount code, information about a birthday treat, and a hashtag to find their styles on social media.

Topshop sweetens the deal with a first-purchase promo code and birthday treat.

The call to “Update Your Details” is a vital action for progressive profiling to be used in future personalization efforts. A good follow up to this email would be continued requests to update specific, highly valued profile details.

Remember, you’re the host. You don’t want your guests to get lost on the way to the snack table. Lay it out for them in simple, easy terms to keep them happy and satisfied.

Enjoy the Party

First impressions truly do make a difference when it comes to your brand. You don’t want to come off as rude, beastly, and unpleasant to interact with.

Your welcome campaign is the key. It’s the start of your customer journey and, as such, you want each and every customer to start off on the right foot.

If you do it right, then your guests might just decide to stay awhile and make themselves comfortable.

For advanced tactics to improve your welcome emails, download Iterable‘s guide, Unboxing Must-Have Marketing Campaigns: Welcome Emails, to learn more.

~ Michael

 

Michael Huard is a Content Marketing Manager at?Iterable. He is an experienced multimedia content creator having produced written, video, and photographic content for leading companies in technology and entertainment. Michael has a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from UC Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Specialized Journalism from the University of Southern California.

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Building an Email Strategy to Connect with your Gen Z Customers http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/building-email-strategy-connect-gen-z-customers/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/building-email-strategy-connect-gen-z-customers/#respond Wed, 10 Jul 2019 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46624 Gen Z CustomersSenior Manager of Digital and Content Strategy, Jen Lacey, explains how to create an email program that will really resonate with Gen Z customers.

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It’s always seemed a little bit presumptuous to try to encapsulate an entire generation under a label like Baby Boomers, Generation X, and, now, Generation Z.? We want to avoid the trap of gross stereotyping, especially as marketers.

But there are, of course, real differences between these groups. And how you construct an email marketing strategy to engage any of them relies on knowing those distinctions. Gen Z, naturally, is a group that’s remarkably different from everyone who’s come before.

They’re more realistic than optimistic, more independent-minded than Millennials, and also more cautious about sharing personal data.

Without further ado, let’s get to a stat blast:

  • Born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, Generation Z will include nearly 85 million Americans by 2020, about 24.7% of the population. Worldwide, they’ll total nearly 2.6 billion by then.
  • They already have $143 billion in buying power.
  • When they come of age, they’ll make up 40% of U.S. consumers.
  • 96% of U.S. Gen Zers own a smartphone.
  • In fact, most have never not known life without the web; 40% say working wifi is more valuable at work than working bathrooms.
  • They’ve got an average attention span of 8 seconds.

They aren’t abandoning email

One insight that should bring a smile to email marketers of every generation? Gen Zers really like email, in spite of the fact they also obsess over texting, social media, and other messaging platforms.

Still, they consider email important, too, especially as consumers; 46% of them say it’s a big factor in making their buying decisions, and they’re especially open to using email in the future. 48% see their use of email growing over time, while only 36% of Millennials and 23% of Generation Xers say the same.

58% of them check their email multiple times every day, and the same survey found that an impressive 28.5% of them had purchased something as a direct result of receiving an email.

In fact, the same survey found that while social media is their favorite way of engaging with brands, email ran a very close second, even ahead of face-to-face engagement.

Great news! Problem solved, right? Well, yes and no. They’re willing to embrace email, so long as email marketers are willing to work on their terms.

Be really, really straight with them

What matters to Gen Z consumers? Authenticity and transparency; they don’t want to be “sold” – that’s plain from their huge preference for ad blockers.

In terms of email, that means your copy has to be sincere, avoiding hyperbole and the kind of obvious shilling they’ll turn a blind eye to (or just send to spam). Be upfront and honest, and never, ever be tempted to use misleading subject lines; when you make a promise, it’s got to be kept, or they’ll hold your feet to the fire.

“Honesty is the best policy” may be an old platitude, but it holds for Generation Z like it never has before. Remember: if you violate their trust, they’ll be happy to let everybody they know hear about it.

Loyalty matters (a lot)

Many marketers are fearful that these upcoming consumers aren’t going to prove as loyal as previous generations. But it’s less about them having an innate lack of the “customer loyalty gene” as it is they’ve got a higher bar when it comes to their shopping experience. In fact, loyalty – your loyalty to them, and vice-versa – is a huge deal to Gen Z.

A bit further on, we’ll point to the fact Gen Zers expect a seamless shopping experience; they want to feel appreciated, with a customer experience, personalized messages, and offers that prove they’re valued by a marketer.

According to Accenture, 95% or so of Gen Z members want brands to “actively” court their attention (and dollars), and are most influenced by coupons sent via email or even snail mail. Channels like text messaging have their place in the mix, too, of course.

Personalize, but don’t overstep

Part and parcel of that active approached to engagement is the use personalized email campaigns that emphasize individual engagement, and your appreciation for their loyalty. Give respect, in other words, and they’ll give it right back.

But an important layer of this, says a study by IBM and the National Retail Federation? They also want individualization, where they can initiate and customize their own shopping and buying experiences.? Giving them more power to customize the content, offers, and frequency of emails they get from you can be one component of this, but it’s also about ratcheting up the relevance of every message you put in front of them.

At the same time, though, Gen Z consumers are reluctant about sharing personal data. Therefore, you’ve got to tread the line between delivering targeted messages and offers, and coming off as asking for too much personal information.? The best approach? Tell them exactly the data you’d like them to lend you, and explain precisely how you’re going to use it.

Show commitment to good causes

Email is a terrific channel for communicating commitment: Not just yours to your audience, but also to show off your commitment to good causes. That’s key with Generation Z, so much so it’s practically becoming table stakes for marketers.

Half of worldwide consumers see themselves as being belief-driven buyers, and Gen Z is likely to be even more disposed to look favorably on brands that show a commitment to making life better for others. They’ll also be willing to punish brands that don’t meet their expectations for social responsibility.

Email can be an excellent opportunity to show you’re willing to give back to the community, and it’s also a fine way to get recipients engaged in supporting those efforts.

Here’s an excellent example of that from one of the pioneers in this brand of conscientious capitalism, TOMS. Nobody else does a better job of tying their product marketing and sales pitch into the idea that a consumer can lend a direct hand in global betterment:

Go mobile or go home

If you haven’t figured this one out yet? There’s nothing else we can tell you.

Use video and other interactive tools

According to the research, they’re huge consumers of digital media, and 35% of them prefer viewing video on YouTube versus only 19% who prefer traditional TV.? In their world, video lives everywhere, and you’re a dinosaur if you’re not able to deliver it.

Embedding video in email is, therefore, practically mandatory in making your campaigns more engaging and interesting for this audience. Especially when you also realize how important seamless shopping experiences are to them.

So blurring the lines between online and inbox experiences can work in your favor, so long as it’s a smooth and consistent user experience, even for the more ardent channel-hoppers.

~ Jen

new rules email deliverability best practices

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What is Blockchain Email? http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/what-is-blockchain-email/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/what-is-blockchain-email/#respond Mon, 08 Jul 2019 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46612 Blockchain EmailBlockchain email has benefits that make it attractive to email marketers, but also has some drawbacks too that could make adopting the technology difficult.

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The Pros and Cons of Blockchain Email

Like the cloud several years ago, cryptocurrency is the new tech buzzword that’s generated a lot of chatter while leaving many wondering if it’s much ado about nothing. The term “blockchain” often goes hand-in-hand with the cryptocurrency talk, but it has applications beyond that, including email.

It might seem surprising, but blockchain email is a thing, and there are a few projects in development that want to use it to disrupt traditional email systems. Because a blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that’s replicated across many computers and has no centralized point of access, it’s seen as immune to attacks by bad actors. Those features make it attractive for email, which has many weaknesses that can be exploited.

Figuring out a way to make email more secure is key because it’s not going away any time soon. According to OptinMonster, people send a staggering 102.6 trillion emails annually, and in the U.S., it’s used by more than 90% of everyone over the age of 15 (yes, even those who have never known a world without social media).

In addition, 60% of consumers join email lists to get promotional offers, compared to 20% of consumers who follow brands on social media for the same reason. And with a potential return on investment of up to 4400%, email marketing remains a strong growth driver for many businesses.

Blockchain email has benefits that make it attractive to email marketers, but it has drawbacks too, as we’ll explain.

The benefits of blockchain email

There are several reasons why blockchain email is an attractive prospect for anyone who wants to disrupt the status quo, including:

  • Each message would be authenticated

Because a blockchain is an immutable set of records that are authenticated by each of the computers that store copies of it, a blockchain email system would feature a message database that accurately reflects the sending and receiving activity of everyone using it. Despite the development of such security tools as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, spam continues to plague our inboxes, and nearly all of us have been the recipients of phishing and spearphishing attempts by the bad guys.

However, blockchain email would provide a single source of truth for each message sent and received, allowing users to easily verify that everything they receive came from a trusted sender. Bad actors couldn’t impersonate others, and they would have a hard time sending spam, since their messages would need to be verified.

  • Users would (likely) have privacy

Putting email on a decentralized blockchain means that no single party would have control over users’ accounts and their messages. Today, many people “pay” for free email services by letting companies parse their messages for signals that feed advertising machines. Blockchain email would let them keep their messages free from prying eyes, even if those doing the snooping are silicon-based.

In addition, if someone wanted to shut down their blockchain email account, they could easily do so without worrying that their information won’t be completely deleted, unlike many free services that essentially put accounts in hibernation when users attempt to shut them down. If a single third party has control over the data, they can do what they want with it, but if a blockchain email database is copied across many computers, only users will be able to dictate how their information is handled.

  • No one would ever lose an email again (hopefully)

A blockchain email system’s database couldn’t become corrupt because there would be no central email server that could be damaged or experience a failure. Even deleted messages could be saved via a mechanism such as an off-chain node, allowing the creation of an archive that users could access when needed.

  • Email marketers could send more precisely targeted campaigns

Blockchain email could, in theory, result in a wealth of data about its users. Since each person’s identity would be authenticated and the blockchain would contain an immutable source of truth about their email history, email marketers could use artificial intelligence to sift through that data and more precisely target the right people for their campaigns.

While many people might groan at such a concept, it could provide a way to pay for a blockchain email platform. In addition, if people are going to see ads, isn’t it better for them to see ones that are targeted to their interests?

The downsides of blockchain email

However, there are some reasons why you don’t hear a lot of talk about blockchain email these days, including:

  • The staggering storage requirements

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, uses a blockchain that was 210GB as of April 2019. While that’s a big database, it’s still not much compared to the amount of space emails typically take up. The average email is 75KB – multiply that by the 102.6 trillion emails sent every year and you’ll see that a blockchain email platform with even a modest number of users would quickly have sizable storage requirements.

Since a copy of the blockchain needs to reside on each computer in the network (5 million of them, in the case of Bitcoin), that means a blockchain email platform could easily dwarf the storage requirements for cryptocurrencies. That’s a scalability problem that would intimidate even the most seasoned IT professionals, although a clever developer could potentially solve that problem by, for example, storing messages off the blockchain and only using it to verify senders and receivers.

In fact, Salesforce recently won a patent for a blockchain-based platform that would store only part of an email, so that the sender and recipient’s copies could be compared to determine whether a message is authentic. A discrepancy would result in the email being marked as spam.

  • The need for guaranteed user privacy

There are a few companies developing blockchain email, but it’s not clear that any of them are going to make their code open source. Any company that can’t make their code available can’t necessarily guarantee user privacy, which would be a deal-breaker for something as sensitive as email.

  • The possibility of creating “walled gardens”

At least one blockchain email service currently in development only lets its users email each other, leaving anyone on another platform out in the cold. It’s reminiscent of the old days, before the web became dominant, when people on AOL and CompuServe couldn’t send messages between the two services.

However, this limitation doesn’t seem to be in place for every blockchain email platform that’s in the works, so it’s possible that this problem could end up being nonexistent.

The prospects for blockchain email

Blockchain email currently lags far behind cryptocurrency when it comes to adoption and interest in the long-term prospects of the technology. It also seems to be gaining less traction than messaging, in-app payments, contract creation, and other use cases.

However, the possibility of using it to combat all kinds of fraud is very attractive to businesses, so it’s likely that blockchain-based like the one Salesforce is developing could win out in the long run. Even if blockchain can’t provide an end-to-end, all-encompassing email solution, it can likely supplement the current environment.

~ Casey

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How to Start Sending Mass Email http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/start-sending-mass-email/ Fri, 05 Jul 2019 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/?p=7458 Start Sending Mass EmailGetting started with SparkPost is super easy. Check out these step-by-step instructions on how to start sending mass email in minutes!

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  • This blog post was originally published on 10/23/2015 and was updated on 7/05/2019

Are you brand new to email and not sure where to start? Unfortunately, sending mass email is actually a pretty complicated science. Fortunately, we’ve put together this guide so you can tackle the initial steps of sending with SparkPost and fill you in on some of the jargon you’ll need to know when building out your email program.

  1. Are you sending transactional email or marketing email? Sending transactional emails can be considered as a part of doing business so you may not need opt-in consent. If you are sending marketing emails you will need your recipients to opt-in or your emails could be considered SPAM.
  2. Are you sending out immediately or scheduling a “bulk send”? Think about sending limits. Your “bulk send” amount could go over your sending limit.
  3. Make sure you are sending expected content. This could include the copy for your ‘password resets’ to the content of your newsletter. Newsletters should contain something that’s relevant to your audience and in line with expectations for when they signed up for your newsletter. If you said you’d send company news once a month, you shouldn’t start sending promotions once a week. That will generate spam complaints and poor deliverability. Deliverability consists of all the issues involved in getting your emails delivered to the expected recipient. Unexpected content could cause poor deliverability and block your email from being delivered.
  4. Next step is to set-up your sending domains. Sending domains are used to identify you as a sender, help you build a sender reputation with ISPs for better inbox placement, and allow you to send more messages on our system. Find out more about how to set-up your sending domain here.
  5. You will also need a Template. A template defines the body of your email. It is also the place to define where substitution data will go in your emails. Find out more about creating a template here.
  6. Finally, you will need is a recipient list. Recipient lists are lists of email addresses you want your emails delivered to. Again, make sure you get opt-in permission from your recipients. You should never add people to your list who have not opted-in as this can affect your deliverability. More information on setting up recipient lists can be? found here.

You can also set-up email using SMTP. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is an Internet standard for electronic mail (email) transmission. Here is a video to explain sending via SMTP:

If you are sending via SMTP or REST APIs you will need an API Key. The API key is used to authenticate you acting on behalf of your account with tools outside of SparkPost. Steps to create and API key can be found here.

?While building a mass email program can certainly be a daunting task we hope that these steps point you in the right direction. With a little elbow grease we’re sure you’ll become a full-blown email pro!?

~Sparky

new rules email deliverability best practices

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Email Tips for Cannabis Companies http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/email-tips-cannabis-companies/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/email-tips-cannabis-companies/#respond Wed, 03 Jul 2019 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46598 cannabisEmail marketing may fall into an unclear green area when it comes to marketing Cannabis but SparkPost's Messaging Policy does not.

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Amidst the recent expansion in legalized recreational and medical Cannabis industry, one of the biggest challenges businesses face is how to advertise and promote without violating state and federal regulations. This is especially difficult due to the fact that Cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

Standard marketing techniques are no longer applicable due to heavily regulated advertising laws, which vary drastically in different states. Nevertheless, email marketing falls into an unclear green area when it comes to marketing Cannabis.

However, before it is possible to go into Cannabis and Email Marketing the first thing to be considered is the SparkPost messaging policies.

SparkPost’s current policies state the following:

In compliance with the Law, Customer’s use of SparkPost Services must comply with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, ordinances, and court orders of any kind of any jurisdiction applicable to Customer, SparkPost, and to any Recipient.

For the sake of simplification purpose, the use of Washington state as the state law example. Below is a simplified outline that most apply to Cannabis Email Marketing:

(2) General. All marijuana advertising and labels of useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products sold in the state of Washington may not contain any statement or illustration that:

(a) Is false or misleading;
(b) Promotes overconsumption;
(c) Represents the use of marijuana has curative or therapeutic effects;
(d) Depicts a child or other person under the legal age to consume marijuana

(5) All advertising must contain the following warnings:

(a) “This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming.”;
(b) “Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.”;
(c) “There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product.”; and
(d) “For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of the reach of children.”

Based on these regulations and policies, it would seem that Cannabis businesses are extremely restricted on their ability to promote brands and products. On the other hand, there is some flexibility in this legal haze.

When speaking with our Manager of Deliverability and Compliance Operations as well as the SparkPost Legal team, the following types of Cannabis messages will be permitted on the platform:

  • Transactional Mail (receipts, order confirmations, password resets, and etc.) For a detailed explanation on what is considered transactional, please refer to the following post: http://www.yuye14.icu/use-cases/transactional-email/?
  • Political messaging on the legalities and the current climate of Cannabis regulations
  • Informational messaging about new products and/or Cannabis Strains

The exceptions to the conditions above are as follows:

  • Content being sent out from Cannabis recreational and/or medical stores will need to reviewed and approved by our SparkPost Compliance team on a case by case basis.
    • If your store is interested in becoming a SparkPost customer, please reach out to compliance@sparkpost.com for approval
  • Messages to states where Cannabis is not legal will not be tolerated
  • Attempts to sell Cannabis or include accessible links in messages for purchasing Cannabis products in legalized and unregulated states will be reported to the respective governing authorities.

When navigating the legalities of Cannabis advertising and marketing, SparkPost is willing to work with a range of Cannabis businesses and brands, as long as said businesses and brands are able to provide engaging and legally abiding content.

*The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, the information in this post is for general informational purposes only.

~ Amara

new rules email deliverability best practices

 

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5 Ways to Personalize Your Next Financial Services Email Campaign http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-ways-personalize-next-financial-services-email-campaign/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-ways-personalize-next-financial-services-email-campaign/#respond Mon, 01 Jul 2019 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46559 financial services email campaignHere are 5 powerful ways you can personalize your next financial services email campaign beyond simply inserting someone’s first name in the subject line.

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Asked by The Financial Brand for their brand’s biggest digital marketing opportunity in the coming year, optimizing the customer experience was the top choice of marketers. Email personalization is one of the best ways to improve your customers’ experience because it helps them feel like your company is speaking directly to them about things they personally care about.

However, modern email marketing requires more than simply inserting someone’s first name in a subject line and in the body of the message. Here are 5 powerful ways you can personalize your next email campaign.

1. Develop customer personas

Just as you change how you speak when addressing different people in various areas of your life, you should consider creating different ways of talking to your customers in emails. Start by segmenting your customers according to various factors, such as age, gender, location, income, and other characteristics that you know about them.

Then try to see your company through the eyes of each segment. What’s important to those people? What are the biggest obstacles they’re facing, and how can you help them solve those problems? You may want to rely on outside research to discover what your customers are likely experiencing, depending on their age, income, location, and other factors.

Each segment can be as broad or as specific as you want it to be. For example, you could slice your customer base by generational divides and talk to them that way. If you do that, keep in mind that PwC Financial Services found that while Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers are all concerned with saving for retirement, their secondary goals are saving for a home, getting out of debt, and ensuring financial stability, respectively.

You could then tailor your next email campaign around those secondary goals and send each generational cohort messaging that resonates with them. An easy way to sub-divide those cohorts is by their stage in the customer journey. For example, you might talk to Millennials about strategies for saving for a home different ways if they’re new to your business compared to customers who have been with you for a few years.

2. Personalize your imagery

In addition to talking to your customers in specific ways, make sure the photos and other images in your emails match those personas. That includes not just their ages (such as using photos of people in the same age bracket) but also potentially customizing your pictures by location and other factors.

For example, you can use pictures that feature prominent landmarks or notable geographic features in an area where people in a specific cohort live. Campaign Monitor ran a test with images personalized to the recipient’s country (US, UK, and Australia) vs. location-agnostic pictures and found that the former increased the email’s click-through rate by 29%.

3. Personalize your offers

Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach to offers, such as messaging everyone on your list about a new type of account that doesn’t have any fees, try tailoring those messages to people in a more specific way. For example, using PwC Financial Services’ previously mentioned research, you could limit a special deal on a debt consolidation loan only to a Gen-X cohort.

You could also personalize offers based on past behaviors. For example, you could offer a special type of savings account to people who previously opened checking accounts, particularly those who have seen their balances dip precariously low and could use overdraft protection. Or you could put a generational spin on the offer and aim it at Millennials who want to save money to buy a home.

4. Create triggered emails based on the customer journey

In addition to creating customer personas, you should map out a customer journey that starts with the onboarding process, which is how you welcome new customers. At a minimum, you’ll want to send them a thank-you email that’s personalized based on any information they gave when signing up. For example, based on their address, you could dynamically insert the address of your company’s nearest office or branch location, or give them the contact information for an agent in their area.

In addition to creating triggered emails that alert customers to suspicious sign-in attempts, transaction problems, and other important events, you can also craft messages that are based on other kinds of behaviors. For example, if someone hasn’t logged into their account for a specific amount of time, you could send them an email that prompts them to log in. Try to give them a reason why, such as checking an account balance or viewing certain activity.

Other potential triggers include:

  • Reaching an account anniversary: Wish the customer well and perhaps add in a cross-sell or upsell based on their persona and account history.
  • Hitting a transactional threshold: Such moments might also be a good time for a cross-sell or upsell.
    Engaging customer service representatives through certain channels: Some people like an in-person experience while others prefer phone calls, email, website chats, social media messaging, and so forth. Paying attention to how and when your customers engage with your company gives you an opportunity to nudge them toward other channels if you have a reason to do so. You can also send follow-up emails to ensure that people are happy with their customer service experience.
  • Expressing interest: Maybe someone asks questions but doesn’t create an account, or they fill out a form requesting more information. That’s an opportunity to not only supply what they need but also create triggers that send emails after a certain amount of time has elapsed and they’re still not a customer. Based on what you know about them, try to personalize the message as much as possible to seal the deal and turn them into a new customer.
  • Needing a reminder: When people engage in a cyclical activity, such as providing the information needed to complete a tax return, you can create triggered reminders that prompt them to re-engage with your business. For something like a tax return, you can start sending reminders in January and keep sending them past the deadline, so you can catch the stragglers.

Paying attention to the customer journey is key because 81% of financial marketers surveyed by Adobe and eCounsultancy said that optimizing it will be “very important” over the next few years.

5. Consider who’s sending the email

One aspect of personalization that’s often overlooked is who’s sending the email. That includes not just customizing the from name and reply-to email address, but also the body of the email. Instead of sending the email from your company, it could come from a specific (but fictional) employee. That employee could vary, depending on the cohort being addressed.

HubSpot tried that technique, testing an email sent by the company versus one sent by a marketing manager. It found that the latter generated a higher click-through rate as well as more overall clicks.

~ Casey

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Pride 2019 at SparkPost http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/pride-2019-sparkpost/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/pride-2019-sparkpost/#respond Fri, 28 Jun 2019 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46568 PrideBusiness Operations Administrator, Matthew Slasten, recaps how SparkPost celebrated Pride Month this year.

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To many, Pride evokes thoughts of rainbows, parades, and celebration. Even as I sit at my desk right now, I think of the rainbow flags flying on Market Street and the crowds of people that will descend on the Civic Center this weekend for the SF Pride Parade. And, I also think about what all of this means to me as an LGBTQ individual. Like many, I kept my identity hidden for most of my teenage years for fear of acceptance. Seeing a rainbow flag or any sign of support meant the world to me. And, while I’ve become comfortable with and proud of my identity over the years, it still means so much to me when I see any effort to make the LGBTQ community feel welcomed and celebrated.

As a SparkPost employee, I’ve been fortunate enough to work at a company that celebrates its LGBTQ community. This last month, we’ve hung a rainbow banner in the office, been given Pride t-shirts and pins, and had a special movie afternoon where we watched “Milk”. Our social team also created and promoted a Slide Share that gives viewers “A Brief History of Pride.”

Now to some, this may seem like a corporation taking an opportunity to promote its brand during Pride. We’ve all seen the special rainbow swag and designs that many companies are promoting. While there may be some truth in that, I’d rather not make a negative out of a positive. For many years, Pride came and went, and wasn’t cause for celebration at SparkPost. In fact, it never crossed my mind that it was something to be celebrated at the office at all. But there’s something about seeing your company take the time and the effort to make specially designed swag, hang a rainbow banner, and set aside a whole afternoon to watch a movie about a historic LGBTQ pioneer, that really makes an impact. Like those flags on Market Street or the upcoming parade, these small gestures make me feel welcome and fill me with Pride.

So thank you SparkPost for putting in that extra effort to make your LGBTQ community feel recognized and welcome!

~ Matthew

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What is an SPF Record? http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/what-is-an-spf-record/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/what-is-an-spf-record/#respond Wed, 26 Jun 2019 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46549 SPF RecordInterested in implementing the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) but not sure where to start? Check out our guide to learn how SPF records work.

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Are you interested in implementing Sender Policy Framework (SPF) but not sure where to begin? Check out our guide to learn how to get started with SPF and how SPF records work:

What is SPF?

SPF can help protect email senders and recipients from spam, spoofing, and phishing. In addition to safeguarding against email risks, properly configuring your email authentication can positively impact your deliverability. SPF is a form of email authentication that defines a way to validate that an email message was sent from an authorized mail server, in order to prevent spam and to detect forgery. SPF was introduced as a supplement to SMTP which by itself doesn’t offer any authentication mechanisms.

What is an SPF record?

SPF establishes a way for receiving mail servers to verify that an incoming email was sent from an authorized host. It works well when used in tandem with the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS takes the domain names people use to search online (like “sparkpost.com”) and finds the corresponding Internet Protocol (IP) addresses so that internet browsers can load information.

An SPF record is included in an organization’s DNS database and is a specially-formatted version of a standard DNS TXT record. It looks something like this:

mydomain.com ? TXT "v=spf1 include:myauthorizeddomain.com include:sparkpostmail.com ~all”

Following along from left-to-right this SPF record says that any email that claims to be from “mydomain.com” should be validated with SPF (

v=spf1
). The part of the record that is labeled
include:
?specifies that the records for “myauthorizeddomain.com” and “sparkpostmail.com” should be included when validating email from mydomain.com. This indicates that other domains are authorized to send on the mydomain.com’s behalf.? Finally,
~all
?indicates that any other servers claiming to send mail on the domain’s behalf should be marked as questionable, and possibly fail the SPF test.

Commercial businesses sending transactional email should definitely implement at least one form of email authentication. We recommend implementing, SPF, DMARC, and DKIM for a more complete approach to authenticating your email.

Luckily, SparkPost actually handles SPF automatically— so, if you send with us all email from your account is already SPF authenticated!

~ Erica

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Once Upon a Time in Email Land… http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/once-upon-time-email-land/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/once-upon-time-email-land/#respond Mon, 24 Jun 2019 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46533 success storiesDirector of Customer Success, Tom Mairs, shares some of SparkPost's customers' greatest success stories using our product.

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For me, as a Sales Engineer, it is all about the story. I could drone on for hours about how awesome our product is and the billions of bytes of code we wrote and the awards we’ve won, but really – who cares? Do you know what people care about? They care about how other people use it. They care about success stories and diving saves. They care about how we can make them be a hero to their peers and their customers.

People want to hear about that time we were able to predict a service outage two days before it happened using crazy data science. Or that time we identified a problem with a customer’s signup form using engagement recency charts. They want to explore how our real-time analytics data identified a failing generation node and prevented thousands of lost messages.

The SparkPost team and their customers can tell you a wide range of stories about how using the right tool can reveal interesting things you didn’t know about your own email sending practices. For 20+ years, we have been the underlying infrastructure of the email space, fueling the vast majority of Email Service Providers and high volume senders. Our visible data footprint covers 37% of the entire world’s commercial email traffic so we have definitely seen a few things.

We have seen customers leverage our flexible API Key management system to allow 3rd party fraud prevention tools to filter bad contacts without exposing access to the messaging engine. API Keys can be very granular to allow send-only or report-only functions as well as provide direct manipulation of the embedded suppression system.

Many customers have taken advantage of the real-time data webhook feed to trigger specific business automation processes like real-time list hygiene and FBL processing for CAN-SPAM compliance. This data feed is also ideal for something often referred to as “Assured Delivery” where you can reroute message to an alternate channel in the event of an initial delivery failure. Mailbox full? No problem, let’s just resend that to the alternate address we have on file.

Customers share exciting stories with us all the time about how they improved business results by doing the unexpected. A great example of this is the sender who we counseled to send LESS mail to get a better result. That may seem strange for a company whose model is to bill on volume, but our primary focus is customer success and in this case, that is what was needed. We identified which users were actually engaging with email and in turn generating revenue. Targeting only those users resulted in eliminating 70% of the outbound volume but increased their open rates by 4x and in turn resulted in higher profits and a more efficient operation.

In a similar way, we could share the story of a customer who came to us in need to migrate off another provider but only had 11 days for a full migration. Most deliverability people will tell you it takes several weeks to warm up IPs to the point where you can send any appreciable volume– so 11 days sounds like an impossible task. Yet we were able to leverage SparkPost technology and decades of experience to meet the challenge.

We would love to hear your story. If you are a SparkPost, PowerMTA, or Momentum customer, we welcome you to share your success story with us. If you have not had the pleasure of using any of our tech yet, please give us a chance to make a diving save, give you a more efficient platform, or resolve a messaging crisis. Your story awaits.

~ Tom

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17 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/improve-email-deliverability/ Fri, 21 Jun 2019 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/?p=7629 improve email deliverabilityHere are 17 things you can do to increase the likelihood that your email message will get into your recipients’ inboxes, so they can open, click, and engage with you and your brand.

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  • This blog post was originally published on 12/14/2015 and was updated on 6/21/2019

According to research from Return Path, US email reaches subscribers’ inboxes only 83% of the time!?Are you doing everything you can to ensure that your messages aren’t part of the 17% of emails that never make it to the inbox?

Check out our list of 17 deliverability best practices that can help increase the likelihood that your email message will get into your recipients’ inboxes, where hopefully they will open, click, and engage with you and your brand.

  1. Use double opt-in. Double opt-in is compliant with laws like CASL and CAN-SPAM. It generally requires that the recipient clicks on an activation email that you send. It can also set up a pattern of engagement.
  2. Make your from and subject line explicitly you and true to the message. If the message is not “from” your brand, it should be from a person at your brand. The subject line should also clearly reflect the content of the message.
  3. Segment your list. All your recipients are not alike. Segmenting your list by interest and modifying frequency accordingly can drive more engagement.
  4. Implement Sender Policy Framework. By using SPF, you provide ISPs with the?assurance you are who you say you are, making them more likely to deliver your message to the inbox.
  5. Prune your list. When it comes to your email list, more is not always better. If the recipient hasn’t engaged with you in 6 months, target them with a special message and if that doesn’t drive engagement, remove them from your list.
  6. Let someone help you avoid bouncing. Hard bounces should be removed from your list. At SparkPost, we add those to your suppression list right away so you don’t see more bounces, but it’s still up to you to remove those addresses from your list.
  7. Watch out for spam traps. Spam traps are emails created by ISPs to find spammers.
  8. Check your reputation. One tool you can use is Sender Score to find out where you stand with respect to your sending reputation.
  9. Don’t add emails from contests and giveaways. You’ll probably get multiple signups from the same email address. If you do these types of promotions, make sure you vet the resulting emails carefully before adding them to your list.
  10. Check blacklists. Make sure your organization isn’t on a list that automatically sends your emails into a black hole instead of the inbox.
  11. Consider the source. Where did you get that email address? Some sources are much more reliable than others. As a general rule, buying lists is a bad idea.
  12. Make unsubscribing very easy. If unsubscribing is difficult, in frustration, recipients may mark your email as spam as a way to stop receiving your email. If recipients cry spam, ISPs listen and you can quickly land on a blacklist.
  13. Register for feedback loops (where you can). How can you find out if a recipient is marking your email as spam? By subscribing to relevant feedback loop reports from ISPs. One notable exception is Gmail, which only sends feedback loop reports to email service providers.
  14. What’s the frequency? Pay attention to how frequently you are sending email and what kind of responses you get. Send email too often and you risk being ignored (or deleted without opening, which harms deliverability). Send too infrequently and recipients may forget about you. It’s a balancing act.
  15. Keep frequency consistent. Once you settle on a frequency, stick with it. Erratic sending patterns are considered a marker of spam.
  16. Study your metrics. Real-time analytics is the best way to drive your email marketing strategy. SparkPost offers numerous real-time reports and webhooks that you can leverage to drive engagement and improve deliverability. Pay attention to clicks and opens. If you’re having trouble with blacklisting, SparkPost can often work with you to help you get removed from those lists. And, if you’re really ready to step up your email game, be sure to check out SparkPost Signals, our brand new email intelligence platform designed to help you identify and address issues before they start impacting your business.
  17. Work to improve your open rate. Deliverability is clearly important, but it’s not the end game. You want to drive engagement, to have recipients open and click on your email. That happens with engaging content, a subject line that tantalizes followed by summary text that draws them in further.

~ Sparky

new rules email deliverability best practices

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5 Email Strategies MarTech Companies Need to Ditch http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-email-strategies-martech-companies-need-to-ditch/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-email-strategies-martech-companies-need-to-ditch/#respond Wed, 19 Jun 2019 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=46476 Email Strategies MarTechRead about five email strategies MarTech companies need to scrap, eighty-six, pink-slip, kick to the curb, or otherwise get out from under ASAP.

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When it comes to email marketing strategies, plenty of very shrewd marketers make mistakes. Even, shockingly, MarTech providers.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of picking the wrong strategy in the first place. Other times, the mistake lies in sticking by a strategy that’s been successful in the past, and may still be generating results. But they’re paltry results when compared with the ROI of smarter, more up-to-date approaches.

And if your competitors are pulling ahead while you’re standing pat, those “proven” practices are doing you more harm than good.

Here, then, are five email marketing strategies that MarTech companies need to scrap, eighty-six, pink-slip, kick to the curb, or otherwise get out from under ASAP.

#1: Emailing the unengaged

To extract the most from your lists, you need to monitor engagement at a granular level. You may be sending out high-quality emails, but you’re seeing declining CTRs and open rates. What’s the problem? You’re sending to unengaged recipients – listees who haven’t interacted with any of your emails over an extended period.

“What’s the harm?” you might ask; so long as your messages aren’t being shunted to spam, you might not think it’s a cause for concern. Some senders just re-double their efforts, or re-calibrate and re-re-calibrate their messaging in an attempt to rouse some reaction.

What you’re doing, though, is simply increasing the amount of graymail you’re putting out – email that doesn’t fit the definition of spam. But over time, recipients lose interest in these mailings, and actually become more likely to flag you as spam. In fact, it’s estimated by some that up to 75% of what gets flagged are actually legitimate newsletters, notifications, or other emails recipients were once interested in getting. Now, though, they’re happy to just send them to spam, rather than go through the hassle of unsubscribing (this is another reason to have a very visible “unsubscribe” option in every email).

How to combat this? Simple: Track engagement, and exclude anyone from your active list who’s failed to engage with the last 10, 15, or number-of-your-choice emails you’ve sent. Some platforms even allow you to set this number as an automated function.

#2: Buying lists

The advent of the GDPR and CCPA may put a lot of list brokers out of business anyway since it’ll be harder for them to compile quality lists. Not to mention that just using one of their lists will mean you’re breaking the law.

In the old batch-and-blast days, though, marketers would try to stock up with “leads” generated through pretty indiscriminate mass emailings. Even today, when ABM and precise targeting is supposedly the order of the day, data vendors still shill “quality” lists of “contact” that, all things considered, are still as cold as a baked Alaska.

If you’re prospecting, the secret to identifying the right email targets is to collect and analyze the right data. What’s that entail? Capturing data from people who are specifically interested in your company or products (by tracking interactions with your website and content, for starters), then applying analytics tools (including AI/machine learning platforms) that can help give you far more accurate and predictive insights about which of them are likely to be true prospects…and what messages will succeed in engaging them.

Here’s how HubSpot does it, with a very personalized email with a smiling human face and details drawn from the prospect’s behaviors:

#3: Putting product before solution

In flighting your email messages, an important thing to remember? Always put the customer’s needs ahead of your desire to pitch the product.

We know it’s hard to resist showing off all the shiny bits, like the upgrades or new features your customer should embrace, or the really cool case study jammed full of praise-you-to-the-sky testimonials a prospect really owes it to him/herself to peruse.

But building a relationship means knowing that what they probably want, first and foremost, is answers or insights pertinent to their real “need state” – which is to find solutions to current problems or requirements. Provide relevant content and you’re on the way to a deeper relationship since this instance of content engagement gives you important data about them or their company.

Zapier does exactly that in the example below. A user has begun using one of their connectivity “Zaps,” so it’s a prime moment to offer them tutorials on how to expand their skills. ?And it’s from Wade, a co-founder – talk about service!

#4: Focusing on the title, not the role

Targeting strategies rely on segmentation to succeed, and taking that a step further, on building actionable marketing/sales personas of everyone you need to engage who’s part of the decision-making process at a prospective or current MarTech customer account.

Too often, marketers fall into the trap of relying on outdated segmentations that don’t accurately reflect how their target audience has evolved, in general, or within specific accounts. But even when segmentation is up-to-date, they make another mistake: Targeting their email messages on the basis of a person’s job title, rather than their actual role.

The responsibilities of an individual with the title “Marketing Technology Manager” may seem roughly similar company-to-company. The actual variations between what’s involved in their real jobs, and their role in the purchase or decision-making chain, though, can be significant. Company A may have a different market, different IT architecture and digital footprint, and different MarTech goals from Company B, with a different internal procurement hierarchy.

So the seemingly tailored emails you send to MarTech Manager A, who does have a deciding influence over purchases and implementation strategies within the organization, won’t necessarily resonate with MarTech Manager B, who may not.

The solution here? To do the hard work of understanding each target’s real role within the context of their organizations. Sometimes, that information can be easy to come by: Just ask them. Tell them you can service them and their company better by having a clear idea of their relationship with your product.

#5: Providing only superficial personalization

Back in 2014 (I know, it seems like a decade or two ago!), FastCompany sent out 1,000 cold emails to see what the “best practices” should be for effective cold prospecting campaigns.

The results are applicable today. Even when it comes to how you communicate with existing customers as part of your retention efforts. The big takeaway, then and now? Personalization always wins.

But “personalization” is a continuum. Merging a person’s name into an otherwise stock message is one end of it…the low end. It’s cheaper and easier, but it also fails at exploiting a golden opportunity.

Leveraging data-driven insights about their product use, behaviors and interests, the context they’re considering or using your product within, and offering up information or solutions fine-tuned to their potential needs or preferences? That’s where personalization rises to its fullest potential for driving a customer’s loyalty and expanding their lifetime value.

For MarTech providers, there’s also the buff it gives to your reputation. Delivering that level of personalization verifies you in the eyes of each customer as actually practicing what you preach.

Here’s an example of how Grammarly gets it done, using weekly email updates to give users an idea of just how much keyboard-pounding they’re up to, and ranking them against other users. It’s a pat on the back and a useful productivity digest.

~ Craig

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5 Email Missteps That FinTech Companies Need to Avoid http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-email-missteps-that-fintech-companies-need-to-avoid/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-email-missteps-that-fintech-companies-need-to-avoid/#respond Mon, 17 Jun 2019 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44685 FinTech CompaniesStudy up on five all-too-common mistakes that many FinTech companies make when it comes to email but which you should be able to easily avoid.

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You can have the best products and services on the market, but if you don’t craft and execute a strong email strategy, your customers will likely look elsewhere. Email is still one of the most-used communication channels in the world, according to Statista, which says that 269 billion emails were sent and received daily by 3.7 billion people in 2017.

Here are 5 all-too-common mistakes that many companies make but which you should be able to easily avoid.

1. Not creating an onboarding series

It’s important to create a welcome email that brings new customers into the fold. However, making that a one-and-done experience leaves you susceptible to high customer churn rates. You’ll want to craft a series of triggered emails that guide new customers through everything they need to know about your product or service.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Get the viewpoints of designers and/or usability experts: Colors, font sizes, icons, button placement, the amount of text, and overall design are all key elements to consider when developing an onboarding experience. Ideally, you should also have an onboarding process in an app and/or on a website, and your emails should complement that flow.
  • Consider simple incentives: Gamification is a great way to reward new users as they move through onboarding. For example, a progress bar or percentage complete can help them understand how much more they need to do and minimize frustration.
  • Create triggers tied to inactivity and other behaviors: In addition to creating triggered emails that are sent out at specific intervals, consider crafting triggered messages that are tied to specific behaviors. For example, if someone fails to complete a step in the onboarding process, create a follow-up email that’s sent after X number of days of inactivity. You can also send follow-up messages when people fail to open onboarding emails.

Make sure you kick off your onboarding series with an opt-in email, which confirms that the customer supplied the correct email address (sending messages to the wrong addresses harms your deliverability). It also serves as a “You wanted to create this account” reminder and lets you opt them in for future emails.

2. Not prioritizing security

Everyone wants to keep bad actors from accessing their company’s data, and we all know about the eye-popping costs of phishing, spear fishing, and spoofing attacks on employees’ email accounts. However, it’s also important to consider the damage done to brand trust when consumers receive malicious emails purportedly from companies they’ve done business with, or might do business with.

That’s why you should spend the resources to set up three free email security standards that can help stop spammers from impersonating your company, as well as alert you to such efforts.

Step 1: Implement SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

SPF is an email authentication standard that defines a way to validate that an email was sent from an authorized mail server. It was designed to supplement the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) protocol that’s used to send email because SMTP doesn’t include any authentication mechanisms.

SPF also piggybacks on the well-established Domain Name System (DNS) that maps web server names to IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. It’s a standard TXT file that resides in your domain’s overall DNS records and defines your authorized mail servers. Inbound mail servers use that file to compare the IP addresses of email senders with those authorized mail servers. The SPF record tells those servers how to handle messages that fail the comparison.

Step 2: Create a DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) Signature

DKIM adds a digital signature to the headers of an email message, allowing an incoming mail server to validate it against a public cryptographic key in the sending organization’s DNS records. While SPF defines the mail servers that can send messages on behalf of your domain, it doesn’t offer a mechanism to verify whether the message headers or body have been altered or forged while in transit. That’s why you want to use DKIM too.

Step 3: Add DMARC to the Foundation Created by SPF and DKIM

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) allows you to define your email authentication practices and provide instructions to inbound mail servers for enforcing them. It wraps around the SPF and DKIM authentication standards to enable a complete email sending solution.

Since neither SPF nor DKIM alert you to malicious messages that managed to bypass both safeguards, DMARC gives you that information so you can act on it.

3. Not developing good email habits

In addition to watching for bad actors who are trying to impersonate your company, you want to ensure that your emails reach people’s inboxes. You do that by maintaining a strong sender reputation, which tells mail providers like Gmail whether they should put your emails straight into users’ inboxes, mark them as promotional or spam, or even outright reject them.

You can keep develop a good sender reputation by:

  • Keeping people engaged: The more people open your emails and click through from them, the higher your engagement rate will be. Use subject lines that are short and to the point, and ensure your emails are mobile responsive, which means they automatically adapt to the device screens they’re viewed on.
  • Creating, authenticating, and warming up sending domains: Use different sub-domains for different types of email and warm up new ones by methodically adding email volume week by week. Inbound mail servers want to see consistent volume and frequency.
  • Exercising good list maintenance: Immediately remove email addresses that hard bounce, but keep an eye on soft bounces too and suppress the addresses that keep returning that result. Pay attention to engagement rates too: consider removing people who never engage with your emails, or send them a “Would you like to stay on our list?” message every so often.

In addition, peruse the details of the CAN-SPAM law in the United States, GDPR in the European Union, and other important pieces of legislation. Note that GDPR can affect your company even if it’s not based in the EU.

4. Not considering the little details

There are several elements of email sending that are easy to overlook, such as:

  • Preheader text: This is the text that email clients, including all mobile ones, display below the subject line. If you don’t specify it, recipients typically see the first several words of the email, which isn’t optimal. Use the preheader to complement the subject line and give people another incentive to open your message.
  • The footer: That’s where you want to include any legally required language, as well as an unsubscribe link. Don’t make people hunt for the unsubscribe link – you’ll risk them marking your email as spam so they can get off your list, and that will hurt your sender reputation.
  • Opt down preferences: When people click the unsubscribe link, take them to an email preference center that lets them choose less frequent emails, or different types of mailings. That way they can remain on your list.

5. Not choosing a reliable email service provider

Selecting the right email service provider (ESP) can pay dividends for years to come. Choose wisely, though, because it can be costly and time-consuming to switch to another provider. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are they cloud-based? On-premise solutions are quickly becoming outdated for all but the largest organizations. A solid cloud-based ESP can quickly scale to meet sudden extra capacity needs.
  • What kind of support do they offer? Some ESPs assume that knowledge base articles and an online forum are enough, but that doesn’t work when a critical problem brings your business to a standstill and you need to get someone on the phone.
  • Do they incorporate security by design? In addition to supporting SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, they should provide security at the email content, protocol, and network layers. And you can’t go wrong if they run on a rock-solid cloud platform like Amazon Web Services.
  • Can they ensure your emails will hit inboxes? An email shouldn’t be considered delivered if it hits a spam trap, but some ESPs look at it that way. They should be able to optimize your deliverability rates by adjusting your email sending based on real-time feedback from email providers.
  • Do they offer a strong API (application programming interface)? They should support message injection and sending protocols including SMTP, REST, SMPP and MM7, as well as data integration protocols including ODBC, LDAP and PostgresSQL.
  • Do they supply real-time data and analytics? A good ESP will not only supply send, open, click, bounces, and other metrics in real-time but also give you access to a detailed event history for each message.

You can’t go wrong if you decide to go with SparkPost, which is a cloud-based ESP that runs on Amazon Web Services, offers 98% deliverability rates, features a RESTful API and other key protocols, and gives you all the real-time analytics you need.

~ Casey

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5 Ways to Personalize your Next MarTech Email Campaign http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-ways-personalize-next-martech-email-campaign/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-ways-personalize-next-martech-email-campaign/#respond Fri, 14 Jun 2019 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44676 next MarTech email campaignRead up on our tips for personalizing your next MarTech email campaign, and how these strategies can help you nurture your relationship with your customer.

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For a MarTech provider, initial engagement is obviously just the start of the customer’s journey – and of a relationship that ought to bear profitable fruit for both parties for a long time to come. Nurturing that relationship with personalized emails is pretty much a cornerstone of that future success.

In a previous post, we pointed at five MarTech providers who were doing an exceptional job of self-marketing to prospects and customers. You can bet each of them considers personalization to be central. That’s not in the least because being on the receiving end of personalization is ever more important to buyers, too. As one study shows, there’s a primary reason many buyers have limited engagement with B2B vendors: They’re being sent too much irrelevant content.

So in using email marketing to support your MarTech product, “personalization” has to go well beyond just knowing your customer’s name and title. Messages need to be relevant and contextualized so they – and your product – show immediate value to the recipient.

Triggered emails

They’re the bedrock of marketing automation nowadays, and they’re an excellent way to personalize your campaigns. By responding to specific customer actions with messaging that’s punctual and suitable for the situation, you can open up new opportunities.

The number and types of triggers you activate against are nearly endless: content downloads or browsing behavior on your website, for instance; registration for a webinar or user event; the inception or conclusion of a new campaign using your product; making a core update, or adding a plugin or other new functionality.

HubSpot does a good job of this in the example below, where a user’s behavior has triggered a message that will, hopefully, catch them at a moment when their interest in researching social media marketing may be a clue they’re interested in launching a campaign of their own, or upgrading the efforts they’re already making.

Show you know their stack

It’s also vital to demonstrate you know what type of tech stack a customer or prospect is working with, so you’re able to grasp what that says about their marketing objectives and personalize email messaging accordingly. Are they invested in AI? Are they transitioning to ABM? What CRM platform are they relying on? Do they leverage a business intelligence tool?

Understanding a customer’s tech stack gives a MarTech campaign planner the opportunity to demonstrate how their particular offering fits into it, and how it complements or enhances the customer’s existing components. So when you release upgrades that help with cross-platform integration with that customer’s existing solutions, you can make sure they know you’re always improving your own product on their behalf.

When it comes to taking a similar approach in prospecting for new business, or onboarding a new customer without having to grill them about their tech stack, there are new tools that can help do the job. Notablist, for instance, analyzes the email campaigns sent out by marketers to provide a window into what technologies are being used by their brands.

P.S. Notablist uses the tagline “Sending Insights for Closers” — you can easily picture Alec Baldwin spitting it out in Glengarry Glen Ross, right?

Get in sync with their business cycles

One key to personalization is “right time, right message,” and in maintaining engagement with your customers, it’s good to know their business, marketing, and sales cycles. Why? Because by doing so, you’re able to make your messaging more timely and relevant.

If you’re trying to prompt them to use your platform or upgrade to new features, being able to anticipate a marketing cycle where those might be useful means you can hit them with reminders or announcements that play perfectly into their upcoming campaigns.

You can ask for a sneak peek at their marketing/sales calendar, of course, but it’s not always going to be available, or gathering that data is too manually intensive. Here, too, there are analytics tools that can automate the gleaning of insight: Moat is one. By tracking where and how a marketer is investing its marketing resources, in what channels, and the length and breadth of marketing cycles, you’re able to plan your campaigns appropriately.

Encourage and educate

You can put the “personal” in “personalization” by putting a human face on your interactions with customers. They’re investing good money – and their professional standing – in your product, so you should help them along the way by recognizing them reaching individual milestones or other trigger points with pats-on-the-back, by offering tutorials or other skills-building content, or even by giving “power users” exclusive access to new feature demos and the like.

The triggers can revolve around their use of the product, completing tutorials, gaining proficiency ratings, trying out new features, participating in user groups, or any other accomplishments that they can feel good about – and give you a chance to deepen your bond with that customer.

Here’s an example of offering up kudos on reaching a milestone from engagement platform Sleeknote that’s, unsurprisingly, very engaging – particularly since it hails from the CEO, who sounds like a fun guy to hang with.

Let them provide some personalizing

Customers love empowerment, so one way to deliver that – and to help you personalize your relationship with them – is to judiciously give them the power of choice in responding to your campaign.

Newsletters are a classic tool for building a customer profile by tracking the links they click on in each issue, as their choices provide solid data about their interests and needs. Yet there are even more imaginative and expansive ways to accomplish that, as shown in this ProductPlan onboarding email.

ProductPlan isn’t a MarTech provider (they offer roadmap visualization tools), but the idea here translates easily. They’re giving the new customer the power to choose where and how they want to start their onboarding process.

Those choices, naturally, can help a marketer further customize future messages or complete campaigns/tracks. In the moment, though, the customer’s decisions let you direct them to personalized content you can segment as much as necessary to give them a more satisfying engagement.

~ Craig

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The Five Email Love Languages http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/five-email-love-languages/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/five-email-love-languages/#respond Wed, 12 Jun 2019 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44663 email love languagesExplore how to create a multifaceted email program that allows you to communicate with customers in their respective email love languages.

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If you’re familiar with Gary Chapman’s 1992 tour de force, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, then you know that a lifetime of love can be easily attained through reading a self-help book. In his masterwork, Chapman outlines the 5 types of communication necessary to create a love that lasts. They are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. While strong and open communication of all sorts can certainly be used towards building a loving relationship with a significant other, these love languages obviously parlay themselves into how to communicate with someone even more important than your soulmate…your customer!

Check out how you can apply the five love languages as communication and engagement strategies with your customers:

Words of Affirmation: Welcome and Onboarding Emails

Your customers deserve to know that they’ve made a great choice by signing up for your product or service. In fact, Stripe explains that welcome and onboarding emails can drive three times the transaction and revenue per email than any other promotional email! That’s right, welcome emails not only serve as digital words of affirmation to your customer but can also do wonders for your bottom line!

Acts of Service: Triggered Email

When customers make payments to your company or updates to their accounts, it’s absolutely imperative that they are notified of the change via email. Triggered email does just that! A triggered email is a timely, relevant, and individualized email automatically sent in response to an action taken by a recipient, or to a data point about that recipient. These sorts of emails help to serve the customer by notifying the customer of changes before they even ask!

Receiving Gifts: Deals, Deals, Deals!

Customers that opt-in to your emails deserve to be recognized for their loyalty! One of the best ways to communicate your gratitude to devoted customers is by sending them marketing emails that contain discount codes and free gifts! Not only do consumers love free stuff, but these sorts of rewards can help keep your clientele engaged with your email messages and create positive buzz about your brand.

Quality Time: Sending Messages at the Right Time

When this love language is applied to a lover or significant other, it generally means spending A LOT of time with that person. However, when it comes to spending time with your customer it needs to be done on their terms, at a time that is convenient for them. This means that when sending marketing or triggered messages, the content needs to be timely to the customer. There’s nothing worse than receiving a marketing email with a discount code for a sale that has already ended or a “Forgot My Password” email hours after the fact. By focusing on sending your messages at the right time, you can build trust with your customer and create a frictionless customer experience.

Physical Touch: Don’t

Okay, my stretch of a metaphor ends here. Please don’t touch your customers.

Keeping these five strategies in mind can help you create a multifaceted email program where you are able to communicate with customers in their own email love language.

~ Erica

P.S. Interested in finding out which love language you speak? Check out this quiz!

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[Webinar] Retail Banking: How to Optimize the Customer Deposit Lifecycle http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/webinar-retail-banking-optimize-customer-deposit-lifestyle/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/webinar-retail-banking-optimize-customer-deposit-lifestyle/#respond Mon, 10 Jun 2019 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44651 retail bankingJoin us on June 20th at 2:00 PM EDT, for a live discussion of the importance of personalization in the retail banking customer journey.

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It’s not the same bank your parents used – digital is a game changer

Thanks to the digital world, there are new ways to market to today’s financial services customers. New marketing technology presents challenges and opportunities in how we engage with customers and create more personalized experiences, tailored to their needs.

With technology solutions like Novantas and SparkPost, you can use advanced segmentation to learn the value derived from lifetime activities and use analytics and metrics to optimize the customer’s lifecycle with your retail bank, creating a personalized banking experience that results in customer loyalty.

Pump up your Marketing Game

The game has changed. Retail banks used to wait for the customers to come to them.

“Did you know that since 2015, the impact of the branch on new-to-bank checking acquisition declined by roughly 10% while marketing’s impact on the same category has increased 10% and is still growing?” – Hank Israel, director, Novantas

Now, banks need to reach out to use marketing and MarTech acquisition tools to build their clientele. Marketing spend is on the rise.

The Right Marketing Tools Can Set You Apart from your Competition

According to Acquisition IQ Insights, the top priority for many banks will be getting the data and marketing technology to help them gain insights into what consumers want from their bank. Then, they can build it with personalized programs that fit their needs. Analytics and data show the ‘who’ based on engagement and refining those customer lifecycles, allowing the banks to deliver a more personal and continuous journey with the customer.

Novantas offers a range of analytically oriented solutions for banks: pricing, risk, distribution analysis, product development, complemented by personalization, segmentation, and strategy implementation expertise – tools to help them figure out who to target and who to say what to.

Add to that, SparkPost, the #1 Predictive Email Intelligence Platform which unifies email deliverability and email analytics and you are building the right set of tools.

Register for the Webinar to Learn More

Marketing has become a dominant force for revenue growth in the battle for retail bank relationships. As consumer preferences continue to shift rapidly to digital channels, there is both a great challenge and opportunity to create a customer journey that is more personalized and engaging.

In this joint webinar from SparkPost and Novantas, we will explore the evolution to customer-level treatments within retail banking, the challenges of current processes, and how advanced segmentation can be applied to optimize the impact of your marketing efforts in customer acquisition.

Join speakers Tom Mairs, Director of Customer Success at SparkPost and Hank Israel, Director, Novantas in an interactive conversation about:

  • A customer case study illustrating best practices one customer used to enhance engagement
  • The importance of personalization and analytics to highlight data and offer health score
  • How to benchmark your campaigns and marketing spend across others in the industry

Register today!

~ Erica

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AMP for Email: Coming Soon to an Inbox Near You http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/amp-email-coming-soon-inbox-near-you-google-i-o-2019/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/amp-email-coming-soon-inbox-near-you-google-i-o-2019/#respond Fri, 07 Jun 2019 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44631 Google I/O 2019Technical Product Manager, Isaac Kim, talks about his experience presenting on AMP for Email at Google I/O 2019 and what he covered during his presentation.

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Recap at Google I/O

On May 8th, Aakash Sahney, Filip Stanis and I had the opportunity to talk about AMP for Email and what’s possible in email when up-to-date content, quick actions, and interactivity are added through live implementations and demos. ?As a first-time Google I/O attendee, it was amazing to see the sheer number of developers, Google enthusiasts, and people enthusiastic about being ethically responsible with their data footprint – all converged together for three days. During our AMP email office hours, it was an awesome experience getting to talk with so many people passionate about email and excited about what can be possible with AMP email.

 

Throughout the forty minute session, we covered various topics, including what AMP email is (0:25), how to build an AMP email (14:12), and how to scale an AMP email for mass send (32:06).

What’s New with AMP Email?

The first big announcement is that Gmail lifted the same-zone DNS requirements for AMP emails, meaning that

amp-form
? and
amp-list
?can now use any HTTPS endpoint that has the correct CORS headers. Previously, the HTTPS endpoint was required to have alignment with the sending domain used. Otherwise, the AMP content would break and only the HTML or Text version of the email would render in the inbox. ?This update makes it easier for developers to quickly draft, test, and validate using Gmail’s AMP for Email Playground. Although the same-zone DNS requirements have been lifted, don’t forget to meet the following conditions for your AMP email to be delivered successfully:

  • Meet the AMP for Email security requirements
  • Email must contain a fallback HTML (text/html) or plain text (text/plain) in addition to the
  • AMPHTML MIME part (text/x-amp-html). The appropriate fallback version is displayed when the AMP part cannot be displayed
  • Must use valid AMP content in the AMP MIME part
  • Include the AMP MIME part before the HTML MIME part
  • The AMP MIME part must be smaller than 100KB

The second big announcement is that, in early June 2019, the Gmail engineering team will begin enabling AMP email on mobile devices (Gmail app for Android and Gmail app for iOS). The release will be gradually rolled out to all users over the few weeks after this date. No further action is required to enable recipients to receive AMP emails. For email marketers, this should be music to the ears! According to Litmus, mobile opens accounted for 46% of all email opens, followed by webmail opens at 35%, and desktop opens at 18%. With AMP email making a positive impact on engagement with desktop opens, I can’t wait to see the engagement uplift with the rollout to mobile devices!

Stay Tuned – Exciting Features to Come!

As announced at the end of the Google I/O presentation, we at SparkPost are cooking up a lot of really great features to make creating AMP emails manageable and more intuitive. Without giving too much away, keep an eye out about our new template side-by-side code editor! Get started with AMP email on SparkPost, and if you ever have feedback, I’d love to hear it, so please share!

Best,
Isaac

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Deliverability: Half Art and Half Science http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/deliverability-half-art-half-science/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/deliverability-half-art-half-science/#respond Wed, 05 Jun 2019 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44613 half art and half scienceOur SVP of Deliverability Strategy, Kate Nowrouzi, explains why deliverability is half art and half science and how to get emails into the inbox in 2019.

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Deliverability is half art, half science. The art part is where creativity, relevancy, and frequency come into play. The science part is how well your infrastructure is set up. This varies from proper authentication (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) to domain alignment in the header (MailFrom, d=domain, FromAddress). The science part is the easy one– most popular ESPs have the science part down. The challenging part is the art of deliverability.

Today’s definition of email marketing is different than what it was 10 years ago. The batch and blast days have shifted to triggered messaging. Still, email remains one of the best channels for personal communication and continues to be a great way for brands to increase their marketing ROI. Many successful brands exclusively send personalized messages to their subscribers, and as emails that are not personalized may end up in the ISP’s spam folder. The one-to-many campaign days are long over now.

Personalization makes people feel special. When customers know that they matter, they’re more likely to engage with an email. And, if you can make note of this type of customer behavior, you can easily modify your future campaigns for greater success.

It is very important to remove inactive users from your mailing list. Inactive has a different definition in each industry, it could be 30 days for one company while it could be 12 months for another. If someone has not opened or clicked your mailing in 12 months, it is best to remove them from your future mailings.

Major ISPs such as Gmail and Yahoo take engagement into consideration for inbox placement. At SparkPost we encourage our customers to segment their traffic based on engagement on separate IPs/ domains/ sub-domains and into 3 groups:

  • Active (opens in less than 90 days)
  • Semi-active (90-180 days engagement)
  • Non-engaged (opens in 6-12 months)

If you have chosen a solid ESP and pay close attention to how customers interact with your emails, you will rock 2019 and beyond.

Happy Delivering!

~ Kate

new rules email deliverability best practices

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FinTech Email Onboarding: Are You Doing All You Can With Your Campaigns? http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/fintech-email-onboarding-can-campaigns/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/fintech-email-onboarding-can-campaigns/#respond Mon, 03 Jun 2019 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44597 fintech email onboardingTake a look at some of the biggest challenges of building a FinTech email onboarding program and best practices to address those challenges.

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There’s no denying that financial technology – fintech – is booming these days.

Just last year, multiple fintech companies added billions in both revenue and funding, and analysts are nothing but positive about the future. With their high growth potential and investors’ hunger for disruptive innovation, Goldman Sachs estimates that fintech startups will swipe $4.7 trillion in revenue and $450 billion in profit from traditional financial services companies.

There’s no denying the future looks bright. But even as they take off, they face many of the same challenges as their unsexy brethren when it comes to marketing and growth. Like how to optimize their use of email, especially when it comes to mounting successful onboarding campaigns.

As fintech provider Stripe explains, welcome emails are important. So important, in fact, that they can drive three times the transaction and revenue per email than other promotional emails. That’s a substantial chunk of future revenue, so maximizing onboarding is vital.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the biggest challenges fintech companies face in doing onboarding, and the best practices that can help onboarding emails overcome them.

Drip them in!

Onboarding shouldn’t just be a one-shot email drop, especially if you’re trying to acclimate a new user to using a fintech solution’s features (and making upgrades). A classic example from the brick-and-mortar banking world that still proves a good point: Armed Forces Bank elected to experiment with doing a series of onboarding emails, six in all, in lieu of just one.

When they sent out the series with timing that accommodated the schedules of their customers – military servicepeople – they saw a 40% lift in new savings accounts, versus those who only got a single onboarding email. And these customers also increased their account balances and kept more of them open.

This onboarding “drip” approach will work in fintech, too. Why? Because you’re gradually building a relationship with the user, and showing respect for their life and its demands. Earning that respect earns you the chance to send them more messages.

The lesson? Extending the messaging and gradually growing a relationship with users can drive stronger business results compared to a single email.

That’s why fintechs like PayPal make onboarding a journey, not a blip, as you can see in the select emails below. Each new message puts extra reasons to use PayPal in front of the user, educating over time instead of overwhelming all at once.

Be sensitive and authentic

It’s no secret that finance can be a touchy subject with plenty of people.

According to a recent survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults, 85% of us are sometimes stressed about money, while a whopping 30% of Americans admit they’re constantly stressed about money. You’d think they’d jump at any chance of alleviating this stress. But the truth is more nuanced.

According to Wells Fargo, 44% of Americans felt personal finances are the single most challenging topic for them to discuss with others. With such emotion and insecurity being attached to the very word ‘finance’, it can be hard for a marketer to make a good first impression.

So your first order of business is to make your recipient feel comfortable with your message. While constructing your onboarding email, it’s important to bear these sensitivities in mind. Expressing your thanks for them signing up with you is the first order of business, but avoid getting treacly or falsely sentimental about it.

If they’ve signed on with you, they probably responded to branding and key messages that you ought to follow through on. GoBank takes a wry, cut-to-the-chase approach with the thank-you message below, which aligns with their positioning as the oh-so-friendly provider who’s going to defeat fears about how to manage your money by making banking fun! Welcome to the party!

Make it relatable

While it may be a misconception, many people view “finance” as synonymous with “boring” and “complicated.” It’s your job to prove otherwise.

Technical jargon and detailed explanations can exhaust the reader, or drive them to simply delete your email and move on. Or, worse yet, force a change of heart as they consign you to the Spam folder and delete the app. While it may be tough, coming up with creative ways to make the onboarding experience energizing and motivating, not deadly dull, are critical.

Take another look at the GoBank example above. Or this Facebook ad by Wealthsimple. While it’s not an email, the idea is the same – they’re targeting by customer segment.

The ads feature an influencer from a popular TV show, but with an angle that’s relatable and appealing for its intended audience. It’s built around a personal anecdote the target can understand, not any kind of a hard sell.

Make it visual

Another good way to stand out from the crowd? Including images in your emails that give your reader a graphic idea of what they’re signing up for. 65% of the population are visual learners, so it’s worth playing to this.

Rather than communicating via copy, offer images that tell the story – a visualized walkthrough on how to use your app, for instance. This is particularly important when you consider that over half of us access our email via mobile devices. Storytelling via good graphic design should take precedence over “wall-of-text” copy they have scarce time – or inclination – to wade through anyway.

This clean and simple-to-understand email from ExpenseIt does exactly that, and its own clarity reminds them why they wanted the app in the first place: Because of its ease of use.

Excite them early about using the product

Stoke their early enthusiasm for your product by building a few early – and surprising – messages into your onboarding flow that spotlight the product’s functionality. Send a hearty “congratulations!” when they first try out a new feature, for instance, and add pageantry and flair to even your most mundane, baseline functions. In short, the gamification that makes apps appealing to users should extend into your emails.

See what Credit Karma does in the notification below? As a user, of course you’re using the platform to keep track of – and improve, one hopes – your credit score. Credit Karma makes a big deal out of the fact the user’s score has gone up with this triggered alert, and drives them to check to see whether or not they can get a loan approval for that superyacht (actually, a 2016 Camry) they’ve got their eye on.

Another version of this tactic? Send them actual rewards for using features, like FREE! upgrades or promotional incentives. Remember, you want them as fully engaged as possible as early and often as possible.

Remind them they’re missed

If there’s a hiccup in their onboarding flow, or they stop using your product, never let them go without a winback message of some sort. It never hurts to send them a gentle, or funny, or even urgent reminder that they’re a valued user and you’d love to see them back in the fold, as Simple did in the message below.

Mint are experts at onboarding, and their re-engagement message to delinquent users is no exception. The subject line it uses? “We miss you already.” Nothing like tugging at the heartstrings while also reminding people of the pragmatic reasons they were interested in you in the first place.

And if all else fails, there’s that other carrot you can offer– incentives to come back that take the form of discounts, free upgrades, or other lures.

Get on board more effective onboarding

Email is a powerful component in the onboarding flow, and a natural complement to in-app notifications and SMS messaging. The best practices we’ve just walked through are just cornerstones for a more customized, fine-tuned approach to building strong bonds with a user base.

But getting the blocking-and-tackling right first is essential. Only then can a fintech marketer set itself up for further success by optimizing future campaigns.

~ Casey

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5 Email Tips Insurance Providers Should Keep in Mind http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-email-tips-insurance-providers-keep-mind/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/5-email-tips-insurance-providers-keep-mind/#respond Fri, 31 May 2019 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44589 insurance providersRead up on five email best practices insurance providers should keep in mind when building an email strategy to communicate with customers.

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Like many industries, insurance has moved away from face-to-face interactions and has become a business where many transactions are handled online. However, email remains a key channel for activity, as evidenced by email marketing’s strong ROI of 42:1 on average, according to Litmus’ 2019 State of Email Survey.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when building an email strategy for your insurance business.

1. Use triggered and transactional emails to keep customers engaged

Insurance may be a “set it and forget it” part of people’s lives, but you can still use email to maintain a relationship with customers and earn their trust. Triggered and transactional emails are a great way to do that.

  • Triggered emails alert customers to events, such as suspicious log-in attempts, upcoming due dates for premiums and other payments, and monthly reports.
  • Transactional emails are sent in response to customers’ actions, such as premium payments, claim initiations, new account creations, and password resets.

You should set up both types of emails. While many of them aren’t useful for marketing purposes – customers don’t want to be sold on getting another policy while dealing with a claim or a password reset – monthly reports are one kind of triggered email that you can bundle with additional information, such as related insurance products that you offer.

You can also use monthly reports to give customers useful information that’s not sales-related but which can build trust. For example, you can offer seasonal maintenance tips to people with homeowners insurance policies. Doing so helps make your emails more valuable and can increase engagement rates, which is useful for building a positive sender reputation with email providers.

And don’t forget to set a regular reminder to review all your triggered and transactional emails to ensure they’re still current. That review should include everything from the types of policies you offer to the fine print you need to put at the bottom of every message.

2. Give a warm welcome to new customers

According to Campaign Monitor, welcome emails have a 50% open rate, which makes them 86% more effective than other emails sent to customers. That’s why a welcome email should be the first transactional message you send to new customers. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Forget sales pitches: Welcome new customers in a friendly, straightforward way. Keep the message as simple as possible and don’t try to do any upselling or cross-selling in the email – that’s not an optimal way to build trust.
  • Set expectations: Let people know how often they’ll hear from your company, and don’t try to hide the mandatory unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. You can always offer some options on your unsubscribe page, so people can choose to stay on your list but hear from you less often.
  • Consider multiple welcome emails: Many companies like to build an onboarding experience that walks new customers through their products or services. You might want to do the same, especially for complex types of insurance. You can also use emails after the first one to let new customers know what else you have to offer.
  • Keep it short: Don’t use a welcome email to dump a lot of little details on new customers. Use your website for hosting deep dives into policy features and include a relevant link in the welcome email for customers who want to learn more.

3. Keep an eye on security and compliance regulations

The U.S. insurance industry operates in a fragmented regulatory environment that’s handled mostly at the state level, so it’s important to be aware of which laws affect how you email your customers. There’s likely some fine print that needs to be at the bottom of every message, and you should take care to keep sensitive personal information out of emails.

In addition, you’ll want to ensure your emails are in compliance with the federal CAN-SPAM law in the United States as well as GDPR, which can affect businesses based outside Europe. And don’t forget to do regular email list maintenance: honor unsubscribe requests immediately, and remove addresses that bounce as well as ones that have stopped engaging with you.

You should also be aware of three free security standards that can help ensure your messages are delivered to your customers’ in boxes and you’re notified about any suspicious messages that are sent to spam folders or quarantined.

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) enables mailbox providers to verify that an incoming message was sent from a host IP authorized by the sender’s domain administrators.
  • DomainKeys Authenticated Mail (DKIM) uses a private key to create a unique digital signature for an email’s header and content. The key is added to the message’s header and validated against a public key in the sender’s DNS records.
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) enables a company to publish their authentication practices, advise receivers on how to treat messages that don’t validate against SPF and DKIM, and to request that notifications be sent to the business when a mailbox provider encounters non-authenticated messages.

When you implement those three standards in unison, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood that a bad actor will successfully impersonate your company in a phishing email and compromise some of your customers’ accounts.

4. Segment your email list

Email list segmentation involves splitting your customer list into sub-lists based on different attributes. Doing so lets you send more targeted messages to those segments, such as offering a bundled discount on homeowners insurance to people who have vehicle policies. You can vary your imagery and text by segment too, such as using lifestyle photos that match customers’ ages and speaking to them in different ways.

Segmentation can be a powerful way to drive email performance:

  • Revenues can increase by 781% (Jupiter Research)
  • Average click-through rate was 12% higher for emails sent to segmented lists, according to a HubSpot analysis

There are several ways to segment your email list, including but not limited to:

  • Customers’ ages (insurance needs can vary by age)
  • What your customers own, such as homes, cars, boats, and so forth
  • Marital and/or family status
  • Types of insurance policies they have with you (this one and the previous two items can be used in tandem for upselling and cross-selling)
  • How long they’ve been customers (useful for offering special deals for long-time policy holders, or simply thanking them for their loyalty)
  • How much they spend per month or year (helpful for ROI calculations for different segments)
  • How they’ve engaged with your emails in the past (for example, you might want to try a different strategy with people who typically open your emails but don’t click through)
  • Lapsed customers (you should develop a strategy for bringing them back)
  • Sales cycle stage (it can be helpful to create a segment for sales prospects who haven’t become paying customers yet)

You can conduct surveys to get more information about your customers, if you don’t have enough data to create useful segments.

5. Drive healthy open and click-through rates with personalized messaging and strong content

First name personalization is fine, but that’s just a start. You can rely on other kinds of personalization to engage customers too, such as:

  • The types of policies they have
  • Their location (helpful for also including the contact information for your nearest office)
  • Payment acknowledgements (“Thanks for your premium payment on [insert date].”)
  • Their interactions with you (“Thanks for your [phone call/email/letter] to our office last week.”)

Next, pair your personalization with strong content. Subject lines should be simple – try including at least one power word to drive the kind of emotion you want to convey. It can be helpful to think about your subject lines as if they’re headlines, like you’d see on a website. Copyblogger has a useful e-book about writing magnetic headlines, which you can apply to subject lines.

You should complement the subject line with your preheader, which is the text that email clients, including nearly all mobile ones, display below the subject line. If you don’t specify a preheader, the recipient will typically see the first several words of the email, which could be something unhelpful like, “To view this email in a web browser, click here.” Your preheader should offer people an additional incentive to click to open.

And don’t neglect the “from” address and name. Avoid a generic “no-reply@” address that uses the name “Insurance Policy” or something similar. Use a name that makes your customers feel like someone is reaching out to them personally, and use a reply-to address that’s functional and sends the message somewhere useful, such as the customer’s CRM record. Even if you don’t want people to reply to your emails, some will try anyway, so it can be helpful to capture what they have to say.

Finally, prompt the action you want with the body of your email. Make sure all your emails are mobile responsive, which means they’ll automatically adapt to the devices used by your recipients, whether they’re on small-screen phones or computers with widescreen displays. The text, image sizes, and layout will adjust on the fly to offer the best possible experience.

Finally, consider that at least 50% of emails were opened on mobile devices in 2018, according to Campaign Monitor, so in addition to a responsive layout, make sure you use short pieces of text and as many bullet points as you can. Try to deliver one key message per email and include a clear CTA button that indicates what you want people to do, such as “Pay My Premium” or “View My Monthly Report.” Here’s a trick: Say “I want to…” when writing your CTA text to consider it from your customers’ point-of-view.

~ Casey

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7 Types of Fintech Email Notifications http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/7-types-fintech-email-notifications/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/7-types-fintech-email-notifications/#respond Wed, 29 May 2019 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44556 Fintech email notificationsDiscover the 7 types of Fintech email notifications companies use to communicate and build relationships with their customers.

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Financial technology providers are right at the forefront of finding relevant ways to deploy transactional and triggered email. ?That only makes sense, since they’re in constant search of new growth surfaces.

The best of their efforts combine a great grasp of what constitutes “customer service” with a keen understanding of customer psychology. Many people get anxious when it comes to dealing with finances, and the seven examples we’ll share below are each crafted to make the customer experience warmer and more personalized, giving them the sense that they’re the ones in control of the relationship.

And each plays its part in delivering a well-designed customer experience that has continuity and clarity for the customer. As our own Brent Sleeper recently noted, that’s key to making customer engagement a happy place – and not a source of annoyance.

Account Balance Alerts

For users of basic banking services – that checking account or credit/debit card, for instance – it’s always good to be on top of their balances. So using email alerts, triggered by events like getting too close to a credit limit or an overdraft, is a service they appreciate.

The DISCOVER example below from a few years ago is a classic example of how to do this perfectly. To start off, the subject line makes it totally clear what the message is about – and even reminds the customer that they set the alert up in the first place.

In a subtle touch, the pitch for the mobile app is at the end of the message – not intrusive, but a logical place to set this call-to-action to the customer in an email that’s just reminded them how important it is to control their finances.

Stock Market/Trading Alerts

To stay on top of the markets, an investor has to be aware of any shifts that might impact their money – or their chance to make more of it. So emails, either to their regular inbox or to an app inbox, can be set to be triggered by specific developments: a particular stock hits a threshold, the market averages do the same, or reminders to sell off shares on a certain date for tax reasons.

Trading apps have excelled at using email alerts to keep clients on top of movements in the market or key dates. Another trigger? Tracking browsing behavior through the app to deliver relevant content; if a client shows an interest in Apple (though they haven’t watchlisted it), news updates about the company (or other tech stocks) can be dispatched their way.

Onboarding & Nurturing

Once you’ve got a user signed up for your Fintech platform or product, it’s important to onboard them effectively so they’ll begin making use of it – and then nurture them through increasing levels of usage and proficiency, getting them to embrace more features (and eventual upgrades).

Here’s a great instance from QuickBooks, based on the profile they’ve built of the customer using their in-app and browsing behaviors. In this case, that user is self-employed, so QuickBooks encourages them to make use of its business expense management features – and dangles the opportunity to save on his or her taxes as a carrot.

Another tactic for deepening engagement during this part of the user lifecycle? Sending them a survey or questionnaire about how they use the product, what features they like the most, what they’d like to see added, and so on. This works in later stages, too, as a way of showing a provider is interested in their user community. Not to mention how it generates invaluable personalization data.

Winback/Re-engagement Messages

Okay, maybe even the very best onboarding and retention efforts weren’t able to keep a customer from drifting away from using an app or service. In that case, fiserv providers can be pretty adept at sending out win-back emails aimed to bring delinquent users back into the fold.

Those can take many forms, but one of the most effective can show the ex-user “what you’re missing!” in terms of new features, and throw in some testimonials to boot. Mint, from Intuit, does of fine job of exactly that, as it frets about the fact the recipient is “missing all the buzz” about those improvements.

Surveys

Another tactic for deepening engagement during practically any part of the user lifecycle? Sending them a survey or questionnaire.

So long as it’s relevant and well-pitched, you can ask them about how they use the product, what features they like the most, what they’d like to see added, and so on. This works practically any stage as a way of showing a provider is interested in their user community. Not to mention how it generates invaluable personalization data.

It’s important to follow the rules, though, since financial services markets are among the most heavily regulated around. And new laws like the GDPR and CCPA make data privacy compliance vital.

Here’s an offbeat example of how one fiserv platform uses a survey. Kabbage provides small business funding, and in this case, gives users a chance to offer feedback to the Federal Reserve. Not only does it make Kabbage look like a bigger player, but also they’re helping give their users a voice with banking system bigwigs.

Order Confirmations

Sending a customer quick and precise order confirmations with some useful features attached is an email tool of many fiserv providers, and it not only builds reassurance with those users but even an expectation of just that kind of reliable contact.

If you haven’t heard of AliPay, you will; it’s the third-biggest online payment solution in China and has seen staggering growth. One of its key strengths is its ability to let users make cross-border payments in any of 16 different currencies. As you can see from the example below, which is a demo for store owners on how AliPay order confirmations work, it’s also an expert in leveraging email.

The message is short and direct and throws in the option of accessing order status and package tracking. These may be just elementary blocking-and-tackling, but they’re the kind of touches that maintain customer loyalty. And, in AliPay’s case, help it sell itself to retailers.

Suspicious Activity Alerts

With the amount of financial black-hattery that happens constantly, it’s reassuring to the customer to know their provider is on top of things. As, for instance, sending them alerts triggered by suspicious activity on a credit card.

The best examples of these (like the one below from Bank of America) are crisp, clean, and to the point: The recipient quickly sees a list of the suspect transactions with enough detail to help them remember if they’d used the card at that location, and can use big YES or NO buttons to let the card provider know if the charges are legit or not.

One extra feature some have suggested? ?The power to put a “temporary hold” on a card if the customer isn’t sure about the charges, and needs to check that office or kitchen drawer full of receipts.

~ Casey

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4 Ways FinTech Unicorns Drive User Growth With Triggered and Transactional Emails http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/4-ways-fintech-unicorns-triggered-transactional-emails/ http://www.yuye14.icu/blog/4-ways-fintech-unicorns-triggered-transactional-emails/#respond Fri, 24 May 2019 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.yuye14.icu/?p=44541 FinTech unicornsExplore 4 examples of the ways current FinTech unicorns are using triggered and transactional emails to help drive their growth.

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FinTech (Financial Technology) is one of the hottest sectors in the technology field. In fact, FinTech set a record for venture capital funding in 2018, with almost $40 billion raised in 12 months. That frenzy of activity helped create nearly 40 VC-backed FinTech unicorns, or companies worth at least $1 billion each, by the first quarter of 2019.

How does a start-up experience the hyper-growth that turns it from a foal gingerly making its way down a path to a gleaming unicorn galloping through the forest? There are plenty of factors driving that kind of success, but one undeniable element is the use of triggered and transactional emails to accelerate user growth.

Another reason to craft a strong email strategy is the fact that email marketing also yields strong ROI of 42:1 on average, according to Litmus’ 2019 State of Email Survey. That ROI increases with user growth, too: companies with at least 500,000 email subscribers see 44:1 ROI, and at the 10 million-plus mark, ROI hits 46:1.

And don’t forget that triggered and transactional emails are a great way to create and nurture customer relationships, as well as build trust, which is crucial when people expect a business to safeguard some of their most sensitive personal information.

  • Triggered emails alert customers to events, such as suspicious log-in attempts, upcoming due dates for bills and other payments, and monthly reports.
  • Transactional emails are sent in response to customers’ actions, such as bill payments, deposits, new account creation, and password resets.

Here are 4 examples of the ways current FinTech unicorns are using triggered and transactional emails to help drive their growth.

1. Welcome new customers to your merry band

Robinhood has reached a $5.3 billion valuation on the strength of its commission-free stock trading app, which is popular among customers who view old school brokerages as stodgy businesses. It may seem obvious, but one trick Robinhood has used to help it reach more than 6 million users is to acknowledge them when they sign up.

The first onboarding email they send is simple, which is the best way to handle such messaging. You don’t want to inundate new customers with upsells, cross-sells, and other promotional material.

You want to let them know their account is ready to go and give them the basic information they need to get started, which in this case includes links to the mobile apps. Robinhood also adds a couple of sentences about setting up a Trusted Contact Person, which is presumably a key part of their user accounts since no one wants to leave their loved ones without a way to access their financials.

Robinhood also includes social media buttons that are integrated into the layout, rather than standing out in an obviously promotional way. In addition, the entire email maintains the company’s official color scheme, which is a key part of brand identity. They close with the required regulatory disclosures, which are unavoidable, and an unsubscribe link.

2. Celebrate customers’ purchases

Many people are still trying to figure out how cryptocurrency will fit into our daily lives, but Coinbase has successfully navigated that space to become a major wallet provider and exchange. They’re valued at $8 billion, or 8 shiny unicorns.

The transactional email they send in response to a purchase matches their bright position in the market, starting with a sparkly congratulatory GIF that strikes the right celebratory tone. The checkmark, a key element of behavioral science, tells the user, “Great job! You just accomplished a task.”

The rest of the email spells out the specifics of the transaction, which are important for countering fraud, and includes a CTA (call-to-action) nudge to set up a recurring buy. It’s okay to do that in this kind of email, since it can turn a one-time or part-time customer into a regular one. The “Learn more here” link goes to a Coinbase blog post that offers helpful insight into why someone might want to set up a recurring buy.

3. Keep account change emails simple

When people make changes to their accounts, you want to take a “Just the facts” approach and give them nothing more than what they need in the email, which should be sent as soon as possible. This is crucial to helping mitigate fraud.

That’s the approach taken in this email from Credit Karma, a $4 billion unicorn that wants to make financial planning easier for everyone. This change of password notification lets the user know what happened and gives them a direct line to the support team in case a bad actor accessed the account.

There’s no need for splashy GIFs, cheeky language, upsells, or cross-sells here. Any of those things will likely irritate the user and potentially erode customer trust.

4. Open the communication line when customers make major decisions

Sending money to a friend to pay for part of a dinner is one thing. Making investment decisions is another. Even closing an account that contains sensitive personal information can be a nerve-wracking experience for customers. They want their request handled quickly and efficiently, and you have to balance the need for security and adherence to financial regulations.

Social payments and investments are both part of the business model at Circle, which is currently valued at $3 billion. It offers two apps, Circle Pay and Circle Invest, for customers in those sectors.

Circle makes it fairly easy to set up an account, but closing one requires sending them a message (users can do so from the app) that triggers the two emails shown below. They do a good job of managing customers’ expectations while giving the company time to ensure that the request isn’t fraudulent.

Like other emails of this type, they wisely leave out promotional messaging. They also refrain from saying things like “Are you sure?” No one wants a company begging them to reconsider when they’ve decided to close their account. Yes, you should have a strategy in place for winning back users, but those emails should be saved for later.

The first email, received immediately after a request to close an account, lets the user know that the support staff is aware and a ticket number has been generated. The decision to include the text of the message that the user sent, along with a date and time stamp and information about the app and device used, helps protect against fraud.

Letting the user reply to the email gives them a chance to add more information to the support request, which is handy in case they forgot something. This is the kind of situation where they don’t want to wait for a response from the support team before they can offer additional crucial details.

The second email, which was received right after the first one, gives the customer a quick follow-up to reassure them that a review is underway. It also sets expectations: It might take a couple of business days to complete the review, a caveat that gives Circle some wiggle room in case fraud is involved.

The link on the support ticket number lets the user click or tap to see the customer support conversation on Circle’s web site. It’s a second chance to add more information to the conversation while the company is initiating a review.

~ Casey

 

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