The Key to the Inbox is Subscriber Love

Chris Kolbenschlag, Director of Deliverability

EaEmail Heartrlier this year I was fortunate enough to sit on a panel with a few large ISPs. One of them was asked the very popular question, “What do marketers need to do in order to get their email campaigns into the inbox?” The ISP replied very simply, “Get subscribers to love your emails.” Which leads to the next question of, “How do I do that?”

Coming from a deliverability person, it has always been about strong permissions AND relevant emails – that’s what my fellow panelist meant by getting people to want to hear from you. Yes, content and other factors play a role, but the answer given was very accurate in that if your subscribers love your products/service, then you don’t need to worry about the other stuff. ISPs will know you are a relevant sender by the low complaints and high engagement metrics.

The ISPs measure how much your email is liked by a few main metrics, the biggest being “user feedback” or “user perception.” These include how many people are hitting the “this is spam” button on an email in the inbox versus how many people are hitting the “this isn’t spam” button on an email that was placed in the spam folder. Both of these are telling the ISP what the end user thinks of the email they just received from you. This is vital to understanding why emails are placed in the bulk folder and something not to miss. The ISPs don’t just block or place emails in the spam folder because they feel like it. They do it because your subscribers tell them so via the complaint button or by ignoring your email. This is good news because these are issues you can control. If your subscribers are complaining about your emails and/or ignoring them, then let’s back up some and take a look at how it all started:

  • Permissions: How do you collect email addresses? Are people opting in, or are you opting them in? Is it clear they are being added to marketing messages, or is that disclosure buried in the fine print of a privacy policy or terms and conditions?
  • Relevancy: Are you sending emails that are relevant to what they signed up for?
  • Frequency: Is the monthly newsletter now a daily promotional email?
  • Behavioral Targeting: Are these emails customized to their buying/shopping behaviors? Are you sending 2 million people the same offer for a red pair of shoes?

Again, all these items above are in your control, and failing in just one category can get you in the spam/bulk folder. So take them seriously if you are focused on getting your customers to love what you are sending them, which ultimately keeps you in the inbox. Make your subscribers look forward to your emails and love them!

Chris Kolbenschlag
Director of Deliverability at Bronto

  • Hi Chris,
    I believe this guidelines also works for the volume of response one can garnered from the company’s mailing list. Your comment would be highly valued. Thank you

  • Chris Kolbenschlag

    Thanks for reading the post! In terms of response – do you mean action taken by the recipient like opening, clicking, converting (completing a sale) or a direct response like a reply?