Sender Score and Email Reputation: What Are They and How to Improve Them

Sender Score and email reputation are two terms very important and relevant to email marketers and deliverability experts.

But to novices and the general public, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the terms.

So in this article, we will demystify what email sending reputation and Sender Score actually mean and what they each measure.

What is email sending reputation?

Email sending reputation is a complex metric comprised of different reputations to determine email delivery practices. The most important reputations are:

  • IP Reputation
  • Content Reputation
  • Domain Reputation

In 1996, as emailing became mainstream, spam began to turn into a serious issue. To counter this, large internet service providers (ISPs) providing email services began to use IP Reputation to analyze email quality.

IP Reputation indicates how much users want to get email from this IP address by measuring bounces, spam or unwanted bulk mail (UBE). Back then, there weren’t very robust ways to authenticate a domain address, so ISPs had to create complex IP reputation models that differed from each other, but had the similar task of identifying problematic IP addresses.

After a while, IP reputation alone proved inefficient, because it didn’t consider how different IPs could deliver (junk) emails with identical content.

Advances in technology in the 2000s enabled ISPs to develop a new method of measuring the quality of a sender’s emails through content reputation.

Content reputation works on a set of criteria that determine the sender’s quality of their email campaign content. While certain types of content are clear triggers for ISPs’ content filters (e.g. attaching a virus, a string of words asking for bank details, and so on), a sender’s content reputation goes down when their emails keep getting low open rates, flagged, blocked, and unsubscribed.

So IP and content reputation work hand in hand to create an overall picture of a sender’s email practices. IP reputation determines the quality of a sender’s email sending through their emailing history. Content reputation analyzes the type of content a sender’s email has and determines if the sender is trustworthy or not.

But of course as spammers and hackers became even more sophisticated in cheating ISP filters and sending malicious emails, this led to the development of more robust email authentication systems – namely the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Email (DKIM) system.

The Sending Policy Framework (SPF) was implemented as a standard in 2014 to check if an email campaign has been sent from an authorized server.

SPF is like an RSVP list of authenticated, valid IP addresses that can send emails on behalf of that domain.

SPF prevents spammers from falsifying the ‘from email address to send spoofing emails’. But the SPF record, by itself, is not enough and can be susceptible to human error and snowshoe spamming (i.e spam propagated across different IPs and domains to weaken reputation and pass through ISP filters).

If a sender indicates the wrong IP domains, then the wrong ones will be able to send emails on behalf of your domain. ISPs have no way of realizing otherwise, and they penalize the sender’s domain for spam.

Therefore, SPF has to go with a DomainKeys Identified Mail system (DKIM), which allows recipients to confirm that the mail comes from the authenticated owner of that domain.

The email itself contains a signature in the header called a DKIM signature or a hash value that allows this authentication. A DKIM signature means that the email has not been tampered or hijacked upon delivery and comes from a valid sender.

As these authentication systems became more robust, ISPs have developed domain reputation, which measures the quality of a domain’s authenticated emails.

Domain and IPs can be different, after all. For example, Mailjet customers could be using shared IPs that we provide and send emails through their domains.

Email sending reputation is a complex metric of other different reputations to determine email delivery practices developed essentially through a constant game of chase and catch between hackers who send malicious spam and the ISPs that are constantly creating new ways to catch them in the act.

Great email sending practices do not end in the way you create the content and design of your emails, but also following strict security protocols that help ISPs identify you as a trustworthy sender.

What is Sender Score?

Using a range that starts at 0 and ends at 100, Return Path’s Sender Score is compiled from non-personal data of over 60 million inboxes from different ISPs, spam filtering, and security companies to create a picture of a sender’s email sending practices.

Sender Scores are normally calculated on a rolling 30-day average.

Sender Score may be also indicative of a sender’s email reputation, but they are not the same. If a sender has a high Sender Score, this could indicate that most of the sender’s transactional and marketing emails land in the inbox.

If a sender has a really low score, then there is a high chance that their email campaigns often have high bounce rates, high block rates and low open rates.

It is important to realize that the Sender Score is ultimately on data that Return Path receives. This score is relevant for ISPs that pay attention to it.

Ultimately, ISPs decide whether you send good emails or not through their own datasets, not on Return Path’s Sender Score.

So while this score might be a good indication of email sending practices, fixing it from low to high does not automatically guarantee that all email campaigns will land in the inbox.

The best way to fix email sending is to look at the source and focus on deliverability (the rate at which a sender’s email campaigns land into the inbox, as opposed to the spam folder), because this is what the Sender Score ultimately attempts to quantify.

 

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How to check your Sender Score

Checking Return Path’s Sender Score is quite easy. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to https://www.senderscore.org/
  2. Register and create an account using your professional email.
  3. You should receive this confirmation email. Click on the CTA Activate Your Account.
    Activate your Sender Score
    Activate your Sender Score
  4. As soon as you log in, you should be redirected to this page.
    Know your Sender Score
    Know your Sender Score
  5. Here, you can look at the Sender Score of either an IP address, or a domain (e.g. mailjet.com).
    Mailjet’s Sender Score
    Mailjet’s Sender Score
  6. Searching by domain name leads you to a page listing IPs sending mail from this domain, an indication of their email sending volume, and, finally, their Sender Score.

These scores could indicate whether this domain has been sending good emails or spammy ones in the rolling 30 days prior to your search.

What is a good Sender Score

According to Return Path’s 2018 benchmark on Sender Score, their Sender Score reveals important data on the following:

  1. Complaint rate – the rate at which users complain about your emails as junk.
  2. Unknown user rate – the number of invalid users in your subscription lists
  3. Spam traps triggered – spam traps are email addresses that don’t belong to anyone and have the primary task of catching spammers and senders with poor list hygiene practices.

Pristine spam traps are email accounts never owned by anyone and have been created to catch bad senders. Recycled spam traps are abandoned email accounts that have now been recycled into spam traps.

As such, domains with Sender Scores of 90 and above have below a 1% complaint rate, ~1% unknown user rate and an average of 0.36% spam trap hits.

Conversely, those with very poor Sender Scores of 10 or below had a 7.4% complaint rate, 7% unknown user rate and an average of 7.53% spam trap hits.

Having a good Sender Score and having emails sent to the inbox is good for the business, but it’s not the end-all to great email sending. More on this on the next section.

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When Sender Score won’t save you

A high Sender Score does not mean an end to your email worries.

Like any other aggregate, Sender Score misses out on other very important factors that influence overall email sending.

After all, this proprietary system comes from Return Path and not from ISPs. Hence, ISPs may have slightly different ways of measuring your email reputation and include other variables that determine whether this campaign should be sent or not.

Return Path suggests:

A high Sender Score on its own doesn’t translate to higher inbox placement rates. Subscriber engagement, a mailbox provider’s own reputation calculations, and the content in the incoming message—none of which are included in Sender Score calculations—all factor into each mailbox provider’s final filtering determinations.

Email deliverability experts agree on this, including Word to the Wise founder Laura Atkins:

Basically, just because you have a great SenderScore doesn’t mean you’re going to have good delivery. Likewise, having a poor SenderScore doesn’t mean your mail is destined to be undelivered.

Sender Score is not the end-all be-all to determining if your email campaigns are great in all areas.

Ultimately, the Sender Score does not measure content creativity, which is crucial to creating email campaigns with high open rates.

Therefore, it is best to focus on your deliverability, as this is the best indicator of whether your emails get delivered to the inbox and not spam folder, or altogether remain undelivered.

It is also a good idea to invest in other email reputation indicators that might be better suited to your email sending.

An email marketer in his Medium article, for example, lamented on areas ignored by the Sender Score. Some 90+ scores scored low on Google Postmasters, which analyzes and measures email sending practices loosely based on Gmail’s complex filtration system. Therefore, Google Postmaster Tools may be a great alternative for you if most emails in your lists are Gmail users, but less so if they are from other ISPs.

In fact, it’s best to understand that ISPs might not only measure email reputation differently, but they might also have different acceptable standards for various metrics altogether.

This is the main reason why, for example, an email campaign might get great deliverability results for Gmail, with most emails landing into their inboxes, but less stellar results in Outlook.

In any case, ISPs have different filtration systems and they modify them often in order to get a step above malicious spammers. If every ISP filter worked the same, then each one would be easy to hack.

So, really, the best way to improve your email sending is to simply improve your email sending practices. Sometimes, the best changes are the most obvious ones.

How to improve your Sender Score and email reputation

As discussed, sender reputation comprises of other reputations based on your email sending:

  1. IP reputation that is tallied by how much people want to see emails from this IP address.
  2. Content reputation that measures how good or spammy your email content consistently is.
  3. Domain reputation that checks the email sending from your domain as a whole, validated through authentication methods.

It becomes a matter of ensuring that your sending practices are great across the board. So here we will compile a guide to ensure that you are sending emails in the best possible way.

Authenticate your SPF and DKIM

Authenticating your account ensures that only a specific list of IPs can send emails using your domain.

This keeps spammers from falsely delivering emails through your domain.

Think of DKIM as the signature you include in every email campaign. The DKIM is a powerful proof that the recipient’s ISP can use to check if these emails they have received are domain-authenticated and valid.

If the signature matches, then the email goes into the inbox – other things equal.

If it does not match, then it’ll go into the spam folder (or gets a hard bounce).

DKIM Process
DKIM Process

SPF meanwhile is a list of the authenticated IP addresses within that domain.

DKIM and SPF work together to ensure that you do not become the victim of a spoofing attack (i.e. where a sender masquerades as another domain to send spam).

Read more:

Authenticating domains with SPF and DKIM

How to set-up DKIM in 3 simple steps

Create sub accounts for your different email needs

Separating your marketing and your transactional emails by creating sub-accounts is good for organizing different types of email sending.

By separating these two types of emails, marketers can better keep track of various metrics, such as:

  1. Scheduled sending of marketing emails.
  2. How often users trigger transactional emails
  3. Different types of transactional emails getting triggered
  4. Different types of marketing emails being sent

Separating both also ensures that deliverability rate issues on marketing emails do not get passed on towards transactional emails and vice-versa.

Imagine if ticket people got their transactional ticket confirmation emails into the spam folder, because an ISPs filtering system identified the sender as a spammer through their marketing emails. This could get email marketers and their companies in a whole lot of trouble.

Deliverability Matters
Deliverability Matters

Read More:

Email Deliverability: A How-to Guide To Get Into The Inbox

Email Marketing Deliverability 101 Guide

What are sub-accounts and how does it help me?

Take charge of your engagement data.

Email engagement is comprised of data on how engaged your users are with your email campaigns. These include:

  1. Open rates – the rate of users opening email campaigns.
  2. Click rates – the rate of users clicking on links and CTAs within these campaigns.
  3. Complaint rates – the rate of users complaining about receiving specific email campaigns.
  4. Engagement time – the amount of time they spend on reading specific email campaigns.
  5. Unsubscribe rate – the rate at which users unsubscribe after receiving your email campaigns.
Mailjet Dashboard
Mailjet Dashboard

The image above shows some of these metrics in action on Mailjet’s dashboard.

Of course, these stats can take a long time and creative effort to improve.

Sending emails with great engagement rates can’t be done overnight. After all, brand loyalty can only be fully nurtured above and beyond email marketing.

But senders can already tweak some things, such as making emails more responsive, and getting some email content and design inspirations online.

Users prefer to engage with beautifully-designed emails as opposed to suspicious plain text ones.

Other than design, of course, the frequency and time of email campaigns also matter.

ISPs consider engagement rate very highly in their content filtering algorithms.

Read more:

Email Campaign Statistics: What Do They Tell You?

Can Email Marketing Still Drive High Engagement?

Segment, A/B and Personalize

Segmentation involves dividing your email contact lists based on a set of criteria. Each segment can be, for example, based on region, gender, or interests, among others.

A/B Testing is when marketers send multiple versions of the same campaign and analyze which one(s) perform the best.

These techniques can allow marketers to create more specific and personalized email campaigns that users will want to open.

Of course, A/B testing, segmentation and personalization are all related to improving on email engagement rate.

A/B Testing Dashboard” width=
A/B Testing Dashboard

Above are some A/B testing stats on our dashboard. Version A has

  1. The best Open Rate and Click Rate
  2. The highest Click Rate
  3. The lowest unsubscribed rate
  4. The least amount of Soft and Hard Bounces

These indicate that Version A is the winning version and is an email that people want to open and engage with. You can use this information for future campaigns, or if you had only tested with a small sample size, you can automatically send this email to the remainder of your list.

Read more:

How Email Segmentation Can Increase Your Conversion Rate

How can I segment my contact lists?

How To Align Website Personalization With Your Emailing Strategy

Email Personalization With A Human Touch

Create a checklist for your email campaigns.

A best practices checklist for all your email campaigns is like an accountability log to the senders themselves right before they send their email campaigns. A checklist allows them to make sure that they have not forgotten about anything before sending their email campaigns.

With tactics in improving engagement rate and having enabled authentication systems to securely send email campaigns, the last thing marketers can do before they send their email campaigns is to run them through a checklist that should include

  1. Whether they have written a good subject line.
  2. Included a pre-header.
  3. Checked all links are accurate and include UTM tags if necessary.
  4. Proofread.
  5. Good CTAs
  6. Proofread.
  7. Proofread once more (remember, there’s no undo button)

Now, this checklist can be automated, with a tool that runs through emails campaigns to ensure that they are ready for delivery. But this checklist does not have to be automated. Senders can also check through manually. Things that you can check include:

Read more:

Mailjet’s Ultimate Email Checklist

Clean email lists and have double opt-in

Regularly cleaning your contact lists prevents marketers from sending emails to inactive users, some of which might have been converted into spam traps. Clean lists also have more engaged users, especially when they are well-segmented.

One of our customers, Product Hunt has a great way of cleaning their subscription lists. For inactive users (i.e have not opened Product Hunt newsletters in a while) they send an email stating that they have been automatically removed from the list.

 

Product Hunt’s Unsubscribe email :(
Product Hunt’s Goodbye email :(

Read more:

Email List Cleaning: End Up On Santa’s Nice List, Not His Naughty List

Easily & Securely Stow Your Contact Lists

How to delete a contact?

Create email campaigns that matter

Of course, the most important thing that you can do in your email marketing is to create a strategy that includes processes, workflows, tactics, database of email campaigns, and so on. Devising an email marketing strategy means that you have a solid idea of what to do through the course of your marketing projects.

However, an email strategy is not something that’s rigid and bureaucratic. A great email marketing strategy – like any other marketing strategy – allows marketers to experiment throughout the project, in order to adapt to new trends and key moments that suddenly open unexpectedly.

Read more:

The Ultimate Guide to Email for eCommerce

How To Define A Successful Email Marketing Strategy

Introduction to Email Marketing: The Basics Marketers Should Know

Guide: Email Marketing For The Travel And Tourism Industry

The final frontier

Return Path’s Sender Score and Email Reputation are ways to measure a sender’s email sending practices.

But Sender Score does not directly measure a sender’s email reputation. ISPs have their own proprietary algorithms for the way they measure email reputation.

Ultimately, the path to getting into the inbox is on improving deliverability, and we have highlighted ways to do this.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this comprehensive article. If you have any comments, let us know on Twitter at @mailjet.

 

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How to Personalize Your Emails with Mailjet

Email personalization is a tactic used by a lot of brands today, but frankly not enough. We do it… do you? 😉Of course, there are good reasons for this. Personalized emails are much more likely to be opened and clicked, because in a endless feed of content, those messages tailored made for you are much more attractive. In fact, as you’ll see below, simply including a name in the subject line will increase open rates by 20%, boost sales leads by 31%, and reduce unsubscribes by 17%

In this article, we will dig deeper into:

  • Effective ways to personalize your emails.
  • Why using personalization in emails is important.
  • How to use Mailjet to personalize your emails.

 

When you look at the full benefits of email personalization, this is just the tip of the iceberg though.

What is email personalization?

When it comes to email, personalization means leveraging the information you collected about a customer to target their interests and personal attributes. It could be something as simple as using their first name, where they live, something they bought recently, or perhaps something based on their behaviour on your site like downloading content or saving an item in a check out cart.

In short, email personalization can help you:

  • Customize an email subject line to stand out in the inbox;
  • Increase the likelihood of an email being opened and clicked on, when the personalized content is previewed within the inbox;
  • Improve customer experience by sending the right content to the right person at the right time.

Why should you personalize your emails?

We’re sure that by now you’ve already received your fair share of emails with your name in the subject line. Well, something as simple as adding the contact’s name in the subject line can mean a 20% higher chance of getting your email opened.

And now if you receive an email with the subject “Hey Sarah! Find the perfect gift for you and your friends!”, wouldn’t you be interested?

But customizing the subject line is just the first step. Personalization allows you to tailor email content so the reader feels it has been handpicked for them. Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.

As we predicted earlier this month, 2019 will be the year in which brands finally fully embrace relevant messages. Segmented and targeted emails could actually generate more revenue for you and your brand, so can you really afford to continue to neglect email personalization?

What do you need before you start using personalization?

To start personalizing your emails, you’ll obviously need to collect the relevant data from your subscribers, users, and customers. Any data that gives you deeper insights about an individual can be used, from their date of birth, to their city, to their cat’s name. The more information you collect, the more targeted your email campaigns can be. You can collect this data using signup forms and subscription widgets when people create an account or subscribe to your email list, as well as tracking behavioural data such as which links they click in your emails or website actions.

With signup forms and subscription widgets, apart from the standard name and email address information, you can collect extra data such as gender, location, birthday, etc. Capturing extra details helps you in creating more personalized and targeted emails.

How to add personalization to your emails using Mailjet

Mailjet offers standard (simple) personalization that can be easily used thanks to contact properties on Mailjet’s platform. This can be used directly on our email editor, Passport, without having to make any API calls to define the values. Standard personalization can be used on both marketing and transactional emails and can help you when you already have all the data you need stored as part of your contact properties. But what if you don’t?

Well, then there is the option of advanced personalization that could be used through Mailjet’s Email API if you have these values as properties in your CRM. This type of personalization can only be used on transactional emails. We will talk more about that in a future article. :-)

To use standard personalization, however, you just need two things:

  • All the variables already set up as contact properties, and added into your Mailjet account.
  • An amazing guide to learn how to set up the variables in your template (like this post? 😎).

If you need help creating and adding properties, click here.

So, what can we do with simple personalization? Almost anything we want, if the all the necessary information is uploaded to, or integrated with, Mailjet. You can personalize subject lines and content within the email with predefined values, such as your contact’s cat name (we’ll keep pushing this idea until someone uses it 😼)or the city they were born in.

How to personalize your emails using Mailjet’s Passport

Using personalization with our email editor, Passport, is really easy. Once you have your beautiful template ready, it will only take a few minutes to add in all the necessary variables. You will not need deep technical knowledge on how to code, or use any strange Klingon-sounding language to you.

A variable is the value a contact has for a certain property. For example if the property is “firstname” and your name is Jake, then in this case Jake will be the variable for the property “firstname”.

This is why we made it really easy for you to add a variable to the subject line or body of the email by just clicking two buttons. We’ll show you how easy it is to do this in the examples below.

In the subject line

When you’re creating a campaign, the second step in the process allows you to choose your email’s subject line.

Personalizing the subject line is something you can easily do right away. Just create your subject line and click on the “Insert variable” button wherever you want to add the variable.

variable-in-the-subject

A new window will pop up and you can choose the variable you want to use and set up a default value to show if the property’s not available for a particular contact.

values-for-variable

Here’s how the subject would look like in our editor.

subject-with-variable

If everything is set up correctly, the property will be replaced with the value that is associated with each contact once you send your email. And here’s how it will look in the inbox:

personalized-subject-in-inbox

But what happens if there is no value for some of the recipients?

This is when the default value comes into play, as it will be displayed for those contacts that haven’t provided information for that specific property (for this example, it could result in something like: Hey there, did you know about this?). Of course, if you are using variables, you will always want to have something set up as a default value, as otherwise that variable would be blank and the personalization wouldn’t really work with odd blank spots.

“Hey , did you hear about this?” is just a little too annoying.

In the content

And what can Mailjet do to help personalization the email’s content? Well… anything you want!

You can use personalization to add the name of the recipient once again, or anything else that is going to help you address your customers better, and send them the content they would like to receive.

This type of personalization can be used on both marketing and transactional emails. Although there is a slight difference when adding variables in marketing and transactional emails. The first step is either case is the same though: you’ll have to choose the tab ‘Variables’ from the option menu in the content block that you want to add your personalized content.

passport-toolbar-variable

Next, a window will pop up, which will be a bit different depending on whether you’re working on transactional or marketing templates.

Let’s have a look at what that pop up will look like when you’re creating your transactional templates:

adding-variable-passport

On your transactional templates the pop-up window will include the following types of variables:

  • Custom transactional variable: to be used when adding advanced personalization.
  • Contact property inked to the properties in your Mailjet contact list. The Contact property is the one we’ll be using to add standard personalization to your emails.

 

Just like we did before, all you need to do is choose the correct contact property and set your default value. Then, our system will compile the syntax and add it in the template. Easy, right?

And what about your marketing templates? Well, in that case, the pop up window that comes up will look something like this:

adding-marketing-variable-passport

You’ll be able to choose between two types of variables:

  • Contact property: which we’ll be using (as we’ve done before) to add that standard personalization.
  • Predefined tags: which can be used to add things like unsubscribe links, social sharing links, and more.

 

We won’t be looking into predefined tags today, but you can learn more about how we use them for things like unsubscribe links here.

Once you’ve defined the contact property and default value, your content will look like this:

variable-in-the-content

But in the recipient’s mailbox it will look just like this:

personalization-in-the-inbox

How to personalize your emails using MJML or HTML

Of course, if you are creating your emails using MJML or HTML, standard personalization is still an option for you. All you need to do is add this small piece of code into your email and our system will do the rest.

[[data:nameoftheproperty:”defaultvalue”]]

For example: [[data:firstname:”Everyone”]]

That’s all that’s needed on your side. Mailjet’s system will find the value associated with this property and replace it. This syntax can also be used in Passport, if you prefer to do everything manually.

Here’s how the same personalization we did above will look if it is done with MJML:

personalization-with-MJML

Once the email is sent, it will look the exact same way as the one created with Passport.

Summing Up

You can easily create a personalized email that will make everyone want to open and check your email (well maybe not everyone, but definitely a lot more people).

We’ve showed you how easily it is to personalize your email subject lines and content using our email builder, Passport, just by following these simple steps.

And if you think this is getting too easy and want to step up your personalization game, stay tuned to learn how to use advanced personalization and dynamic content!

Want to be the first to know about our new tutorials and useful guides? Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter!

5 Ways Retail Brands Can Amp Up Their Marketing in 2019

The internet has been transforming the retail world by continuously coming up with new ways to shop.

From mobile apps, micro-moments, the Amazon phenomenon, to social shopping, and so on. The retail industry has gone through a lot of changes over the past two decades.

And it’s showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, here are some key facts and figures:

  • Walmart crossed the “500 billion dollars milestone” in revenue
  • Amazon announced it broke new sales records in 2018
  • In 2018, e-commerce now accounts for 11.5 % of total worldwide retail sales (KPMG, Online consumer Report, 2017)
  • 72% of UK shoppers currently use Click and Collect – Cybertill & Forbes, 2016
  • Mobile devices accounted for 35.9% of the revenue generated online in the U.S. during the Black Friday Week

The market is evolving fast and retailers need to adapt to new trends and consumer preferences if they want to keep up with their competitors.

That being said, the amount of information shared online can be overwhelming – making it nearly impossible for marketers and PR professionals in the retail industry to:

  1. identify key strategies for them, and
  2. focus on what really matters for them and their audience.

For this reason, we’ve identified 5 main strategies that we believe would really help retailers kickstart their marketing in 2019. These are based on a report we at Mention recently conducted about digital trends in the retail industry by analyzing 50 of the top retail brands.

Let’s kick it off with one of the biggest trends of 2018: influencer marketing.

Try out influencer marketing by working with micro-influencers

Influencer marketing has been all the rage in 2018. According to Forbes, it has proven to be the “most effective form of advertising.

But as influencer marketing becomes more popular, top influencers become less accessible and more expensive.

Enter micro-influencers.

What are micro-influencers?

Micro-influencers are “regular people with an average of 10,000 followers or less. They are the preferred choice for brands in niche markets, where influence often depends on quality rather than quantity”.

Why should retail brands work with micro-influencers?

Unlike most mega-influencers many brands work with today, micro-influencers’ fame comes from a very focused expertise. They know what they are talking about and this is why people like and trust them.

In 2019, consumers expect transparency and genuine content from brands. By working with dedicated and recognized experts, retail brands can strengthen their credibility and extend their audience reach.

Besides, unless you’re representing a large, notable retail brand, micro-influencers are a lot more accessible than top tier ones, financially speaking.

At the end of the day, working with micro-influencers is a lot less risky since:

  1. They’re a much smaller financial investment compared to macro-influencers, and
  2. They would have less of an impact on your brand image if things go wrong.

Where can you find micro-influencers?

You can find micro-influencers on platforms like Instagram or YouTube. They grow their communities by sharing giving their opinions on the latest industry trends and sharing valuable expertise.

To give an example, many gaming companies work with micro-influencers for them to review their games and present them to their communities. Here’s an example of it with the latest Smash Bros. on the Nintendo Switch:


When done right, influencer marketing can help brands see a 7x increase in their ROI (Influencer Marketing Hub). And it would potentially be at a fraction of the cost they’d be spending on other forms of marketing.

However, to get good results, retail companies need to make sure to only work with influencers that match their brand image and values.

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Personalize the customer journey

According to Janrain, 75% of consumers demand a personalized experience when interacting online with brands.

It is therefore very important for retailers to take this into account. Fortunately, most brands are well aware of it as Gartner reveals that “90% of brands say they will practice at least one form of marketing personalization by 2020.”

With that said, there are two types of personalization retailers should take into account:

Website personalization

Personalize your visitors’ and customers’ experience depending on who they are, what they want and what they do in real-time. As an example, this is a type of personalization Amazon masters.

I recently researched video games related items on Amazon.com, and the website auto-suggested me to give it another thought:

Each visitor will go through a completely different experience depending on their previous interactions with the brand.

Amazon recommendations
Amazon recommendations

Email personalization

If your customer didn’t purchase right away, the emails you follow up with will be a very important part of nurturing them. The personalization of each email you send to your customers should depend on their on-site behavior (categories and product pages visited, Items added to the cart, etc.).

In 2019, retailers can use email personalization to push dedicated offers or send discount coupons based on each visitor’s interests, location, or behavior (i.e. send a discount coupon on various gardening tools to someone who bought gardening tools in the last 6 months).

When thinking about segmentation, or how to divide your potential customers in order to personalize your emails to them, here are a couple of ideas:

Existing customer vs. new visitors

While the average conversion rate for a new visitor is around 3%, a returning customer has a 60% chance to buy again. What’s more, they spend on average 67% more than new visitors.

This means most of your existing customers will buy whether you’re pushing discounts, or not. By only sending discount coupons to new customers and not your entire database, you could be saving yourself a pretty penny.

By focusing your personalization efforts on new visitors, you could quickly see bumps in revenue.

Customer preferences

You could actually call this a personal customization.

Customization requires an action from the visitor. Customers could tell you what they would like their experience to look like and you build it according to their preferences, or you could customize the experience based on attributes like city or gender. All this can be done using Email Segmentation tools.

Here’s an example from Hubspot.

Hubspot subscription
Hubspot subscription

When subscribing to their newsletter, you get to decide what kind of content you would like to receive in the future.

Here’s another example from Peel, a phone case retailer.

When logged in, visitors can add items to their cart and leave before buying, Peel will automatically send them a reminder email called an abandoned cart email.

Peel abandoned cart
Peel abandoned cart

Our tip here is to combine these two types of email optimization. 1) Your customers will receive relevant content, and 2) You’ll offer them a shopping experience that’s personalized in real-time depending on their online behavior.

Geolocalization

Retail brands often deal with customers in different locations and languages. To better communicate with them, there are multiple factors they should take into account:

  1. Time zones: Sending an email in the morning to someone based in California means someone in Germany will receive it late in the afternoon.
  2. Languages: this is quite obvious. Depending on who you are sending emails to, you may have to communicate in various languages.
  3. Culture: depending on where your consumers live, they will have different interests, habits, or even ways to consume your content.

The following short story is a simple way to put it.

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Go for a run and die (of exhaustion)

Now, in some regions of the world, you’d read this from right to left. The story’s outcome is then very, very different.

  • Go for a run.
  • Drink Coke.
  • … die.

In short, segment your audience based on key differentiating factors and send personalized emails to your audience to turn more visits into sales.

Leverage mobile and augmented-reality capabilities

In 2018, it’s estimated that 40% of people own a smartphone (and the percentage is obviously expected to grow in the coming years). As smartphone technology is continuously improved, this presents new opportunities for brands to differentiate themselves with new ways to engage with their customers.

By leveraging mobile and augmented reality (AR) features, retail brands can significantly transform the shopping experience they offer.

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality, is the integration of digital content within the user’s environment (not to confuse with virtual reality (VR), which create a new environment for the user).

Why is AR important?

AR can simulate a real shopping experience wherever your potential clients are. Even better, it simulates a real shopping experience within an environment that is familiar to the shopper.

Here are some examples of AR many retailers are already using to convert more visitors into clients:

Optical retailers: if you wear glasses, you know for a fact that choosing the pair you’ll be wearing everyday for the next couple of years is no easy job.

Today, many retailers offer the possibility to try different models at home, using AR capabilities. It’s not perfect yet, but it will give you a great idea of what specific frames would look like on you.

Here’s an example with Zenni Optical.

Zenni Optical

Furniture: buying furniture is always exciting. That being said, it’s very hard to visualize the result before you buy.

To help their customers to visualize their potential purchases a bit better, Ikea and Apple worked together to create Ikea Place, an AR app that helps you visualize how various pieces of furniture would look in your home or office space.

Ikea Place
Ikea Place

AR is no longer unaffordable

A couple of years ago, developing an AR app involved putting over $30K on the table. Today, it’s estimated that $5K should be enough to develop a functional AR mobile application.

What’s stopping you from trying it out?

Monitor what is being said online

There is a lot being said online about retail brands. From product feedback to customer service complaints, knowing who is talking to your brand and why in real-time is essential.

But first, let’s take a step back.

A large part of marketers’ and PR professionals’ role in the retail industry is to control their brand’s online reputation.

That said, the constant noise generated by the millions of conversations happening every day makes it impossible for them to focus their time on what really matters.

Media monitoring
Media monitoring

Using media monitoring, marketing and PR professionals can keep an eye on everything relevant that is said about them, their competitors and their market in real-time.

What’s more, they are able to identify trends before they go mainstream, giving them two significant advantages.

  • Identify potential threats to your business: while it takes a lot of time to build one’s reputation, it only takes seconds to destroy it. An advanced monitoring tool will help marketers to identify all types of online threats heading their way, whether their brand is in @mention, or not.

Here’s an example with the negative trends gravitating around the Amazon brand: there are 30K mentions about Alexa, 8K about employees. It’s probably something Amazon’s social media team would want to be aware of.

Media monitoring
Media monitoring
  • Identify business opportunities before your competitors: Trends are, by definition, temporary. As soon as the internet picks a trend up, the window to get on the trend train is very, very short. Monitoring-savvy retail brands can identify these trends before they go mainstream and change their product or marketing strategy on the fly.

Last but not least, we think you really need to focus on delivering an excellent customer service to succeed in 2019.

Offer excellent customer service, online and offline

Do you know why Amazon accounts for 33% of online retail conversations? They offer excellent customer service.

Amazon is laser-focused on their customers.

To give you a better idea, I took a look at the activity of their @AmazonHelp twitter account.

At the time of writing this blog post, @AmazonHelp tweeted 3.02M times in 9 years and 2 months.

This means they send an average of 903 tweets per day to deal with customer complaints, questions and remarks, in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Chinese and Turkish.

And that’s just Twitter. We’re not taking into account the call center and their website’s customer service platform.

If you want loyal customers in 2019, everything from your website, customer journey, and service needs to be seamless.

Be available when and where your customers need you

Today, customers demand service on their terms.

This means you have to be available when they need you, via the platforms they use.

While you obviously need a dedicated call center to ensure a proper customer service, you need to have round-the-clock presence on social media.

This focus on customer service is based on two key statistics revealed by KPMG International’s Global Online Consumer Report (2017):

  • 51% of brands consumers trust the most make it easy to contact them.
  • 66% of consumers say excellent customer service is a must for them to be loyal to a brand.

Your customers expect the best, or nothing.

It’s essential for retailers to understand in 2019, customers are no longer blindly loyal to brands. They are loyal to a level of customer service and customer experience.

In short, retailers’ ability to gain market shares depend almost entirely on their ability to keep their customers happy. And to do that well? Definitely consider the 5 tips we just shared with you.

What about you? What are your marketing New Year’s resolutions? Reach out to me at clement@mention.com to let me know!

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Connect New Social Media Channels In Mailjet’s Email Editor

Things are about to get a lot more social!?
You can now connect 10 new social media channels right in the Mailjet email builder, Passport.
Find your favorites, customize it, and start rolling in the likes!

Where Can You Find This Update?

In the email editor, check the content section, our “Social Sharing” component has now been upgraded:
New Social Media Component

What Can You Do?

You now have many default channels that you can select and add to your social block to make it really easy for your contacts to connect with you on social media. Add as many as you want, but we usually recommend no more than 3 or 4. Less is more 😉.
New Social Media Component

But, what about that other app?

Don’t worry – you can even upload your own icons! Forget about HTML sections and spending time creating your own icons, everything just got a whole lot easier.

  • If you want to customize the icon of a channel, no problem.
  • If you want to add a social media that is not in our database, we’ve got you.
  • If you want to add your website logo, you absolutely can.
  • New Social Media Component

 

You can choose to display text labels if you want, and customize them to make them more personal and engaging:

New Social Media Component

Ready to give this a try right away in our email builder? It’s available for all our users 🙂. Enjoy!

When’s the Best Time to Send Your Email Newsletters?

If you send marketing emails to your customers, you’ve probably already asked yourself this: when’s the best time to send my newsletter? The time you schedule your emails determines how well your opens and clicks will be. And there are a lot of factors at play when deciding the best time to send your emails.

Below, we’ll give you some tips on identifying the best days and times to send your newsletters and some recommendations to improve your overall email marketing strategy.

When should I send my email newsletters?

Your sending schedule largely depends on whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand, and the industry you’re in. But in all cases, studies indicate that there are still some days to avoid sending your newsletters.

What are the best days to send your emails

According to numerous studies compiled by CoSchedule, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days to send your emails. During these days, most emails are sent.

Wednesdays, according to various research, is a solid second option in terms of opens and clicks. If you send emails twice a week within these days, make sure to pick a combination of Tuesdays and Thursdays, though. Sending emails on either days plus Wednesday will make your customers feel overwhelmed and not read your emails at all in the process. Not good.

And a caveat: people also get the most emails during these days. Maybe you might want to send your emails in another day of the week to have less competition in the inbox.

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Best day to send emails

Source: CoSchedule

Days to avoid sending out your newsletter

On Mondays, people are either planning out their week or are sifting through the emails they’ve received during the weekend. And let’s be honest, we’re not the sharpest workers on Mondays. We’re still recovering from the weekend. So as a general advice, just avoid Mondays.

On Fridays, people have mostly tapped out on reading new emails. So clearly don’t send your newsletters on Fridays.

And on Saturdays and Sundays – well, do you read your emails on the weekend? You probably don’t, and this is the same for others…avoid the weekends.

So always consider your target audience and the times they could be potentially looking at their emails. Formulating an email marketing strategy based on user habits, such as when they read their emails and so on, can really improve your email marketing sending practices.

How to choose a day to send your newsletter

No matter what, if you regularly send weekly emails, be sure to send them on the same day every week. This builds trust and anticipation as your audience will come to expect your content at that time. At Mailjet, our newsletters include great email tips, best practices and our latest blog posts, and you can expect these newsletters every Thursday.

During holidays or special events, don’t hesitate to send your newsletters at a later date. It’s better that people read your emails than have your emails delivered but remain unopened.

What’s the best time to send your newsletter?

Generally, here’s how you can choose the best time to send your emails.

6:00 – 8:00 am

Some people look at their emails after waking up or during breakfast. Most of the time, they look at their emails via mobile, so make sure your emails are responsive and mobile-optimized.

10:00 – 11:00 am

According to many studies, this is the best time to send your emails.

12:00 – 2:00 pm

This is also a great time to send your emails. While on lunch break, people will be looking at their emails before getting back work in the afternoon.

6:00 – 9:00 pm

This is the end of most people’s work days. Some will be looking at their emails during their commute, others right after work. But avoid sending emails after 10pm, you will not be read immediately and by the time they get to their inbox in the morning, your email will have been pushed down the pecking order.

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Best hour to send emails

Source: CoSchedule

B2B vs B2C

Keep in mind that each person does not use their professional and personal inbox in the same way or at the same time. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. For example: Is the type of people you target more likely to check their inbox when they wake up or during their lunch break?

Do you send newsletters to personal or professional email addresses? Keep in mind that this distinction between B2B and B2C is very important, as users behave differently when using different email accounts. If you have defined marketing personas, they will be very useful in understanding your target users’ habits.

How to determine the best time to send your newsletter?

As we have already said, the best time to send your emails depends on a lot of things – your business, your customers, your targets, your newsletter type, and so forth. Ultimately we encourage you to do your own tests and analyse the best time for you and your customers. You can compare and contrast different email campaigns using Mailjet’s Compare Campaigns tool for example :).

If you have a regular sending schedule and want to figure out which day is the best time to send, you can do a test spanning two weeks.

For example, in the first week of the test, send your newsletter on Tuesday at 11:00 am, and then on Thursday next week, at 11:00am. Do this test in a mundane time of the year to make it more reliable. You can also try A/B testing by sending a campaign to half of your list on Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays. Compare and analyze the results, and move onto the next experiment. Just like in science class 🔬.

How to compare email campaigns with Mailjet

Finding the best day to send your email newsletters can be a difficult task that requires experimentation, time and coordination when establishing the best schedule. As we have already mentioned, a lot of variables are at play, including the content and scheduling of your email campaigns.

While A/B testing can help you create your content in a way that will lead to better email opens and clicks, Mailjet Campaign Comparisons allows you to analyze different campaigns, effortlessly. This lets you figure out the best day to send emails backed by data.

Our results page is packed with visual and quantitative data – everything you need to analyze and continuously optimize your campaigns.

The “Compare Campaigns” button can be found in several places:

Compare Campaigns

And on a campaign’s details page.

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Compare Campaigns

From your Campaigns page, click the “Compare Campaigns” button.

A new pop-in window will appear, where you can select up to 10 campaigns to compare simultaneously.

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Compare Campaigns

Once you have selected all your campaigns, click the “Submit” button to continue.

The results are displayed in a graph and summary chart format to let you easily determine what part of your campaigns your customers responded positively to.

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Compare Campaigns

You can view the results in a few different formats on the graph. If you hover your mouse at any point on the graph, a popup will appear showing the elapsed time at that point and KPIs for each campaign.

The data in the table shows the lifetime results for each metric of each campaign and is continuously updated. Both the percentage and total figures are displayed for each metric, and you can sort by campaign name, date, or engagement metric, by simply clicking the “arrows” at the top of each respective column.

And that’s a wrap! You are now ready to compare and optimize your email campaigns – and on your way to higher opens and clicks.

How to optimize your email marketing strategy?

In addition to our tools for optimising your email campaigns, Mailjet also offers features that allow you to create, deliver and track your email campaigns. With an easy-to-use visual builder and many responsive email templates, you can create engaging newsletters in a few minutes. Our features include segmentation, A/B testing and advanced statistics. These features allow you to really track and improve your email marketing results.

And to work even more efficiently on your email campaigns, we’d recommend our Collaboration Toolkit to save more time when creating your email campaigns.

You can work with other colleagues in real time on your templates and even allow them to directly comment in the same builder to avoid inefficient back-and-forths amongst your email team. And to really master your brand, you can save sections of your emails, including the header and the footer, to include in other email templates. You can also link the same sections across different email templates and do execute updates across all of them with a single click. This allows you to keep your branding consistent across different emails.

If you’ve experimented on your email campaign schedules, share your experience with us on Twitter @Mailjet. We’d love to hear it.

This article is an updated and translated verison of Julie Paci’s article Quel est le meilleur moment pour envoyer votre newsletter ?