For the email marketer, the holiday season is here and we know you’ll want to make the most of it. And no, it’s not just about dusting off our Christmas jumpers and lighting up the whole neighborhood with our festive decorations. It’s also about putting together amazing campaigns that embrace the holiday feelin, building our brand and driving sales.
To get you started, we’ve combined all our Holiday resources in one to create your one-stop shop to win the battle of the inbox this season. In our Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing, you will learn how to create engaging content for your campaigns, you’ll find great design tips from some of our friends in the industry, and get inspiration from great email examples by top brands.
We’ll help you define a Holiday Email Strategy that will win your customers over, with all you need to know, from setting your goals to that last-minute checklist.
Marketers reported that, on average, they lose 13.8 hours per week on their homemade technology.
51% reported that working with a third-party provider was less time consuming
Data security was reported as the main concern with a homebuilt marketing solution
54% reported the cost of switching to a third-party was the main barrier
New research at Mailjet, surveying 600 marketing and IT professionals in the US, UK, and France, found that marketers are opting for homebuilt tech, despite losing a third of the week to usage.
According to the research, 77% of decision-making level marketers in the UK, and 75% in the US, have developed or are currently developing homemade technology in their current role. However, the study has also identified concerns with the cost, time spent, and expertise required to build and maintain these tools.
Cost weighed against productivity
When considering whether to use a homebuilt or a third-party solution, over a quarter of marketers (27% in UK and 30% in the US) said cost was perceived to be the biggest risk to using third-party technology, closely followed by data security (21% in the UK, and 20% in the US) and reliability (10% in the UK and 9% in the US).
Despite this, over half of the respondents using a homebuilt solution reported that they found it to be more time consuming than using third-party technology. So while a homebuilt solution might be seen as cheaper, it could also potentially be the more unproductive solution.
In addition, 39% of respondents said they were still looking for talent that possessed the right skills to manage their internal infrastructure. This is due to the gaps identified in their own team to keep up with new processes, best practices, and tools.
Deciding whether or not to trust your homebuilt solution to manage your marketing capabilities, or procure a third-party provider to reduce the workload on the team, are key considerations. Finding the right technology partner with the necessary expertise and on-going consulting capabilities can often reduce the financial and resource cost of an already stretched team.
Chief Customer & Marketing Officer at Mailjet
The importance of data privacy and security
Data security was quite a divisive subject between the UK and the US.
While 51% of UK marketers reported that data security was a main barrier to outsourcing to a third-party, it was also selected as the second biggest concern with a homebuilt solution, beat only by cost. UK marketers are wary of a third-party’s ability to prevent data issues or breaches, but they are also resistant to placing trust in their own homebuilt technology. Meanwhile, only 34% of US marketers cite data security as a main barrier to outsourcing, but are equally concerned about their own internal security capabilities.
Maintaining an infrastructure that protects businesses’ data properly can be a full-time job. Not to mention keeping up with the ever-evolving laws and practices that have to be monitored and followed diligently. Data privacy and security has to be a top priority for businesses in a post GDPR world, but also the safe storage of confidential customer information.
Choosing the right external provider that can maintain state of the art security and privacy practices will also add an additional level of data protection and reassurance for companies that may not have the right skills and resources to provide the highest standards in-house.
Chief Customer & Marketing Officer at Mailjet
In the UK, email marketing is among the most commonly used homebuilt solutions at 73%, surpassed only by advertising tools at 77% and project management tools at 76%. With the prevalence of homebuilt email marketing, it is important to assess its performance routinely and potentially consider alternate options. Notably, internal transactional email solutions is close behind at 71%.
In contrast, it is far more common to outsource email infrastructure in the US, with only 65% of respondents using their own internal email marketing services, and even less (58%) using an internal transactional email solution.
There are a couple key considerations that may indicate that it’s time to switch from a homebuilt solution to a third-party infrastructure. These considerations could also help validate that your homebuilt solution is capable of handling your email needs. So let’s take a quick look at some of these considerations:
Deliverability: Arguably, the most important feature of your email infrastructure is its ability to land your emails in the inbox. Maintaining deliverability through the collection and analysis of statistics, as well as building and correctly setting up an internal infrastructure can be difficult.
Cost: Building and maintaining an infrastructure capable of handling your sending can be costly, but it does have to be weighed against the cost of outsourcing.
Data Privacy & Security: A large concern for all companies, keeping your data under your own roof may be the safest choice for you. On the other hand, ESPs may have certifications that better fortify them to protect your data, as well as free up space for you by providing all the storage you need to private information stored.
Scalability: As your business grows, it’s important to consider if your homebuilt infrastructure will be able to grow with it and what the costs involved will be, both monetarily and for growing your workforce.
Maintenance & Support:Email infrastructure needs constant care because if there is an issue in your sending, it can interrupt the entire marketing machine. You’ll have to make sure you have the right team in place, whether it’s one you built in-house, or the support team offered by your ESP.
Stats & Analytics: The bread and butter of your emailing, making sure you have a robust stats & analytics system in place can make all the difference in your sending. Both the collection and storage of statistics can take up a lot of room, but they’re necessary to track and improve your sending.
Template Builder: Templates may seem like a small thing, but they begin to take up more and more of your developer resources as your business grows. Additionally, ensuring that all templates are responsive is necessary to maintain engagement.
If you are interested in learning more about the key considerations and what options you have to choose from, you can download The Email Infrastructure Handbook: Homebuilt vs Outsourced below.
Choosing whether to trust your homebuilt email program to handle all of your marketing and transactional email needs, or to outsource to a third-party service is a hard decision to make. Topics like cost, data & security, and scalability are just a few of the considerations that have to be taken into account when making your choice.
To help you out, Mailjet has put together a handbook that digs deeper into every consideration you’ll have to take into account. Once you know what you’re up against, we then lay out your three options: homebuilt, outsourced, or a hybrid of the two.
Download the full guide The Email Infrastructure Handbook: Homebuilt vs Outsourced to get a deeper understanding of the different options that are out there for your email infrastructure, and the key considerations you have to keep in mind when making your choice.
Understanding In-Housing: Bringing Marketing Functions Home, a research by Mailjet and the DMA.
In-housing is an increasingly discussed topic across our industry in recent years – often, because it challenges the transparency of some agency practices.
To dig deeper, Mailjet has partnered with the DMA to look more closely at how and why brands are in-housing key marketing functions, by exploring the benefits, challenges, and potential future performance.
The research is a fascinating insight into the key drivers and outcomes that businesses have already seen from their experience of in-housing functions, as well as the challenges ahead in understanding and realising the full benefits of bringing other functions within an organisation.
Download the full research report ‘Understanding In-Housing: Bringing Marketing Functions Home’ to get a closer look at the state of in-housing, its benefits and challenges.
In-Housing Event: Join the DMA, Mailjet, Google Cloud Platform and Exponea on November 6th in London to explore the realities of In-Housing, when it makes sense for your business and how to apply it successfully. Special focus on the Retail sector with testimony from major fashion labels. Register your interest for this event by signing up here.
In the past, when you received a non-responsive email, you blamed the phone, you gave it a shake, or you might even have tried the classic but miraculous technique of closing and reopening the app. That was then, when our inboxes still seemed like remote digital paradises.
Now, how many emails do you get a day? 20, 30, 100? I wouldn’t know where to start counting them. For a while now, when I get an email that looks odd, with cut-off images and blocks aligned so strangely that the whole thing looks like a Picasso, I’ve deleted it without further ado. And I’m not the only one: 80% of people would delete an email that doesn’t display properly on their mobile device.
For this reason, in a world where mobile is king and people like me don’t appreciate all the effort that goes into your newsletters and campaigns, deleting them without the slightest hint of remorse, responsive email design is crucial.
What is responsive email design and why is it so important?
Responsive email design is not a new online phenomenon, but if you aren’t a designer or don’t work in digital marketing, you might not be quite sure what it is.
A responsive – also called adaptive – design is a design that adapts and displays properly on screens of various sizes. For example, avoiding an image being wider than the screen or the user having to increase or reduce the size of text to be able to read it.
Although here we’ll be talking about email design, this technique can also (and especially) be used for web page design and layout. Why is it so important for design, both of emails and web pages, to adapt to various devices? Well, this is almost a rhetorical question, but we wanted to add a touch of suspense.
An article on Email Monday claims 59% of emails sent today are opened on mobile devices, and only 15% are opened on a desktop. And the same is true of web search: almost 60% of Internet searches are done on mobiles. Both of these are more than good enough reasons for brands to want to make the user experience as easy and intuitive as possible.
So what precise factors determine how an email displays?
Device screen size
First and foremost, the main factor that affects how a user views an email is undoubtedly the device type. Email is accessed differently on a desktop computer, Samsung Mini, and a digital watch.
On a desktop, the screen is much larger and we have a mouse to help us navigate, scroll, and click easily on text links or buttons, however small they are.
On a phone, the story is somewhat different. Here the proportions of the content are reduced to fit on the micro screen of a latest generation mobile (although truth be told some phones are more like tablets). So, images are smaller, the text more compressed, and you need to scroll much more to reach the end.
The other big enemies of responsive email are email clients themselves. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, an email client is a program that allows you to send and receive emails, and manage an email account effectively. The best-known email clients are Gmail and Outlook, but there are many more and each one displays email in its own way.
So what can we do, then? Don’t panic. As the image shows, the top five email clients pretty much have a monopoly, so you can start by adapting your emails based on this data.
These top five email clients have a market share of over 70% between them, so we should prioritize adapting our emails for mobile to be read in these clients.
Different types of email optimization
When we talk about optimizing email design, we have a number of options of varying simplicity and effectiveness. These are the main options:
Scalable email design
Scalable design is the most basic method of adapting your emails. The content of an email of this kind will simply be scaled up or down to adapt to the user’s screen size, but without changing the structure of the email or the layout of the content.
These types of email are the easiest to develop, but in truth scalable design does not deliver the best results.
Fluid email design
Fluid design uses percentage-based sizing to make blocks of content adapt automatically to the screen size of the device. In other words, the content “flows” from the desktop version into the various screen widths, filling the space as the screen width varies.
This format typically works best for text-heavy emails, but it is also very hard to get the layout right.
Responsive email design
Of the three types, responsive design delivers the best viewing experience on all screen sizes. What sets it apart is that it ensures each device displays a different version of the message, optimized for the specific screen size.
Laying out emails like this is quite a complex task, but the good news is that Passport, Mailjet’s drag and drop email editor, allows you to create responsive newsletters by default. We’ll come back to Passport at the end of the post.
How to design a responsive newsletter: best practice
If you use an email editor like ours, you don’t have to worry about media queries, CSS and equally unfamiliar concepts: the editor does everything for you. However, there are other things that might interfere with the end result, and here we’ll tell you what they are and how to avoid them.
Layout of a responsive email template
One of the most common email design errors is using a layout with multiple columns. It might happen because we get carried away by creative urges (or emotion), but this first decision could result in an epic email adaptability fail.
This is because the vast majority of mobile devices have a vertical screen design, forcing them to shrink anything with a wider format, including emails with several columns.
So what’s the solution? Opt for a single-column design; this will ensure that web browsers and email clients display the content of your email in the right proportions, and you won’t have to re-adapt the design to smaller screen sizes. When it comes to mobile devices, simplicity is your friend!
Take a look at some of the faults we’ve taken directly from our inboxes.
Images for responsive emails
Images (and gifs) are a fantastic way of making emails more dynamic and attractive. But in responsive email design, images can be a double-edged sword.
Choose an appropriate image size
When it comes to images in email, the (not so big) secret is not to use exaggeratedly outsized or undersized images. If you use overly big images, you run the risk that emails will not display properly or will take a long time to load. And, believe us, nobody is going to wait more than three seconds before moving on to the next email.
On the other hand, using overly small images will not deliver better results either. In fact, what we will probably get are distorted or pixelated images.
To make sure your images display properly and adapt to any device, use images that can adjust to the size of your newsletter: you can cut them down to the exact size before uploading them to your email template or, better still, use an email editor like Mailjet’s so you can edit them directly in your template.
Alt text: a must-have
Despite all the effort we put into selecting appropriately sized images, it might be that from time to time they still do not display correctly. The fault may lie with email clients, which manage the visual content of emails differently, or users themselves who, for various reasons, prefer to block images by default.
But don’t despair! A simple and effective solution is to add Alt Text (alternative text) to accompany the image and display when the image does not. This text is particularly important for two reasons. Firstly, it tells users they are not seeing the missing images relating to the text. Secondly, emails that contain this tag have a better reputation with email clients, because spammers generally don’t bother adding it.
Avoid image-only emails
Talking of spammers, another ill-advised technique is to create emails that only contain images, and we’re sure you can guess why. It’s a very risky choice, partly because these messages often end up in the spam folder, but also because, as we just said, if for any reason the images don’t display correctly we have no way of reaching our contact.
Remember: For your email to be effective, aim for a text to image ratio of 60:40.
If you would like to know more about images in email, take a look at this guide.
Calls to action for responsive emails
A basic element of any email design is the call to action (CTA), designed to orientate readers and encourage them to perform a specific action.
If we don’t include clear instructions for our recipients, they might be unsure what to do with our email and move on in a nanosecond. This is also why CTAs and links should be easy to identify and point in exactly the right direction.
When you design a CTA for a responsive email, make sure the buttons are clearly visible by using, for example, a color that contrasts with the palette you’re using, and big enough so everyone can pick them out easily. As we all know, some people are prone to “fat finger errors”!
And of course, no links in the text or image format: these types of CTA can be much harder to select and, in the case of images, even see. Lastly, be careful where you put your buttons and avoid putting them too close together, as in the example below.
Text and legibility
The text is one of the aspects we should adapt to make sure people who open our messages on these devices don’t feel overwhelmed by tiny fonts and interminable paragraphs.
Hierarchy and priorities
In a web browser, there are a number of techniques you can use to grab a reader’s attention: use colors, arresting images, elegant fonts etc. But on devices with small screens, like smartphones, this is the role of the hierarchy. The hierarchy must be clear to ensure readers grasp the essence of our message, even if they don’t reach the bottom of the page.
People receive a huge number of emails every day, so the competition is huge and it’s increasingly hard to get people to read them. That’s why we should always design our emails with the order of importance in mind, putting the most relevant items first.
Text type and size
As for the text itself, make sure your emails are legible. Don’t aim too high with your use of fonts: opt for a standard font available on any device, like the classic and timeless Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman or Verdana.
Likewise, in this instance size does matter, so be kind to your readers and use a typeface large enough that they don’t need glasses to give your latest newsletter a once over.
Lastly, don’t forget to leave white spaces between one block of content and the next: you’ll make the email look clearer and more modern, without exhausting your subscribers.
Examples of perfect responsive emails (infographic)
So far we’ve discussed the dos and don’ts of responsive email. After so many bad examples (it’s not our fault our inbox is full of them), we want to show you an example of an especially good email while reviewing all the key things to bear in mind when you design your own.
Courrier International is a French weekly newspaper that analyzes the news in the international press. It offers subscribers a daily newsletter with the most important news of the day from all around the world.
It may be that at first you don’t notice any major differences between the two emails (the desktop and mobile versions), so we’ll take a look at them and dissect what makes it a good responsive email.
Before you press send
You’re good to go and we’re sure that, if you’ve followed our advice, you have in front of you a perfectly responsive email that’s ready to send. But, before you launch your campaign, it’s always a good idea to make some final checks. Here are three ways of checking how your email design displays.
Preview your email
Use the preview panel in your editor to view how your mail shapes up on different devices. For example, in Mailjet you can view the mobile and desktop versions of your completed email and get a clear idea of how it will appear in your subscribers’ inboxes.
Send a test email
Another everyday way of checking is to send yourself a test email. You can send it to your own address, to a colleague or a friend with access to various devices, browsers and operating systems to make sure nothing untoward happens to your email along the way. At the end of the day, having an extra pair of eyes to check the content and links and test out the UX is no bad thing.
Extra tip: Go into the reports on previous campaigns and filter them to view the breakdown of devices and the use of email clients by recipient, and you’ll be able to check which ones your customers use most.
Use specific tools
Lastly, for the most meticulous among you we recommend supplementing steps A and B with platforms such as Litmus and Email on Acid. These two tools send your email to more than 50 email clients and give you analysis and previews, saving you time and offering you peace of mind.
How to create responsive email with Mailjet
If you have no coding knowledge (or don’t fancy wrestling with HTML code), you can use our email editor Passport to create professional newsletters that adapt to any device and email client. You just need to drag and drop the blocks of content you want to include in your email, such as images, headings, texts, buttons and social media icons.
Responsive email templates
Another option, for those days when you’re lacking inspiration, is to choose one of the ready-to-edit templates from our “template gallery”, all of which are of course responsive. You just need to select one and edit it to include your content, et voilà!
In Mailjet we also offer a solution for more advanced users which has won over developers all around the world. MJML is our open code framework that makes coding an email much simpler and faster. It will take you half the time, you’ll use half the lines of code needed to code with HTML, and adaptability is assured. Don’t believe us? Have a look for yourself.
Over to you
We hope we’ve put to rest all your doubts about responsive email and design; we know it’s not a simple topic. However, if you follow the advice and best practice in this post (and you use our templates 😉), your valuable newsletters will look their best.
Before you get to work, here is a summary of what we’ve covered:
Use a single-column email design for optimum results.
Optimize image size so they adapt easily.
Work on the call to action buttons so they are visible and clickable (yes, for people with fat fingers, too).
Use a typeface available on any device, and pay particular attention to text size.
Make your checks before sending, either by previewing your email, sending a test email or using specific tools (or all three).
Put your trust in an email provider that guarantees you responsive design by default (ahem, we’re the best for a reason).
Do you have any other tips for ensuring your emails are responsive? Share your ideas with us on Twitter!
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:
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.
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.
How to check your Sender Score
Checking Return Path’s Sender Score is quite easy. Follow these steps:
Complaint rate – the rate at which users complain about your emails as junk.
Unknown user rate – the number of invalid users in your subscription lists
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.
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.
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:
IP reputation that is tallied by how much people want to see emails from this IP address.
Content reputation that measures how good or spammy your email content consistently is.
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).
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:
Scheduled sending of marketing emails.
How often users trigger transactional emails
Different types of transactional emails getting triggered
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.
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.
Above are some A/B testing stats on our dashboard. Version A has
The best Open Rate and Click Rate
The highest Click Rate
The lowest unsubscribed rate
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.
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
Whether they have written a good subject line.
Included a pre-header.
Checked all links are accurate and include UTM tags if necessary.
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:
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.
Thank you @ProductHunt for informing me that you automatically unsubscribed me from your emails because I did not open them in a while! I really appreciate when services adjust their notification behavior like this in order to reduce the noise for everybody involved.
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.
Ecommerce is growing at an astronomical rate. In 2017, global Ecommerce was responsible for $2.3 trillion in sales, and this is expected to grow to $4.5 trillion in 2021. Alongside this growth, all signs point towards emailing as the preferred method of communication in Ecommerce over other channels, including social media. In fact, 72% of people, (including those elusive millennials and teenagers) still primarily prefer email as their primary mode of communication with brands.
This is not surprising.
Email marketing heavily depends on 4 pillars – content, design, data, and deliverability – all of which must be integrated into an overarching email marketing strategy. When they are not working together, you may well just be getting through your emails, but not optimizing at full capacity.
In this article, we will give you everything you need to get your Ecommerce email strategy up to par, including the different types of emails you’ll need in your customer journey, and essential tips to get content, design, data, and deliverability right.
Email marketing strategy: The essentials
Before you send a large number of emails to your customers, it’s important to define your email marketing objectives. After all, to build a house you need a solid foundation. Your objectives will be your foundation.
Writing emails without a solid strategy will run the risk of sending campaigns that aren’t relevant, and that can result in a low click rate or worse – skyrocketing unsubscribe rates. You don’t want this, do you? 🤔
The key question you should be asking yourself here as an Ecommerce company is: What do I want to achieve? Your objectives could include:
Converting new customers
Receiving reviews and feedback
Boosting customer loyalty and communication
Providing customers with information (about special offers, new products, etc.)
Introducing your company and your unique selling points
Of course, you don’t have to pick just one of these objectives, but it is beneficial to have just a few clearly defined objectives. Concentrate on those most important to you, your business, and where you want to grow. This will allow you to utilize your resources efficiently and also means you won’t waste unnecessary time creating email content that provides no added value.
Instead, ensure that your email campaign is perfectly tailored to your needs. Follow a clear objective that you can naturally adapt, modify, or realign over time.
Ecommerce email campaign ideas along the customer journey
As an online shop, there are many types of emails that you could send out. In order to make the most of all email marketing potential, we recommend integrating marketing and transactional emails along the customer lifecycle.
The benefit of focusing on the customer journey is that it allows you to deduce current customer needs and create personalized content.
Here are the seven different email campaigns you should use, depending on your objectives and customer journey:
1. The welcome email
No matter what, first impressions really count. When welcoming a new “member” to your email list, send them a welcome email containing valuable content that will inspire them to continue to engage with new articles. For instance, this is a great opportunity to:
Introduce your company and your products.
Make the subscriber aware of your social media channels.
Provide an overview of what type of emails you will be sending.
Send them a welcome gift to validate their decision to subscribe
Indicate important links.
Ultimately what you want is to convey a positive and trustworthy first impression, which will make your new subscriber look forward to receiving more.
2. The classic newsletter
Once you’ve won over new subscribers, you need to make sure they stay in your list by providing them with valuable content.
Naturally, the exact content depends on your business model and customers. As an Ecommerce company, you can offer the following newsletter content:
Promoting your own products
Guides for your products
A behind-the-scenes look at production
Compelling content and entertainment like videos
Customer interviews and testimonials
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your newsletter is only there to sell. Sending out newsletters that are too pushy will cause people to unsubscribe from your list, or put a bad taste in their mouth.
Instead this is an opportunity to take an engaged list of potential customers and make them love you. Ask yourself the following questions and create your newsletter accordingly:
What interests my readers?
What questions might they have?
What problems are they currently facing?
How, specifically, can I help them solving these problems?
3. Special occasion newsletters
In addition to your regular newsletter, you can create email campaigns for special events. These can be for holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day, as well as seasonal events such as the World Cup, the Olympics, or Oktoberfest.
You could even, for example, showcase your expert knowledge in the form of useful tips and tricks, or make readers aware of special offers. Make sure, however, that it all ties back to your company and brand message.
4. Order and shipping confirmations
While you can send out marketing campaigns at any time, transactional emails are triggered by customer action. These include, for example, newsletter subscriptions, invoices, and purchase confirmations.
As an Ecommerce company, your main objective is obviously to promote sales in your online shop. Once a customer buys something, you should first send them an order confirmation and then an email receipt. Once the purchased product is sent for delivery, you can then send them a shipping confirmation.
Transactional emails tend to have higher open rates, as customers already expect to receive your communications and look forward to receiving their purchase.
Make sure you leverage these emails to make your customers aware of other products or special offers. This is the best time for you to upsell, when they are most engaged and you know they are opening the email. Don’t miss the chance. 😉This applies to all types of Ecommerce brands, from global brands to Shopify stores and dropshipping.
5. Customer surveys
Show your customer that their opinion is important to you by sending them customer surveys and other feedback emails. This could target individual products, the entire shop, the service, or all of the above.
Customer surveys are absolutely essential to you for the following reasons:
To check if your communication with customers is clear and coherent.
To obtain and guide the attention of your customers.
To strengthen customer loyalty.
To inspire you with new product ideas.
6. Shopping cart dropouts
Has your customer halted a transaction or left an item in their shopping cart? Remind them with a friendly email! This gives you an additional option to show them similar products and offers, or provide them with buying incentives through discounts.
Don’t give up on any customers! You can send a personalized email to inactive users. This allows you to find out if they are still interested in your services and remind them about your unique products.
If you succeed in winning the customer back, you can surprise them with a “Welcome back” email. You can make a good impression here with the aid of discounts or coupons.
If you don’t receive a reaction following several messages, then it may be best to part ways and remove the contact from your list. Yes, we know it’s always hard to let them go… 😔 but it’s best for everyone this way (more on this below…)
7. Personalized note to your customers
You can engage your customers in a more personal manner and develop a friendly relationship with personalized touches such as a birthday email with coupon.
Think about whether you would like to show appreciation to particular customers – after all, loyalty should be rewarded! For example, cheaper account upgrades are a possibility here.
While we’re on the topic of rewards, you may want to provide incentives for customers and subscribers who recommend you others. Make it easy to recommend your website and shop, and show your appreciation for each customer gained this way.
6 Tips For Successful Email Campaigns
Within each of these campaigns, you always need to keep in mind the 6 key elements of any email strategy: content, design, data, tactics, personalization, and deliverability. To get right to the point, we’ve outlined what you need to consider in each email and included some examples (as well as cautionary tales) to help you with your own campaigns.
1. Spend time on your email content and design
Working on your email content and design should be one of your main concerns in your email marketing strategy. An unengaging subject line won’t entice customers to click on your emails, while poor design reduces the chances that your customers will find the right product for them.
What you want is to first optimize your subject line and preview text. After all, they are the gateways the first things people see in deciding on whether they should open your email or not.
Let’s take a quick look at Etsy as an example. Etsy’s subject lines effectively create something called a curiosity gap. This painfully arises when you feel as if you’re missing “valuable” knowledge, and makes you want to click into that email to find out more. Which fabric is in-season? What are those fresh finds? This is very effective marketing tactic. However, each “preview” text is simply their URL, www.etsy.com which is a missed opportunity to engage the reader some more.
Good content does not rely just on being creative, and good design isn’t just about being beautiful. Good content is about personalization and timeliness. Good design is about inciting an action.
This is especially impactful for Ecommerce where a sale is just a click away, and good content paired with good design can effectively drive clicks.
This Black Friday email by Julep fulfills the basic rules of smart email marketing by (1) knowing how to sell what it wants to sell, (2) writing good, creative, holiday-oriented copy and (3) ensuring responsive design across all devices and inboxes.
The header immediately introduces the email content (hint: it’s Black Friday sales!); the multi-column design blends image and text into creating compelling copy that guides customer attention. The Call-to-Action (CTA) button (SHOP NOW) also is strategically placed above-the-fold alongside the content. Customers don’t have to scroll down to see these great deals ($19.99 instead of $82), inciting them to click on the CTA.
2. Know the difference between marketing email, automated email, and transactional email
Learning the different types of emails will not only allow you to target different audiences, but to also target the same audiences in a variety of ways. Sending identical promotional emails every single time with just slightly-altered copies can quickly lead to a smash of the unsubscribe button.
As with all marketing efforts, email-marketing should be diverse and creative. As an Ecommerce business, you will be sending 3 main categories of emails – transactional emails, marketing emails, and automated emails.
Transactional emails are the types of emails you send out to customers after they’ve done an action. These emails can be purchase confirmations, account verifications, or password resets.
This confirmation email by Harry’s does its intended job and more. In addition to ensuring that your order has, indeed, arrived, it’s also included some quick shaving tips for customers to read. Beyond just trying to drive sales, they’re trying to drive engagement, loyalty, and through education they are growing their connection to their audience.
On the other hand, marketing emails are bulk emails you send to your subscribed customers. This marketing email from New York & Company contains two types of promotions. The top section includes coupons encouraging customers to spend more to save more. The email’s main body introduces the arrival of their new collections by introducing a sale on their kimono sleeve sweater, for that perfect autumn aesthetic. Get creative and create value where customers had not seen. That’s showbiz marketing baby!
Finally, automated emails are triggered by milestones. They can be automated in many ways, depending on your analysis of customer data. Automated emails can include welcome emails, feedback emails, anniversary emails, and retention emails. For example, if a user purchased a product from your store, you can send an automated email one week later to how they are liking it, whether they would like to buy one for a friend, or perhaps write a review on your site.
Of course, when you’re new to sending these different types of email, you’re bound to make a couple mistakes, or miss out on some things. Before sending emails or committing a template, make sure to pull your teammates into the email builder to have them provide their comments, and be sure to A/B test your campaigns to identify which piece of content, design, subject line, or CTAs drive the most engagement.
One email not to send, however, is from a useless “no-reply” address. “No reply” emails are those annoying emails you get from businesses sometimes who are making it very clear they don’t want to hear from you. Not only is it a little rude, almost more importantly it can negatively impact your business as it is often flagged as spam.
3. Don’t ask for subscribers, incentivize subscription
One thing that you need to include is an unsubscribe button in your channels. Yes, adding this will mean your list may decrease in size, but more importantly it lets your audience do the different work of cleaning your contact lists for you. By removing customers who’d rather not see your emails, you are ensuring that only those most active engaged users are being sent an email, which in turn means you are (1) spending less money sending emails to people who won’t open them anyways, or worse would mark it as spam, and (2) increasing your domain and IP reputation with ISPs and inboxes.
One of Mailjet’s enterprise users, Videostream, knows the value of this all too well. With the help of a Customer Success Manager, Videostream cleaned their list from 1.2M contacts to 120K contacts. This 10x decrease in users actually resulted in a 5x more total opens, and an increase in ROI of 10x. This is because the more people receive unwanted emails from you, the less likely it is you will land in the inbox of those who do in fact like you. Here’s a full case study on how Videostream accomplished this.
4. Track and use your data
Data should serve as the bedrock of your email marketing campaigns. Considering different buyer personas and the customer lifecycle in your email marketing will allow you to send the right email to the right people. Whether it is creating promotional holiday emails, or segmenting people into different groups, data will help you send the relevant emails to the right people.
Useful email metrics to consider when using Mailjet’s platform include how many emails have been sent, delivered, opened and clicked. Sent is a way of saying that the recipients’ servers have received the emails, and delivered means that the recipients can now read them…somewhere (in their inbox? Spam? Mystery. Well, kinda.). The opened rate shows how many people have opened their emails, and the clicked rate shows how many times your customers have clicked on a link in your emails since receiving them.
Other types of data that you want to track, of course, are related to the types of customers you want to target. Getting actionable customer insights will help you send the right types of emails to the right segments, and create engaging, personalized emails.
Even the most successful email campaign can be improved. So you need to keep testing your performance.
Which email subject line has the best opening rate? Which links and call-to-action buttons generate the most clicks? Which email content was uninteresting for your subscribers? Ask yourself these questions and adjust your content accordingly.
You can use A/B testing to compare different types of content and then see which alternative was received most positively by your customers.
You can use a tracking function for a step-by-step breakdown of if and when an email has been opened, and which links and widgets were used. With this knowledge, you can improve and adjust your future campaigns.
Segmentation can also be carried out based on this evaluation. You can send personalized email content and build an optimized list of newsletter subscribers.
6. Deliver on your Deliverability
Improving your deliverability – the rate at which your email reaches your customers’ inboxes – is of utmost importance to ensure that your emails do not go not into the spam folder, where emails go to die.
Essentially, all of the previous tips lead up to getting a higher deliverability rate for your Ecommerce business. Creating compelling, data-driven email copies will increase the open rates and click rates, which improve your sender reputation. Your contact list should be constantly updated and adequately segmented so that the right people receive the right emails.
To get high delivery rates, have a good, reliable email service provider (we recommend Mailjet). There are many marketing platforms that can send your emails, and have become particularly good at providing both a CRM and an email system, however these tools are often good at a few things but are simply not as strong in email deliverability as an email service provider can be.
This is primarily because good deliverability requires three things that take time, resources, and a commitment to email: (1) strong and on-going relationships with inbox providers, (2) robust infrastructure and third party vetting tools like Mailjet’s partnership with 250ok, and (3) devoted deliverability experts to help maintain quality domain and IP addresses for senders like you.
On your side of the equation, you will need to enable your Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Mail Option (DKIM). These allow your ISPs to recognize the fact that your emails come from a reliable, authorized system, and prevent spammers from stealing the identity of legitimate identities. Mailjet provides an easy-to-follow guide to do this.
In summary, here are some digestible email tips for Ecommerce businesses: Tip 1: Marry good content with smart design to drive customers towards your products. Tip 2: Learning different kinds of email will really allow you to take advantage of email’s sweet ROI. And don’t do no-reply emails. It’s bad for business. Tip 3: Take multi-channel approaches to incentivize subscription. But make it also easy to unsubscribe to make sure that you’re not sending emails to people who will never read your emails. Tip 4: Tracking data on customers and email will help indicate what works and what doesn’t. Tip 5: Personalize and segment your email campaigns, putting in that little extra effort on each campaign and in data collection will go a long long way in standing out from the crowd. Tip 6: Make sure your emails don’t go in the spam folder by sending emails smartly and following the previous tips.
Now it’s your turn!
You are now ready to make the most of email marketing for your Ecommerce company. You know you need an effective email marketing strategy, how to create and manage email lists, and which types of emails are just waiting for you to use them.
Mailjet offers you all of the email functions and tools that online shops need for this purpose. Don’t miss any more opportunities for your Ecommerce business. Simply log into Mailjet or set up a free account:
Have you tried any of these email campaigns? How did it go? Share it with us on Twitter. And why not sign up to our newsletter? 😉
This blog post is contains parts from an old post “7 Emails for Small Online Shops”, published on the Mailjet blog on September 25th, 2018 by Jan Bernecke.
Marketing teams have undergone significant changes in recent years. 82% of marketers have seen growth in their team sizes and 72% in their budgets. Despite that, marketers identify poor collaboration among their top pain-points.
To dig deeper, Mailjet commissioned an independent research report to look more closely at the state of collaboration in the workplace, with a special focus on email campaigns.
The research brings clarity on why collaboration may be among marketer’s top pain-points, why marketing departments will become even more heavily reliant on external agencies, how teams are already investing in Collaboration Tools, and what kind of investment Marketers want on collaboration in the next year.
Download the full research report to understand why you should be paying attention to Collaboration in your company.
After months of talking about it, one of the biggest impacts to the way that marketers do their jobs has finally arrived: GDPR. Worryingly, according to our research with nearly 12,000 SMBs leading up to May 25th, most businesses were still unprepared. The penalties for non-compliance are drastic, not to mention the business impacts and consequences, and it’s important to remember that no one is entirely exempt.Regardless of company size or location, anyone collecting, processing and storing personal data of citizens within Europe needs to become compliant.
As a GDPR-compliant company ourselves, we know first-hand what it takes for your Marketing Department to implement these changes. We also know that for most marketers GDPR hasn’t been your full-time priority. But now the deadline has passed, there are changes you must definitely make as soon as possible, if you haven’t already.
That’s why we’ve put together this GDPR SOS Kit For Marketers, an action plan to get your business ready for GDPR before it’s too late.
GDPR for Marketers: High Urgency
Clean Your Newsletter Database & Conduct Re-permission Campaigns
Scrutinise Your Third Party Providers
GDPR for Marketers: Medium-High Urgency
Evaluate Your Data & Lead Collection Process
GDPR is not the only new regulation on the minds of Marketers.
In March 2018, Mailjet commissioned a new piece of research conducted by Morar Consulting to understand the effect that ePrivacy will have on marketing strategies and ROI following it’s implementation. The professional survey was taken by 400 marketers and marketing decision makers from both B2B and B2C companies across the UK and France.
The research looks at what channels marketers are currently using to reach their customers, how they feel ePrivacy will affect their business, what changes they will make following ePrivacy and more.
Download the full research report and start preparing for the effects ePrivacy will have on your business.