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How are you supposed to warm up an IP address when your full customer database is less than 4,000?

Tim Responsys CRM
Tim Responsys CRM Posts: 3 Green Ribbon
edited August 2019 in Social Groups

We started a new email marketing program and are building our customer database organically from scratch.  We do monthly newsletter type emails to all opted in and deliverable email addresses.  We also have password reset and other transactional emails go out on an as-requested basis.  Despite our database being so small to start off with, we've received reports of the newsletter email being marked as spam in some customers' email inboxes.  So our newsletter open rates are very low.  But our transactional email open rates are very high and on par with expectations.

Oracle's documentation on how to warm up an IP address mentions batches as small as 10,000...but our total database is much smaller than that.  What are we supposed to do to overcome the spam issue with our monthly newsletters?

Post edited by Unknown User on

Answers

  • Nicole Hartman-Oracle
    Nicole Hartman-Oracle Customer Experience Program Manager Posts: 66 Employee
    edited August 2019

    Hi There!

    Welcome aboard! A few ideas for you...

    I've worked with many small & mid-sized businesses to ramp up their marketing programs. In some cases, its can seem even trickier than a large list. ISP(s) like yahoo, hotmail, gmail all have processes for delivering mail, and the theory behind the 10,000 record "buckets" for warm up have a lot to do with the thresholds ISPs use (which vary) that help them determine which IP is a "bulk" or high-volume sender, and which IPs are typically lower volume.

    1. Isolate your most active email readers

    That being said, it's less important to have a certain # of records, and more important to focus on the email activity. If you're migrating your marketing from a different platform and just coming into a marketing cloud product like Responsys or Eloqua, then you may want to see if you have any sense of which of your list have recently opened or clicked. The more recent, the better. Sometimes you may have to setup a segment or filter to look for an open or click in a certain date range to isolate them. Also remember, purchasing may not necessarily indicate email is a preferred channel (i.e. I might buy clothes from a retailer all the time using coupons via txt, but I don't necessarily react to their email. But the retailer sees me as a purchaser, and continues to send more email even though I have more *activity* in their mobile program)

    2. Make a hard switch / Don't let your old IP or domain continue to send mail

    Another note on switching email service providers - make sure your company's promotions are all going out on the new platform/IP now, and no more traffic is being sent across the old IP. This is a tricky thing I've seen mainly small to midsize business run into - making the "hard switch". Reason being, ISPs especially hotmail/outlook put a lot of emphasis on "domain reputation". There's a good write up in this group about Deliverability: Domain-Based Reputation and Best Practices. But most likely you've setup a new branded domain or a new IP, and the "ISP-robots" who scan the mail aren't used to seeing your company mail from it. They may have a "false positive" assumption that this is a "spoof" or a malicious fake made to look like your real brand. If you totally switch your efforts into the new IP/domain and ensure the old is turned off this might help.

    3. Start small and highly engaged, Phase in the remainder

    Now that you know who your "best customers" are historically, and you know they have an activity or preference for the email channel, no matter how small the initial batch is to start - start with them. Then as mentioned, continue to phase in your new customers from your welcome program. You may have a big chunk of your list that you don't mail initially, but are opted in and have shown some email activity within the last 4-6months. Let's call them "the remainder". Depending on your unique customer lifecycle that might feel tight, but consider in the lifetime of an email address 6-12mo would be a far reaching 'win back' / reactivation type scenario.

    Let's say you have 4000 on your whole list:

    1000 are your active "best customers"

    + You get 100 new customers a week

    = Your first week you will mail 1100.

    If things are going well, you can try adding 25% more members to your active segment each week. The 25% you're adding will be any new customers that come in, any that stay active or open/click, PLUS a small batch from "The Remainder" or 2,900 you haven't emailed in your new promotional IP.

    It could look something like this, and if things go well you might ramp up a bit more towards the end and get there in 4-6 weeks (here, showing a conservative breakout across 7 weeks).

    Total List size    4000

    best email    1000

    new    100

    Volume Plan:

    Week 1    1100

    Week 2    1375

    Week 3    1719

    Week 4    2148

    Week 5    2686

    Week 6    3357

    Week 7    4196

    The formula is basically (previous total * 0.25)+(previous total)= mail count for the week.

    Depending on which marketing cloud platform you're using - I would recommend using an automation feature like Responsys Program or Eloqua Campaign Canvas to keep track of the whole remainder segment, split them up appropriately down a path, and hold them in a timer until it's their week to get the campaign.

    4. Content is King

    Last but not least, your brand has to make an effort to stand out in the inbox. Consider using this opportunity to review creative and see what's working for your brand. Are there any irrelevant links? Does it look good / actionable on a mobile device? Is the timing in sync with your customer's behavior, or is it just a convenient time to schedule? (Most emails go out in the morning, but if you notice more opening and clicking is occurring later when maybe your audience is at home, that might be a better time to reach them).

    Form matters - Every piece of real-estate matters. 

    Even look at things like Terms and Conditions - many marketers are used to putting long terms in their email that explains the offer or program they're promoting, but these often contain buzzwords and marketing jargon that can trigger ISPs to flag it as unsolicited mail. Try shortening the message or posting privacy policy and terms somewhere it can be viewed online, if desired.

    Keep email newsletters short and to the point, and offer various elements to engage with. For example, text-alone not be eye catching, but a small graphic and "read more" link could help a call-to-action stand out. Also consider the size of your email itself or see if there is a lot of html errors or white space (unnecessary gaps) in the html code/template. ISPs are constantly scanning images and links for malicious content, so make sure your links are aligned with your domain and pointing to your website. Having too many links to 3rd parties can look like you're trying to misled your reader and might get blocked. If you continue to have issues, try using a "mostly text" version with a simple logo image to see if it has a better chance of delivery.

    If you've done all of the above, and yet the placement still suffers, you'll want to dig deeper. Is there possibly a spam trap or "honeypot" trap on your list? It's sort of like finding a needle in a haystack. You can be doing everything right as a marketer and still a spam trap sneaks in, because new ones are being created everyday (old inboxes might get converted, or someone might just mistype their own email and sign it up for your list). To mitigate, there are ways to sign up for inbox monitoring and additional feedback loops from ISPs like these:

    Outlook / Hotmail SNDS - https://sendersupport.olc.protection.outlook.com/snds/FAQ.aspx

    Gmail Postmaster - https://www.gmail.com/postmaster/

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