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Q&A with email deliverability expert

Recently, Spencer Kollas, Vice President of Global Deliverability at Experian Marketing Services and I hosted a webinar. We discussed ways that marketers can prepare for the upcoming holiday season, and gave useful tips for setting up marketing and eCommerce initiatives for holiday success. 

While we had Spencer with us, we conducted a Q&A session to get his input and insight on email deliverability and optimization best practices.

What does your role as the VP of Global Deliverability entail?

As the VP of Global Deliverability, it is my job to work with our clients to obtain the optimal delivery rates for all of their various email streams based on their business needs and goals. I also work with various industry trade organizations and ISPs in order to ensure that our clients are aware of what changes might be coming and what considerations they need to take into account when mailing to their customers.

How have you worked with clients on their email deliverability?

Over the last 12 years I have worked with clients in every type of manner possible, from creating IP warming and transition plans to resolving Spamhaus listings. Because our clients are so diverse, it has allowed me to experience most situations so that I can better assist our clients in the future.

From your observations, how have you seen the prioritization of email data quality rise over the years?

Email data quality, along with all data quality, continues to move up in prioritization for many marketing organizations because they realize the potential losses they could incur by not having the right data in their systems. When I first started in deliverability, it was less of a concern because everyone was just trying to grow their list as quickly as possible, but now that most marketers have well-established brands and email lists, it is more important to make sure that the data they are collecting is of good quality.

What do you think people worry about most in terms of email data quality?

I think the biggest concerns, or worries, around data quality are potential lost revenue from collecting the wrong address, or poor customer experiences. Take a situation where a company might collect an email address in order to send an electronic copy of a purchase receipt. If the customer provides a poor quality email address, not only is the company not going to be able to market to them and try to convince them to buy more products, but the customer might not receive the receipt and if they find something wrong with the product and want to take it back, what do they do without the receipt? This can cause much more long-term issues in regard to revenue, even more so then not having the address to market to, because that customer might start to look at the company in a negative light and decide to purchase similar items elsewhere.

Well, that being said, can you share any email best practices?

There are a number of things that are considered to be “best practices,” but the most important thing for any marketer to remember is that you must test everything and figure out what works best for you and your business goals. Just because a particular best practice might be to only send to your most recent actives, if you aren’t experiencing any delivery issues or you aren’t trending that way, then just continue doing what you are doing.

Can you provide an example where you’ve guided someone out of a bad email dilemma?

I could provide a lot of examples, but most of them start at the same point: poor collection practices. This could include a number of different things, from using affiliate marketers to collect new customers, to not doing real-time validation, to having no clear opt-in policy. With all of these examples, and many others, it comes down to putting bad data into your system that is going to cause you to have bad results when sending campaigns out of your system. If you focus on finding the best quality customers to add to your marketing files, you are much less likely to run into deliverability problems down the road.

Do you have any eCommerce email optimization tips?

When it comes to the term “eCommerce,” it could mean a number of different things to different people. If you are asking for tips around email receipts, there are a couple that I often provide to my clients that I believe all marketers should employ:

  • If it is a new customer, make sure that you are collecting the correct address.
  • Send all of your transactional messages off of a different IP and sub-domain from your promotional—you are less likely to run into issues with blocking or bulking this way.
  • Don’t be afraid to offer additional incentives to your receipt email—the customer is obviously already interested in your products, so why not offer them a discount on an additional item if they purchase it right now? Not only can it increase your sales revenue, but you can potentially save on shipping costs as well if you are able to get them to purchase the additional items quickly enough ship them together.

Email deliverability is an important year-round initiative for most businesses—but the increased traffic during the holiday season gives brands all the more reason to focus on making sure the contact information they collect is ready for use. Flip through our webinar deck for an email calculator that can give you an estimate of what bad emails are costing your business.

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