October 17, 2018

Deliverability 101: Choose your own email adventure.


Marketers, we know your struggle. With such little time and energy to get everything done, it’s easy to think of our world as black or white, opt-in or opt-out, cilantro or soap; but it doesn’t have to be that way when it comes to email. You can have a beautiful rainbow world of email!

How? Consider an email preference center for your brand, where your subscribers can tailor your marketing emails to their desires, from frequency to personalized interest. Don’t think this matters, and all opt-ins are made equal?

…Except Litmus found 67% of recipients unsubscribe to emails because they received too many of them or they considered them “irrelevant.”

Keeping in theme with “not everything is as simple as yes or no,” you can create a preference center to fit both your and your subscribers’ needs.

Do you want to offer subscriptions upfront on a website pop-up, perhaps even tied to a discount or coupon? Alternatively, do you want them to opt-in first and then ask them to navigate to the preference center after you’ve put them in the mix for all your email distributions? This is another situation where one size won’t fit all, so you’ll have to consider your brand’s comfort level and personality.

When you’re incorporating a preference center into your consent model, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

  • Clear copy: Make sure the instructions you’re providing are concise and accurate. Ask them to select only the emails they want to receive, and don’t autoselect them all; instead, put the onus on the subscriber to freely express interest. This will help you cover your bases regarding privacy legislation like the GDPR or CASL, and besides, it’s just a considerate way to treat your customers. Bonus: It helps your reputation immensely.
  • Respect the subscriptions: This goes hand-in-hand with the clear copy suggestion. If you have a newsletter for dog lovers and a newsletter for cat lovers, keep them separate. Don’t try to slip dog content into the cat letter, because you asked them to make a choice. Respect it. If you don’t, you can expect people to realize it and opt-out entirely or complain (yikes).
  • Remember frequency: Personalization goes beyond content. A big part of asking your subscribers for their preferences is remembering they also have opinions about how frequently you reach out to them. Build an option to receive emails at different intervals, like weekly or monthly, and build your lists and strategy accordingly. Perhaps the monthly subscribers get a best-of style email once a month, or maybe you reward your weekly subscribers with exclusive deals each week.
  • Build a reasonable workflow: If someone opts in or out of a newsletter, make sure they’re treated appropriately on a quick timeline. Nobody (seriously, nobody) likes to update their email preferences and see a confirmation page indicating these changes will take effect in 10-14 days. Sure, some of us marketers are crazy busy, have a small (or nonexistent) support team, and it’s hard to expedite changes like that. But…the customer experience comes first.

Source: Nextdoor

Even if you’re not a designer following design best practices will rarely lead you astray. Eliminate clutter, give your readers clear and easy-to-read instructions, make the confirmation button easily visible, and always stay on brand. Oh, and remember to design it in a way that’s mobile-friendly!

As always, tailoring the marketing email experience for your recipients will have a positive impact on your reputation, and thus, your deliverability. Sending emails people want is the key to better engagement, which means you’ll enjoy better inbox placement rates and open rates over time. Continue to follow other deliverability best practices after implementing a preference center, including list hygiene—if you notice subscribers losing interest, proactively scrub them from your list or send an email to prompt them to update their preferences.

At the end of the day, personalized marketing is good marketing. Listen to your subscribers and cater to their needs. Everyone likes being offered choices on their menu, so build one with individual preference in mind and watch everyone happily dig in—unless you’re offering cilantro, because that’s just gross.

Author: Nicky Copland

Nicky is the senior marketing manager at 250ok. Before joining the team, she spent the majority of her time crafting and implementing communications strategies for the association industry. She was never a brain surgeon, but she played one on the internet.

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