Domain Names Give Key InformationPerhaps the most overlooked area of e-mail marketing is domain analysis.
The domain of an e-mail address (for example, in Jay@Worldata.com, Worldata is the domain) carries a tremendous amount of information that can affect how to market to its owner.
The most prominent domain addresses are AOL.com, Hotmail.com and Yahoo.com. Paying proper attention to these domains can lead to dramatic increases in response rates.
Until America Online's recent launch of AOL 6.0, its subscribers could not receive HTML. As a result, marketers could not send e-mail containing images to AOL users. The images would show up as text coding.
Though no accurate number has been published, it is estimated that 30 percent to 40 percent of all AOL users are now using version 6.0. Marketers are applying sniffer technology when mailing to AOL users to send properly formatted HTML messages to those who have downloaded the new version. Many marketers still fail to focus on the default text message that must accompany the HTML mailing they are deploying to AOL users.
If the recipient is using 5.0 or below, a default text message will arrive. However, if that text message is not properly formatted, its links will not be clickable (highlighted in blue and underlined) and therefore will not let the user visit the promoted Web page.
Applying a simple piece of code called an HREF tag allows links within a text message to arrive as clickable links when it reaches AOL users. Keep in mind that AOL 5.0 and below are neither text environments nor true HTML environments. They contain properties of both. The coding needed is very simple.
This is a standard URL: www.widget.com.
And here is an HREF version of the same URL: <a href="http://www.widget.com/"> http://www.widget.com/</a>.
Using HREF tags ensures that all default text messages arrive with properly formatted, functional links.
America Online is unique not only because of the attributes of its e-mail client. AOL subscribers represent a specific type of online audience. These individuals pay a monthly fee to be online. Fifty percent have annual household incomes of more than $75,000 and more than half are college graduates, according to a recent release from @plan. These numbers reflect a more sophisticated audience than the general Internet population.
Response numbers from an AOL population can vary widely compared with your overall database, especially if you are focused on marketing to consumers. When tracking campaigns, it is essential to measure your AOL user results against those from the rest of your file. If you find that AOL users perform better than general e-mail addresses, then you can apply that knowledge to your next prospect campaign. When renting an e-mail list, you can select only AOL addresses. This may bring the extra lift in response that your campaign was lacking. Gaining a greater understanding of your overall house file can help reduce unnecessary costs while improving response rates.
Hotmail.com and Yahoo.com represent the most common domains in most e-mail address databases. While these e-mail clients are 100 percent HTML capable, they still present challenges when deploying your e-mail house file messages. Both of these e-mail networks engage in e-mail message blocking. These two networks will block bulk e-mail received from particular sending parties. This does not mean no messages will get through when mailing to these domains, but only a small portion will be delivered.
Hotmail.com will stop allowing certain messages to go through from a particular marketer after the first few hundred. These two networks block far more e-mail than what is generally thought. The only true way to get unblocked is to contact permission officers at these two groups.
One last tip regarding these domains concerns telemarketing. If you are collecting e-mail addresses via inbound or outbound telemarketing, it is essential that the staff members on the phones know at least a limited amount of information. The phone staff should get a list of the most common domains. This helps keep the deliverability rate on your e-mail database as high as possible. If someone gives an e-mail address of email@example.com, but the employee taking the information is not savvy in domain spellings, that address could very easily enter the database as firstname.lastname@example.org.
These simple steps add no cost to collection efforts and help overall response rates.