E-mail deliverability rates are declining

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Luc Vezina
Luc Vezina

E-mail ROI continues to outperform all other direct marketing tactics and is expected to reach $45.65 for every dollar spent by 2008, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Conversely, reports persist about declining e-mail deliverability and response rates due to spam and fierce inbox competition.

The DMA recently reported declines in delivery rates for acquisition (at 68%) and retention e-mails (at 80%), according to its Q2 2007 National E-mail Marketing Benchmark report. This was the second consecutive decrease. The DMA cautioned e-mail marketers that although the decline can not yet be called a trend, it is a troubling development and e-mail service providers must take every measure to improve their sender reputation, e-mail content and authentication. This is one of many reasons why today's marketers need to take a closer look at e-mail automation tools.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but automating aspects of your e-mail marketing campaigns can improve targeting and open rates. Better targeting means happier recipients, stronger customer relationships and fewer spam complaints, ultimately improving your overall e-mail reputation and boosting your deliverability rate.

E-mail marketing today requires more than observing best practice for maintaining updated opt-in and permission-based lists. Successful e-mail marketers with high deliverability and open rates have moved beyond the basics and taken their e-mail marketing campaigns to the next level by moving from the broadcast approach to one-to-one targeting. One-to-one targeting means reaching individual customers at exactly the right time in the buying cycle. This requires more than just personalizing your messages with a name, but also segmenting your lists using demographic, behavioral and transactional data ― an approach that is becoming knows as mass customization.

Mass customization sounds like an oxymoron ― and in the literal sense, it is ― but e-mail automation makes it possible. Integrating all of this data and setting up such campaigns manually would be a daunting task, but new and affordable e-mail automation tools have been developed that enable businesses of all sizes to quickly and easily design automated campaigns.

Until now, only large enterprises with complex and costly e-mail solutions have been able to implement trigger campaigns at this level of sophistication. But by taking a closer look at what marketers for any type of business can do today, it's surprising to learn how few have made the transition from one-to-many to one-to-one. Imagine being able to set up campaigns in a matter of minutes that will automatically deliver tailored messages to individuals based on their stated preferences, a specified time, date, event or action. Whether you're a retail, insurance or marketing services company, your prospects and customers will be getting the exact message they want from you at the right moment in the buying cycle so that you can persuade them to make a repeat purchase, buy for the first time or nudge them along one step closer to becoming a loyal customer.

Recent studies have shown that marketers understand the benefits of automated e-mail campaigns, especially for following up on warm leads, but very few have taken the time to find the tools that are right for their business. For many businesses, technology and cost have been an issue, but tools are now available that have eliminated those barriers.

Cutthroat inbox competition will never cease and consumers will continue demanding more relevance and timeliness from the marketing messages they receive. E-mail automation tools that allow mass customization will play an increasingly important role in e-mail marketing success.

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