National Geographic uses e-mail to measure trust

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National Geographic is not just about exotic animals and world cultures. The brand is also associated with e-mail best practices.

Last month, Lauren Skena, manager of strategy & e-marketing at National Geographic, spoke on a panel at the Authentication and Online Trust Alliance (AOTA) conference, an e-mail event dedicated to looking at best practices. At the show, AOTA ran its first annual Email Deliverability & Trust Academy workshop, where it employed its first Email Competency Test.

Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft and Publishers Clearing House are among the brands that participated in the exam, which looked at how to conduct an e-mail campaign that focuses on consumer protection, privacy and trust. Of those that participated, 63% passed. (Passing score was measured at 85% or more).

National Geographic didn't participate, because Skena was on the panel. However, she did take the time to talk to DMNews about trust and delivery.

Q: How does National Geographic use e-mail?

A: We send out 25 different newsletters ranging from editorial content to promotions for our store to alerts about new TV shows and films. Some subscribers get only one e-mail and some 15, so it is important for us to pay attention to our preference centers.

Q: How do you establish trust with your customers?

A: We let consumers control their own preferences and we adhere to these as best we can. We are sending them what they requested and we are very straightforward about it. If a consumer signs up to receive an e-mail, the brand sends an introduction e-mail to a subscriber to tell them what to expect — the kind of content, the regularity and so on. By telling them that we are sending them what they requested, that leads to great trust.

Q: How do you make sure that you are following your customers' preferences?

A: It's important for us to follow our customers' preferences. We work with Epsilon for our e-mail marketing, Return Path for deliverability monitoring and we send Goodmail CertifiedEmail. All of these combined lead to good deliverability and help ensure that we're mailing to those that want to receive it.

Q: How do you measure consumer trust?

A: Measuring trust is a challenge, but we have a few ways to do it. We look at ISP complaint rates, opt-out rates and the fluctuation in click-through rates. We also look at the length a person has been on file and what their activity is.

Q: How does your e-mail team work with the overall marketing department in your organization?

A: We don't allow our group to [just] go out and mail who they'd like to mail. We insist that the product groups test new promotions to see how the subscribers respond.

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