This year the amount spam declined. The main reason, according to multiple reports, was the dismantling of the Rustock botnet, a large cluster of computers infected with a virus that automatically sent spam out. However spam complaints are actually up, said Kathleen Waldvogel, VP-client services at email service provider BlueHornet Networks.
“What we're seeing more of is that legitimate marketers are being grouped in with spammers,” she said. “People are hitting the "spam' button.” When this happens, deliverability takes a hit. However, there are plenty of things marketers can do proactively to keep their delivery rates—and reputations—on the positive side. The most important, Waldvogel said, is looking out for several early warning signs that may lead to what she called “revenue-impacting issues.”
The first thing that marketers should do is track their email engagement, looking at the age of their email lists and assessing when subscribers last engaged with their email marketing programs.
“ISPs are moving to an engagement model. They are looking to see if recipients are opening and clicking on messages in order to rate the sender's reputation,” Waldvogel said. She suggested marketers remove addresses of recipients who have not opened such emails in the last six months. This does not mean, however, that they never again market to inactive subscribers, she said. “It's important to look at the inactive subscribers, determine the value that they have and then measure the risk of sending to them,” she said. Marketing to them less frequently or engaging in a reactivation campaign that contains content based on the last story or link they actually read can help re-engage inactive subscribers.
Marketers may also want to cross-check their inactive lists against subscriber data. Sometimes people sign up for an email marketing list simply to get something. Once they have it, they're no longer interested in what a marketer is offering. Those subscribers who signed up based on a contest or white paper download, for instance, might not belong on your lists. Double opt-in procedures can help reduce this. “When you don't have a double opt-in in place, people may use bad addresses just to get what they want,” Waldvogel said.
At the same time, marketers should segment active subscribers who open and click through into a separate list since strong deliverability and engagement can help boost deliverability rates for a list overall. However, it's important to keep in mind that even the most active subscribers may become dormant at some point, creating the need for constant, ongoing list management. “We need to start looking at good data as something that has a shelf life” Waldvogel said. “Keep an eye on the leading indicators to see when data is spoiling so you can take action.”