Aug 31, 2010

What will Gmail's Priority Inbox change in email marketing?

This has been a global tendency over the last years: to get rid of Spam and other unsolicited, unwanted or unneeded emails, ISPs have tried to classify email senders and sort them into 3 categories:

1 - Spam and unsolicited emails : Usually refused by the server
2 - Unwanted emails : Usually sent to the junk folder
3 - Regular mail : Delivered to the inbox.

The thing with this system was that it was based on a statistical analysis of several elements (complaints, hardbounces, email quality, average open rates,...) out of the total number of their users you were targetting.

Gmail is now rolling out their beta version of Priority Inbox. This system will continue to work along side the old one (meaning Gmail will keep filtering incoming email based on statistical data, but now, they will sort the emails automatically for their users:
Gmail will analyze how you react to a certain type of emails and will sort it accordingly in your inbox.
This sorting will have two levels : important and unimportant.
According to what we know, this analysis will be based on how often you read the emails you receive from a given sender and how often you reply.

The "funny" thing here is that this system will make it almost impossible for email marketing emails to reach the priority inbox, the reason for this is that it's quite unlikely that any of your clients will open each and every email you send to them and even less likely that they will ever reply to one.

At the end of the day a "regular" inbox will probably be cut in half : the personal emails up and the newsletters down.

I expect quite a drop on open rates for Gmail addresses in the first weeks / months after the roll out, time for the users to get used to this new display and to get the habit of checking the bottom list for your communications, but I also expect that this system will lead the way to new forms of one 2 one spam filters that will no longer be at the ISP level but at the user level.

This will have several implications:
First, it will emphasize the need to clean up your database on a regular basis since your inactive users will very likely no longer receive any of your emails.
Second, the deliverability management will no longer rely solely on ISPs but will have to fine tune and focus on how users react to the broadcasts.

On the user side, I'm pretty confident this is a huge leap towards clean inboxes and value added email communication.

On the ESP side... good luck, have fun!

Aug 11, 2010

The new hotmail

How could I describe the brand New hotmail?
I could list all the new features in a very long post and discuss them one by one but this would be too boring on a blog dedicated to email marketing since the changes in this version are (for the most) feature related, the spam filtering remains MS SmartScreen and the rendering system remains unchanged except for one noticeable thing that I will discuss hereafter.

So to put it in a minimal number of words, the new hotmail is now just like Gmail, except all the google features are here Miscrosoft ones.

As for the rendering, the only change I noticed is that this latest version seems to ignore the body align center and table (width 100%) align center.
A good way around this is to add your align center code in your CSS as well (please do not replace the alignment parameters that are inline, Gmail and Outlook 2007 still scrap the CSS).

Please feel free to comment if you notice anything else.

Aug 4, 2010

Social marketing gone wrong

The discussion goes on and on and on... will Social marketing kill email marketing? My answer remains unchanged: NO.
The main point according to me is not on costs, on reliability, efficiency,... it's on risk.
Let's take a simple example.
I'm a playstation 3 player and am registered to the Ubisoft newsletter, and an Assassin's creed (one of their latest games) follower on facebook.
Wisely, Ubisoft uses both channels to communicate with their consumers but when it comes to the potential risk when communicating with it's clients, I'm pretty sure the Ubisoft marketing department will tonight agree with me: Social marketing represents a risk that email marketing won't.
A few day's ago, Ubisoft sent out an email to announce that clients that pre-ordered the latest Assassin's creed would receive a Beta test code. When you receive such an email you either take it or leave it. They then made an announcement with the exact same message on their facebook page earlier today (sorry, it's in french). It lead to a mayhem.
 Tens of facebook users started flaming down Ubisoft for making a paid Beta (obviously not making the difference with a Demo version and not understanding that pre-ordering would not make the game more expensive and therefore the Beta being free of charge).
Any way:
Will this incident damage either Ubisoft or the next Assassin's creed reputation or popularity? Maybe not.
Could it have been avoided? Definitely
Would it have happen with an email campaign? Of course not.