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Email deliverability can feel beyond your control. This is especially true for B2B brands that have traditionally struggled with the mercury spam filtering behavior of corporate email servers and the IT overlords that control them.
However, with Google Workspace and Outlook 365 seriously entering the corporate email market, B2B email deliverability is more like deliverability for B2C brands.
This means that the placement in the inbox – i.e. reaching the recipient’s inbox – increasingly combines seven central factors for the deliverability of e-mails:
- Infrastructure: The servers, setup, and controls used by a company’s email service provider (ESP) are as important as authentication (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC).
- Volume: The higher your email traffic and the more irregular your sending patterns, the more control you can expect from mailbox providers.
- Email content: Rather than worrying about the choice of words, punctuation, and the balance of images and text in your email, you need to make sure that your email code is safe, clean, and that you are not linking to websites with bad reputations.
- Bounces and spam traps: Brands want to keep their hard bounce rates at 2% or below and avoid adding spam traps to their mailing lists.
- Spam complaints: If more than 0.1% of a brand’s subscribers report their emails as spam, the brand may experience blocking or anti-spam junking.
- Engagement: Mailbox providers want to see senders’ subscribers open, click, and otherwise interact with their email.
- Call: Each mailbox provider uses its own unique and secret weighting of the other six factors and their sub-factors to create a reputation for each sender, which the provider attaches to the IP addresses as well as the website domains used by the sender.
With these factors in mind, let’s talk about the unique behaviors of B2B brands that are most likely to cause their emails to be blocked or junked – which can get costly when you see lost opportunities and the cost of counting the corrections of deliverability.
1. B2B marketers are more likely to buy email lists
If you look at how many companies offer such services, there is something to apologize to B2B brands if they think it’s okay. I get at least one unsolicited email a day from a company trying to get me to buy a list.
While unfortunately not yet illegal in the US, buying email lists carries a high level of risk …
- Spam complaints because you can’t buy a permit
- Hard bounces because people leave companies and their email addresses are disabled
- Spam traps because less reputable list sellers use e-mail address collection software that also locates pristine spam traps on the Internet from blacklist organizations and mailbox providers to identify spammers
2. B2B marketers tend to “rent” lists for email campaigns
I put “rent” in quotation marks because many list sellers have renamed themselves list landlords: you know that selling email addresses is frowned upon by many. There is nothing wrong with doing a real list rental if you adhere to the following principles:
- As a list tenant, you never see a list owner’s list. Owners should only share list size, demographic, and other information about the target audience.
- List tenants shape the message. List owners approve or reject the message, or ask for revisions.
- List owners send this message to their subscribers through their email service provider.
- The message is sent with the list owner’s name, header, and logo at the top of the email as they vouch for your business being relevant to their target audience.
- The message is sent with the list owner’s unsubscribe link, so they’ll be unsubscribed if your message isn’t appropriate for their audience.
If a list owner does not want to abide by these rules, look elsewhere, as it is a sign that your message does not fit well with the list owner’s audience – or that the audience themselves are of very little worth.
3. B2B marketers tend to have more diversified subscriber acquisition practices
At B2B companies, new leads and subscribers are sometimes collected from individual sales reps. This makes it much more difficult to enforce authorization standards, which can lead to low engagement, high hard bounce numbers and spam complaints.
For example, sellers sometimes add the email address of someone they have connected to on LinkedIn, confusing permission to reach someone on that channel with permission to reach them by email. Quotas for collecting email addresses can make the process even more risky and lead to complaints and hard bounces.
4. B2B marketers are more likely to have fraudulent distribution lists
Sometimes members of the sales team are given their own email service provider accounts so that they nurture their own leads independently of the company’s activities. Such practices should not only lose control of the brand’s messages and rhythm, but should also affect B2B brands as the spam complaints generated by these emails affect the reputation of the website domain and therefore the reputation of the sender domain (IP). can harm.
If you’ve never done this before (or it has been a while), use a tool like eDataSource from SparkPost or Deliverability Plus from Oracle to identify all IP addresses and email service providers that are sending emails on behalf of your Send brand. Chances are you’ll be shocked by what you find.
5. In normal times, B2B marketers are more likely to add to their lists at in-person events
While events are a great place to attract high quality subscribers, it is one of the last few places paper forms are used. This inevitably leads to transcription errors that cause high bounce rates. Using tablets with opt-in forms drastically reduces this risk.
Obtaining authorizations is also murky at events.
“Just because people visit your booth, have their badge scanned and put in their business card for your raffle, doesn’t mean they have chosen to receive your promotional emails,” said Cristal Foster, Head of List Growth and Demand Generation Services at Oracle Marketing Consulting.
“There is a huge gap between what B2B marketers think of what should happen next and what those prospects expect. Event staff must do a much better job of obtaining informed consent.
6. B2B marketers often use forms to download reports and registration forms for webinars for lead generation
A lack of transparency of opt-in practices can also lead to more people entering a secondary email address that they don’t check often, or worse, a temporary email address or my email address hide, which jumps back hard after a short time.
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The biggest challenge to B2B email deliverability is making it clear to all marketers, sellers, event staff, and other employees how their tactics and actions affect a company’s sender reputation.
Event staff likely fail to understand that poorly captured email addresses bounce off hard and affect email deliverability. Likewise, sales reps likely fail to understand that starting their own shadow marketing program is damaging their corporate domain’s reputation.
A little education can go a long way in helping employees understand that they all have a role to play in maintaining the company’s inbox position.
Additional resources on email deliverability
What every marketer needs to know about email deliverability
Are the delivery rates of e-mails pulling you down? Try these 10 do’s and 7 don’ts
Five email deliverability myths debunked