Inbox placement is a primary objective for all email marketers be it B2C or B2B email marketing. Both these facets have similarities yet they are a bit different from each other. You might wonder, what methods can you follow to ensure maximum email deliverability while practising B2B email marketing? No worries. To answer many such questions, we are bringing to you, Zoho Campaigns Expert Diaries.
Expert Diaries from Zoho Campaigns connects avid email marketers to experts and helps them learn some best practices and tips. Our aim is to form a community that allows email marketing enthusiasts to learn email marketing tips from each other.
In our recent session we were joined by Lori Blair, who has been in the industry for quite a while. She has worked with 250Ok Inc. where she helped large senders improve their email deliverability rates. She has also been a freelancer and it was during this time she tried to find out the most complex reasons behind low email deliverability rate. Currently she is working with Validity, Inc. as a solutions consultant helping email marketers maximize their inbox placement. In this edition of Expert Diaries, she talks about email deliverability best practices for B2B email marketing.
Can you please enlighten us about how B2B email marketing is different from B2C email marketing?
There are a few differences between B2C and B2B email deliverability. B2B systems are more rules-based than B2C systems. They focus more on the safety of content and checking the genuineness of the IPs and the authenticity of the sender.
Since you’ve been in the industry for a long time, what are the major problems faced by senders in B2B email marketing?
The first one that I often run into is not properly doing the authentication setup—people not having SPF authentication setup, DKIM signing customized, or having DMARC set up but not passing.
The other problem is email senders being blacklisted at various spam filters like Barracuda or Cisco. Some of those non-public blacklists will result in mails getting blocked.
So it’s improper authentication that triggers the problems for senders in this case?
Yes, it’s the first signal a receiving mail server gets from the sender. So if authentication isn’t set up properly and the system is focussed on rules, it will reject the mail outright for failing authentication.
What are other common mistakes made by B2B senders and how can they avoid such errors to get better inbox placement?
IPs and domains being blacklisted by various public blacklist is a big reason. The longer sales cycles in B2B email marketing has a pitfall. A lot of senders send emails at intervals of more than a month. That’s a common mistake for some of those B2B domains or addresses to be converted into spam traps.
ISPs like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook provide increased security to businesses setting up their mailbox on top of their platform. Certain businesses go an extra mile and opt for third-party spam filters.
What exactly is the reason behind this and what do those spam filters bring to the table?
I think the biggest value they can bring is configuration options for the administrator. There is more granularity of control for the implementer. Overall it provides additional control and security.
It’s common for phishing and spoofing attacks to be launched by email or malicious links being sent in documents like that. Third-party spam filters protect the brand’s infrastructure by providing additional security for inbound email.
Is there any defined hierarchy for that? Like, can we say what filters come first followed by what?
With regards to hierarchy, any inbound email towards your infrastructure will have to pass the third-party filter first. Post that, it has to pass the filters provided by the mailbox service provider.
How many third-party filters can can someone put in place?
Typically you would put up only one third-party filter at a time. This is because the integration is set up by the MX records, which tells it to route it to the spam filtering company’s mail servers.
Since we know how the filtering works, how does it affect my planning with regarding maintaining a mailing list and so on?
B2B senders must be aware of the domains, filters and inbox providers they are sending emails to. They should check the MX records of the sending domains along with the various spam filters. The senders have to make sure that these spam filters are specific to the sender’s program. Apart from this, a regular monitoring of blacklists is also important.
We all know that B2B domains don’t provide traditional feedback loops when it comes to Yahoo or Microsoft, so how will the senders get to know whether the receivers want to receive emails?
Essentially there are two things you can do:
– Ascertain the engagement you are getting from each of these domains
– Use an inbox testing tool like 250ok (Validity) to check if you are getting through various spam systems and different corporate mail systems
In B2B email marketing, there are points of contact representing a brand. What happens when a point of contact changes business, designation, or field of work and their email IDs become obsolete? Can that lead to low email deliverability and other related problems for the sender? At the same time, group email IDs cannot be added, so how can this issue be countered?
Typically when people change jobs and move on, their emails become invalid. Emails sent to those email IDs should hard bounce for a period while mentioning the reason behind it. This invalid recipient response will tell your ESP to suppress the email going forward. That will help in preventing poor email deliverability.
Finally, can you please talk about the important things to remember for B2B email marketers?
One of the most important things I run into is purchased lists. In general my advice is to avoid them as they aren’t of good quality. Purchased lists may lead to more and more bounced emails. Recipient ISPs will understand that your data quality is quite poor.
You have to make sure that your authentication is set up properly. This is the first impression that B2B spam filtering systems are going to get when you send out an email.
Always maintain proper list hygiene. You need to purge your list of email IDs that aren’t engaging with your email. There can be a reason for lack of engagement—for example, it might be a sign that emails are not the correct channel to reach them. You should instead try a phone number or something if you have one.