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Real time, Contextual, Agile email marketing with live content in campaigns

There is a lot of news today about email marketing campaigns which can deliver content live from websites and social media based on the recipient behaviour at the time of opening the email, location and device. Delivering such live content in real time and context provides exciting and engaging opportunities for marketers to connect with the recipients and drive them towards further actions.

With such engaging campaigns with live contextual real-time content in email, marketers are seeing higher CTR (click through rate is a measure of clicks generated over the impressions served). As the ROI is a direct measure of CTR, higher CTR will result in higher clicks for the same number of impressions.

From a simple count down or count up timer to drive urgency in recipients, to much more engaging real time or dynamic offers based on recipient behaviour, the email marketing is becoming is much agile in nature rather than static personalisation at the time of sending email.

Recommendations of the products based on location, weather, or offer on the site coupled with recipient behaviour is a much higher value proposition for marketers based on history of all aspects of the recipient data.  Earlier this was possible directly on the web, instead on email owing to complications in serving dynamic content in email.  Several companies are able to deliver this now, including Kenscio.

Real-time content can be fun as well as it can bring in gamification to the  email and social feeds from twitter, Facebook, instagram and such directly to email.  This is lot more engaging to the recipients as they can see live content  that is as fresh instead of stale content, when they see.

Kenscio provides all this fun now in email marketing campaigns. Think of such a situation and give us a call. We are happy to provide a solution.

Visit Kenscio’s Real Time Personalization website http://www.kenscio.com/real-time.php for all the innovations in serving contextual content live in your next email campaign.

 

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The New Gmail Tabbed Inbox. How is it going to affect email marketers?

As Google started rolling out the new tabbed inbox feature, promotional mails from marketers started reaching a new inbox meant for all such mails called “Promotions” and not the default inbox now called “Primary”.

Gmail created 5 new tabs to route emails depending on their intent.  Gmail has not published on how it is doing, but they are doing a pretty good job of classifying the emails on the intent. Hence we feel it would be wasted effort to spend too much of a time investigating on how to reach a different inbox tab, by modifying content, sender address, sending domain, switching email provider, and such tactics. It may harm marketer’s reputation with gmail which may lead to mails landing in spam or being blocked.  Some marketers might have escaped from Google’s new feature for the moment, but believe that Google is pretty good at what they do, and eventually no one escape, from whatever tactics the marketers may use by using Amazon SES or own SMTP infrastructure to send emails or altering the email headers or subject lines.

If you look closer, gmail has not fundamentally anything with their approach. Gmail had always a feature called Labels, to categorise the mails, but it was user configurable. A user could set rules or filters to apply labels to incoming mails and classify them by Labels, which would be seen as a folder.  The new tabbed inbox is exactly similar, but done automatically by gmail using proprietary algorithms and history to route messages to tabbed inboxes as follows:

  Gmail Inbox Primary icon   Primary Messages from friends and family, as well as any other messages that don’t appear in other tabs.
  Gmail Inbox Promotions icon   Promotions Your deals, offers, and other promotional emails.
  Gmail Inbox Social icon   Social Messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, gaming platforms, and other social websites.
  Gmail Inbox Updates icon   Updates Notifications such as confirmations, receipts, bills, and statements.
  Gmail Inbox Forums icon   Forums Messages from online groups, discussion boards, and mailing lists.

Marketers should live with their key stake holders that is ISPs like gmails, yahoo, hotmail, rediff, AOL and their customers and respect their decision or behaviour.  When marketer’s mails are relevant and engaging, their stakeholders will trust and do business with them.  Hence the fundamentals of marketing communications has not changed. We believe gmail has not changed any of the fundamentals in their approach.

Gmail has a given a new place for the mails belonging to a particular category a label. It would prevent mails from getting cluttered in one inbox. Now the customers knowing where they have to look for a particular kind of mails, they can look into the Tab. The tab provides the count of emails, the brands which are communicating with you and such.Hence it is easier now for customers to look at their marketer mails quite easily.

In order to gmail tabbed inbox, the rules of engagement and reputation still count. If  Marketers throw the pretty good things they followed so far in engaging with their customers, the mails will end in spam folder.

Knowing these, how could marketers being still worried about the impact of these new changes in gmail.

First if you can’t measure, you can’t put any control mechanism that can give a better result.

Start measuring from the end metric, which is conversions (not open rates or click rates, which are intermediary metrics). If you don’t have a mechanism to measure conversions from email campaigns, it is time to implement now, as it is the core metric.  Once the conversion metric in place, start measuring it every week by gmail customers, yahoo customers, hotmail customers and such.  If you see the numbers going down by ISPs, now you could think of strategies. You could further drill to abandon carts by ISP, click rate by ISP and open rate by ISP and try to optimise at each intermediary stage from backwards.

Now think of strategies understanding the issues if they are specific to gmail or across the entire customer base.

If they are specific to new gmail tabbed inbox, consider educating the customers on the new tabbed inboxes and how could the customers live with it and see their brand communications, how to identify them with the name. If their customers would like to see them in “Primary” tab, educate them on how to “Star” the mails and drag them to “Primary” tab from other tabs. Encourage your customers to reply to the emails for  interacting with the brand and run automations to trigger off actions on such reply emails.  Further ask your gmail customer to add your sender address to their contact list or address book.

For your customers to do those actions, don’t forget to make your emails look attractive, relevant and be compelling to open them, click the link and visit your site and buy things.  Understand each customer actions, and get to know them better by seeking more information. Identify the channels (email, SMS, Facebook, twitter, or direct) your customers best engage with and communicate smartly across channels. Use all history you have with your customers to send relevant and compelling offers.

Use dynamic content or serve content that is in real time directly from your CRM system or web site so that the customer can get the offer that is live now on your website.  You can also gamify the mailers by serving such content such as surprise coupons, free shipping, and etc. Reduce the steps from email open to buy.

Do you want to further know the impacts of new gmail tabbed inbox and the rules of  engagement, reach out to Kenscio’s Account Managers or drop an email to enquiries@kenscio.com for a detailed whitepaper.

 

 

 

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How to understand consumer behavior and benefit from Multi-Channel Marketing?

In today’s world, consumers have their own preferences to various channels to interact and buy with. A channel may be a retail store, a direct visit to a website, a mail order catalog, an agent waiting to take an order on the phone after you have seen an ad on TV or heard on Radio, or direct personal communication by letter, email or text message or through a landing page served through a banner ad or social media.

The objective of the companies doing the marketing is to make it easy for a consumer to buy from them in whatever most appropriate channel. And understand their consumer choices of channels. An other important aim for the companies is to optimize the costs and maximize the returns knowing the behavior of their consumers, their interactions and purchases across the channels.

Delivering an integrated consumer experience across channels requires a partner who can understand the complexities of delivering the communications across the channels and the gathering intelligence gathered from the consumer’s behavior.  It would require your partner to offer a full suite of marketing services.

Kenscio today provides best in class products, solutions and expertise needed to create a successful multi-channel marketing campaign and communication strategy that connects strongly with your consumers.

You can easily integrate all your direct digital communications through email, SMS, transactional communications (for upsell, cross sell and missed opportunities), surveys, landing pages and web forms, social media marketing and automate your mult-channel marketing campaigns with the right message at the right time to the right audience through powerful segmentation and analytics based on your consumer demographics, past behavior and purchases.

 

Multi-Channel Marketing

Kenscio understands these challenges and can empower you to obtain a single view of your customers, but more so, it can also help identify the truth about your relationship with them. To learn more about our multi channel marketing services get in touch!

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Get your Email Service Provider (ESP) implement DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) for your bulk mail server!

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a possibility to make an email sender more easily identifiable for the email service providers (ESPs) who receive and filter email. The message is identified by the domain it is sent from, that is, the part of the address after the @.

If the delivery address differs from that that has been registered with the DNS server (Domain Name Server), there is an increased likelihood that the email will be classified as Spam by the email service provider.

Why it is needed?

It is because ISPs like yahoo, gmail, hotmail dictate it!  Look at their bulk mailing guidelines, which must be followed by all email marketers and their email marketing solution providers.

https://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=81126#authentication

http://mail.live.com/mail/policies.aspx

http://help.yahoo.com/kb/index?page=content&y=PROD_MAIL_ML&locale=en_US&id=SLN3435&impressions=true

If your bulk or mass email marketing solution provider doesn’t provide it, it is time for you to ask for it. If they are unable to do it, look for other email service providers who can provide it.

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Why Add-to-Address book instruction is very important in your email communication?

You might have seen in the email newsletters you receive that there is a message at the top asking you  “please add our sender address info@xyz.com to your address book”. Do you know the importance of this message?

It is known that ISPs like yahoo, gmail, hotmail, and etc. have spam filters which will filter mails from reaching your inbox.  These junk or spam filters as often called run a variety of algorithms to check if the mail is needed by you and hence should be put in inbox. If not, they should be placed in junk or spam folder thereby saving your time and botheration.

These spam or junk filters work on message content, sender’s reputation, and your own actions on such messages in the past based on who sent it, subject line of the message, or whether the sender id of the message is in your address book etc.These filters sometime give higher priority to your actions than their generic rules.

Moreover some ISPs like Yahoo and AOL display images in the messages automatically if the sender address is in your address book. Spam email killer Services like Boxbee which works with several ISPs automatically deliver emails to inbox, if the message sender address is in your address book, else the mail will end up either in junk or spam folder.

Gmail spam filter work on how do you interact with the sender message in the past from opening, clicking, responding to the message and seeing the sender address in your address book or contact list to prioritize the message delivery to inbox vis-a-vis to junk or spam folder.

Understanding these issues, most of the smart marketers today have a strong call to action to advice their customers to add their sender address to their address books, so that their messages will be seen more in inbox.  The customers can then take subsequent actions of opening and clicking.

However there is a bigger challenge in educating the customers on how to add the sender address to their address books or contact lists. Each of the ISPs has their own ways to adding the sender address to the address book or contact list.

Kenscio Digital has come with an exhaustive guide to assist customers to add the sender address to the address book or contact list.  Click the link below to find the detailed instructions.  Marketers can insert this link in the message to advice their customers on how to add their sender address to their address book or contact list.

http://www.kenscio.com/whitelist-safe-sender-instructions.php

Also, if you find email from senderaddress@senderdomain.com in your spam or junk folder, please take that opportunity to tell your mail program that it is not spam by hitting the “not spam”, “not junk” or similar button, as that will train your program to whitelist it.

Happy inboxing!

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What is a DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) Signature? Why it is required for your mailing server infrastructure?

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a possibility to make an email sender more easily identifiable for the email service providers (ESPs) who receive and filter email. The message is identified by the domain it is sent from, that is, the part of the address after the @.

If the delivery address differs from that that has been registered with the DNS server (Domain Name Server), there is an increased likelihood that the email will be classified as Spam by the email service provider.

DKIM signatures are created, in consultation with you, when your Kenscio mailing system is first set up. The DKIM signatures may differ from the actual domains of your Kenscio mailing system.

Example:

The domain of your Kenscio mailing system is:
news.mybrand.com

You send email messages using the domains:
@mybrand.com
@mybrand.in

The sender domains @mybrand.com and @mybrand.in must be registered with the DNS server. The registered domains should be the domains used for sendout.

This means that, if possible, all domains that will be used for email sendout should receive DKIM signatures.

The part of the address before the @ can be freely set (eg. newsletter@mybrand.com, orders@mybrand.com). This part of the address is not a part of the DKIM signature.

Hint:
If you would like to add a DKIM signature to more sendout domains, or if you need information about which of your domains already have the DKIM signature, please contact your Kenscio representative.

The sendout process with a DKIM signature (simplified):

The sender (that is, the domains) are registered with the DNS server. A special encrypted signature is created that makes these domains clearly identifiable.

During email sendout, the signature and sender information are embedded in the email header.

When an email provider receives an email that contains a DKIM signature, it obtains the key to decipher the signature from the DNS server.

If the sender is correctly identified by the DKIM signature, this increases the chances of delivery in the inbox.

If the DKIM signature does not match the sender identity, the email is probably marked as Spam.

Advantages

The primary advantage for e-mail recipients is it allows the signing domain to reliably identify a stream of legitimate email, thereby allowing domain-based blacklists and whitelists to be more effective. This is also likely to make some kinds of phishing attacks easier to detect.

Use with spam filtering

DKIM is a method of labeling a message, and it does not itself filter or identify spam. However, widespread use of DKIM can prevent spammers from forging the source address of their messages, a technique they commonly employ today. If spammers are forced to show a correct source domain, other filtering techniques can work more effectively. In particular, the source domain can feed into a reputation system to better identify spam. Conversely, DKIM can make it easier to identify mail that is known not to be spam and need not be filtered. If a receiving system has a whitelist of known good sending domains, either locally maintained or from third party certifiers, it can skip the filtering on signed mail from those domains, and perhaps filter the remaining mail more aggressively.

Anti-Phishing

DKIM can be useful as an anti-phishing technology. Mailers in heavily phished domains can sign their mail to show that it is genuine. Recipients can take the absence of a valid signature on mail from those domains to be an indication that the mail is probably forged. The best way to determine the set of domains that merit this degree of scrutiny remains an open question; DKIM will likely have an optional feature called ADSP that lets authors that sign all their mail self-identify, but the effectiveness of this approach remains to be tested.

Working with eBay and PayPal, Google has effectively utilized DKIM in GMail in such a way that any e-mail that claims to be coming from ebay.com or paypal.com will not be accepted at all if they cannot be verified successfully with DKIM. Such messages won’t even appear in the Spam folder.

Feedback Loops (FBLs)

Most of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like gmail, yahoo, hotmail and etc. now demand the Email Service Providers (ESPs) to set up DKIM for the sending mailing infrastructure in order that they receive a copy of a message that one of their subscribers has reported as spam — usually by hitting a “report spam” button in that ISP’s mail interface. Feedback Loop recipients are generally expected to remove any subscriber from their mailing lists to prevent similar “spam complaints” — but the core requirement is simply that they fix whichever problems within their network caused the complaints.

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Have you heard about Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)?

Have you heard about DMARC?

Last week, a group of some of the largest email service providers (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL), together with organizations like Facebook and Paypal, jointly announced the release of a new method of email authentication. The new standard, called DMARC, is a way for email senders and receivers to better work together to increase email security by protecting email recipients from malicious phishing attacks and domain spoofing.

How does it work?

Essentially, email senders can now publish a DMARC record that indicates

1. which authentication tests they have in place (i.e. DKIM, SPF) and

2. what action the email service provider should undertake when an incoming email fails these tests (i.e. spam folder or outright rejection).

This provides the mailbox provider with greater certainty about the origin and identity of messages, thus taking the guesswork out of filtering incoming email. The mailbox provider sends a report back to the email sender containing information about all incoming emails claiming to be from that sender, and whether or not they were actually delivered to recipients.

What are the implications for Kenscio clients?

There are no immediate consequences for clients who do not yet have a DMARC record in place. However, given the size and importance of the players involved in the development of this standard (Gmail! Facebook!), its consequences on the email industry are likely to be of growing importance.

The new standard provides many clear benefits, especially for Kenscio clients where data security is a high priority, such as banks. However, in effect any company can benefit from publishing a DMARC record, if for no other reason than to receive the DMARC reports, which provide visibility and information about a domain’s email and any potential authentication issues.

We are currently beta-testing this with selected client systems, to get a better understanding about the impact this has. Also note, there are some circumstances in which it will not be possible to support DMARC (multi-domain systems, in some cases personalized from-addresses).

What is DMARC?

DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. DMARC is a new  technical specification that was created in order to help reduce email abuse, especially Phishing attacks. DMARC standardizes how email receivers perform email authentication using the existing SPF and DKIM mechanisms.

When a sender publishes a DMARC policy, the sender clearly indicates to the mailbox provider whether the sender’s emails are protected by SPF and/or DKIM. The sender also specifically tells the mailbox provider what to do if an incoming email fails the SPF and DKIM authentication tests – i.e.  block the message or divert it to the spam folder. The mailbox provider  no longer has to guess how to respond to incoming mail that fails authentication tests, because DMARC clearly tells the mailbox provider  how to handle such messages. Furthermore, the mailbox provider can report back to the email sender about whether incoming emails pass or fail the evaluation process.

As a result of DMARC, email senders will experience consistent authentication results for their messages at AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and any other email receiver implementing DMARC.

How does it work?

DMARC

A DMARC policy for a particular sender is published in the DNS as text (TXT) resource records (RR).

When the mailbox provider receives an incoming mail, it checks the results of the SPF and DKIM tests. It also accesses the DMARC policy for that sender. This policy defines what an email receiver should do with incoming mail when that mail does not pass the SPF and DKIM tests.

If the mailbox provider  determines that the results of the SPF and DKIM authentication tests do not correspond to the standards of the published DMARC, it either rejects the incoming message or categorize it as spam, depending on the instructions of the sender as defined in the DMARC. In DMARC terms, this is referred to as a “non-aligned” email.

The mailbox provider reports back to the email sender about all non-aligned incoming emails.

Important Information

DMARC focuses its analysis on the domain in the “from address”. This identifier is used in conjunction with the results of the underlying authentication technologies (at the moment SPF and DKIM).

The most critical factor is that the domain used for DKIM and SPF must have the same “organisation domain” as the domain in the “from address”.

With DMARC, there is essentially no difference between an email signed with the wrong DKIM and an email with no DKIM signature! (For more information on DKIM, please see DKIM signature).

Using DMARC: Set-up steps

If you are interested in creating and publishing a DMARC policy for your Kenscio’s eC-m system, please contact your Kenscio representative. The DMARC policy for your system will be created together with our team of dedicated, in-house deliverability experts.

The basic steps for setting up a DMARC process for your system are:

1. It is first necessary to have DKIM and/or SPF policies in place!
2. Publish a DMARC record indicating which policies you use and requesting reports from mailbox provider.
3. Analyze the data and modify your mail streams as appropriate.
4. Gradually modify your DMARC policy flags from “monitor” to “quarantine” to “reject” to improve control.

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ISPs doesn’t care about your SenderScore Certification, if they find your bulk mails doesn’t conform to their standards

I have subscribed to Groupon mailers.  They are using one of the top tier Email Service Providers in USA, and got Sender Score certification from Return Path.  According to Return Path, the IPs are having an excellent sender score and Acceptance.

Even though Groupon use double opt-in policies, why is gmail putting some of their mailers in spam folder?  A little more investigation provides some suspected issues within their mailing policies.

There are a large number of spam complaints in gmail for Groupon mailers. This makes Gmail to know that Groupon is either not sending relevant mailers to their subscribers or their unsubscriptions are not being honored promptly. Groupon is also not collecting the frequency of mailers that their subscribers want to receive or their subscribers don’t care to fill it up. This will result in list fatigue and their subscribers instead of unsubscribing, they are finding easier to complain spam!

A large of unknown users also indicate that Groupon is sending mail to subscribers without knowing their email behavior, whether the subscriber is active or inactive. This also explains the reason why Groupon is hitting spam traps with ISPs.

ISPs are using better and smarter algorithms now a days to classify bulk emails based on their own proprietary techniques.  They are relying lesser and lesser on third party certifications like Return Path and others.

Hence ESPs and bulk email marketers have to better adhere to ISPs guidelines and ever changing policies. ESPs are to be better knowledgeable about the ISPs regulations and provide their clients with best practices and guidelines from time to time to better their ROI.

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Amit Sarna promoted as the New AVP Client Success- Kenscio Digital Marketing Pvt Ltd

Kenscio has promoted Amit Sarna to the position of Associate Vice President Client Success effective 12th December 2011. The Board of Directors voted unanimously to elevate  Amit’s position recognising his tireless efforts in all aspects of his responsibilities.

Mr. Amit Sarna joined the organisation by the end of 2009 as an Account Director in Delhi. He played a very crucial role in getting multiple accounts for the company and proved himself as a strong player for the companies success. Mr. Sarna came to Kenscio with a vast experience of running his own SEO company and a lot of exposure in Account Management working with Sify and Mahindra Intertrade. Mr. Sarna is an engineer and holds a Post Graduation degree in Management.

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Found a Crystal Ball yet?

If you are an email marketer you might have started to believe in destiny. With ISPs headstrong to tighten their policies for bulk senders, rubbing the good ol crystal ball and hoping for the best might seem like a good option. We don’t know much about crystal balls but can sure share some good practices that can help you control the destiny of your email communication.

Gmail has listed a set of guidelines and best practices for Email Marketers, when followed should yield favorable results.

Guidelines for Email Marketers

“The way Gmail classifies spam depends heavily on reports from our users. Gmail users can mark and unmark any message as spam, at any time. To increase the inbox delivery rate of your messages, make sure that all recipients on your distribution lists actually want to receive the mail.” – GMAIL

Presuming you do everything by the book i.e. ensure users opt-in to receive your messages, honor un-subscription, follow the best practices for HTML design, monitor bounces, and ensure your subscribers engage with you and so on; you should not need a crystal ball (or Aladdin’s lamp for that matter). That being said, you can request your faithful subscribers to white-list you!

Being white-listed by subscribers ensures:

1. Your mails almost always lands in their in-boxes.

2. Your reputation with ISPs is significantly improved, so consequently your deliverability improves even for the subscribers who have not white-listed you.

We have listed a set of step by step instructions that you can email to your subscribers and request them to white-list you:

White-Listing Instructions

To ensure the success of this exercise you may consider offering incentives!

 

To learn more feel free to get in touch.

Geetika@kenscio.com

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