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Email deliverability tips you need to know with Alice Cornell

  • So the major key to deliverability, the secret is to send an email that people want.
  • But these days, spam is more much more likely to be mail people don’t want, or are no longer interested in.
  • But basic things, like making sure that your welcome message is right, can make such a massive impact on your overall deliverability.
  • One of the things that I wanted to talk about a little was how targeting by segmentation was really hugely beneficial for us because we started treating our user base differently, depending on how engaged they were with our site.
  • Most email deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency.

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Most email deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency.

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Doug: Well, welcome back listeners, to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today we’re going to talk about email deliverability, and my guest is Alice Cornell. She is the Director of Email Deliverability at a company, or organization, that most of you have likely heard of, Change.org. After 18 years of working in the digital space for many large corporations, such as Return Path and Cheetah Mail, and a number of other email service providers, she now works for the world’s biggest platform for social change. And they use email to enable 300 million users across the world to make the change that they want to see.

Doug: I think you’ll enjoy the dialogue, her simple advice on how you and I can take a look at what we’re currently doing in email, make some changes, and see improvement in our engagement, and our deliverability. So I’d like you to join me, and welcome Alice to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today. Hey, Alice. I’m super excited to have you on the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today. So, welcome.

Alice: Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me.

Doug: I was really excited, and looking forward to the interviews. I was just looking at your background, and your experience in this space, where many people struggle, and often people don’t realize they struggle, and that’s getting their email to the inbox. Do you want to share with our listeners just a little bit of backstory, as you discuss that you worked from the ESP side, and now you’re switched to the brand side, and what that looks like?

Alice: Sure. It’s been an interesting transition from the ESP side through Return Path, to actually working directly for a brand. It makes me want to contact all my past customers and apologize to them because sometimes we don’t realize how making a business case for deliverability can be really difficult, and now I understand that that can be a tough goal.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. So with the work that you’re doing, you’re in an interesting situation, because I’m assuming that when people are using the platform that you were… So you work for Change.org, right?

Alice: That’s correct.

Doug: And so, I’m assuming that you’ve got this massive amount of people coming through, signing up for a petition. So you’re going to have all sorts of email addresses, and lots of them are not going to be business email addresses. It’d be personal email addresses. So what does that look like from your point of view, from an email marketer, making sure the message gets there, compared to what we might experience as a business? Are they the same? Are they different?

Alice: I think they are different, and I think that we have a particular challenge at Change.org, which is probably different from a lot of other people dealing with B to C. One, we’re in 17 countries, which is always a challenge of itself. But our users come to us for very different reasons. We’re an open platform. Anyone can use our tools for free to start a petition about something that they feel is important.

Alice: So, we don’t start petitions on our site, our users do. And this means that we’ve got a really varied user base, and sometimes it’s right-wing, sometimes it’s left-wing, some people are coming because they care about animals, some people are supporting human rights. People come to the site for lots of different reasons. And so, for us, the biggest challenge is around targeting and making sure we get the right content in front of the right person. And yes, this is something that we constantly work on.

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Most email deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency.

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Doug: So what are the issues today? I see from my side as a user, I see what comes in my inbox, and what goes into promotional, what goes into spam, and then on my client-side, I’m looking at deliverability to see what are we getting for deliverability. And it seems that it’s an ongoing issue. It’s just not, even with all the technology and intelligence, I don’t know whether it’s getting better or worse, but what do you see from your side today, as the major issues for people that are trying to get an email to somebody’s inbox?

Alice: Sure. So the major key to deliverability, the secret is to send an email that people want. You’ve got to [inaudible 00:03:49] the mailbox providers like Gmail, like Hotmail, or Microsoft as I have to call them now, are trying to prevent spam from reaching their users. And those mailbox providers are just protecting their users from mail that their users are viewing as spam. Spam used to be messages like, “Buy Viagra now.” Or, “Penny stocks,” et cetera.

Doug: That’s right.

Alice: Those are the good old days. We remember those well. But these days, spam is more much more likely to be mail people don’t want, or are no longer interested in. So it might be an email I signed up to last year, a newsletter, for example. But this year it doesn’t really resonate with me anymore, and I’m bored with it. So I’m happy for it to go into the spam folder if it’s no longer interesting to me.

Alice: So, the way that those mailbox providers are judging that is really based on engagement, and the positive engagement with mail means that your messages are much more likely to go to their inbox. And if people are not engaging, if they’re negative engagement metrics, then your mail is much more likely to go to the spam folder. And that’s the way it is.

Doug: Well, what’s interesting is what you said, just to break it into two pieces. One was spam used to be, Viagra ads, lower mortgage ads, all those things that… Buy pharmacy, that was unsolicited, and I didn’t want. And now the ESPs are, I mean the email service providers that we sign up to, Gmail, and Hotmail, or as you said, Microsoft, now determine mail that’s not engaged. So in the old sense, we would’ve said spam is unwanted, and now we’re saying, “This is something I signed up for, but it’s not relevant.” But the mail providers still think it’s spam because there’s no engagement, or like he said negative engagement.

Alice: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that mailbox providers are starting to take more, and more of an active role in the mail that people are starting to see. So, moving mail to the top of the inbox, for example, or choosing the tab that the mail is displayed in. So these are interesting challenges for people in the email world.

Doug: Well, and I love, I just saw an article this morning as I was just scanning the headlines. The email headlines, and it said, “Why you want people to unsubscribe from your list.” And I’m thinking, absolutely. If we could just convince everybody who doesn’t want our email, just to do the whole world a favor, and just get off the list. I’m not going to be offended. I’m not going to complain, or cry. I might not even notice. But if you don’t want it, get off the list, improve my deliverability, and reduce the amount of stuff that’s coming into your inbox.

Alice: So true. So true. It would make it so easy.

Doug: So, is there a case study, or an example that you can share with our listeners of a situation that you came in, and used your magic powers, and then turned things around?

Alice: So, there’s sort of this too. When I first joined Change.org, we were really looking to improve our deliverability, because things weren’t looking so good for us. And coming from Return Path, I was in a bit of an ivory tower as to thinking everybody knew about email, and how it should work properly. And then arriving at Change, and realizing, “Oh really, there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Alice: It was just five years ago, and we’ve been doing that work ever since. But basic things, like making sure that your welcome message is right, can make such a massive impact on your overall deliverability. And for example, we’ve always sent a welcome message at Change.org, but to begin with, that welcome message came from our CEO, Ben.

Alice: So you’d sign a petition, and Ben himself would email you. It would come from Ben, saying, “Thank you for signing, and welcome to Change.org.” And we thought this was great, but for our users, they have no idea who this man Ben is. They didn’t put together the fact that they were signing a petition, and then getting this message from a stranger. And that disconnect meant that we were getting a really high complaint rate on those messages because people didn’t understand why they were receiving them.

Doug: Yeah, who is Ben?

Alice: Exactly. Who is this Ben? Why is he bothering me? So, this sort of user-centric news is what we now use to inform most of our email program, wherever we can.

Doug: So what change did you make on that particular welcome message, to improve that?

Alice: So, we really made a link between the action that you’re taking, and the email that you’re getting because of it. So we really tied the two together. So instead of signing a petition, and having Ben saying, “Welcome to Change.org.” Maybe you’d signed a petition, and then the mailing you receive would say, “Thank you for signing that petition, your signature is being recorded, and this is what you can expect to happen next.” And of course, that made much more sense to people. It helped us set expectations for what would happen in the future, and it made people feel comfortable that the action they’d taken had made a difference.

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Most email deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency.

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Doug: And that totally makes sense. I mean, do you have any sense on the numbers for businesses, or B to C, or in your situation of organizations that send a welcome message? I looked at stats a while ago, but I haven’t been up to date on where people are at.

Alice: You know, I’m not up to date on that, but it’s something I would highly recommend that people always do. It’s really good. It’s a good user experience. It also helps you to clean your list of any addresses that failed, or need to be removed from your list.

Doug: I always think that it sets expectations, which is always a great thing. So like you said, you tell people what to expect, thank them for engaging, tell them what to expect, and if it’s not what they want, give them a chance right then to say, “You know what? This is not what I need.” And move along.

Alice: Absolutely. Treat your users with respect, I think, is a good thing for someone to remember.

Doug: Well, and then you had that secret tip right at the very beginning. The secret to getting your email delivered is actually sending content that your users want to receive, and engage with.

Alice: Absolutely. And this is… We’re starting to realize more, and more, that we can’t… Well, is that we’re starting to weigh whether it’s worth sending emails to some segments of our list, or how often we should send to it. We’ve definitely had big learning around this. We’ve made a few assumptions in our time, but one of the things that I wanted to talk about a little was how targeting by segmentation was really hugely beneficial for us because we started treating our user base differently, depending on how engaged they were with our site.

Alice: So, some of our super users sign every petition that we send to them, and so we should send them all the petitions that we can because they totally want to receive them. But for some of our less engaged users, people that have come to the site more recently, or who are just interested in one part of the campaign, then they’re not interested in receiving the rest of those emails, and we need to respect them and make sure that the cadence of our mail is reflected in the way that people use the site.

Doug: Yeah, that totally makes sense. We worked with a large automotive company, as a AAA, road assistance, and they had three-quarters of a million users on their database, and we could clearly see who the engaged people were. The people, if you sent them something, they would take whatever action you asked them to take. And then there was also a segment that we identified that were clearly not doing anything. And we had jokingly said at one point, “We should just delete them, and send those to our competitors because they’re negatively affecting the business.” But of course, that’s always a nonstarter at a business meeting.

Alice: Well, sure. But it is worth thinking about how we can target those users differently, and how we can persuade them to become more involved in Change.org. And if we can’t, then maybe we do need to let them go gracefully.

Doug: So what are some of the metrics that you guys use when you’re looking at segmenting your list? Because I’m reading more, and more, and more about people saying, “Segment, don’t treat everyone the same way.” Which I totally agree with. It’s not a blasting piece of software. It’s a way to communicate.

Alice: Sure. So we’re looking at several key metrics on this. I mean obviously open rates are the standard metric that people have been using for a long time. But I think more, and more, we’re realizing that open rates are maybe not the guiding lights they were once seen us. And really, we need to be thinking about how effective email is, and that comes down to conversions, rather than to open rate.

Alice: So for us, we’re still interested in opens and clicks, of course. We’re also interested in negative metrics, like unsubscribes, and complaints. But for us, we’re really interested in people signing the petition, promoting the petition, and eventually becoming members of Change.org, because that’s how we’re funded.

Alice: We self-fund through a membership model, so we want to take people on this ladder of engagement, from signing their first position, through to becoming a member, and supporting us financially. And so, everything that we do within our email program is based around that, and respecting people’s… Where they are in their life cycle of being a user on Change.org.

Doug: Where do you see the landscape going? Do you think we’re going to continue down this, the road where engagement now is key? Because I’ve also received some feedback, and I can’t validate this, so I don’t want to spread fake news, but that some of the big companies like Gmail, I haven’t seen anything where they have acknowledged that it is all around engagement, in terms of opens, clicks, and replies.

Alice: I mean, this is what we hear. I’ve heard it said that open rates are surely a positive sign of engagement, that click rates are not monitored by the major mailbox providers, but I’m not 100% that that is the case, because I feel that they are, but maybe they’re saying they’re not. And yeah, so the positive forms of engagement, of course, making sure that searching for mail-in spam folders, and moving it to the inbox, adding to a white list. There are lots of data points within the algorithms of mailbox providers that skew positive and negative.

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Most email deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency.

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Doug: Yeah. Well, and like I said, it’s not that defined, but you’ve got your fingers on the pulse, so I figured, “Hey, who else could I ask that would know better than yourself?”

Alice: That’s as far as I know.

Doug: Now, in terms of integration with users, I mean this is a bit off the email topic, but do you guys have any other forms of communication that you utilize with members, and people who sign up, in terms of social integration, SMS, or do you focus primarily on email to do the heavy lifting?

Alice: It’s something we’re really excited about, but we absolutely rely on email. It really drives our platform at the moment. But that’s not to say we’re not interested in other channels. I just think that they have to be treated very carefully, and I think that it differs from, globally, how different channels are viewed.

Alice: So I think that it seems to me, SMS is much more prevalent in the US, whereas using SMS as a marketing tool in the UK at least, or in Europe, would really not resonate with a lot of people. If they receive an SMS, they want it to be from their boyfriend, or their mother, or someone close to them, not a marketing push. But, WhatsApp could be a massive channel for us. It’s something that we’re exploring at the moment, especially in Latin America, where everybody constantly seems to be on WhatsApp, and it’s really a much better sharing platform.

Alice: So this is, we’re interested in looking at how this could work best for us. I’m not sure that any of those channels will take away the heavy lifting that email does, but they will certainly provide value to our users. Say, for example, someone starts a petition on Change.org, maybe they’re looking for tips on how to make that petition successful. Receiving those by SMS, or via WhatsApp, would be a really appropriate use for us, we think.

Doug: Sure. Or even like you said, even updates and alerts.

Alice: Absolutely. Yeah. Things that are personally really interesting to people, I think we’ll find will resonate well.

Doug: So, can you share with our listeners, just to give them an idea of the scope, and volume of users? Obviously, I don’t know whether this is public or private information, so you’ll have to tell me, in terms of how many subscribers you have, how many new people sign up during a day, and how many emails you send. So we just get an idea of the scope?

Alice: Sure. Happy to share. We have 300 million users across the globe. We have people who have signed petitions in every country of the world, which I find a really wonderful stat. And in some of the countries in Europe, for example in the UK, one in five people have signed a Change.org petition. In Spain, one in four people. So we’ve got some real reach going on.

Alice: And the thing about the platform is, is that we don’t actually touch a lot of the content of our site. We can only touch around 1% of our petitions. There are so many people coming to create petitions, and actually winning victories, that they don’t need any help from us. They use the tools that we offer them, and they succeed. We have a victory every hour, and sometimes… In fact, most of the time, petitions win with less than a thousand signatures.

Alice: So we hear about these big breakout campaigns, that may be global, we’ve had a lot of activity on the Australian wildfires for example. But actually a lot of people are using the platform to make changes in their local area, that is really important to them, and that the tools enable them to do it, raise their voice, and make the change they want to see.

Doug: Well, I was surprised when I was looking through your site, how diverse the petitions were. I guess that was the first thing that caught me by surprise and thinking, “Wow.” I mean in terms of people’s positions, like you said, whether it was right, left, or center, around the environment, and around animal protection, and the topics were all over the place. So that’s really cool. But a victory every hour. So what do you guys do to celebrate your victory every hour?

Alice: Well, we have a victory bell in our office, where we celebrate our major victories. But it’s one of the things that we love. It’s one of the reasons I love coming to work, is knowing that that is happening, and engaging with some of our users that are seeing these kinds of victories. But what we’re really looking to do, moving into the next year, is to help make more people successful. To help increase that sort of people power, as it were. And the key to this, I believe, will be automating much more of our content.

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Most email deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency.

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Alice: So, at the moment some of the emails that we send can be quite curated, and we’re just not putting enough people in touch with the issues that they care about. And we need to be much cleverer about how we do that. We hold quite a lot of data points, based on the activity that people have made on the site already, the petitions that they’ve already signed, or what they’ve been interested in on the site. And we need to start using that to make sure that we get better, more relevant content in front of more people.

Alice: Our challenge, which is a great challenge to have, and is so different from so many other organizations, is that we’ve got more content than we know what to do with. People are creating petitions every day, and there’s just no way that we can share all those stories, and some of them are really amazing. So we’re hoping that by introducing more automation we’ll be able to get more of that content in front of a more diverse audience and that that will broaden the reach of the platform exponentially.

Doug: Well, that’s really amazing. You’re right, it’s the opposite problem. Like, “What are we going to do with all this content? There’s way too much. We’re swimming in content.” Yeah. Not the usual discussion we have with people, or at least I don’t have those discussions with people. It’s like, “Hey, we need content.” Are there countries that are more difficult to get email into? So this would be my ignorance. I’m just not sure whether the platforms are treated differently in different countries, based on government regulations, rules, et cetera.

Alice: Certainly. So it is a real challenge sending so globally. And there are some countries where we’re not welcome in, like China for example, which is probably not a massive surprise.

Doug: Oh yeah, that’s right.

Alice: But, we do have to be careful about some of the countries we send to and make sure that we’re culturally appropriate. For example, in Thailand, petition starters need to be very careful about the petitions that they start, to make sure that they don’t cross any of the lines are very clearly drawn by the government there. Turkey is another place that can be a big challenge. And then of course if we’re looking at Latin America, things can work very differently there.

Alice: In Japan, we are fighting this sort of people that culturally are not used to putting a name on a petition, standing up and being counted. It goes anti the way the culture has been there for a long time. So we’re slowly building up momentum there, but it’s certainly a different environment to be in, and we have to be really careful to be respectful of that and to be aware of those issues.

Doug: Well, and in the UK, years ago, is the GDPR came along and started putting in, stricter guidelines on permissions and contact. We’ve definitely seen a change in the appetite there. We had the same thing happen in Canada when they finally came out with the castle. We saw a whole bunch of mailers just say, “Hey, I’m not going to do this anymore in Canada. It’s just not worth it.” So do you have any sense on, based on your years’ experience, looking at the crystal ball, what we could expect to see? Are we going to see the world moving towards a GDPR type model?

Alice: I know that there’s a lot of activity in the States now, on a state by state level, and lots more countries are starting to implement these types of guidelines. I sometimes wonder whether we’re shutting the door after the horse has bolted, because so much data is freely given, is out there. Is it actually worthwhile? But no, I think that we are going to see more regulation.

Alice: But, the thing that makes our industry so exciting, is that it’s always led by the spammers who always seem to be one step ahead. So it’s very hard. It’s very hard to regulate, and it’s a bit of a, a game of whack-a-mole when you close one avenue down. People will always find another avenue to use the platform to make money. So hopefully-

Doug: Well, and I’m always amazed by their innovation. I mean, the people that are on the wrong side of the fence. I don’t know how they have the time, but they certainly are ingenious in finding ways around what’s currently the standard.

Alice: They really are. I find it fascinating the different ways they will find to try and abuse the Change.org platform. And you think that we’re just trying to do a reasonably good thing in the world. But, and I find this with a lot of… Maybe several charities I’ve worked with previously, is we think that we’re doing something good, so the ordinary rules don’t apply to us. But they absolutely do, as far as spammers are concerned, and as far as mailbox providers are concerned. We need to make sure that we’re not vulnerable to attack, need to make sure that we’re still following all the best practices if we want to get our mail delivered. That is surely true.

Doug: Well, I guess one of the most shocking examples I heard of attack was a large, well known retail store in New York, that every year there’s a Christmas parade that’s shown in front of their store. And I guess somebody had attacked their email by sending a box to sign up with bad email addresses, which basically shut down their email, cause their ESP dinged them for deliverability. And right before Christmas, several years ago, their email went offline. So you know, there’s just a malicious attack for some reason, more than likely from a competitor. But, not anything that they had done, but they weren’t protected, to your point.

Alice: It can be so impactful. I mean we’re constantly, I feel constantly that sharks are circling, and we’re constantly buckling up our security vulnerabilities. I think that we do a pretty good job of it. I did hear recently that one of the sites taking donations for the Australian wildlife fund was hacked, and spammers stole donations from that site. I thought that was pretty low. You don’t get too much lower.

Doug: No. Yeah, no. I don’t want to comment. That stuff just drives me crazy. It’s like we should hunt those people down, we’re not supposed to do that. There are other people who can do that for us. So one of the things that you mentioned early on, I thought it was quite interesting and I just wanted you to share this a little bit on, as you said that Change.org lends you out to other organizations, and not for profits to help them. So do you just want to just give them a bit of a shout out, and tell us what that looks like for you, and for the organizations that you help?

Alice: Sure. So it’s very much a friendly agreement. If other more charitable organizations run into deliverability problems, they often reach out, and say, “We’re seeing this, can you help?” And we can have a chat about what we can do to turn things around. Change is very generous in that way, because we want everyone to be successful, and believe in the mission of other organizations similar to us.

Alice: And it’s also interesting for me to see what problems other people are running into. And it’s not that Change.org is perfect in any way. We have our struggles every day, as everybody does. Sharing some of those issues can actually help us all be more successful sometimes, especially if we’re seeing similar things across the industry. So I’m a believer in collaboration, and information sharing, as much as we can, in the GDPR world. But I think, yes, collaborating makes us all stronger.

Doug: And the other side is, I mean you are, I think from my view anyhow, in a very fortunate situation, so you have a lot of data. So if you’re dealing with smaller organizations that might have lists that are South of 100,000 names, some of them might only have 5,000 people, but if they can’t get the email delivered, they can’t be effective in donations, and communications and all the things they need to do. But you’ve got enough data, and enough experience to be able to take a look at it and help them out.

Alice: That’s often the case. And most deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency. The data quality is usually the Achilles heel. People have got very old databases, and think that having a volume of recipients is a metric they should care about. I see that very much like a vanity metric, and if you’ve got a half a database of dead users, then you’re not going to get any joy out of the half that actually does want to engage with you. So it’s best just to let them go gracefully, and concentrate on the people that really do want to receive your mail.

Doug: Well I’ve often recommended to clients to take those people out of the primary database, use a separate ESP to see if we can do a win-back campaign.

Alice: I love a win-back campaign.

Doug: But get them out of your main database, because they’re affecting your deliverability. So, as you said, it’s a vanity metric. I think that’s the discussion, and I’m going to just stereotype a bit. This is a thing that the guys would sit down, having a beer at the pub and talk about, “Oh my database is this big.” It’s like, “Yeah, okay fine. That’s great. But you’re getting like a 5% open rate. How’s that working?”

Alice: I think you’re absolutely right. And, yes, I mean this is sort of where, it’s because email is so successful that when we want to make money, or we want to boost revenue, it’s like, “Send an email, because we know that that works.” But it doesn’t work all the time, to everybody, and then it’s always a discussion about whether you should remove people entirely from your database. And I think that changes from an organization, to an organization, or maybe you should just mail them less frequently, so you’re still keeping them in the loop, but you’re taking them out of your day to day email cadence. But I think that’s different for, yes, as I say for every company, every organization. You have to test and find really what works for you.

Doug: So Alice, what are you most excited about, as it relates to email marketing, and the work that you’re doing in deliverability, and your business in the next six to 12 months?

Alice: So what I am most excited about is the automation that I mentioned, because this is, I think it’s going to be a game-changer for us, where we’re testing out automation based on the [inaudible 00:27:52] at the moment. But there’s so much opportunity for us to reach out to people in different ways. But this is the thing I’m most excited to do. We’ve got, as I’ve mentioned, such a huge amount of content on the site, how can we share it better, and how can we put our users in touch with the issues that they care about? We want our petition starters to be successful, and email is really the key to that at the moment. Although we’re excited about other channels, email is the driver, and I think the automation of that email and the content relevancy that email can enable for us is just so exciting.

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Most email deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency.

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Doug: So what advice would you give our listeners that maybe haven’t looked at their email deliverability, or realized they have a problem? Where would you tell them to start? Now, obviously good content is great advice, but if they have a deliverability problem, is that enough to turn that around?

Alice: So, good content is always excellent. You want to be giving value to your users, otherwise, what’s the point of sending the email? But list health is probably the key thing to making sure that you’re going to reach the inbox. Making sure that when you’ve got permission, of course, and that people are expecting to receive messages from you, and then making sure that you… I think that this segmentation by engagement was a real game-changer for us.

Alice: We send actually less email, but we increased opens, we increased clicks, we halved our unsubscribes, and we have 30% more signatures on our petitions, and that’s why sending less email, but sending more to more engaged users, and less and less engaged. Sending less to less engaged actually meant we got more from those disengaged users, because they didn’t feel overwhelmed by our mail, and felt comfortable engaging with us. So that would be…

Doug: Well that’s an interesting approach. Yeah.

Alice: Yeah.

Doug: That’s cool. Now, I had leveraged with, we had a client with a deliverability issue, and one of the things we did was exactly what you said, we segmented by engagement, and then we intentionally went out by email box, a user at a time. So we do all the Gmail guys who opened up the last five emails, and we found by putting them at the beginning of the campaign, that and then sent to the less engaged. So we actually sent in waves, if you will, but started with the most engaged. It actually helped over time, helped deliverability come back up to a level that was acceptable.

Alice: Absolutely. Building that reputation. Gmail has put so much emphasis on engagement that if you are ever having deliverability issues at Gmail, sending it to your most engaged users is the quickest way to fix it. And I’ve seen some IPs have been terribly used in the past. I’ve never found one that couldn’t be fixed through sending to best-engaged users for some time.

Doug: So there you go, listeners, there’s hope, there’s hope regardless of what your deliverability looks like, to come back.

Alice: There’s always hope.

Doug: And now, in terms of the work that you guys are doing right now, and your experience in the business, what’s some of the bad advice that you hear around email deliverability? I mean you, I know, I just see you registered for a conference in the UK that’s in email and you’re obviously in this space, and you probably have a lot of conversations. So what’s the bad advice that we shouldn’t listen to?

Alice: Bad advice that you shouldn’t listen to, is keeping all your addresses on your list forever because they might buy something from you at some point. I think that’s terrible advice. I’m averse to keeping them, but just don’t email them, and don’t email them too often. The other advice is, you can send too much email. But, on the other hand, there is a thing of not sending enough email, and it’s finding that balance that’s right for your users. That is the key to everything. It’s difficult in deliverability because there’s often you can never say solely, “This is the truth.” It’s always, “This is the truth, but,” Or, “In some cases, this is the truth.” It’s very hard to have absolutes.

Doug: Well, it comes back to a word that I love to use, and that’s a test.

Alice: Absolutely. Testing is our watchwords, test it, test everything, and then test again.

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. So, two questions, I’ll let you get back to your day. One is who’s one guest that I absolutely have to have on my podcast?

Alice: I actually have two guests. I would love for you to have Laura Atkins on your podcast if you haven’t already. And the other person I can never hear enough from is Guy Hanson, of Return Path now. [inaudible 00:32:23] I believe. Laura Atkins of course, if from Word to the Wise. And there’s an amazing blog. But Guy is also somebody that really illustrates the excellence of email, using data in really interesting ways. Those are two people I’d love to hear from.

Doug: Well fabulous. Would you make an introduction to us, for us please?

Alice: Of course.

Doug: Now the most important thing, if people want to learn more about you, and what you do, and what Change.org does, how can they find you?

Alice: I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Twitter. Alice Cornell. If you don’t already have my email address, so please reach out. I always love to speak about email. One of the things that I missed about working somewhere like Return Path, or an ESP is that there’s nobody else who wants to talk about email as much as I do, where I am. So I’m very grateful for you, too, Doug, for having me to talk about email today.

Doug: Well, you can ring me anytime you’re feeling email lonely, and you just want to have a conversation. I’m happy to have a conversation with you.

Alice: Fantastic. I may well take you up on that.

Doug: Okay, sounds good. Well, there you go. Listeners. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I mean, email is no good if you can’t get it delivered, and even if you get it delivered, if you can’t get it open. So it’s a process. So taking Alice’s advice in terms of, make sure you’re adding value to your subscribers every time you mail to them, from their point of view, will dramatically improve your deliverability, and help you with your business, and your business case. So there’s no magic hacks, software technology. It really starts with thinking of your listeners. So I want to say thanks for tuning in. Thanks for listening to this episode, and we look forward to serving you in our next episode.

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Most email deliverability issues that I come across come down to data quality, or frequency.

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"Innovation isn't just thinking outside the box; it's about setting the box on fire and building something extraordinary from the ashes."

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