7 Rookie mistakes to avoid while onboarding customers

As a digital marketer ever wondered why all your email campaigns receive low opens and click-throughs even after having enticing subject lines, quality content and optimized CTA's? Well, the problem might lie beneath the hood. Let's take a look at some of the common mistakes that digital marketers overlook while onboarding customers.

1. Not having a double opt-in process

Popularly known as "Confirmed opt-in" or "COI" in the bulk email industry, is a process where subscribers are added to the mailing list with their consent – a standard best practice for all responsible internet mailing firms. Double opt-in ensures that your mailing list is filled with subscribers who really want to hear or buy from you. These lists typically have high engagement levels over time that is more opens and click-throughs and fewer bounces and unsubscribes.

2. Not Maintaining a clean-list

A Clean-list is the subscriber list that has lower levels of bounces (hard/soft), Complaints, Spam trap issues. Maintain your list hygiene by periodically monitoring engagement levels and removing inactive subscribers from time-to-time.

How to maintain a clean list?
- Use an email list cleaning service provider
- Remove invalid syntax and duplicate email addresses from the list
- Remove role accounts such as webmaster@, support@, info@, etc.
- Remove all hard bounces - Remove any Spam Trap, Blacklist or BOT domain email addresses
- Remove all Complainer email addresses
- Complaints are based on abuse reports received from the ISPs currently offering feedback loops
- Make sure that the email list cleaning service doesn't send an email to the receiver during the validation process

3. Sending campaigns with inconsistent volumes

ISP filters are configured to automatically monitor any unusual activity to protect their users from spam. Sending inconsistent volume patterns over time can trigger spam filters and damage overall deliverability.

4. Not having an ISP specific campaign strategy

Different ISP's have different guidelines to reduce users from being spammed. This may vary globally based on the service providers. For example in India, Rediff tends to send the campaign mails to 'BULK' folder and not to inbox or spam initially. It prompts the user to check the mails in the 'BULK' folder and move them to 'add to safe senders list'. So it is advisable to start the campaigns for Rediff users with a message to explicitly add them to the safe sender list in the first welcome campaign. It is advised to have a clear campaign strategy for each ISP and monitor the metrics for each campaign for better deliverability at least during a few initial campaigns.

5. Not sending personalized campaigns

When it comes to email, personalization is of great importance. As tough as it is to grab the recipient's attention in the crowded inbox, the battle is only getting harder, with more brands sending more emails than ever before. Using the information gathered about the subscribers to personalize the content they see is just one of the many ways that can make email campaigns stand out. Personalization in email goes far beyond first name terms. More the relevancy and uniqueness of the campaign (both transactional & promotional) to a particular user, better is the receptiveness.

A few examples of personalization are listed below,
- Offering discounts in bulk emails which only certain subscribers can see
- Personalizing the content of a birthday email, based on the year that the subscriber was born
- Showing products based on the subscribers brand and size preference
- Aggregating data from mobile apps for end of week/month/year summary emails

What type of data is required for better personalization?

- Demographic: This is the basic A/S/L (age, sex, location) data that is collected from subscribers when they sign up or make a purchase. This type of data generally doesn't change very often which makes it ideal for basic segmentation, personalization and automated emails. Ex: Name, Age, Location, Gender

- Preference: Preference data is usually collected through a preference center that the subscribers fill out during the signup process and might include data regarding their preferred products, services, brands, size or frequency of mailing. This data needs to be updated periodically.
Ex: Product, Service, Destination, Category, Size, Frequency

- Transactional/RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary): Importing the transactional data from the ecommerce platform into the ESP will dramatically improve your segmentation and personalization .This data allows us to identify who are your best customers, who's about to lapse, or who hasn't made a purchase yet. Ex: First purchase date, Last purchase date, Total amount spent, Number of purchases, Average order value, past products purchased.

- Behavioral: Recent behavioral data is the most reliable indicator of what the subscribers are interested in right now. This type of data might be collected from an email (opens/clicks) or from the website (pages browsed/items carted).
Ex: Product/Service/Web page browsed, Cart abandonment, Form abandonment, Email opens/clicks

Read more on how to conquer the online personalization marathon

6. Neglecting the unsubscribes

Often sending out campaigns to users who have unsubscribed leads to complaints or spam-traps from the users causing deliverability issues. When the percentage complaint rate goes above 0.2% of the total subscriber base then the overall campaign deliverability is seriously affected.

7. Poorly designed email templates

Usage of plain image screenshots of the original HTML image source paves way to compatibility issues. It's always good to have a balanced Image-Text combination instead of image-intensive templates which sometimes gives signs of spamming/phishing to the ISP's. Most email clients block images by default.

Problems with image intensive templates:
- Image based emails look spammy
- Content gets hidden, so people won't be able to view your message unless they load the images
- Increase in email size

Having worked with the marketing, ecommerce and sales teams of some of the most innovative and progressive organizations, Lister's digital marketing expertise will help you get more out of your investment. Contact us to know more.

- By Sathish Eri Sheshadri