Indigo Books Creates Long-Term Email Deliverability Plan

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

If you think your email deliverability program is so good you’re invulnerable, think again.

Indigo Books, which has over 230 retail locations across Canada, experienced the pain of blacklisting last November at the start of the 2012 holiday season.

“We had good data practices and adhered to regulations, but weren’t protected as to how we were managing our inactive email addresses,” noted Anne Baston, vice president of marketing, online and digital, Indigo Books. “Hitting a blacklist can happen to anyone. If you aren’t proactively managing your non-responders, you are at risk.”

At the recent Responsys Interact conference in San Francisco, Baston shared how the retail chain, created both short and long term email deliverability plans.

“You need to remove grey areas. Do this by defining your actives versus your actives,” Baston said, noting marketers can just look at variables like browsing or past purchases. You also need to look at email behaviors like opens and clicks, to build “at risk” segments within their email file. “Everyone has to define what their inactive threshold is.”

From there, marketers can look at their various email series versus one-off campaigns, and test things like creative and offers, deploying to small test segments to review performance and create a safe list for reengaged users, while removing unengaged users.

To date, thanks to the increased focus on email deliverability, Indigo has seen open rates up 27% and click rates up 20%, with inbox rates in the high 90% ranges. The bookseller’s exposure to spam traps has been reduced, and its protected its overall good sender reputation. Sales metrics are also up, despite a 20% smaller list size.

Dan Deneweth, director, deliverability services at Responsys, noted that ISPs are using active engagement filtering, so marketers who want to improve deliverability should use that to their advantage.

“Tighten up your audience,” Deneweth said. “If someone hasn’t opened or clicked in months, stop mailing to them. Define what inactive means to you and exclude those names from some or all mailings. If  you start seeing bulking or blocking at a specific ISP, tighten the audience to only those who have opened or clicked within the last 2 months, Open to a wider audience only when you achieve the results you’re after.”

Also remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to sending frequency, so optimize your frequency of contact to correlate to subscriber engagement.

“Sometimes, less is more” when it comes to email volume, Deneweth added, noting that marketers who mail to fewer people who are more engaged can lead to better overall results.




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