- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 15, 2014
- Email marketing
We’re adding more networking events to our schedule this year. More events equals more invitations.
Like most people we turn to email to get a lot of invitations out in a short space of time. But recently we’ve been hearing several comments that people have not seen our email invitations. How can that be? These are people we know. Many of them are, or have been, clients of our company. We’re not spamming so why don’t they see our email? Is the Internet broken?
The Internet is not broken but from a local business owner’s point of view you could be forgiven for thinking email is “broken”.
Spam is not canned
Consider this data from Kaspersky Labs, an email filtering company. Kaspersky’s data shows that 70.7% of emails are unsolicited (or put another way they are spam). Or take the data from our own spam filtering software (screen shot below), which shows over the last week 76% of my email was spam.
So of all the email correspondence flowing towards our inboxes it seems only 25-30% of it is legitimate. All that spam clutters up our inboxes so companies and ISP’s (Internet Service Providers, think AOL, Gmail and your cable company) put spam filters in the way of this flow to try and pick out only the good stuff.
These spam filters are smart and consistently getting smarter but they are not perfect. Research from Virus Bulletin showed that between 0.04% and 0.4% of legitimate emails are filtered out by spam filters when they should have been let through.
When Virus Bulletin looked at the legitimate emails that were incorrectly blocked they found that “the majority proved to be emails from mailing lists and newsletters – email that is sent in bulk and notoriously difficult for filters to distinguish from spam.” In other words exactly the kind of emails that we are sending to invite people to our events are the types that are most likely to be blocked by accident by spam filters.
Received but not perceived
OK so spam filters are a factor but they are pretty smart these days so the data suggests that 99%+ of our legitimate email will get through. But getting through does not mean the human at the other end really saw and is conscious of your email.
The median open rate for all marketing email for 2013 according to Silverpop is 16.5%. That means 83.5% of all mass email sent is not being opened.
As we’ve described before, the “open rate” for email is known to be an unreliable statistic in that an “open” can happen in a variety of ways on different emails systems. An open will happen on Outlook when you click on an email even if it’s still in your preview window (you can see when your email system thinks you’ve opened an email as it won’t appear in bold any more in your inbox).
Technical problems aside open rate gives us a rough idea of how many people are seeing our email. If only 16.5% of people we are sending email to see it, that tells us pretty strongly that we cannot rely on mass email for 100% delivery of a message, especially for something important like an upcoming event.
Fixing the gap
Somebody did not get your email. Surprise? Well not really. Since only 16.5% of email is getting opened (at least email sent from mass email programs) it’s not really surprising that people don’t think they got your email (even if they did).
The data seems to tell us quite strongly that if getting your message to a high percentage of your list is important then you can’t rely on email alone. Certainly you cannot expect one email to do the job. Some workaround ideas:
- If the message is important, consider good old-fashioned ground mail. It costs money but because there is so much email these days ground mail is becoming more effective not less effective.
- Have people in your team send individual email invitations. Sending email from a variety of senders will increase the chance of your email getting through and being read. Email sent outside of a mass email program has less chance of being trapped in a spam filter.
- Send your email more than once. An email may not be opened by a recipient at a particular time in their week but at another time they may read it.
- Call! If it’s really important, call. When you leave a voice mail you know it arrived. It can still be erased without the recipient listening to it but its delivery rate and impact is higher than an email.
So your recipient didn’t get your email. What have you tried to fix this? What has worked/not worked for you and your business?