Many of imageseven’s clients have recognised the value of email marketing (such as newsletters) and regularly contacting their school communities and prospective parents with valuable information. Once a campaign has been sent, a report is provided to show our clients which emails were opened, if any email addresses bounced and if so, why. A lot of tricky terminology goes hand-in-hand with these reports and it’s good to know — whether you’re the sender or receiver — what these mean.
We have selected a few key terms which are handy for you to know and understand. Please do note that this is not an exhaustive list and could easily be much longer ...
The IP address (numerical label) of your computer is recognised by other computers and servers. If you start sending unsolicited emails (spam) or if your email campaigns have a very high hard-bounce rate, your IP address is added to a so-called blacklist. It is very important to avoid this from happening as your emails are unlikely to reach your recipient’s inbox if you’re blacklisted.
We’ve all seen a bounced email before — one that cannot be delivered. There are countless reasons why an email can’t be delivered, the most important one being a hard bounce (see ‘hard bounce’ and ‘soft bounce’). Other times, your parent’s inbox may be full or they may be in the middle of a computer update. If your email campaigns have a high hard-bounce rate (because your data is not up-to-date), this can negatively affect your IP address’ ‘reputation’.
This rate refers to the number of people that clicked on a link in your email. Why is this good to know? A lot of inboxes will automatically register the email as opened. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s also been read. The click-through rate is a confirmation that people have read your email and were clearly interested in one of the links you provided. If you sent an email to 100 people and 25 of them clicked on one or more links you would have a click-through rate of 25 percent.
Deliverability or deliverability rate
Simply put, this is the number of emails that successfully reached the recipient’s inbox and didn’t bounce, wasn’t regarded as spam or blocked, and didn’t get lost in cyberspace. Systems commonly used for email campaigns, an email service provider such as Campaign Monitor, report what your deliverability rate was after each campaign.
Email service provider (ESP)
This is the organisation that provides the software for building, among others, enewsletters. They are also designed to protect people from receiving unsolicited emails and generally have strict terms and conditions set up to avoid people from receiving spam via their software. As ESPs are so conscious of ensuring their emails are safe, they design their software in such a way that it’s very unlikely your email campaign is regarded as unsafe, gets blocked or is not user-friendly.
In addition, they provide you with helpful reports of your campaign to assist you in developing and implementing new email marketing strategies. It is important to note that not all ESPs are the same so take your time to choose the right one for your school or contact us at the imageseven office on 08 9221 9777.
If you’re notified of a hard bounce, this means your email has not reached the recipient’s inbox due to a permanent error, for example, their email address no longer exists. It is best for your data management to delete this email address and contact the person to find out their new email address.
Lists of email addresses are widely available on the market and can be categorised by sector, industry or income to name a few. In short, it’s not okay to use a bought list of email recipients simply because they have not authorised you to send them emails. An alternative is to ‘rent’ a list, which means you might buy advertising space in another company’s email campaign or an affiliate sends out an email introducing your company to its contacts. An ESP will not allow you to use a purchased list of recipients as these people have not consented to receiving your emails.
As mentioned previously, the link-through rate is often a more accurate reflection of how many recipients have actually read your email. ESPs are in the process of creating official standards in reporting open rates as currently some ESPs calculate it based on delivered emails while others display the link-through rate as being the open rate. Before sharing the open rate with your Headmaster, stakeholders, staff or others, find out how it was measured first.
Permission-based email marketing
It is very important to always receive consent to email people before you do so. This can be managed through an online subscriber form where people tick a box or while you’re exchanging business cards get them to scribble a little note or tick on it as permission. It’s not worth the damage to your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP’s) reputation to email people without permission and getting your ISP blacklisted.
When an email is not delivered due to a soft bounce, it may just be a temporary error and is likely to still be delivered at a later stage (maybe 12 to 24 hours). A sample of a temporary error is a full inbox or brief absence of connection with the mail server.
In short, it is any email you receive that you didn’t consent to receiving. Some schools have such strict security settings that your email may be registered as spam at first but once your recipients have allowed you to send them emails (see ‘whitelist’) this will not occur again. On the other hand, your email campaign may land in their inbox but they could mark it as spam so it’s not delivered to their inbox directly again.
Your Internet Provider (IP) can be added to a whitelist by the IT manager of a school or an individual. This means that your email may have initially been registered as spam or unsafe but in response that school can add the ISP to their whitelist. Once you’re on the whitelist, all your emails will automatically be delivered into people’s inbox instead of their spam inbox. Please note: being on a whitelist is not a guarantee that your campaign will always be delivered, if your email does not adhere to general standards, it can still be recognised as unsafe.
Here are some more blogs on coordinating your email campaigns and inbound marketing which might be of interest to you.
For more tips on how to get quality content delivered to ensure your school is found in online searches by prospective parents, download imageseven’s Inbound Marketing Toolkit.
At imageseven, we have a deep understanding of education marketing in the digital world. If you would like help to set up a school blog, or improve your results, contact us now for a complimentary phone consultation.
This blog was written by Brad Entwistle
Brad Entwistle is founder and Managing Director of imageseven. For more than 25 years he has led the imageseven team on a crusade to lift schools’ brands and reveal the true value they deliver to students and their families. When he is not working with schools on their marketing strategy, Brad sits on the boards of two national not-for-profits and enjoys looking at antique maps.