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Getting your e-mail in their inboxes: using e-mail service providers for improved deliverability of messages to external audiences.

HAVE YOU HEARD THE news? E-mail might not be dead yet, but it is going away. That's what Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl Sandberg currently serves as Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

Sandberg previously served as chief of staff to Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers from 1999 to 2001.
, COO of Facebook, announced on June 24, 2010, in a keynote at the Nielsen Consumer 360 conference. This assertion was based on a data point from the Pew Internet and American Life Project's April 2010 "Teens and Mobile Phones" report. Sandberg noted that only 11 percent of teenagers use e-mail daily--while an overwhelming majority don't stop texting and "Facebooking" all day long.

Contrary to Sandberg's statement, even though there's no doubt that Facebook has become a fact of life for millions, e-mail is still breathing and very much alive, even for young people. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the "2010 E-Expectations Report" from Noel-Levitz, based on a survey of 1,005 college-bound high school students, 79 percent reported using e-mail to learn more about schools.

Still, e-mail faces challenging times.

While Facebook, SMS (1) (Storage Management System) Software used to routinely back up and archive files. See HSM.

(2) (Systems Management Server) Systems management software from Microsoft that runs on Windows NT Server.
, Twitter, and the likes have absorbed the bulk of exchanges among friends and family members, strained marketing and communication budgets have led to a major increase in commercial and institutional e-mail messages for the past couple of years. My survey of 198 higher ed professionals on the state of print and electronic publications in higher ed, conducted in January 2009, found that 64 percent of institutions had started moving toward replacing print publications with their electronic counterparts (including e-newsletters) for campus news; for newsletters, 55 percent had started doing so. Meanwhile, on the receiving end, more and more suffer from e-mail overload as confirmed by the recent release of Gmail Priority InBox, a filtering technology trying to automatically sift through important e-mail messages.

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Getting your target audiences to open and read e-mail newsletters might be tougher, but you won't even be able to fight for their attention if your e-mail fails to be delivered to their inboxes.

Spammers have done their job so well, e-mail deliverability has become a nightmare for everybody, including legit le·git  
adj. Slang
Legitimate.
 publishers. There are plenty of barriers today preventing messages from getting to recipients. In the war against spam, many casualties are permission-based messages such as e-mail updates and newsletters your subscribers really want to get but which end up in spare filters.

It takes time and effort to handle spam complaints and ensure your e-mail server is whitelisted by major ISPs. Outsourcing e-mail delivery looks like the only practical route for reaching external audiences.

MAKING IT HAPPEN

When she started working at Dartmouth as a web producer, Karlyn Morissette noticed how much time was spent trying to improve the deliverability ratio of e-mail marketing campaigns. The institution's e-mail servers had been blacklisted by a few major ISPs, so messages weren't reaching recipient inboxes. Morissette's first recommendation was to outsource the delivery process. That action became the first commandment of e-mail marketing she shared in conference presentations--long before becoming the director of marketing communications Marketing communications (or marcom) are messages and related media used to communicate with a market. Those who practice advertising, branding, direct marketing, graphic design, marketing, packaging, promotion, publicity, sponsorship, public relations, sales, sales  at Fire Engine RED, a higher ed software and student search company specializing in e-mail marketing.

Last year, Karen Buck Karen Patricia Buck (born August 30, 1958) British politician. She is the Labour member of Parliament for Regent's Park and Kensington North and a former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport. , VP at Zehno Communications, a New Orleans-based communication and marketing firm, helped clients search for an e-mail service provider. Her short list of three different vendors (Campaign Monitor, Fire Engine RED, and Emma)was based on several criteria, including whitelisting and good reputation for deliverability.

For Paul Previtt, electronic communications coordinator at the Arkansas Alumni Association An alumni association is an association of graduates (alumni) or, more broadly, of former students. In the United Kingdom and the United States, alumni of universities, colleges, schools (especially independent schools), fraternities, and sororities often form groups with alumni , deliverability guarantee was an important requirement in the search for an e-mail service provider. The shortlisted e-mail service providers invited to bid on this 2008 contract were asked to prove they were whitelisted. They had to be recognized by major ISPs for not sending spam through their participation to programs (such as what's now known as ReturnPath) and Sender Score certifications. The association's RFP (Request For Proposal) A document that invites a vendor to submit a bid for hardware, software and/or services. It may provide a general or very detailed specification of the system.

1. (business) RFP - Request for Proposal.
2.
 also inquired about the use of unique sending IP addresses. "We ended up selecting eROI," recalls Previtt. Phone support being included made a big difference.

The association was looking for more than a provider and chose a partner willing to invest time in the business relationship. While the partnership has worked well, Previtt has kept an eye on the new players in this market (such as MailChimp and Emma) to evaluate their offering against his current e-mail service partner. "It's a partnership, not a marriage--and I want to make sure we get the best out of our email marketing budget," he explains.

At Tulane University History
Founding/early history
The University dates from 1834 as the Medical College of Louisiana.<ref name="facts" /> With the addition of a law department, it became The University of Louisiana
 School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine tropical medicine, study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of certain diseases prevalent in the tropics. The warmth and humidity of the tropics and the often unsanitary conditions under which so many people in those areas live contribute to the development and , the evaluation process was more informal. Dee Boling, director of communications Director of Communications is a position in the private and public sectors. The Director of Communications is responsible for managing and directing an organization's internal and external communications. , evaluated MailChimp, Vertical Response, Emma, and Constant Contact against her list of required features before selecting the self-service provider MailChimp.

In this case, again, support was what made the difference. Boling liked that customer service was e-mail-based; she didn't want to deal with having to call for service. "While this doesn't seem to qualify as a 'relationship' [since it takes place online] at first glance, what you are looking for is someplace some·place  
adv. & n.
Somewhere: "I didn't care where I was from so long as it was someplace else" Garrison Keillor. See Usage Note at everyplace.
 that feels like home and that seems to think like you do. MailChimp offered that," she adds.

HYBRID SOLUTIONS

Working at an institution where outsourcing mass e-mail distribution isn't an option? Whether it's dictated by internal policies, legal considerations or total costs, hybrid solutions do exist.

Up north in Montreal, Concordia University rolled out a new mass e-mail distribution solution in September 2010. All the usual e-mail marketing tools offered by e-mail service providers were on Concordia's list of requirements, but the key factor was of a totally different nature. The servers had to be in Canada; the university could not upload personal information to U.S.-based servers at the risk of these records being subject to the Patriot Act Patriot Act: see USA PATRIOT Act. . That requirement eliminated many well-known players and led the institution to choose an appliance-based option from StrongMail. It includes a server hosted locally but provides the monitoring and support services support services Psychology Non-health care-related ancillary services–eg, transportation, financial aid, support groups, homemaker services, respite services, and other services  necessary to maintain a high deliverability ratio.

DECISION TIME

E-mail deliverability is the most important point to address when selecting an e-mail service provider for your marketing messages or newsletters, but it's obviously not the only one.

At Hamilton College (N.Y.), list control and management was the second most important point. "Our previous product made this very difficult, and we ran into several issues with mailing lists being duplicated, or messages being sent to the wrong constituent list," recalls J.D. Ross, director of new media. Required features were compiled by prioritizing the needs of campus users of the previous bulk e-mail system. Metrics, total customization of the e-mail templates, control over the opt-out process and all branding elements (including removal of any vendor branding) were also on the college's list. The evaluation was performed through web demos with ListServMaestro, Hobsons, BrightWave, and MagnetMail. MagnetMail was finally chosen to distribute monthly newsletters and event notices to alumni, parent, and past parent audiences; fundraising appeals and updates from the Annual Fund; and recruitment messages from admissions.

After shortlisting the e-mail service providers that can guarantee high deliverability and meet requirements in terms of features and support, the final decision might all come down to price structure.

Except for appliance-based solutions, most vendors charge either by the number of e-mail addresses in a database or the number of e-mail messages sent over a certain time period. During the evaluation process, you should also run a few scenarios to find out how many e-mails will be sent and how much you expect your database to grow over time.

Don't forget to consider unexpected added benefits. "We found the cost-per-sent-message to be the best model for us as it also gave us the opportunity to show that e-mail marketing is not free," says Previtt. At the Arkansas Alumni Association, this has helped better plan communications efforts. It has also led to better budget and quality control by putting an end to the "let's send it via e-mail because it won't cost us anything" mentality.

Resources

"2010 E-Expectations Report," www .noellevitz.com/Papers+and+Research

BrightWave, www.brightwavemarketing.com

Campus Monitor, www.campusmonitor.com

Constant Contact, www.constantcontact.com

Emma, http://myemma.com

Fire Engine RED, www.fireenginered.com

Gmail Priority Inbox, http://mail.google.com/mail/help/ priority-inbox.html

Hobsons, www.hobsons.com/products

ListServMaestro, www.lsoft.com/products/maestro.asp

MagnetMail, www.realmagnet.com/ hsmai/index.html

MailChimp, www.mailchimp.com

ReturnPath www.returnpath.net

Sender Score, www.senderscore.org

StrongMail, www.strongmail.com

"Teens and Mobile Phones" report, www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/ Teens-and-Mobile-Phones.aspx

Vertical Response, www.verticalresponse.com

Karine Joly is the web editor behind www.collegewebeditor.com, a blog about higher ed web marketing, public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most , and technologies. She is also the founder of the professional development online community at www.higheredexperts.com.
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Title Annotation:INTERNET TECHNOLOGY
Author:Joly, Karine
Publication:University Business
Date:Nov 1, 2010
Words:1440
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