Using a Brand Subdomain for Email Marketing

At Mapp Digital we aspire to ensure that all of our customers are trustworthy and responsible senders. We do this by providing guidance on deliverability best practices for inbox placement, providing real-time feedback on your sends and by enforcing policies that protect our sending reputation and the reputation of our customers.

As part of being a trustworthy and responsible sender, all customers must complete the domain validation process.

First, we need to make sure you own the domain you want to set up. Adding a DNS record is the recommended way to show that you own your domain.

Once ownership of your domain has been verified, the domain enters our compliance process. If your domain is blocked – it’s generally because your domain has been previously blocked for sending abusive traffic through our service or another provider, or because one or more of the requirements below are not met:

Domain Requirements

Website Requirements Your domain must have a live and working website at “http://” or “http://www.“. Please note that the canonical domain is the main domain name including TLD but without any subdomain elements. For instance, a sending domain of has the canonical domain

That website must follow these guidelines:

Why is it so important to publish a website? The most essential factor in gaining more business online is having a website. Today’s consumers demand more information and will search online until they find what they’re looking for. So, make sure you have a “place” to drive your prospects to. Without a website and associated landing pages, it’ll be hard to truly be effective with your marketing.

Creating a website subdomain can also impact your search engine optimization (SEO) results. Search engines recognize brand subdomains as unique Web addresses unrelated to their parent domain name – this allows subdomains to appear alongside your website on a search engine results page, which may accomplish two goals:


What Does Engagement Mean?

If you’re asking, you either have commitment issues or you work in email marketing. Seeing that I work in email, we’ll just stick to this side of the fence. Plus, it’s a much longer and more interesting read (trust me!) and marketing always likes content, so let’s make everyone happy and see if I can’t stay on the payroll another month.

It’s All About the Opens and Clicks, Right?

If you’ve done any amount of email marketing you’ve heard about engagement, and more specifically, opens and clicks. These are probably some of your most popular and most viewed metrics or signals because they give you a baseline of how well your subscribers are interacting with your mail. The more people that open your messages, the higher your open rate and similarly, for click rate, the more people that click on links in your messages, the higher the click rate. Easy, right?

But then you get on the phone with one of these “Deliverability” people and they’re talking about things like people who delete without opening, hitting spam traps, reply rate, and other weird metrics from some big brother sounding over-reaching viewpoint of the mailbox providers. So now you’re like “Uhh, OK, but my open rate is 25%, where’s these other metrics? Are they in my dashboard? How do I see them?”

Here’s the fun part! You don’t. The simple truth is that each of these mailbox providers all use their own metrics and algorithms (ala “special sauce”) to determine your level of engagement which all come into play when determining your overall reputation and how much mail makes it to your end users.

They Track WHAT?!

While you probably know some of the more common engagement metrics and signals, here’s a glimpse of some of the lesser known engagement signals. These also play an important part in your engagement levels from the mailbox provider point of view, but that you most likely will not see in your ESP dashboard but are still important to keep in mind.

Delete without opening – Just like it sounds. The user deleted your message without even opening it. It shows they didn’t even care to read it to see what it was about. They already knew they didn’t want it just by seeing who it’s from or the subject wasn’t relevant. Bad signal.

Replying – Again, pretty basic. If the subscriber replied to your email, it means they were interested enough. Good signal.

Moving out of Junk – This is a really positive sign. The subscriber actively went into their Junk folder and moved it to their inbox letting the mailbox provider know that this is wanted mail. Sometimes mailbox providers might periodically put stuff into junk as a test to see how much gets moved back to the inbox. Good signal.

Moving to a folder – Another good sign. It means they wanted it enough to keep it around for safe keeping and potentially send to others. They kept it, therefore they want it. Good signal.

Add to Address Book – They cared so much for the sender that they were concerned the mail might not get through, so they added it to their address book or whitelist. It’s nice to be wanted. Good signal.

Move to Junk – Boo! Yup, this is the buzzkill. Big badness happens here. They don’t like your mail and want the rest of it in the junk folder too and they even hope subsequent messages from you go to junk as well. Bad signal.

Report as Phishing – Eww! Yeah, bad, really bad. Subscribers think you’re one of those nefariousists we talked about in my How to Burn Your Reputation with Spam Traps article. Somehow you gave the subscriber the idea you’re trying to steal their personal or financial information. Bad, be ashamed signal.

Read Time – The amount of time spent reading an email. If you only spend a second on the email it doesn’t show as much engagement as the reader who spent 30 seconds on it. Mixed signal.

Keep in mind that this is not an all-inclusive list and not all mailbox providers may use these. But I’d propose that you keep these in mind when setting up campaigns in case you can tweak them to better appeal to these additional signals. If you do this, you’ll boost both your deliverability and reputation at the same time. Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? I’ll toast to that!


Focused Inbox: Microsoft Outlook Helps to Sort and Prioritize Important Email Messages

Recently, Microsoft Outlook made some changes that could impact how your readers interact with the emails you send. Focused Inbox is a new tab system currently in use for the Outlook app on iPhone and Android operating systems, but is now actively being rolled out to and Office 365 users.

How Does the New Focused Inbox Work?

Focused Inbox is an update to a previous tool called Clutter which was introduced last year to automatically move unimportant emails to a dedicated folder, like Outlook’s Junk folder. But where Clutter moved emails to different folders, Focused Inbox utilizes tabs, making it easier for users to access all their email.

This new feature gives Outlook email users some flexibility on how mail comes into their inboxes. All other emails are still there in the regular Inbox, the Focused Inbox just helps users get to the important things first. The ranking is done by assessing how often emails from different people or companies are interacted with and the type of content that’s included. So, an email from a friend will go to the Focused tab, but also a newsletter that’s read and interacted with every month will too. The priority placed on emails is done by how a user interacts with them, not just the type of email.

The problem is that the software may not be getting it right. Users may have some important email in the Other inbox and vice versa. Fortunately, they can tell the software which email should go to which inbox. This way, users can simply switch between the two tabs, and anything that ends up in the ‘Other’ category isn’t as ‘out of sight, out of mind’ as Clutter. It is also possible to quickly and easily move the emails across if any items end up in the wrong place using the ‘move to Focused’/ ‘move to Other’ options.

How to move emails from Other to Focused Inbox in Microsoft Outlook

What’s in It for Email Marketers?

Outlook takes information about how a subscriber interacts with different emails to decide if an email is important or not. Depending on how the different subscribers interact with the emails, they could see the same emails end up in different tabs. It’s crucial to know that this is based on a reader’s interaction with an email – so the more targeted the messages are that you’re sending, the more likely it is to be on the Focused Inbox tab.

A few years ago, Gmail introduced Priority Inbox with five tabs to sort email coming to the inbox. This is very like the change Outlook email is introducing now. Much like what happened when Gmail made this change, marketers may feel forced to get their users to move their email to the Focused tab, but this is probably not necessary. Many people found it irritating to be told what to do with emails in their own inbox and either ignored the instructions or marked the emails as spam.

The best way is to keep emailing as you always have. Keep sending your subscribers what you promised them when they signed up and they should continue to be engaged.

Even though this new inbox layout may be helping you and increasing email opens, we know you want to really make sure your emails aren’t getting lost in an inapplicable tab. Still, you can choose to take proactive measures:

So, the moral of the story here is that the new Microsoft Outlook inbox layout could help you engage your subscribers more than ever before … but, it’s still up to you to create amazing, engaging, and lovable email content.

Mobile Engagement Marketing 101: When to Send SMS, Push Notifications and In-App Messages

People are consumed by their mobile devices today with mobile usage continuing to grow. The question for marketers is what is the best mobile engagement marketing channel in order to reach out to customers for each specific purpose? When is it beneficial to use SMS, push notifications or in-app messaging?


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Each of the three above has its pros and cons, as well as one channel can be suitable in a specific use case or with a specific product, while for other use cases or products another channel may be a better fit.

The Pros and Cons of Each Mobile Channel and Relevant Use Cases SMS: Yes, SMS still matters in the age of smartphones! SMS provides an easy and immediate way of sending messages to customers directly into their personal message application. But if done incorrectly, you run the risk of your subscribers opting out of your messages all together.

– Advantages: SMS is a great messaging application that can deliver customers information necessary for using your product or service. These messages are simple and short and get your message out quickly. The advantage here is that your customers don’t even have to install your app, which means that if your brand doesn’t have a mobile app this is currently the most relevant channel for you.

– Disadvantages: The problem with SMS is that it is considered an old form of messaging and is disturbing and somewhat obnoxious. More than that SMS is delivered via your private messaging, a space where you don’t necessarily want brands to be. With push you are able to opt out, but with SMS you can’t- you are stuck with receiving what comes to you. And though it is easy to use, it is limited. You have to have the phone numbers of your users or customers to text them. Your brand is required to receive the customer’s permission to send these texts. You are also limited in the information you can gain on individual users and your customers, which is crucial in a world where digital marketers are striving to get a holistic view of their customers. If your brand has an app for smartphones or tablets, SMS are disconnected from it and are not able to be triggered by user’s behavior within the app. Last but not least, SMS messages can irritate customers to no end, creating a negative attitude toward your brand. In addition, SMS is very costly especially if you are a global organization.

– Use Cases: Transactions: SMS is a great way to transfer transactional data like codes to verify bank actions or real-time information. Customers can really appreciate receiving pertinent information immediately.

Personal updates: Keep your customers up to date. For example, your customers will really appreciate to receive an SMS letting them know that their delivery is on its way.

Push Notifications And In-App Messaging: Push notifications are what get people into your app, whereas in-app messages guide them through the app and enabling marketers to reach all those who are not opted into push. Using a combination of both is how you extend your reach to all your app users.

Push Notifications A well-executed push notification strategy is a sure bet to increasing mobile engagement and retention, as well as the lifetime value of your users. However, push notifications can be easily misused. It is especially useful with customers that have downloaded the app and stopped interacting with it.

With advanced features such as push actions, you can even get your users to interact without opening the app (put a screenshot or GIF to demonstrate this point).

– Advantages of Push: Push notifications are a great option for those brands that want to target customers on a day-to-day basis without barring the costs of text messages. In fact, many brands are looking into this as a key decision factor when deciding to develop a mobile app for their brand.

Push notifications offer a way to direct your users to your app, app store, website, landing page or any specific area of your app (deep linking). You can also encourage them to perform an action using push actions. With push notifications your customer is always up to date, even if they haven’t opened the app.

Another refreshing aspect about push notifications is the ability your brand has to personalize the content not only based on demographic attributes but also based on the user’s behavior within the app. You can even enable a push preference center where users can customize content specifically suited for them.

Push Notifications are a great way for you to promote a CTA. The beauty of push is that this can be done in a fun, fresh and exciting way. For instance, rich media, interactive push notifications, emoji’s and more – you are meant to have fun with it, especially if you want your users to have fun reading them! Oh, and in addition push notifications are much cheaper than SMS.

– Disadvantages of Push: When it comes to iOS, if the user is not opted in to receive push-they won’t. If they are opted in but you are sending too many messages, or irrelevant messages, or sending them in the wrong time – your users might uninstall the app all together. These challenges can be easily solved by using a mobile marketing automation platform, like the one push notifications can be easily misused.

Push notifications are still considered a bit intrusive. They need to be used sparingly otherwise your users could end up deleting your app.

In most cases they are also not visually attractive. Instead they consist of text with a simple CTA. This is where in-app messaging comes in as a complimentary action.

– Use Cases: Incentive to Register: Push notifications are a great way to send an attractive offer to encourage your users to open an account/sign to your app. This is a great way for your brand to collect their personal information and to connect their app profile with the information you have on your CRM for a more holistic view of your customer.

Reactivating Dormant Users: Many users become dormant after 48 hours. Send them a push notification to remind them the value your app provides. Adding a discount or coupon may help in reactivating their interest with your app.

Abandoned Cart Reminder: Sending your customers a reminder that they accidentally forgot an item in their cart is a great way to boost your revenues.

VIP Engagement: Push notification is a great way to communicate with your loyal users. Send them exclusive offers, coupons or VIP content. This is a great way to provide value in a small package.

In-App Messaging Remember walking into high school and being completely lost on your first day? A new school, new classes and new expectations, basically it was like you were standing on foreign ground. But then you met with your guidance counselor and the air lifted. In mobile engagement marketing the guidance counselor is your in-app messaging. Customers left to their own devices would be like a high school student aimlessly wandering the halls not knowing which classroom to enter. A guidance counselor helps you what content interests you, what classes to take and what fits you.

– Advantages: In-app messaging allows you to engage, promote and guide your users through your app. Getting a user into the app is the first part, the challenge then is to engage them once they are in the app. This is where in-app messaging comes in. Instead of leaving the user to navigate the app on his own the in-app messages help them use your app and navigate accordingly. Help them feel good about your app. Once inside the app, you can send them rich HTML messages, coupons, videos and social content. So here you are combining the rich aspect with the right type of content. When it comes to brand awareness you don’t want them to get this as a push notification as there is no CTA. But within the app this is not considered intrusive. If it’s cool enough they may even take a look but in the middle of a meeting, they may just delete the app altogether. The beauty of it all is that they receive a message without a random interruption. They are already in your app and interested to see what you have to offer.

– Disadvantages: With in-app messages if they are not done right it can end up harming the user experience in the app or feel too much like advertisements. Also, if the messages are not sent in real-time they can present irrelevant content. These messages are also only relevant to users who are in the app, and users that are not currently inside the app will miss out on them.

– Use Cases: Welcome Message: With many users deleting an app after only 30 days sending a welcome message is a great way to promote what your app has to offer and keep them on track.

Promotional Offers: Target your customers based on their behavior and location this way you can send them relevant offers when they are near your store. Send them a promotional offer for their birthday and make their day even more special.

Customer Service: This is a chance to provide even more value to your customers. Send them service updates on their account or any recent purchases. This is a highly effective way of using In-app messaging. You can also identify when they need support and enable then to talk to you in a single click

Increase your push opt in users by delivering them an in-app message when they use the app for the first time – explaining what they will gain from letting you send them notifications….

Push as a teaser (short text) followed by a rich in-app (even with a video…).

Bottom Line: So how do you choose the channel for your mobile engagement marketing strategy? The secret is to mix 2 or even 3 of the above channels, and use each of them for the relevant use case, at the relevant time and for the relevant users. To make it easier in you, a platform like our CEP can support all 3 of these channels and all is left for you is to decide when to use each of them and for which purpose.

Download our guide to find out which are the key elements that must be considered when developing a strategy that is delivered via both email and mobile. If you want to find out more about about mobile marketing tools, contact us directly.

A guide to a successfully integrated email and mobile engagement strategy

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What is a Data Management Platform and Why Do YOU Need One

I recently had the pleasure to speak at All Things Data, which is a conference about… well, data. At the event, I talked about what is a data management platform, and how it can help marketers connect the dots and truly understand the customer journey.

When I got off the stage, there was a queue of people lined up and waiting to speak to me.

Some said that they are already considering to implement a Data Management Platform but needed to learn more about it – How does it work? How can it be integrated with their existing marketing stack?

Others had never even heard about it and were so curious to learn what a data management platform actually is and how it can help them be better at what they do.

So I decided to write the answer to some of these questions, and I hope to answer them in this article.

Let’s start from the basics…

Representing Mapp at All Things Data conference

What is a Data Management Platform? First comes first, what is a Data Management Platform (DMP)?

A Data Management Platform enables marketers to use data from various sources in order to manage the customer journey more efficiently and automatically optimize results of their marketing and advertising campaigns.

A #DMP lets you collect #data from various sources, and activate the data to target respective audiences across multiple channels, with the optimal message for them

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A DMP lets you collect and analyze data about your customers-including behavioral, geographic and profile data-from every touch point in one platform. The result is an integrated picture of all your data sources, from both your own first party data and third party. This step is crucial as it lets you activate that data and use it to target your respective audience with the utmost accuracy possible across a number of different marketing channels.

The right DMP allows your results to perform in real time. It allows you to optimize media buy and advertising creative on the fly. This possibility of receiving a 360-degree view of your customer and how your campaign is performing is truly vital to actually reaching a specific audience in real time.

How does a Data Management Platform work? A DMP essentially collects all your data from any touch point you have with your customer. This can be a digital touch point – your website, mobile app, marketing campaigns, social media etc. as well as offline – store information, call center inquires. It also collects third party data. The DMP then creates audiences and uses data to push the audiences into buying /execution points.

Next, the DMP optimises your results using lookalike audiences. A lookalike audience is a term used to identify potential prospects that exhibit the same characteristics as your best performing customer groups. Having all your data in one place allows the DMP to analyse and track your best performing customers and create lookalike audiences that are very similar to it. This is a great way to tap into new prospects while knowing in advance that there is a good chance of turning them into profitable customers for your company.

Finally, the DMP collects response data and repeats the process using the new data gathered. This process is a constant loop that continues to grow and optimize in order to fine tune your campaigns in real time and find new audiences for you.

To summarize, a DMP:

It is a circular process leading to infinite optimization and marketing efficiency. Using lookalike audiences, a DMP can help you discover new audiences that are likely to buy and automatically match your marketing messages with the right audiences.

When it comes to meeting the challenge of the ‘on-demand’ consumer, knowing your audience is absolutely essential to enable brands to react and provide relevant personalised marketing in real-time. Let me unravel the beauty a Data Management Platform can offer you and then you can decide whether a DMP should be at the top of your 2016 checklist for success this year.

Why Do I Need a Data Management Platform?
In a recent survey by Infogroup 62% of marketers noted that they are already investing in data marketing solutions, with additional 26% planning to start investing within the next two years. Marketers are beginning to see worth and become aware of the benefits of a data-driven marketing strategy in driving more engaging real-time customer interactions and as a result a much more valuable customer experience. But with all this data to our disposals, marketers are still finding it difficult to connect the dots. In fact, seven in ten marketers have gaps in capabilities and effectiveness of their technology when it comes to creating a view of the customer.

A Data Management Platform is a dream come true for data driven marketers. With all the technology we have at our disposal, the challenge is to bring all the data into one place, and to be able to analyze it in real time and then act upon it in order to optimize our campaigns. One of the biggest challenges for marketers today is to build a single view of their customer. We collect data from different sources, such as social media, email, media campaigns, and our website as well as offline channels such as our call center. Then adding the dots becomes almost impossible.

But, what if you could imitate a Kaleidoscope to create one single view of your customer across the entire buyer journey?

Well, you can. The solution is to implement a Data Management Platform that will allow you to break the silos and unify all your data in one place.



What are the main functions of a DMP? Integrating a DMP into your marketing stack will enable you to become a smarter, more efficient and more data-driven marketer.

Amongst others, these are the key functions that a DMP offers and for you to take into consideration:

Your Turn If you step back and take in the view of what a Data Management Platform has to offer, you begin to see a much larger picture than you could have truly imagined. In an era when minute-by minute campaign reporting is possible, no brand can afford not to examine its potential.

To find out more about and how a DMP can accelerate your digital marketing capability, get more resources here.

Reliable Email Delivery – with the CSA Whitelist

Email marketing is an increasingly important part of dialog marketing activities for companies across Europe and North America. Many companies go to great lengths to clean and maintain their mailing lists and they want to be sure that their bulk emails reach their destination and don’t get rejected by spam filters.

The Certified Senders Alliance (CSA) is the central whitelist for email marketing mailers in the German-speaking countries. The German Dialog Marketing Association, DDV and eco – the German Internet Industry Association have provided this positive list since 2005. It provides reputable bulk mailers in both the US and Europe the opportunity to reliably deliver their emails to participating ISPs. Using the list, ISPs reduce the load on their filter systems: as a rule, their spam filters are not used for messages from IP addresses on the CSA whitelist.

As a reputable sender, Mapp is CSA accredited

CSA certification is especially relevant for international mailers sending bulk email to the German-speaking countries in Europe. Reputable bulk mailers, like Mapp, are accredited by the CSA ­– and thereby also their customers. To become accredited, participating bulk mailers undertake to comply with the CSA’s admission criteria such as consent, revocation, co-sponsoring/sale of addresses, imprint requirements, transparency and authentication as well as to strictly adhere to the CSA regulations. Mapp has all the experience and know-how that international players need when it comes to international email marketing and can help them meet legal requirements and navigate the specifics of the CSA requirements for bulk email.

The CSA regulations are based on the EU and German legal frameworks as well as the guidelines for permission marketing. Infringements against these guidelines in the form of unlawful mailings, increased spam rates and complaints to the CSA complaints department are promptly sanctioned. How? By the publication of complaints and temporary or permanent exclusion from the entire project.

New CSA regulations for senders

The technical and legal developments in email marketing in recent years have prompted the Certified Senders Alliance to make several changes and additions to the regulations. They are designed to underline and expand the high standards of the CSA whitelist in relation to reliability, reputation and quality of service.

These, amongst others, are the new points:

1. Technical configuration criteria for admission:

a) The mailer must remove any email addresses from the mailing list where, after loading the addresses, a mailbox is identified as non-existent, and at the latest after three hard bounces. Overall, the hard-bounce rate per ISP may not exceed 1.0%. An exception to this is only possible for new customers when the permissible hard-bounce rate may be exceeded once.

b) The DKIM process (Domain Keys Identified Mail) must be implemented for all server/IP addresses at the latest following successful certification by the CSA. The domains used in the DKIM “d=” Tag must point either to the certified sender via the WHOIS record or to the customer concerned for the certified mailer. The signed headers must, as a minimum, contain “From”, X-CSA-Complaints and list-unsubscribe.

c) Using DMARC is recommended so that ISPs can check received emails according to the required parameters. When using DMARC, reporting-email addresses must be specified in a way that can be processed by mailers and their customers when sent in reports by ISPs. Use of a reject policy is recommended.

2. Procedures, reprimands:

a) Decision-making: The complaints office releases decisions regarding sanctions within three months of receipt of all information relevant to the decision via the CSA mailer.

b) Publication of reprimands: eco is entitled to publish repeated reprimands on the CSA website for 6 months. Usually, publication occurs if 3 reprimands about a mailer are made within 6 months and:

– these reprimands are about the same customer (as determined by the imprint information) and relate to the legal admission criteria or:

– the reprimands relate to violations of technical admission criteria and there have been two weeks between reprimands being issued.

c) Temporary suspension of a CSA mailer: as a rule, temporary suspension1 is implemented if:

– within 6 months, 5 reprimands about a mailer are made and these reprimands are about the same customer (as determined by the imprint information) and relate to the legal admission criteria OR the reprimands relate to violations of technical admission criteria and there have been two weeks between reprimands being issued.

– There are findings regarding a spam marking quota per mail server (IP address) and/or per ESP of more than 0.3% for an ISP within a week.

d) Permanent suspension of the CSA mailer occurs when the CSA mailer has been temporarily delisted for at least 3 months due to circumstances for which the CSA mailer is responsible.

The updated documents are available from the Certified Sender Alliance’s website.

Additional useful information about the CSA and conformant mailing is provided by the eco guidelines for acceptable email marketing.

CSM email marketing best practices china

19 Tips for Email Marketing in China

731 million people. That’s the scope of internet users in China. Any company with global aspirations simply cannot afford to ignore this bustling market. But it’s also a region with significant linguistic, cultural and political diversity. The right approach to marketing is crucial. And email can play a significant role.

Emails have never enjoyed the same status in China as in the West. The Chinese joined the internet revolution much later and the proliferation of messaging apps like WeChat offered much faster ways to communicate than emails. This, however, doesn’t mean that emails are irrelevant. Actually, quite the opposite. China email marketing has always been one of the most effective direct marketing channels and it is widely used by marketers

To tap into this vast marketing potential, we’ve put together a number of hands-on tips for you. Here are some best practices for email marketing in general and China in particular that will make your campaigns more effective.

1. Be aware of local regulations. Email marketing in China must comply with complex Chinese anti-spam regulations. Chinese law stipulates substantial penalties for unsolicited emails and non-compliance may result in your IP or domain getting blocked, making it inaccessible from the mainland indefinitely.

2. Insert brand identity in the sender bar and the email subject bar. NetEase has opened the permission of uploading the sender’s company logo and displays it in the email client.

3. Think local!

4. Think smartphones and tablets. According to China’s Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), there are 469 million mobile web users in China by end of 2016. The vast majority are using the internet on their smartphones and tablets. This means that your email design should be responsive, that is, it must function equally well across all the digital devices.

5. Color perceptions are based on cultural context. In China, red is the most popular color that signifies luck, happiness, and love; blue means high-quality and trustworthiness; yellow stands for purity and good taste. Sometimes, the original branding is somewhat compromised to suit the target market’s preferences and perceptions.

6. Follow CAN-SPAM Rules.

7. Follow the sending limit of each ISP. ISPs will review sender’s sending reputation, company popularity and sending history to allocate a daily/monthly volume limit. Senders need to follow the sending limit which guarantee a better delivery performance as a permission. With good/bad reputation, it could be adjusted automatically per day or month.

8. Subject line length: The shorter the better – do not include subject lines that are longer than thirty-five characters.

9. Make it personal. Email is a great opportunity to humanize your brand. Your campaigns will perform better if they are personalized appropriately for your email list segment. So make sure to include a personalization field to be able to use the subscriber’s first name or site user name in the email.

10. Minimize images: Limit your use of images to no more than 40% of your email template. Remember, images won’t load in the large majority of email service providers per default.

11. Use alt and title text: Because your images may not load, be sure to apply both alt and title text behind the images so that these texts display when the images don’t load. Make the text a compelling call-to-action and hyperlink the image with a link to your landing page.

12. Maximum email width of 600 pixels: Your email template should not exceed 600 pixels in width. It may not display in the email preview pane if it does.

13. Easy-to-find unsubscribe Rules: It should be easy and clear to users where to unsubscribe from your email list. If you don’t make this apparent, you may be marked as spam, which could impact your ability to get delivered to the inbox in the future.

14.No CSS! Stay away from coding your html email template using CSS. Many email service providers will strip it out. Use traditional < font >and < table > tags instead.

15.Don’t use dark background colors with light font colors. Because many email service providers will strip out your background image or misread your font colors, a dark background with white or light fonts can end up looking like a white background with white fonts or a dark background with black fonts. Stick to light background colors and dark fonts and make sure whatever the picture could be showed, recipients can read your email.

16.Proof your e-mail before you send it. Make sure your spell check is running and content shows as design.

17.Segment your list and your content. In the case of revenue-generating emails, try to segment your database by purchase history or average spend in order to put the most compelling offer or revenue-generating event in front of the most likely candidate to take advantage of it.

18. Test different offers and content: A/B testing is a common method. You should always be testing different content and offers.

19. Evaluate your distribution list frequently. Your click through rates or open rate may have absolutely nothing to do with formatting, calls-to-action, or offers. It may simply be that you have put together a list of email addresses of individuals who are not that interested in or engaged with your product or brand. If that is the case, then you’ll need to determine for yourself what the best course of action is. You can continue to email those individuals despite poor metrics. You can shift the focus of your email campaign to something more relatable to those individuals. You can re-allocate your time and effort to building a higher quality list.

Follow the list above, and you’ll be able to craft successful emails! Want some expert support tapping into the Chinese email market? We’d me more than happy to have a chat and help you out.

spam traps

How to Burn Your Reputation with Spam Traps

Send to them. Often. Repeatedly. Repeat. That’s it! You have now successfully burned your reputation with spam traps. Congratulations!

Ok, so I guess marketing wants a more in depth article, so let’s dig in, break it all down and spare the judgement.

What Are Spam Traps? Spam traps are addresses that are designed to catch senders not using best practices. Traps don’t sign up for mail nor do they typically engage with mail. They will accept mail and appear just like normal email addresses. In fact, some are old email addresses that have been recycled into traps (more on that later, don’t get ahead of me). There are literally millions and millions of traps out there, so don’t believe anyone when they say they can clean all the traps from your list.

What Kind of Traps Are There? Generally, there’s two kinds of traps: Recycled and Pristine. Recycled spam traps are the ones I noted earlier where they were used by someone but since that user didn’t log in for a long period of time, it got converted. You know, like you had that address that was funny or cute back in college but when recruiters and HR Managers would need to contact you about getting a job, you’d cringe and try to spell it out in the hopes they can’t put the words together?

Pristine traps (sometimes called honey pots) were specifically designed as a trap and have never been used by anyone. Sometimes these traps might be scattered on random web pages where regular users would not be browsing to. Or they can even be “hidden” in the source code of a websites. Other times, they exist with no references anywhere on the web and are waiting to see what is sent to them.

Who Creates These Traps? Traps are created with the intent of separating the good senders from the bad and the gray areas in between. With that being said, there are a variety of spam trap operators. Mailbox providers like Microsoft or Comcast want to make sure their users get the mail they want and spam traps help them make those decisions. Similarly, companies that sell spam protection like Barracuda like to use them to offer a more robust product offering and aid in their filtering decisions. Then there are the Anti-spam individuals and organizations like SpamHaus, Project Honey Pot or SpamCop that want the world to be a little less spammy.

As of May 30, 2017, Project Honey Pot is currently monitoring over 242 million spam traps:


How Do Spam Traps Work? Traps aren’t fancy and they even look normal. They just accept mail as any other email address does. When a company or mailbox provider decides to convert addresses into recycled traps, the addresses go through an invalidation period. It could be 6 months or a year. Providers don’t generally disclose much information on the timeframes or recycling process. During that invalidation period, whenever mail is sent to that address, it will bounce back with an Invalid code signifying that it’s no longer an active address. As a result, most email providers, Mapp included, will automatically suppress that email address from future sends since it is no longer valid. Once that invalidation period is over, that address will start receiving mail again without a bounce code. From there, the spam trap provider now knows that senders sending to this address are sending to old and unengaged data and not following best practices.

Pristine traps work similarly, but since they were never used by a person, there’s no invalidation period. It just receives mail as soon as it’s set up. Trap providers know, from these types of traps, that the sender is not using organically grown lists, but rather participating in purchased/rented/scraped/harvested/OtherBadThings to get subscribers. And the net result is the same, you probably aren’t using best practices or perhaps, illegal ones.

What Happens When I Hit A Trap?
How’s your Russian Roulette? Truth be told, there’s so many trap providers out there that your damages range from none, as in no noticeable impact, all the way to being blocked at almost every major mailbox provider. However, regardless of where you hit the traps, it gives you some insight into how “clean” your data is. Unfortunately, you can’t tell ahead of time how many traps you’re going to hit or know the impact. But if you hit a big one, you are going to notice and your Email Service Provider might give you a jingle too.

The image below shows actual data from a client hitting spam traps. Every time they hit traps, the amount of filtered mail (mail not making it to the inbox) goes up in relation. When the traps decrease so does the amount of filtering. This would be a more middle of the road or average impact from spam traps, meaning, it can get much worse:

It Can Get Worse, Jailtime Worse. Wait, What? Keep in mind that some of the list acquisition practices like buying, renting or scraping lists may be against the Terms of Service/Acceptable Use Policy with your provider, or in some cases, against the laws in your region. Or it may not the actual buying or scraping but the fact of not having explicit consent can cause quite the dilemma when asked for it. It’s best to check these rules and laws since violating them can get you kicked off a platform without warning or even fined and/or jailed. Yes, all those punishments have actually happened to real people. Granted, these were serious offenders but yes, the quote holds true, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!” Yes, there is.

Uh-oh! I Have Them, How Do I Get Rid Of Them? It’s ok. It happens. We won’t judge you, I mean, out loud anyways. Removing traps is basically like using the Undo feature in Microsoft Office. Start working backwards to see when they showed up and what list acquisitions took place during that time. Often times, it can be traced back to something like importing an old “hot subscribers” list someone found on the network, or someone found a good deal on a purchased/rented list (remember, I said we weren’t judging you…aloud). Or maybe you accidentally sent a blast to everyone in your database instead of your usual active and engaged users.

The fix is to undo that “hot subscribers” list. It’s no longer hot and is only going to get you into hot water with your reputation and mailbox providers. Get rid of it and mark it “hot water subscribers”. If you did an accidental blast to everyone, don’t do that! The one time accidents can usually be recovered from pretty quickly, but it still might leave a small short term sting. As long as you can account for where they originated and how you were able to undo it, it should easily be recoverable.

Did you change your sign up process? Perhaps turned off the Double/Confirmed Opt In? This one usually comes about when the “higher ups” think they need to get more email addresses at any cost. The logic is that the less hurdles to sign someone up, the faster the list grows. While the total subscriber count may increase faster, your almost guaranteed more invalids and significantly higher odds of getting spam traps and ultimately, lower deliverability. Your list quality will suffer. Additionally, using Single Opt In, is a much more difficult case to prove for explicit consent. Depending on your region, you’ll be required to show this explicit consent when asked and if not, the legal ramifications can be quite sticky, so do a simple fix and turn DOI/COI back on.

I Tried Everything And They’re Still There! If you’re still seeing traps on a consistent basis and have tried undoing everything you can think of and you’re only sending to active and engaged users, you may just have to wait it out. It’s possible some nefarious person knows of some trap addresses and signed it up on to your list. Curses you nefariousists! Yes, it’s a word, Webster is wrong. Or the optimist could tell you that someone just made a simple typo on their email address and that little typo was the difference between their email and a trap’s email. Actually, some traps are based on typo domains for common mailbox providers. But since you aren’t using a double opt-in or confirmed opt-in, it’s now part of your world. Yes, it happens and yes, we still aren’t judging you.

In any case, your option here is to wait it out. Remember in the beginning when I said they don’t typically engage with the messages? This is the key to our super secret spam trap busting strategy! We’re going to only email subscribers that have opened and engaged with messages going forward. Say what?? Shhh…we usually charge money for this strategy, so don’t tell my boss. Yes, by sticking to a strategy of sending to subscribers that have only opened and engaged with the message, these traps will eventually fall outside of those parameters and you should see the trap counts go down. That’s it! Just repeat sending to those active and engaged users and your email ecosphere should be peaceful again. Isn’t it nice to know that sending your mail to the people that use it, read it and can benefit from it can also benefit you? It’s like one of those win-win things you hear about!

How Can I Prevent Getting Them Going Forward? Here’s some measures you can take to help prevent traps from getting into your list to begin with. While some are easier than others, implementing any of these should help cut down on the number of traps getting added to your lists:

Honor Invalid/Hard Bounces and Opt-Outs – Most Email Service Providers should do this automatically, but it’s best to confirm.
Double or Confirmed opt-in – requires the user to click on a link that is emailed to them after signing up to confirm their subscription. If they don’t complete this step, they don’t get added. Ideally, this should be the default option for you.
Captcha/ReCaptcha – requires the user to key in some weird looking text or numbers to help prevent automated sign ups from nefariousists (Really, I’m almost sure it’s a word!).
Organic growth – grow your lists with your own marketing. This way you know where they came from and that they are truly interested in your brand.
Do not buy/rent/scrape lists – You don’t know where they came from or how they were obtained and what you don’t know could be detrimental. Plus, how many people got it before you did?
Use a list validation service that will help prevent typos or invalid addresses from submitting the sign up
Super Secret Spam Trap Busting Strategy – send to your users that have opened and engaged with your messages in a reasonable timeframe, say, 180 days.
And by the way, we totally judged you, out loud…on mute, about your spam traps, but we’re glad we can work with you to help resolve them.

FYI, for those that would rather watch a video discussing spam traps, head over to Deliverability.TV on YouTube. There might even be a mustache being featured in the Spamtrap episode (obligatory click-bait):

Episode 006 “Spamtraps and Honeypots“:

Increase conversion rates

Increase the Conversion Rates of Your Email Campaigns with the Correct A/B Testing

A/B testing isn’t just a buzz term that is going to go away with time. A/B testing is your train ticket into understanding your visitor’s behavior and a way to increase your conversion rates. Testing on digital channels is so easy. But still many marketers neglect this topic or deprioritize this topic due to their daily workload. For most businesses, their website conversion rates range from 1 to 3% and only 22% of companies are satisfied with their conversion. The stark truth is that most companies opt out of using A/B test experiments despite the positive results. It’s crazy if you think about, the fact that using the correct targeting and testing methods can increase your conversion rates of up to 300% and marketers just opt out?? Well let’s change that today. It is time to make some resolutions and bring the testing back to life. Using direct channels and getting quality traffic to the website needs to be a priority this year. Here are some recommendations on how to get started.A/B testing is one of the easiest ways to test different versions (A/B or A/B/C …) of copy or creative. You can test and select which one shows the highest customer engagement such as opens, clicks and conversions. It is a way to read warning signs and act accordingly. It is important to know which KPIs are most important in order to measure your email marketing.

What should you be testing to improve your email campaign performance? 1. Timing: No…not again on Tuesday morning With A/B testing you can also test the best timing to send out your email campaigns (time of week, day). For this you will need to take a look at the previous messages and analyze them regarding time of open and time of click. That can give you a first hint about which timestamps to test.


As has been said for a long time already, Tuesday is supposed to be the best day to send your email, as you can also see from the above info graphic in which Coschedule combined 10 studies around the best time to send an email, However, when everyone starts sending on Tuesday, will that stay the same? Each audience is different, as well as each offering and therefore, it is import to keep on testing in order to see which results work best for your audience. Research shows that emails will usually be opened within 60 minutes of receiving them. As a result it is possible to send your emails 30 minutes prior to the peak time. Mobile push messages should follow a similar mantra to email. You should be splitting the target group and sending the same message at different times and then comparing the engagement KPIs. For mobile push the click rate is much higher and more consistent during weekdays with an average of 5.8% compared to the weekend with 3.5% click rates. This is due to the fact that during workdays people are more tuned into their phones and on the weekends they are more distracted. In addition notifications that are sent on Tuesday and Fridays also get more click throughs.

2. Subject lines We recommend to do a subject line test for every email send out. Sending out two different subject lines at random is not going to get you the desired results. Follow a systematic process of:

There are also many free tools to check out your subject lines. Take advantage of the tools at your disposal. Just make sure you are thorough in your intentions and planning methods.You could also test personalization. Leverage your data and include a snippet of a subscriber’s personal information in the subject line. Some recipients may appreciate this kind of individual connection; others, may just feel creeped out. Either way, you won’t know until you take a few calculated risks and compare the responses.

3. Test creative elements: visuals yes/no, use red or blue? For important campaigns (e.g. sales promotions) it is advisable to test the creative elements in an email (e.g. buttons, images) as it can have a significant effect on the success rate of the campaigns. When it comes to the color of your buttons you need to stop a moment and really take color seriously. Color has been known to affect ones mood and therefore plays a part in decision making. Certain colors pop out more and others have the ability to fade away and cause you to lose concentration on the button at hand. Here are a few tips:

For mobile push messages see if you should use rich messages or plain text. Same goes for emails. Should you use a lot of visuals or is it better to send a plain email coming directly from the Sales person?

4. Wording CTA buttons This one is specifically important to make sure your recipients act as you want them to act. For mobile push messages, this is where you get the approval to send push messages so the actual words raise your opt-ins. The same goes for emails, should you rather say “read more” or “download free email article”. If you want them to act as you want then you have to give them a reason to push the button. You also need to be sure that the wording of the button is written with clear intent. The wording should be a direct instruction to your audience that will make them do a certain action. Make sure it is clear and specific and give your audience a reason for completing the action. If they don’t click on the CTA, there’s good chance you did not accomplish what you set out to do and your CTA button was not direct enough, so optimize accordingly.

5. Generic content vs. company related content Especially when it comes to social testing this mainly accomplished by comparing the engagement (likes and comments etc.) over time in order to see what is the most engaging type of content etc. In our Digital Customer Engagement Index, we saw that the more generic and less company-focused the messages were that the brand sent, the higher their followers were. The only other possibility is to send different messages to different groups through Facebook audiences. This way, different segments will see different ads in Facebook and the click behavior on the ads can be measured. Also in emails we advise to test to have own content compared to using generic content. Just be forewarned: Testing too many variables at once only leads to confusion. You can certainly be creative in what you test, but keep it concise, so that at the end of the test you can send the campaign based on what you know works, not what you think might work.

Final Thoughts What did I tell you? A/B testing can be wrapped up and executed easily. These are the easiest ways of testing – so be sure to make some time in 2017 to do it regularly as it will improve the success of your digital engagement rates. Happy testing!

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5 Lessons to Unveil The Mystery Behind Viral Marketing

How many times have you asked yourself what is the Ultimate Question of Life, Universe and Everything? We have an answer but it doesn’t quite get close to uncovering the secrets behind the viral marketing universe. We know a vast amount of videos that exploded in the internet, for no obvious reason. It seems that the magic happens beyond our understanding. Wrong! Surely it bothers us all. What made that Mom’s with the Star War Mask live streaming video become the most popular thing on Facebook? Or is there a particular reason for a mannequin challenge to take teenagers, adults and even companies’ breaths away? There is no exact recipe for a viral marketing, but it makes sense to start digging deeper into the viral dna.

Explore the 5 secrets to help enhance your customer engagement through viral marketing universe and beyond: 1. Catch the buzz wave Unless you live in a cave, you must have noticed that from time to time, another social media trend is already catching fire, spreading across the internet universe. Only few remain immune to the buzz.The latest biggest trend of last year was #mannequinchallenge. What is it? Basically all it takes is to freeze for a few minutes in funny poses with Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” ft. Gucci Mane playing in the background while the camera goes around the group. Everyone…by this I mean literally everyone, decided to take part in this. Started with American teenagers, celebrities, politicians and even space station crew quickly took it over! Customer engagement at its best.Many might ask if there is a value of jumping on the social media trend bandwagon, wondering how they can benefit. Well, it all depends on your perspective, creativity, and most importantly – speed of reaction. While everyone is doing it, your brand will catch fire if it manages to grasp the essence of the trend and connect it directly to your business.

Grasp the essence of the trend and connect it to your business! #viralmarketing #customer engagement

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Here are the best real brand examples: Dove True to their famous strategy “Real beauty”, which showed the spot-on way to their consumer’s hearts, Dove applied the same concept by reversing the idea that mannequins should look like real people and not the other way round.

Pixar Funny enough, by just tweeting a snippet from our beloved cartoon “Toys Story” Pixar managed to join the viral party.

“Andy’s coming!”

— Disney•Pixar (@DisneyPixar) November 7, 2016
Belgium’s ALS Liga Last year this organization started successful viral “Ice bucket challenge“. However, they decided they couldn’t stop there and also joined the mannequin craze with the slogan – “Every day is a Mannequin Challenge for ALS patients.”. All non-profit and social businesses take notes.

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2. Joint Forces/ Collaborate with influencers We all like to be amused. But given that internet universe seems to be endless, it’s getting hard for brands to be heard through all this meteor noise. It seems like magic. But there is a recipe for it. When even boring and outdated brands can transform and become viral. One of the main ingredients is choosing the right influencer.

One of the main ingredients is choosing the right influencer #viralmarketing

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Interesting enough, the brand does not always need to play the main character. Morton Salt approached famous music band “Ok go” that created this masterpiece below. These musicians already proved themselves with other brands by doing crazy things, like flying without gravity on camera. This 4.2 seconds slow motion video was extended into 4 minutes and shows the iconic Morton Salt girl with the yellow umbrella. The idea behind it was to show that how this ‘moment” can be stretched, and every second is valuable. This worked well with the company’s value of promising to “step up and make a positive impact in the world

Another great example is SodaStream. They are continuing to use actors from “Game of Thrones” in their campaigns. In this particular video, Sodastream took the famous episode from the series in which Cersei Lannister is forced to walk naked while Unella rings her bell and shouts “shame”. In this campaign, however, they took an average plastic bottle buyer and Unella torments the poor guy in a grocery store. The idea behind it was to discourage the use of plastic bottles. Fighting for the planet and becoming viral? Why not?

3. Emotions Fairly easy here. People are more likely to share your campaign if you evoked certain feelings, sadness or happiness. Something that made them feel differently at that point of time. The hard part is to be different and not to overuse cliché topics. After all, it’s all about a really good story.According to Business Harvard Review, negative emotions were less likely to be found in a viral content but were still successful if they evoked surprise. Unexpectedly, emotion of admiration was also found in highly shared campaigns.

Negative emotions were less likely to be found in viral content @HarvardBiz

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In this campaign, Nike concentrated on an underdog, an overweight boy jogging without stopping. This is a story of greatness and that everyone can achieve it. This idea appeared to be more effective than showcasing celebrities. Sometimes consumers find it hard to relate to them, while that boy could be every one of us.

4. Know your audience Do you actually know your audience? Their feelings, desires and hopes? A true marketer will have this knowledge on his/her table and understand that this is a very powerful weapon. Understanding them will allow you to speak their language and relate to their hearts.

Dove proved (yet again) that they know exactly what their customers are feeling, with several campaigns such as #Realbeauty and #ChooseBeautiful. They did several videos which resulted in a juicy viral success. How they did it? After an extensive market research, Dove started with relating to “Real woman” and ditching the standard use of models in beauty ads. They understood their customers’ poor self-esteem and insecurities and directed their minds to the right path. The path of feeling beautiful as they are. It’s not just a campaign, it’s a whole culture and a movement.


Old Spice, on the other hand, while being a man’s brand turned their marketing by 180 degrees. They found out that women tend to make the purchasing choices for their men’s personal care products and targeted them instead. By showing the famous and attractive athlete-turned-actor Isaiah Mustafa, using humorous text and a rapid change of scenery, they actually enchanted both sexes.

5. Let them do the work User-generated content. You know much about it? If not you are in viral marketing trouble. There is no better way to personalize your brand and build loyalty among your followers than in this lazy mannered way. User-generated content (UGC) is a content that was created by your consumers and followers and it exists under your company’s properties. It creates little or no cost for your brand and can act as a free advertising. But, it has to be interesting enough for consumers to start creating and sharing your content. Fairly easy consumer engagement!It makes sense for you to consider it. 86% of millennials mentioned that UGC is a great indicator of a quality of a brand. Moreover, 51% of them said that content generated from strangers is more likely to influence their purchase decisions. Sprite for example, used both recent trend #mannequinchallenge and UGC in their tweet:

Our lawyers said we couldn’t do a #mannequinchallenge so we’ll ask you …do you wanna do a #mannequinchallenge for us? — Sprite (@Sprite) November 8, 2016
Final accord We looked through different secrets of becoming viral and winning customer engagement, but there are few things to consider. At the end of the day, “viral” should not be your only end goal. Creating a brand’s reputation with the help of customer engagement and amazing content will present you with a loyal base of followers. A video or a campaign has to resonate with your audience and be a part of a bigger strategy that will build this loyalty over time. In this case, this will transform into sales over a longer period of time.

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