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Email Delivery Tips: Olympic-Style List Segmentation, Preference Centers

Email marketing is a big business that generates large revenues and a significant amount of questions on how to improve deliverability. With ISPs receiving billions of messages a day with a significantly high amount of spam, they’re stuck with a never ending battle to decipher what should head to a users inbox versus spam folder.

Email marketers are left in the dust trying to stand out from this spam and get their message to their next customer. This post will explain some email techniques that we’ve found to help email marketers improve their deliverability and increase their revenue.

Everyone is unique!

Not all recipients like to receive mail from someone or a company in the same manner. Do you like receiving marketing email from your bank every day? How about a daily deal website that you might subscribe to? The answer differs for every recipient and the key towards unlocking higher revenues is finding out everyone’s preference.

This creates a spiral effect where if you can send to your users in the ways that they like to engage with your brand, your engagement goes up, more users read your mail and click your links and complaints and spam ratings go down causing your sending reputation to go up and ISPs to accept more of your mail. You’ll be sending less mail and making more revenue…believe it, it’s true!

While this hopefully communicates the importance in treating recipients uniquely, we still need to talk about how to make it happen. Here are a few methods that we’ve used, but the possibilities are endless!

Preference center

Creating a preference center where your email recipients can choose to only receive emails once a day, week or month for your brand will help you interact with the recipient the way they’re most comfortable.

Olympic Stand

Olympic-style list segmentation

We find that lists seem to have a “sweet spot” for sending and since it’s both challenging to find and ever changing, we suggest that there is no stable ideal list. Put a process in place where you can move users from one list to another easily based on their engagement.

This may sound obvious, but the more you can email users that want to engage with your brand, the better engagements you’ll have and happier email recipients.

Here are some examples as criteria for segmenting lists. Call this the Olympic method:

  • Create a “gold” list that consists of users that have clicked a link within your emails in the past 1-2 campaigns or months. Making sure to follow any preferences the user may have set in their account, you could try engaging this user on a more regular basis.
  • Create a “silver” list that consists of users that have read or clicked a link within your emails in the past 3-4 months or have been on the “gold” list in the past. These are users that are more engaged than an unknown recipient.
  • Create a “bronze” list that consists of users that have never read or clicked a link within your emails. You may want to start interacting with this user with an opt-in message where they can set up their email preferences or choose to unsubscribe. If users don’t want your email now, don’t continue to spend your resources and risk sending reputation trying to change their mind. Focus on the “gold” and “silver” list users!

Bounce review

Bounce messages are messages provided in response when trying to send a message that an ISP has denied. Hard bounces should be removed from your list immediately as they mean that the user or ISP doesn’t exist to begin with. Soft bounces should be monitored and action taken as needed. Some soft bounces are for things like a message box being full or maybe that the recipient has to allow you as a permitted sender before your messages will be accepted.

If you continue to send to these soft bounced recipients and continue to see the same response, you should remove these messages from your list as they’re also impacting your deliverability.

We hope these ideas inspire you to implement a process that allows you to interact with your users in a unique way. Let us know if you have any other ideas, we’re always interested in different user cases and what others are doing!

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Whois: Mike Veilleux

Mike Veilleux is a Director of Product Management at Oracle Dyn Global Business Unit, a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure that connects users with digital content and experiences across a global internet.

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