In this article, Stefan Pollard explains how bad feedback management can affect email deliverability. He also says not to stop with just processing comments, complaints, and questions that arrive in response to a mailing, purchase, or some other interaction.
You should also be out in front of your subscribers or customers, soliciting comments with regular surveys and with prominently displayed requests in newsletters, solo offers, transactional email, and Web links.
When you seek out comments, you unearth valuable information that not only helps your marketing goals but also spotlights dissatisfactions that can potentially affect deliverability.
To avoid over-surveying your whole database, concentrate on the four prime points in your relationship with customers at which you're likely to get the most valuable feedback:
1. When customers opt in to your email program. At this point, customers are most likely to open and respond to mailings. As soon as the opt-in's confirmed, contact your new member with a welcome package that includes a survey of their interests and other relevant details. This is separate from an invitation to fill out a preference page, although you can use that data too to create a better picture of their interests, needs, and desires.
2. When you need to reengage readers who have drifted away from your program without unsubscribing. This can come as soon as two months after opt-in. The responses can help you focus your email program more sharply and identify trouble spots, such as problems receiving or rendering HMTL email messages. Adding an incentive such as a gift or a price reduction could help boost participation.
3. Whenever a customer is associated with a complaint, whether it's delivered in person, over the phone, via email, or on the Web.
4. Whenever delivery reports indicate common complaint characteristics, such as a sudden spike in spam complaint from a major domain or customer-acquisition source. You can survey this audience to determine where there's a technical problem or if the messages have no value or are irrelevant to them. This is yet another reason it's so important to understand and review delivery reports, both during each send and immediately afterwards.
To realize deliverability gains through better feedback management, you'll probably have to break down barriers between departments in your company. Your IT department, or whatever department monitors all email inboxes associated with your program, must understand how important it is to keep an eye out for stray comments, complaints, questions, and unsubscribes that don't go to the official mailboxes and to forward those immediately to your or your designee.
Conversely, you must also keep IT or your email service provider (ESP) in the loop if you detect troubling trends affecting delivery issues in your feedback. You may have to work a bit to get over any territorialism between departments when it comes to email data. However, both departments will benefit from the closer working arrangement.