There’s a change afoot in the email provision sphere as the announcement that four free email domain services are shutting shop; Verizon, and the EE owned Orange, Wanadoo and Freeserve, are bidding farewell to their customers and (hopefully) advising them on their next move. We want to make sure our readers have the insight and the practical tools they need to thrive during this period of shift.
What’s the situation, and why’s it happening?
The announcement by EE (BT) that they were axing their ISP offering came shortly after Verizon announced their departure. The fate of customers with an EE owned address (you can find a full list of the closing domains here) is not yet known, but Verizon are organizing a migration to AOL Mail, with which they’ve formed a partnership. The uncertainty surrounding the closures could mean that it’s up to users to find an alternative email address themselves.
A costly service and an archaic infrastructure makes for little rewards, and these companies will have faced a decision between a rigorous overhaul investment and cutting their losses. Add to that the risk of data breaches that come with aging technology (think Yahoo and their issues) and the pressure from generic domain giants like Gmail, Hotmail and Outlook, and the decision seems a bit more forced.
It’s easy to see, however, why Verizon are opting to migrate their domain over to AOL Mail. Their data has intrinsic value, and email is the digital key used to unlock wide-reaching revenue from this information. EE has taking a significant step, but Verizon has made a savvy decision to team with AOL on this move, and should see some returns.
What can marketers expect and what should they be doing?
Hard bounce-backs will increase in volume for a time, as both marketers and customers alike adapt to these changes. It is quite possible that some account holders will fail to note the closures, and will only realize further down the line, perhaps after attempting to reset a password. It’s this latency that marketers should be working to avoid, so that they can maintain great relationships with customers over email.
Data hygiene maintenance is crucial. Create segments of affected contacts and automate an email asking them to provide an alternative email address or update their details. Show that your brand practices clever and responsible marketing by alerting customers to these changes and advising them on how they can continue to get great experiences with you.
All of this hard work won’t pay off if you haven’t put anything in place to stop unassuming customers signing up with these addresses. Amend your email signup message accordingly.
What’s out there to help marketers?
Terminated email addresses will affect your business’ sender reputation, so keep tabs on your deliverability metrics to avoid any sanctions. Your businesses ESP really comes into its own at times like these. dotdigital customers have access to a dedicated specialist team focused on deliverability, and we also provide our customers with smart deliverability protection software totally unique to us:
- Automated reputation manager (ARM): the ARM work tirelessly in the background of our platform to protect you. Constantly refining and learning, it’s able to group senders in order to improve deliverability and protect the reputation of every customer.
- Data Watchdog: an intelligent, self-learning system tasked with screening data. On the lookout for known hard bounces, spam trams and domains, the Data Watchdog predicts, detects and actively prevents you from sending emails that may cause complaints and issues. It quarantines any ‘high risk’ files before they’re even uploaded.
- NEW! Sender reputation score: (pending imminent release): you’ll soon be able to access your account’s sender reputation score in your Account settings. Calculated from the quality of data you upload, and the engagement you get from your campaigns, your sender reputation status is an important indicator of good email marketing practice. You’ll also get access to detailed guidance on improving your reputation indicators.
What can marketers do to nurture list growth in light of these deaths?
Limiting the damage to your database is one thing. But marketers should never rest on their laurels when it comes to list size, especially as it degrades by about 22.5% a year anyway. Make sure your team are implementing a strong list growth strategy that has the customer at its core. Plus, for customers that need to re-permission with their new addresses, having a preference center is essential. Make sure it’s quick and easy for anyone to update their communication settings at any point, on any device.
Want to know more about growing your email list? Download out List acquisition whitepaper now.