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Hotmail and subscriber engagement

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday October 7, 2007 )

Getting email marketing and newsletters through to users, particularly Hotmail subscribers, can be quite a challenge these days. Hotmail have thrown a new factor into the mix which adds an extra hurdle as to whether or not your campaigns are delivered – subscriber engagement.

The issue of subscriber engagement was raised by Microsoft’s Director of Online Safety Technologies during a recent conference. Hotmail says they now not only take note of standard sender reputation issues and the content of commercial email, but how users perceive your email. This goes beyond complaints, extending to how often a commercial mailout is viewed.

This means if you’re cranking out a newsletter or offers that few are reading; after a while it just won’t get through at all. Another interesting point raised by Microsoft is their definition of spam. It has little to do with the CAN-SPAM Act, more so what their users deem as being spam. So, your list can be totally CAN-SPAM compliant, but if it generates anything past a bare minimum of complaints, you can likely kiss your communications with HotMail users goodbye.

If you focus on discouraging opt-out by burying/hiding unsubscribe links, or make people jump through hoops to unsubscribe; chances are you’ll fall afoul of Hotmail and be blocked altogether. More of a focus needs to be placed on how users subscribe, where you source your subscribers and the quality of communications you provide.

Added to all this is Hotmail’s general deliverability issues of late – I think there’s been a lot of collateral damage while they’ve been fine tuning their new approach. While we can just decide to ignore Hotmail’s crackdown, if other major ISP’s follow their example many email marketers will find they have useless lists.

Reading about this sort of thing makes me thankful that I’ve been using double opt-in for years; this is where a user must confirm they want to be subscribed to your list by clicking on a link in an email they receive after the initial subscription. It cuts down on subscriber numbers, but at least it leaves you with a quality list of folks who really want to hear what you have to say.

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3 comments for Hotmail and subscriber engagement
  1. Thanks Michael,
    Another very handy thing to know.
    I am starting to evolve a business online tentatively, after reading so much hype on money making ideas over the past few years, you are inspirational.I like to have the facts, not hype.
    Learning from your blogs I feel stronger, knowing I am getting real information which is useful now.
    I appreciate your work, it has real integrity.

    Comment by Ern — October 7, 2007 @ 9:26 pm

  2. Every marketer is up to building quality lists. We all wanna get the kind of subscribers whose interested at what we say and not basically receive mails from us.

    Thanks for the review.

    -Aurelius

    Comment by Aurelius Tjin — October 8, 2007 @ 6:20 am

  3. Thanks Ern; welcome to the blog Aurelius!

    Comment by Michael Bloch — October 9, 2007 @ 6:45 am

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