Double Opt-In and Catch-All Emails
E-mailshots are a popular advertising tool, and are part of the marketing strategy of many a company. But why do the emails sent from your company account keep ending up in the spam folder? What does the effectiveness of promotional emails depend upon? Let’s have a look.
Legitimate email marketing in Russia is based on two things: RF legislation and the rules of local Email Service Providers. The largest are the Russian companies mail.ru, yandex.ru, rambler.ru and the foreign one Gmail.com. Gmail operates according to the rules in effect on the territory of the Russian Federation.
In Russia, the rules on emails often regulate the sending of bulk emails more strictly than the letter of the law provides. For instance, to send mailshots from a company’s existing mailing list, a so-called double opt-in is required. Your client not only provides you with his address, but confirms it via a special link which comes with the confirmation email sent from your company. The owner of the mailing list (that can be your company or a company you have hired which specializes in performing mailshots) has to be sure that the email address provided belongs to the person who expressed an interest in receiving your mailshots. In America and many European companies, this rule doesn’t exist. There, all it takes is for you to leave your address at the store when completing a purchase, or taking advantage of a promotional offer, or when making a visit to an exhibition or restaurant, for your inbox to start overflowing with bulk mail.
In Russia, the western thinking that if someone has left you an email address then he or she is your client is not permitted. That doesn’t work here. Those companies which use similar mail-shots as a marketing tool can immediately begin to experience problems. Complaints about such mail start to be made, the ESP employees examine such incidents and discover that the double opt-in procedure hasn’t been followed. If this applies to a lesser extent to small and medium-sized business, then the Chinese online store jd.com, for example, came hard up against this problem, with the overwhelming majority of their ads ending up in the spam folder.
It can happen that a database contains many invalid addresses. Email services have their own catch-all mailboxes, so when mailshots appear in there, that is saying that the sender hasn’t received the double opt-in confirmation. No sooner does an email arrive in such a catch-all mailbox than the sender is automatically blocked or other measures are taken against it such as the mail being diverted to the junk mail folder. Mail services undertake the interception of these emails themselves.
A number of foreign companies which come to Russia have their own mailing lists. They should be aware that as regards business in general, and for foreign companies operating in Russia’s small and medium-sized business sector, in particular those using internet marketing services to promote their goods, as of the 1st of September, the rules of the game changed. In accordance with the amendments to the RF Law “On Personal Data” №152-FZ, the personal data of clients can only be stored on servers located within the territory of the RF.
In Russia, there is a very low permissible threshold for complaints regarding spam. If one complaint or less arises from a hundred emails sent out, then they will go to the inbox as normal. In the USA, for example, 3-7% is considered the norm regarding complaints about spam. The number of non-existent email addresses permitted in a mailing list also has a specified limit: 4-5%. In the West, this figure is considerably higher.
The strict rules on Russian email services do have an upside. In Russia, system support services operate where experts can respond to the questions of bulk mail senders and suggest ways of resolving the situation should problems arise or blocking occur. There is no such support service with Gmail, for instance. You will not get a reply from an actual person regarding what is happening to your mailshots. Automatic filters are in operation, and your email will end up where it was meant to only if you configure everything yourself, but that is pretty complicated given the large number of technical intricacies involved.
For the foreign entrepreneur starting a business in Russia, it is essential to develop a strategy to market its goods and services on the internet. If it already has a database of potential customers, then it really is necessary to identify where it originated. If there is no such database, then it is possible to develop a strategy to attract subscribers. There are companies in Russia which know how to this properly. They can provide virtually any kind of assistance: from providing a database, to the handling of a large number of messages (up to 1 million in a matter of minutes). For example, our company is a “one-stop-shop” on the email promotion market: coming to us, the customer will receive the whole range of essential services, from A to Z. The number of companies on the legitimate e-shots market is not so large: there are about 10-15.
The channels for communication are many, and marketing mail is but one of them. Once you choose it, you need to understand about the frequency of electronic mail-outs. Their effectiveness is dependent on several factors. They should have interesting content with a description of the goods and services which your company offers, or a particular product proposal made specially for the customer. The email shouldn’t pressurize the person receiving it. In principle, people don’t unsubscribe from emails which they need or find interesting.
Depending on the internet strategy selected, specialized agencies will propose a package of tools to implement it: the so-called оmnichannel. This is a modern way of approaching the consumer via various accessible channels: mobile internet devices, computers, television, radio, letters sent direct to the mailbox. If the synergy between them is set up correctly, then all these lines of communication will have nothing but a positive effect on your business.
If we are talking about where the most requests for setting up mass emails come from, then that would be the large retailers. This type of marketing channel is popular amongst foreign companies providing “home shopping” services. Through their call-centres which process the orders, they collect customers’ email addresses and then, via newsletters, direct their latest offers to them. Active users of mail-outs are also companies involved in foreign language teaching: not only to attract customers but also to test knowledge, communicate with teachers, and send teaching materials. Anything better for distance learning than such emails has yet to be invented. For the exhibition business, it is one of the main ways of drawing people to their events. Particularly satisfied with mail-outs are the social networks: they use a special kind of message which enables the user to be returned to the network.
Regarding other internet-based channels, mail-outs can be applied to the mid-price segment. For example, an agency offers you to carry out performance-based mail-outs. A click-through costs around 50 roubles. The advantage over Pay Per Click advertising, where you can buy one click for 1 cent, is that with mail-outs it isn’t possible to inflate the figures. Each link is personal and is opened in the user’s own email account.
Those mailing lists which agencies like ours work with contain around 10-12 million email addresses. Using them for a certain amount of time can garner the required number of clicks. This is exactly the reason why mail-outs are an attractive tool for small and medium-sized businesses. Big business requires millions of clicks-through, whereas for small and medium business 10-20,000 is sufficient for effective communication with their clients for a designated length of time.