Q: Regarding ISPs deciding if we are junk based on our “credit rating”… How long does it take to improve your “reputation” and get better deliverability? Do the ISPs keep records of bad practice for years and therefore does it take years of better practice to improve your reputation and deliverability?

A: Great question; every positive action is a good thing but you also need to remove the negative things. In fact one negative action normally carries more weight than one positive. So initially focus on converting or removing the negatives by improving their experience or making it easy for them to opt-out and get out of your way – they are not worth anything to you anyway.

Q: is it possible to search and export a list of all users that haven’t opened an email for a long time?

A: All Email Marketing Service Providers report on opens a clicks, so get the last year’s opens by email address, dedupe the addresses by date and then segment by last open.

Q: Dealing with ‘zombies’… what do we do with them?

A: ‘Zombies’ are people who haven’t opened an email from you in the last 12 months and you need to take them out of the main list.

Target them separately and give them a chance to wake up by content that is relevant to them and achievable by their rapport with you, e.g. don’t try and sell them something – your rapport is not good enough for them to give you cash yet, try and engage them with content, games, competitions, social media etc. Then once, and if they start interacting with you again, you can sell to them.

Q: Should we put a note on our email address to safe list at top of newsletter?

A: Yes, always ask, once you are on the safe list your inbox placement will stay good for that person the more people who add you to their safe list, the better.

Q: With regards to personalisation – other than using custom data for the addressee is it beneficial to personalise as much as possible with custom data and how extensive can this be?

A: Whatever you can do to increase the relevance of that email to an individual then do it. If you do events, location is great, if you are selling a tangible product using their interests is a good idea.

Q: Do you have any tips to increase click-throughs?

A: Initially make sure you get the email opened, so test the subject line and optimise that top third. If your email has only one call to action, don’t make it a big image, so people have to open your email, load the images and then convert. Use a text link or a table button so people can convert without the images.

Try breaking the email up into 3 sections: preheader, header and main. Make sure there is a call to action in each section. You can also check out my dedicated blog here.

Q: Are there any tools that you would recommend regarding segmenting lists – MS access / CRM excel or something else?

A: While your Email Marketing Service Provider should give you the tools to segment based on email actions, you really want to tie that into telephone conversations, social media actions and spending etc. Also high street shop activity, for example loyalty cards.

Q: Image to text ratio… what’s the deal?

A: Inboxes that rely more on SpamAssassin are harsher than those that don’t. This is mainly because the larger ISPs like Hotmail and Yahoo etc. have more variables like engagement to work on, so if you are engaged by a recipient you should be able to send them almost anything. But the general rule is 60:40 in favour of text.

I have written a dedicated blog about this which you can check out here Why do big image emails get through?

Q: What’s a preference centre and how can I get this started?

A: There are various levels, mainly depending on your business model. If you do ecommerce allow people to tell you which categories they are most interested in. If you do events, let them tell you the kind of events that they would be interested in attending. Here are some suggestions for charities.