On January 5th, LashBack CEO Peter Wilson delivered an impactful presentation entitled “Building Long-Term Value in Email” at Mailcon in Las Vegas. Utilizing LashBack’s unique insights on email, the presentation focused on how the market is evolving -- with a clear need to focus on the consumer experience and what actions deliver long-term business value.
Prioritizing best practices does not mean focusing only on optimizing message components and inboxing, it has to consider the consumer experience. There must be a relationship with the consumer and LashBack has developed a comprehensive view of this relationship that includes quality, volume, relevance and trust.
Included again in this year’s Mailcon presentation was a wealth of insights on quality, performance and delivery rates. However, with new standards being implemented in response to data breaches and privacy issues, there should be a renewed focus on consumer value and protection. The presentation points out that keeping the consumer experience at the forefront is critical to maximizing longer-term revenue opportunities and business value.
LashBack is a leading provider of digital marketing intelligence to major brands, agencies and networks. The business is a patent-holder that has been awarded for innovation, recognized as a member of the Online Trust Honor Roll, and a consistent advocate for best practices over more than a decade. Whether you represent a large brand or are just getting started -- are more focused on risk or growth -- we have the information and services to help you accomplish your objectives.
Building Long-Term Value in Email
Peter Wilson - CEO, LashBack
Mailcon, Las Vegas
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Raising the bar through a commitment to innovation and best practices.
• Leading provider of digital marketing intelligence to more than 100 major brands, agencies and networks
• Patent-holder that has been providing services for more than a decade
• Member of multiple industry organizations, awarded for innovation, and recognized as a member of the Online
Trust Honor Roll
• Long-time advocate for marketing best practices and improving the consumer experience
In addition to core solutions in compliance, brand protection and list monitoring, we have developed new
solutions that provide our clients with unique visibility into risks and opportunities among their partners.
All of the observations in this presentation are based on data received and analyzed by LashBack. Presentations are
intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent professional judgment. The observations may
be influenced by multiple factors including the date, source, and size of the data set and your results or experience may
be meaningfully different. We do not make any representations or offer any warranties about the completeness,
reliability and accuracy of this information. The information contained herein may be subject to copyright protection;
we believe that LashBack’s use of information and images herein constitutes fair use, but any use of this content,
including work created by LashBack, may require the express written permission of the copyright holder. We are
strong advocates for quality marketing and do not advocate the use of any technique or practice in a vacuum or that is
counter to established best practices. Any action you take upon the information presented is strictly at your own risk.
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Building long-term value in email
• We spend a lot of time thinking about what works in email and how best to help our clients be successful using
email as a marketing channel.
• Our prior presentations at Mailcon have focused primarily on actionable, technical insights from a wide-range of
data, like what components most accurately predict delivery and the importance of list overlap.
• We will again share a fair amount of data-based insights, but our key premise today is that the industry as a
whole is arguably too preoccupied with fine-tuning specific stats and, as a result, missing the “forest for the
• The market is evolving and maturing. The opportunity remains strong, but a bigger picture view is warranted. It
puts a greater focus on the consumer experience – and connects perfectly to the actions that build long-term
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A few observations --
• Quality remains solid
• Inboxing is down a bit (led by Gmail)
• Strong correlation between message quality and inboxing
• ESP delivery varies pretty meaningfully, most recently
- IBM (Silverpop), Yesmail, and DotMailer are among the standouts
- BlueHornet and Campaigner seem to be struggling with delivery
• Tricks are common and don’t generally work
• More international sending
• Varied impact of different blacklists
• Short links can be problematic
• Single consumer sign-ups can still lead to hundreds of messages
1. Message quality
4. Legal environment
5. Consumer experience
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LashBack Global Quality Index (GQI)
• Considers millions of B2C email messages
• Evaluates messages based on multiple, objective criteria, including:
• Deceptive subject line
• Blacklisting (IP and/or domain)
• Authentication failure
• Presence of vulgarity
• Presence of a plain text unsubscribe
• Forged send date
• Presence of a list unsubscribe header
• Quality is assessed on a 1 (poor) to 100 (best) scale
Overall trends in quality and delivery
85.0 51.4% 48.4% 31.7%
86.8 47.5% 54.0% 37.1%
+1.8 -3.9% +5.6% +5.4%
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Gmail quality has been increasing
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Yahoo quality has been increasing
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Microsoft quality has been declining
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ESP performance -- four ESPs have >75% delivery at Gmail
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ESP performance -- five ESPs have delivery of 83%+ at Yahoo
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ESP performance -- only four ESPs have >50% delivery at Microsoft
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ESP quadrants for recent Gmail delivery
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ESP quadrants for recent Yahoo delivery
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ESP quadrants for recent Microsoft delivery
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Data breaches and misuse prompt fines and sweeping new privacy laws
California Passes Sweeping Law to Protect Online Privacy
A new privacy law in California, believed to be the toughest in the United States, gives consumers new rights over
their personal data.
The New York Times, June 28, 2018
In addition to a lawsuit by the DC Attorney General and the
maximum fine permitted under U.K. law, Facebook is being
probed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal
Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.
Google is changing its policies to restrict access to email data as
part of a series of privacy updates that came after it confirmed
Google+ had exposed the data of hundreds of thousands of users.
6 Months, 945 Data Breaches, 4.5 Billion Records
The equivalent to 291 records were stolen or exposed every
single second in the first half of 2018
Computer Business Review
High-profile data breaches and legislative changes are combining to create a perfect storm of disruption in the
personal data landscape... Now GDPR is here, it changes the way companies in Europe and beyond can
collect, process and hold personal data.
Dunnhumby, May 29, 2018
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Lists, opens, and click-throughs
• Email continues to drive a high percentage of customer acquisitions and purchases, and to generate a strong
• New subscribers make up a large/disproportionate amount of email lists
• The numbers vary a bit, but seem to stay in a range
• Open rates are typically in the 15-25% range
• CTO rates average ~9%
• Personalization meaningfully improves performance
• Familiar from address/sender name is the most commonly cited reason for opening a message
• Segmentation - based on interest - meaningfully improves performance
Some overarching observations:
• The channel continues to be very effective
• Subscriber relationship is key
• Absent prioritizing relationships, churn is high and new subscribers make up a disproportionate
amount of lists
• Subscribers engage when they think you know them – personalization, familiar sender, segmented list
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Focus on the bigger picture
Garrett Dunham wrote a strong article for Business.com about a year ago. In it, he asks questions of a number of
email industry veterans. Some of the more impactful statements from the article include:
“… a lot of people apply too much importance to “open” and “click” rates. I think these metrics make for great
meeting agenda decisions. So that management has something to chew on with the minions actually doing the work.
There are only two things you need to do well as an email marketer to produce world class results… Know your
audience better than they know themselves… Spend 95 percent of your time crafting and writing the best emails in
the world that add value and solve problems.”
“What really impacts his metrics? ’Caring. Giving a damn about the person (people) receiving the emails. Helping
solve their problems should be your core desire.’”
“People are happy to receive more emails than we had originally thought, even up to a few times a day. They have to
be highly relevant, contextual to what they signed up for and truly valuable to the receiver.”
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Fine-tuning subject lines works great… up to a point
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Is a consumer treated reasonably, consistently and as-agreed when they sign up at a typical auto loan or rewards
Do they know what to expect?
Do marketers view it as a relationship or a short-term opportunity?
One sign up at BestAutoLoanz.com resulted in as many as 110 messages a day and more than 1,400 messages
over the first month or so.
Not only that, but a look at a handful of sites, shows a pretty dramatically varied experience.
What happens as the balance shifts:
• consumers will have more information and stronger rights
• marketers will face more restrictions on their ability to use and sell consumer information
There is a global trend - in part responding to years of overuse of consumer data – toward the argument that
consumers (not data collectors/list owners) own their personal data.
The only reason that a sign-up yields 110 messages a day is a lack of transparency and accountability. This is
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Wide variations in consumer experience -- EpicCarFinance.com
Messages over 1st 42 days: 104
Average messages/day: 2
Max messages/day: 4
Max from-domains/day: 1
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Wide variations in consumer experience -- DLZOffers.com
Messages over 1st 36 days: 605
Average messages/day: 17
Max messages/day: 56
Max from-domains/day: 56
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Wide variations in consumer experience -- BestAutoLoanz.com
Messages over 1st 43 days: 1,408
Average messages/day: 33
Max messages/day: 110
Max from-domains/day: 42
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Wide variations in consumer experience -- GetItFree.us
Messages over 1st 42 days: 331
Average messages/day: 8
Max messages/day: 53
Max from-domains/day: 3
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Wide variations in consumer experience -- FreeScoreConnect.com
Messages over 1st 36 days: 159
Average messages/day: 5
Max messages/day: 71
Max from-domains/day: 71
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Wide variations in consumer experience -- summary
Among the 5 profiled sites Low High
Messages over 1st 35-45 days 104 1,408
Average messages/day 2 33
Max messages/day 4 110
Max from-domains/day 1 71
• Consistently light
• Consistently heavy
• Heavy, then light
• Light, then heavy
• Irregular/concentrated on certain days
• No discernible pattern based on vertical
• Samples included auto loan, online content, rewards &
coupons, ride sharing, credit scores, and mortgage
An analysis of approximately 50 lead gen/sign-up/landing page sites: in the initial 43 days, the signups generated
anywhere from 1 email message to more than 1,400
• 20 generated fewer than 5 messages
• 12 generated more than 100 messages (more than 2 messages per day)
• The average sign-up resulted in 95 messages
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One topic dominates the others
1. Consumer experience
2. Message quality
3. CEP behavior/filtering
4. ESP behavior/relationships
5. Mailing tactics
6. Privacy & data issues
7. Compliance/unsubscribing/legal environment
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Consumer experience is the forest
People have a tendency to think about the variables somewhat independently and to focus on incremental
adjustments and optimization – add or subtract text, rotate domains, manage complaints, adjust to new laws.
The variables aren’t independent and it is a bit like trying to drive from the back seat. The dominant, fundamental
issue is the consumer experience. If you prioritize the consumer, you will succeed for the long-term. If you focus on
tricks (the trees), short-term is the best you can hope for.
Not only are the variables NOT independent,
but your behavior impacts the person sitting
next to you.
And transparency is going to be more and
more important and available.
The consumer experience is multifaceted. It
isn’t just about volume, it is also about
quality, relevance and trust.
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How do you make sense of the variables that impact consumer experience
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A clean and comprehensive view of consumer experience
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Quality, relevance, volume and trust
• Don’t inundate me
• Don’t sent me irrelevant or misleading offers
• Let me opt-out
• Don’t sell my information
• I want to be able to identify the sender
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An example of the consumer experience
• A consumer (with a new email address) enters their email address at two sites--site X and site Y.
• Over the next sixty days they receive: 389 messages from 342 different from addresses across 226 different domains
• Site X sent quality messages and has an established sending reputation, but still caused damage
• The consumer doesn't know which site to blame and blames both. Site Y suffers as a result of Site X’s practices
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A holistic view of consumer experience and business value
Focusing more on overall consumer experience requires a longer-term view. Such a view, in our opinion, connects
to the principles that build long-term business value.
For this market, at this time, the approach includes:
1. Commit to quality
2. Skip the tricks
3. Prioritize the consumer experience
4. Build a strong business
5. Invest in intelligence
Advertisers are starving for strong, quality email partners
• Innovative companies are meeting this need -- developing solutions that enable brands to see quality, reward
the best senders, and cut-off low quality senders
• The changes in the market will not be the demise of email marketing. They will be an improvement in the
experience… and an increase in business to those that best align their practices with the consumers’ interests
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1. Commit to quality
The market is changing. There will be more transparency and consumer control.
• Technology is advancing
• Dynamics like bidding (front-end transparency) and feedback loops (back-end transparency) becoming more
• Consumers will be better informed and better protected
• The market and its participants are maturing
• Information is better and standards are higher
A good partner is one that will last and one that does the right things.
• Not about meeting the minimum requirements (finding the edge, avoiding complaints)
• Scale and high volume are different concepts
• Do you have a relationship with the consumer (this is more fundamental to “quality” than offer design or brand)
• Have they requested information from you
• Do you understand and align with their interests and expectations
• Are you responsive when they change
Strong brands want strong, consistent partners.
• The best path to consistent results is having a good relationship with the consumer
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2. Skip the tricks
There are always going to be new quirks that seem to give results a bump, like spam text, spoofed domains and special
characters. We see these and other tricks used every day. The results are generally poor.
A year ago, we ran an analysis on the use of spam (hidden) text and found that it meaningfully reduced delivery at Gmail,
as an example. Exactly the opposite of its intended effect.
1. Google has figured this out.
2. It is just an obviously bad practice.
A test of subject lines that were sent with and without emojis, showed that the majority (63%) of the messages inboxed
better without the emojis included. In some instances, materially.
Inboxing for this subject line, as an example, was 62% without the emoji and 33% with the emoji.
A large sample of B2C emails (~290 million) inboxes at just under 30%. A subset of thousands of eBay and Walmart
spoofed messages inboxes significantly worse (13% and 5%, respectively).
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3. Prioritize the consumer experience
Do you have a relationship with the consumer?
Are you doing the things that the consumer wants and expects, in terms of:
If you are prioritizing the consumer experience, it is likely that you are.
If you are trying to manage your sending based on clicks or opens, you are much more likely to miss one or more
of the consumer’s expectations. One missed component can dramatically impact complaints and unsubscribes.
Squeezing every penny out of every lead isn't worth it in the end.
Even setting proper expectations--telling the consumer exactly what is going to happen--isn't enough. If a consumer
is angry about being inundated with irrelevant advertising they won't remember or care about what they agreed to
thirty days ago. They'll just be angry at email marketers in general.
This is not about more sophisticated consumers or altruistic marketers, but through a combination of events like data
breaches and consumer abuse, we are moving to a different, higher standard. The businesses that can adapt will
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4. Build a strong business
Market dynamics should influence business strategy.
There was a time when short-term profits were relatively easy in email marketing and there is always a chance to jump in
and jump out, but the opportunity for that approach is more limited than ever. You can win a hand of poker without
knowing anything, but you can’t win for a sustained period of time without good practices.
The bar is higher and there is more transparency. If your goal is to build a business that lasts, it requires some real
• Have a clear vision for how you create value
• Don’t fly blind – commit to a consistent compliance effort
• Really think through the incentives for your team. They can easily create unintended behaviors
- Do you have an affiliate manager running compliance
• Consistently think about the difference between vendor and strategic partner
- One is a price-driven bidder while the other understands and advances goals
- Mostly about building a trusted relationship
• Concentrations = risk. Minimize concentrations
- One list, one person, one client, one ESP. It will catch up to you
• Be accountable and do the right things even when no one is watching
- Reputation matters and takes time to build. It will catch up to you
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4. Build a strong business, continued
• From more than a decade working in this industry as an investment banker, I would say that the primary
determinants of business value are scale and sustained growth (minimal concentrations)
• As LashBack’s CEO for the last 7 years, I can tell you that advertisers are increasingly focused on finding new
quality partners and ensuring quality from existing partners
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5. Invest in intelligence
Technology can be used to capitalize on small differences and this can be very addictive. Test, fine-tune, test, fine-tune,
etc. But that generally prioritizes the shortest-term considerations, at the expense of consumer and advertiser interests.
A short-term focus is why a single sign-up can generate 100+ emails a day.
Technology can also provide insights on quality, capacity, and consumer preferences – identifying risks and opportunities.
These strategic and actionable, medium-to-long-term considerations need to be part of the formula.
More transparency is coming and access to the information and feedback will help to strengthen the market.
Advertisers and ESPs will increasingly rely on technology tools:
• Brand protection
• Attribution and scoring
• Quality metrics
• Identifying, vetting and monitoring senders
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Greater visibility to manage quality
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A stronger, more consistent market
Publishers/mailers will always work to optimize their sending, but the market is changing and the consumer
experience is becoming more visible and important.
For many, it requires an adjustment in their approach - at a minimum - blending in (possibly subjective) medium-
to-long-term considerations. Markets inevitably evolve away from a focus on immediate cash maximization; and
that is happening in email.
On the plus side –
• this shift in perspective is core to creating business value
• advertisers are clamoring for partners with this new/revised/quality approach
• it helps to create a stronger, more consistent market
+ good intelligence
+ smart mailing
= maximize longer-term revenue
+ smart mailing
= maximize immediate revenue
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Questions and contact information
I appreciate your time and welcome any questions.
Chief Executive Officer
1017 Olive Street, 4th Floor
St. Louis, MO 63101
Website/request a demo: www.lashback.com
Contact sales team: email@example.com
LashBack video overview: https://youtu.be/1PGMUFzOVdI
January 2018 Mailcon presentation: www.slideshare.net/LashBackSTL/lashback-presentation-at-mailcon-2018
July 2018 Mailcon presentation: www.slideshare.net/LashBackSTL/lashback-presentation-at-mailcon-july-2018