September 29, 2022

Part One: Optimizing the Customer Email Experience in a Post-MPP World

By: Ari Robbins

Email marketers everywhere have been grappling with the implications of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) setting since it came into effect late last year. So we wrote a guide for how marketers move forward from Apple Mail’s Privacy Protection, and concluded that the MPP provided a wonderful opportunity for marketers to recenter the customer in email communication strategies. 

Our recommendations boiled down to:

  1. Updating recency algorithms, to make your email workflows and A/B testing foolproof from MPP-affected data 
  2. Implementing an email preferences center, to let subscribers designate their communication desires
  3. Sending re-engagement campaigns, to keep lists from going stale 

To advance our thinking about email communication strategies, we recently attended “The Low-Down on List Hygiene: 7 Strategies for a Post-MPP World,” a webinar hosted by CRM software solution provider Validity. Not only did its findings validate our previous recommendations, but we also gleaned valuable insights and a few new tips, including: making a case for the double opt-in process, why it makes sense to rely on zero party data, how to make the unsubscribe process frictionless, and re-engaging customers. In part one of this “post-MPP” series, we are going to dive specifically into the topics of opt-in, and zero-party data. 

Making a case for the double opt-in process

A double opt-in process helps you ensure that your list consists of folks who 100% want to hear from you. Here’s how the process works:

  1. Someone signs up for your list
  2. An automatic confirmation email asks them to verify their subscription
  3. The subscriber clicks the link in the confirmation email and they reach an opt-in confirmation page
  4. The subscriber’s email is included in the active list

A four-step process may seem like overkill, and there is potential that some initially willing folks won’t complete the process, but the reported benefits outweigh these risks: higher engagement from the people who did opt in, fewer spam complaints, and protection from tightening privacy legislation. In other good news, most CRMs let you automatically enable the double opt-in journey, and often let you bypass the setting if you’re manually uploading a list of emails (there’s the assumption that you came by that list honestly, such as at a conference). 

But what about situations in which a marketer is importing a co-sponsored event list, and inputting new subscribers directly into the double opt-in process might feel a bit duplicitous? 

This is where a separate opt-in campaign just for that new segment comes in. 

PRO TIP: We’ve seen great success with sending an event-branded welcome email to event attendees asking them to confirm their subscription status. The welcome email can remind them where they signed up (at your partner’s booth, as part of a raffle, etc.) and provide a CTA to confirm their email preferences. 

Implementing this type of outreach would depend on whether you can disable the double opt-in process for a manual upload, or if you can customize the double opt-in experience just for that segment. Our consensus: it’s worth the hassle!

Fun facts about zero-party data

Oftentimes, email marketers are creating segments using first-party data. Translation: information they’ve passively collected from user behavior such as clicks, opens, and website visits. Zero-party data—also known as “explicit data”, but in our opinion better termed “proactive” or “deliberate”—is information collected through direct interaction with a user. Think surveys, quizzes, polls, or any type of data collection whereby the user gives direct permission for the entity to collect the data.

To put a finer point on it: zero-party data is information shared legally and willingly with your organization. While it may take more effort to compile, it is much more valuable because it is information your customer or lead explicitly wants you to know. That information can then be enacted to customize messages and make your outreach hyper-relevant. 

In terms of viable means to collect zero-party data, email preference centers atop the list. Far more than a place to keep people from unsubscribing (which is how we often, and regrettably, see customers using them), preference centers are a proactive mechanism for soliciting user input. 

Your preference center options should tie to contact fields, segments, or lists that dictate or inform different forms of email communication. For example:

  1. Frequency of emails: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly
  2. Interests: company news, insights, product updates, account updates
  3. Professional information: industry, company, title
  4. Personal information: country, region, state, city

Providing this information helps subscribers feel more in control of their email experience, and you can use the data to create thoughtful content streams. Don’t collect the data just to have it; make sure you know how each data point will be used to generate and tailor the email content you want to produce. 

PRO TIP: Litmus wrote a very helpful guide on preference center best practices.

Stay tuned for the next article in this series, where we will understand the importance of a user-friendly unsubscribe process, launching a re-engagement campaign, and updating algorithms. And just a friendly note: if you love what you’ve read you’d like to know more about our expertise in this area, do reach out here!

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