How to manage Brands on BigMailer

BigMailer is a platform designed and built for managing multiple brands, which benefits digital marketing agencies, email marketing consultants, franchises, multi-location businesses, and large companies that own multiple brands.

Some email marketing service providers offer “sub-accounts” feature where standalone accounts are linked together and can be accessed with a single login. In this type of setup you login once and can switch between accounts, typically via dropdown in the header.

What is a Brand?

You can think of a brand as a business entity with its own unsubscribe page. So in cases of franchises or multiple locations, each owner or location would become its own brand. The lists can not be shared across brands and billing is based on unique contacts under each brand. A user can be assigned access to multiple brands.

BigMailer allows you to add unlimited brands and users at no extra cost. You have a brand dashboard as a starting point with engagement summary.

BigMailer dashboard - brand list

You invite new users to your account and assign brand access and a role – administrator, brand manager, or campaign manager.

User Management

Brand Names

The brand name is typically the name of the business or the domain name of a website. In cases of multiple locations but same business name it’s best to follow the same naming convention to avoid confusion – location name, or “[main brand] – [location]”.

The brand name is displayed in plain text on the Unsubscribe page unless a logo is uploaded, in which case only the logo is shown and no text. If you don’t upload the logo it’s best to have the brand name label in BigMailer to include actual brand name and not just a location. Below is an example of BigMailer unsubscribe page with logo and custom message types.

BigMailer unsubscribe page

Custom Message Types

Custom message types help manage subscription preferences for your subscribers and can retain more subscribers on your list compared to a single global unsubscribe from a brand.

You can create custom message types under each brand by clicking on the brand name in the header and selecting “Message Types” from the menu. You will not be able to edit message types once you create them, so put some thought into the names before you add them.

Ideally, message types would indicate mailing frequency, if you have a set schedule, for example:

  • Weekly Newsletter
  • Monthly Product Updates
  • Daily Digest
  • Company Announcements (Quarterly)
  • Occasional Offers From Our Partners

You can specify a message type when you create a new campaign and BigMailer keeps track of the subscription preferences.

 

 

 

Email Verification Service Provider Comparison (2021)

Email Verification Service Provider Comparison (2021)

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Email deliverability has been a hot topic for marketers for quite some time. With mailbox providers getting more aggressive about their spam blocking and filters, inbox placement has become a priority issue for many marketers to address. To protect their email deliverability, marketers need to implement email verification as part of the pre-campaign routine. In this article, we are comparing a few email verification service providers to help you find the one that will keep your email list clean.

Why Verify Your Email List?

Email deliverability is a complex topic, but it comes down to 3 things:

  1. Sender reputation, this includes sender email/domain as well as IP address it sends from.
  2. List and content quality.

So deliverability is strongly correlated to your sender reputation and hard bounce rate is one of the factors affecting it. With high hard bounce rates sender reputation takes a hit. If you don’t implement any actions to reduce your bounce rate it can negatively impact your inbox placement. Your domain might get marked as SPAM by Internet Service Providers, which can result in your emails being delivered to the SPAM folder, and even lead to getting your domain appear on blacklists.   

Risk of Account Suspension with Your ESP

An average email list decays at a rate of 2% per month for B2C lists and 3% for B2B lists. So if an email list hasn’t been engaged in more than 3-4 months it can have more than a 10% bounce rate on the first bulk campaign. A bounce rate over 10% can result in getting an account suspended on many email platforms, in addition to causing long-term damage to your sender reputation. 

About Catch_all and Accept_all emails

Email verification will also prevent you from sending your campaign to disposable (aka temporary) emails as well as emails that domains set up as catch_all. Disposable emails are often used by spammers and fraudsters. Once created they usually are valid for around 48hrs, and later become invalid emails that will generate hard bounce. Catch_all also known as Accept_all emails, is an address that is specified to receive all messages that are addressed to an incorrect email address for a domain. The risk with such emails is that it might seem to be valid, however, it could still generate a hard bounce. By using email verification you will be able to establish which of the addresses are set up as catch_all, but you won’t learn if it is deliverable or not. The decision to message such addresses should be based on the overall quality of your list.

Email Bounces and Cost

There is of course a budget factor – email verification can save you money. Sending your campaign to undeliverable or risky addresses via your ESP’s or marketing platform can generate extra costs, with no chance of generating any return on investment (ROI).

Verification Process and Results

In a typical verification process you upload a CSV file and once validation is complete you see stats on the results and options to download your verified list. Most verification services produce at least these 4 statuses:

  1. Deliverable – these emails are safe to send to
  2. Undeliverable – these addresses no longer exist and should not be sent to
  3. Risky – these emails are likely to result in a high bounce rate (often catch-all addresses)
  4. Unknown – these emails couldn’t be verified so may result in high bounce rate.

If your email verification provider allows it, you should download Deliverable, Risky, and Unknown as separate lists and upload them as separate lists into your email marketing platform. If you are starting fresh with a new service provider you should ONLY send your 1st campaign to Deliverable addresses only, to ensure the lowest possible bounce rate. This is because many providers move you onto a shared IP pool tier that correlates to your 1st campaign or campaigns sent in the first 1-2 days.

On average, email lists identified as Risky or Unknown by email verification providers result in 30% bounce rate, so they should be slowly added into large bulk campaigns overtime, to finalize verification through sending.

While bounce rate below 10% will not result in you getting banned from an email marketing platform your goal should be to keep bounce rate below 3% for best email deliverability.

Choosing an Email Verification Service

There are a lot of email verification services available, and it might be overwhelming when searching for the right one for the first time. There are several methods used by providers to verify emails so there is a small variation in results and accuracy. We find that the difference in accuracy is fairly small – around 2% – while the cost can vary x2-5.

For this comparison article, we are focusing more on affordable providers we have evaluated as potential partners. BigMailer is a very affordable email marketing platform, so it was important for us to continue to offer our customers great value when integrating a 3rd party email validation service. 

Other factors that we considered besides cost are: security and GDRP compliance, availability of robust APIs to process large data sets, possibility to run a test prior to purchase, and finally the team behind the service and support. 

Below are the services we had reviewed and ranking factors we have checked for this article:

email verification provider comparison 2021

Last Updated: Oct 30, 2021

As we were evaluating prospecting partners 3 services stood out (and we got you extra discount with all 3):

Emailable is positioned as the lower cost provider with good verification speed, and likely to appeal to a lot of BigMailer customers. It is the fastest verification service by far.

Bouncer is slower than TheChecker but offers about 2% higher accuracy than other providers. Bouncer team and servers are located in Europe so this can appeal to customers not in North America. Get a 10% discount with this link.

DeBounce (added to this article in Jan 2021) offers comparable accuracy to Bouncer, but is about x2-3 slower. We like it because of great UI and deeper volume discounts with attractive pricing on volumes over 1 million credits. If you want to give DeBounce a try you can use our discount code “BIGMAILER” to get 10% off.

Here is our comparison on speed and file upload limits for a quick reference:

All 3 providers have de-duplication but they act on it differently (as of Jan 2021):

  1. Emailable automatically de-dupes your list but doesn’t display the info on results so it can be confusing why your output list is smaller than the list you uploaded.
  2. Bouncer automatically de-dupes and displays the stats.
  3. DeBounce requires you to turn de-duplication on in the UI, otherwise it doesn’t happen and your results can be confusing.

If you tried out these providers and have feedback to share please leave it in the comments.

Happy email marketing! 

Gmail Outage Causes Erroneous Hard Bounces

Gmail Outage Causes Erroneous Hard Bounces

You may have heard by now that Google services have experienced major outages on Dec 14 and 15.

Not only Gmail users had difficulties logging into their accounts, but emails sent to Gmail accounts have been rejected by google with:

“code”: “550”,

“extCode”: “5.1.1”,

“message”: “The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try double-checking the recipient’s email address for typos or unnecessary spaces. Learn more at https://support.google.com/mail/?p=NoSuchUser

 

This means that if you had been sending emails to Gmail addresses during the outage you likely had a high bounce rate for your Gmail addresses and possibly your campaigns and accounts overall. Since BigMailer pauses campaigns with high bounce rate you may have received notifications about your campaigns being paused due to high bounce rate.

You should review engagement by domain report on any campaigns you sent on Monday-Tuesday.

You might see a high hard bounce rate for Gmail.com domain:

high hard bounce rate for gmail emails

If your Amazon SES account got suspended you should reply to the email you received from Amazon and explain that most of the bounces were erroneous from Gmail due to outage (if this is in fact the case). A screenshot of the report, like the example above, and a link to this post may help with a faster resolution and account re-instatement.

While the original issue is outside of our control and influence we are monitoring situation and exploring ways we can rectify it by possibly reseting the bounce status on the affected addresses.

We will post an update once we take any action on this situation. If you need a faster advisory on rectifying this yourself please reach out to us via live chat once you log into your BigMailer account.

UPDATE Dec 17: BigMailer had addressed this issue by reseting the hard bounce status for affected contacts.

UPDATE Jan 6: Most marketers are not even aware of the issue as per the poll we ran on Twitter.

How to Segment Your Email Lists

What is Segmentation and Why Use It?

Email list segmentation is a technique that email marketers use to send highly targeted emails by dividing their list up into smaller groups, or “segments.” The goal of segmentation is to provide more relevant content to your email recipients.

You want your marketing campaign to be as precise as possible so the right message can hit the right people at exactly the right time. For this, email segmentation is an absolute must.

How to Segment Your Email Lists

In BigMailer, you can segment your campaigns on:

  1. Your custom fields. For example, last order date or subscription status.
  2. Pre-defined fields like DateAdded and Email, specifically email domain (e.g. gmail.com or yahoo.com).
  3. Campaign engagement – sends, opens, clicks on a specific campaign or any campaigns in a given time period.

Here are some examples of segmentation rules you can use in BigMailer with screenshots:

DateAdded – this value is added when a contact is added to BigMailer:

Campaign engagement – sent/not a specific campaign:

Campaign engagement – opens on a specific campaign or any in a given time period:

​​

Campaign engagement – clicks on a specific campaign or any in a given time period:

​You can combine your inline conditions and your pre-defined segments with either ANY or ALL rule.

how to segment your list

If you’re reading this, that means you’re serious about creating the most targeted email campaigns possible. And we are here to help.

Before you’re able to segment your audience, you need to get their emails and collect relevant data. Using BigMailer webforms to collect your subscriber data gives you a few advantages. For example, we automatically capture your user’s IP address (but we don’t save or store it) and convert it to non-PII data points (country, state, city, zip code, and latitude and longitude), which allows you to target your audience by location.

Need ideas on how to leverage segmentation? Check out this article – 50 ways to segment your list from OptinMonster.

Want to learn more about email marketing? Head over to our email marketing automation or email deliverability guides.

Happy email marketing!

How to Setup an Automation (Drip) Campaign

There are many terms used by marketers to describe automated emails – marketing automation, auto-responders, drip emails, email sequences, and more. Whatever you call your automated emails, BigMailer supports them. While RSS to email and transactional (via API calls) email campaigns are technically automations, in this article we focus on auto-responders and sequences.

Examples of Automation Campaigns

There are many different type of automation campaigns – here are some of the most common examples:

  1. Newsletter subscriber welcome. This can be a single email or a sequence. The 1st email can set expectations on the the type of emails to expect and frequency of updates, and any special offers or coupons that may have been promised for getting on a lit (common for online retailers). Consider including links to your most popular content either in the 1st email or in the follow up email.  Email Marketing Automation Example - Newsletter Signup
  2. New customer on-boarding. These type of emails help your customers get started with a product or service by addressing friction points, answering FAQs, or providing links to helpful resources, and often reduce the number of support inquiries. Email Marketing Automation Example - User On-boarding
  3. Existing customer nurture. Feature highlights, usage tips, learning resources, review/rating requests, and customer case studies can help build product loyalty and encourage ongoing use of service and/or upgrades.

    TIP: Consider giving your customers sufficient time to use your product/service before asking for a review/feedback.

  4. New blog post email updates via RSS. This type of campaign goes out automatically when a new blog post is published.
  5. Success stats. These can be weekly or monthly stats for any type of activity – usage, balances, or progress.

Setting up an Automation Campaign in BigMailer

An Automation campaign in BigMailer can be a single email (e.g. a signup confirmation or welcome) or a sequence of emails, that are typically triggered based on something happening to the subscriber record or an action performed. In addition to action, an automated email can be triggered with a time delay in hours, days, or weeks, or have no delay.

After the Automation campaign sends the 1st email the future steps in the sequence can be scheduled in 2 ways:

  1. Relative to the first email, e.g. X days after the same trigger as the 1st email. For example, you can send a welcome email immediately after someone signs up for your newsletter or creates an account, then send weekly emails after 7, 14, 21 days, etc.
  2. Relative to the previous email and/or action taken, e.g. X days after a previous email in the sequence is sent or after a contact opens or clicks on the previous email.

Ready to get started? Here are the steps to setup your Automation campaign.

  1. Log into your BigMailer account and select a brand you want to create a campaign under. Don’t have a BigMailer account? Create a free account – all accounts start on a Free plan, no credit card required.
  2. Click on Campaigns tab in the site header, then on “Create Campaign” button.
  3. Click on “Create” under the Automation section.

Once on the Campaign page you need to give your Automation campaign a name, click on small “rename” tag next to name.

Automation Campaign name

Click on “Add Email” to create your first email step, then click on “Edit” links to define each element of an email – trigger, message type, and segment (optional).

The most typical trigger for a 1st or only step in an Automation campaign is subscriber record being added to a specific list.

TIP: Create a List named Test and always use it for testing your automation campaigns before finalizing against customer list.

How to Add Contacts to a List:

There are several ways to add new contacts to a List in BigMailer.

  1. Manual import of a CSV file.
  2. An email collection webform that sends customer data to a List. In BigMailer you have 2 options, embed the form into your website or just link to a form as a standalone page on BigMailer.
  3. An API call (e.g. to create a contact when someone makes a purchase).
  4. A Zapier integration (when someone performs an action on a 3rd party platform a record of contact is created at BigMailer). So the data can first enter your CRM or a Google spreadsheet, then pushed to BigMailer.
  5. Manual adding of records one-by-one, useful for adding your own records for testing.

How to Use Segments in Addition to Triggers

In BigMailer, in addition to trigger rules available, you can also narrow down your target audience for a given email via custom defined segment. You can use segments to:

  1. Only send an automated email to customers based on their aggregate engagement with prior campaigns.
  2. Send an automated email only if a certain field in customer record has a value, e.g. LastPurchase > 30 days.
  3. Split a certain step in a sequence into multiple versions to customize email content based on certain customer attributes, like interest, gender, or certain interaction with your product, for example offerRedeemed or similar.
  4. Target your audience based on non-engagement, e.g. anyone who did not open a previous email. This is useful since an email trigger can’t be based on inaction.

Automation Campaign Analytics

Automation campaigns have the same analytics as marketing campaigns, once they are activated and emails are sent. You can see engagement metrics like open and click rates, as well as unsubscribes, bounces, and complaints.

The stats for Automation campaign do NOT reset when an email is modified or moved around in a sequence. So if you want to track performance of a single step in a sequence you may want to pause the step and create a new version to replace it so you can compare engagement stats before/after the changes made.

Automation Campaign Types

1. A single welcome email sent when a new subscriber is added to the list or a sequence of emails.

2. A product/service on-boarding email sequence with tips on using a product or advice from experts. This type of sequence can start with an event outside BigMailer and contact record is pushed to BigMailer via an integration or via an API call from an internal web application.

3. An email or a sequence triggered by a customer interaction with a website or product. For example, if a subscriber visits a specific article they are tagged as interested in a given topic and sent relevant content or promotional emails. To set this up you have to add code to your website to fire an API call to BigMailer to either a) update your customer record with info on the action or interest or b) add that customer to a new List which can trigger an Automation campaign.

Automation Campaign Sending Logic and Troubleshooting

The emails in the Automation Campaign get sent if the there is an active email step when a trigger condition evaluates. When you create an email it starts in Draft mode until you set it live by clicking “Set Live“.

If you use a trigger based on adding contacts to a list the email step needs to be active before the contacts are added. To trigger an email the contacts can be added to a List either manually one by one for testing, in bulk via CSV import, or via on ongoing basis via signup forms.

The automation emails are scheduled at the time of the trigger event, ignoring any delay rules. So if the trigger for an email step is “after previous email is SENT” then the email is scheduled as soon as the previous email is SENT, regardless of delay rule.

Making and Testing Changes to a Sequence​

Re-arranging steps for a live sequence, or changing delay rules, will not have impact on emails already scheduled.

One way to make changes to a live sequence is to copy the step you want to move, then pause original in its place and set live the new step in new place. This way you preserve stats for the original rules used. Using the copy and pause method doesn’t prevent any subscribers from receiving the same email twice, it’s just one way to not mix up stats for states before/after change is made. You can exclude subscribers from the new version using campaign engagement on a segment as “didn’t open any campaigns in X days” if there are no other emails being sent to subscriber (e.g. transactional).

Ready to get started? Click on Campaigns tab in the site header, then on “Create Campaign” button and select “Automation” campaign from the list. Don’t have a BigMailer account? Try out BigMailer with a free account.

Need assistance with your Automation Campaign? Reach out via chat icon once you log in, help is available 7 days a week.