From Spam to the Inbox: The Eargo Journey | Email Deliverability Unfiltered

From Spam to the Inbox: The Eargo Journey | Email Deliverability Unfiltered

In this episode of our Email Deliverability Unfiltered, we’re joined by Ron Dorsey, the Director of Lifecycle Marketing at Eargo, a hearing aid manufacturer on a mission to help people hear life to the fullest. Together, we explore a real-life example of how best practices, careful planning, and patience work together to move Eargo from a spammy predicament back to the inbox.

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Host: Jennifer Nespola Lantz, VP of Industry Relations & Deliverability at Kickbox
Guest: Ron Dorsey, Director of Lifecycle Marketing at Eargo

Hitting the spam folder instead of the inbox can be a frustrating, costly, and confusing process, especially if you don’t know exactly why it’s happening. We’re told to follow sender best practices to avoid the spam folder in the first place, but what’s a legitimate sender to do when they find themselves caught up in a cycle of low deliverability and poor engagement? Here are highlights and specific examples to help your email program recover from poor inbox placement.

Highlights

The challenge & the goal (3:55 – 5:40)

Ron outlines how the issue of deliverability first became apparent to Eargo: poor engagement with their emails, starting with extremely low open rates. There was limited visibility into their sender reputation and a lack of insight into exactly what was causing the low engagement to compound the issue.

From there, Eargo had to find a way to increase their inbox presence, as the company wasn’t able to follow through on their promise to send opt-in leads the information that they requested. And regardless of the industry, that’s a poor experience for both customers and leads.

The master plan (5:41 – 8:20)

The first step to mitigating their deliverability issues was to gather the right information. This started with a full audit of what was already in place: Authentication (DNS, SPF, DKIM), taking inventory of all sending domains and IPs, and checking all transactional, marketing, and sales team emails for content issues.

When diagnosing deliverability issues, getting a holistic picture of your email landscape is a good place to start.

Once Eargo had completed their holistic audit, the plan came together naturally based on what they found. Creating the right authentication records and gaining more visibility using tools like Google Postmaster and Microsoft SNDS was a starting point.

Next, they isolated the source of issues by splitting their email traffic between two IP addresses, with automated transactional emails on one IP and marketing emails on the other. Working together with their ESP to set this up was essential.

Executing the plan & sticking to it (8:21 – 13:19)

Once the foundation was set, their plan to repair their sender reputation started with Google and Gmail, as this was the main mailbox provider their subscribers were using. The subset of Gmail addresses they used to start was about 50k in size with an open rate of about 1% (yikes).

They put a timeframe of 90 days into play to re-assess and started by segmenting Gmail addresses that had opened an email within the last 30 days.

From there, they slowly ramped up sending to this highly-engaged segment, starting with sending their newsletter to only 50 addresses (normally tens of thousands at a time before this plan) and slowly ramping up until they saw improvements to their sender reputation and increased engagement.

Some of the biggest challenges when doing this were setting expectations internally and sticking to the ramp-up schedule, even when engagement levels began improving. Eargo let their most engaged subscribers “speak for them” and show Google that Eargo was a wanted sender by following the plan.

Visualizing the journey from spam to inbox (13:20 – 21:34)

Why just talk about the plan and the results when we can see them charted out? We dig into some slides and discuss the key components of Eargo’s journey from spam to the inbox.

From Spam to the Inbox: The Eargo Journey | Email Deliverability Unfiltered

The starting point. Once Eargo got their DNS updated to access their Gmail reputation, it confirmed the need to address their deliverability issues.

From Spam to the Inbox: The Eargo Journey | Email Deliverability Unfiltered

The ramp-up schedule and engagement rates. Eargo started at very low volumes and tracked a wide-range of metrics, looking at performance from all angles.
From Spam to the Inbox: The Eargo Journey | Email Deliverability Unfiltered

The results at Gmail. Performance climbed before reputation did, so it was key to be patient and resist the temptation to increase volumes as soon as engagement increased. In the end, it took less than the 90-day window they originally set!

Keeping the email program strong (21:35 – 27:40)

We discuss the behaviors that Eargo maintains to help them keep their deliverability strong. They check reputation daily and segment and mail based on engagement. It’s a lot of work but “the juice is worth the squeeze!”

This goes for all of the email channels that they use: lead nurturing, marketing promos, onboarding, and 1:1 sales and account manager emails.

What the Apple privacy update means for email (27:41 – 31:30)

The Apple update signals an overall movement toward suppressing open tracking for the email industry, leaving senders to find other ways to track progress and effectiveness.

Nobody knows the best way to handle this yet, but for now, it may be time to start thinking about emphasizing other metrics further down the funnel, such as landing page views or sales conversations.

Takeaways

Ron’s best email advice (31:31 – 36:16)

Ron shares his top takeaways and lessons learned from overcoming deliverability challenges.

  • Understand the landscape and get a holistic view
  • Set internal expectations
  • When it comes to send volume, sometimes less is more
  • Stick to best practices
  • Building a reputation is like building a personal relationship

A big thanks to Ron for sharing his story, technique, and real-life results, especially from the perspective of the client’s side. Have a helpful deliverability story to share? Reach out to us on Twitter or contact us so we can chat!

If you’re interested in improving your own deliverability for your email program, check out our suite of deliverability solutions or complete the form below for a free consultation to see if Kickbox is the right fit for your organization.

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