AWS Messaging & Targeting Blog
Strategies for list management with Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Simple Email Service
Managing customer lists is a large part of any outbound customer communication program. From customer acquisition to ongoing engagement, locating the best sources for subscribers and respecting their contact preferences is key to maintaining healthy customer lists. This article will discuss recommendations for list building using Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Simple Email Service (SES). We will provide recommendations for a subscription process, what information to ask for, how to manage opt-outs, and optimize lists over time.
Customer acquisition is the first part of any list activity. There are a few guidelines that all outbound marketers should follow during the list building process. First, do not use 3rd party, leased, or purchased lists. The use of 3rd party lists for email risks complaints, impact to sender reputation, and inclusion in monitoring functions like spam traps. Email service providers like Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon SES will discontinue service for accounts with poor sending behavior that results from use of 3rd party lists.
Second, if you plan on contacting customers across channels, make sure you acquire permission to contact users on each channel. There are many places you can acquire customer contacts, ranging from your website, social media presence, or a QR code on a physical sign. Amazon Pinpoint also has a solution called the Amazon Pinpoint Preference Center that you can deploy to gather and manage customer contact preferences across channels.
There are a few items that you want to include in any customer acquisition form. First, tell the customer how often they can expect communication from you. Is it a weekly newsletter? Monthly? Even better if you give them the option to select how often you communicate with them. Next, tell them what value they can expect from registration. For example, special deals, early access to sales, or even just product and industry news. While you can provide some incentives, avoid providing high-value incentives for registration. Over-the-top enticements like free products will always cause low-quality registrations and resulting low-quality lists.
In addition, make your sign-up forms as concise as possible. Only put high-value content behind registration, and minimize the amount of information customers must provide to register. Having a full profile makes your life as a marketer trying to segment your customers easier. However, it potentially adds friction to the sign-up process which can result in lost customers.
If you can, allow the customer to indicate their content preferences later or during onboarding communications. If you use Amazon SES, you can support up to 20 list topics per account in the Amazon SES list management. For example, if you are a sportswear company, interests could include topics like hiking, biking, or running. You should then send customers emails only about the specific topics that the recipient is interested in receiving. Make sure you retain preference data. All countries are different, but some require you to prove that you received permission to contact a customer.
Managing your customer contacts
Onboarding communication is an essential first step once a customer has submitted their initial registration. Some organizations use the first communication as a registration confirmation step, called a “double opt-in.” In addition to driving engagement and initial calls-to-action (“Confirm your email”), double opt-in emails have the added benefit of verifying that a bot did not submit your customer email.
From the first message you send to a new customer to the last, you should always include the unsubscribe option. Every country has different requirements, of which you should research and educate your organization. Amazon SES now supports subscription management for custom URLs in the footers of your emails. Amazon SES also now supports contact preferences in a custom landing page, where customers can adjust their contact list preferences.
Removing unengaged users
Both Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon SES enable visibility to the success of outbound communications through open rates and click-through rates at the account or campaign level. If time passes with limited engagement from an individual customer, (i.e., they do not open your mails or engage with the content) there is a risk the recipient mailbox provider will start marking your messages as spam. Work with your business to determine the period of time after which you should automatically remove unengaged users from your contact list. Many organizations will remove customers from their contact lists after 60 to 90 days of non-engagement. If you need the ability to quickly query customers that are not engaging with your communications from your data store of choice, enable event stream data in Amazon Pinpoint or Amazon SES using Amazon Kinesis. Amazon Pinpoint also has a solution, the Digital User Engagement Events Stream Database that creates a data store for that purpose.
Amazon SES and Amazon Pinpoint both also have the concept of global and account suppression lists. Global suppression lists are managed across AWS accounts, while account-based suppression lists are associated to your AWS account. If a customer explicitly unsubscribes from your list using Amazon SES list management, or complains through their inbox provider, they will automatically be added to the respective account suppression list. Customers that are part of suppression lists are no longer sent messages from your account. Respecting contact preferences like unsubscribe is an opportunity to earn trust with that specific customer, the market, and the recipient mailbox provider.
There are a number of additional best practices to drive customer engagement across communications channels. They can include message headlines, copy, graphics/images, and adaptive design across various endpoints and clients. However, nothing is as important as maintaining the trust of end customers with their contact information. Sourcing contact information with the customer permission, respecting contact preferences, and maintaining list hygiene is the cornerstone to a successful customer communications program. Learn more today about Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon SES and customer communications.