Blink and you might have missed it: back in March Orange, one of the nation’s most celebrated and enduring mobile networks, announced it would be cease to host email for their customers. Their parent company, EE, is one of the largest digital communications companies in Britain, supporting over 31 million connections across its mobile, fixed, and wholesale markets, and as of May 31st, it will be closing Orange Email, a brand that encompassed a host of other services they acquired over the years. Instead of providing a new platform for affected users, EE is encouraging them to sign up for Gmail accounts instead.
That means that if you have subscribers in your email database using the following domains, you’ll want to start recommending that they update their contact profiles within the next few weeks.
We at Emarsys aren’t alone in having hundreds of thousands of the above addresses active in our customer databases, and as a result, we highly encourage marketers to make the most of the time left before Orange permanently closes their doors and deactivates the remaining addresses.
How this impacts your deliverability
Email is the #1 ROI digital channel, but if an email doesn’t make it to an inbox, it doesn’t matter how personalised or timely it is, it’s a missed revenue opportunity.
Once these domains are deactivated, any email sent to them will bounce and the address will be suppressed from your mailing list. This means that you lose both the opportunity to communicate with the subscribers, and the associated revenue.
With roughly 12,000 ISPs managing the delivery of your email to your subscribers, it’s a tough task to reach the inbox; more than 20 per cent of emails never make it to their destination. That’s why deliverability, though often taken for granted, is of critical importance.
What you can do to stay connected with customers
Your subscribers have two options: they can take no action and lose all access to their Orange account (and their connection with you), or as EE suggests, they can sign up for a free webmail account (EE recommend Gmail).
Here are eight great tips to help you manage this change:
1. Determine How Many Contacts Are Affected
First, you need to know just how big of an impact this will have on your contacts database. The simplest method is to create a segment of the subscribers using these domains, then you can determine which ones are active, responsive to campaigns, or have purchased recently. This ensures you don’t spend valuable hours trying to update contact information for customers who haven’t engaged with your brand in years.
2. Get Your Contacts’ Attention with a Strong Subject Line
Since you need your subscribers to update their details in the next few weeks, you’ll want to use an eye-catching subject line in your email. Depending on your brand’s tone of voice, you could lead with something like “Update your email address before it’s too late”, or something more personal to grab their attention like, “Don’t let this come between us, Dale!”. Remember that you’re trying to make your subject line stand out from the crowd and generate engagement.
Here are two tips for an amazing eye-catching subject line:
1. Personalise your message, but don’t lead with the subscriber’s name.
Personalisation can improve engagement, but remember that because you’re going to have some long names in your database, it’s best to include a customer’s name toward the end of the subject line.
2. Keep it short.
Most email will be read on a mobile device, so keep the subject line between 30 and 35 characters. If you absolutely can’t do that, ensure that the call to action is within the first 30 or so characters.
3. Ensure You Have Accurate Contact Info
One upside of EE retiring Orange domains is that you have a great opportunity to collect and update your subscribers’ contact info and preferences. In fact, you should strongly encourage contacts to visit the preferences or account settings area of your website to update their details.
4. Create a Backup Communication Plan
Use this opportunity to talk directly with affected customers. Beyond informing them of the impending change, you can also remind them to update their profiles with their new email addresses, as well alternative contact details such as mobile phone numbers, social profiles, and so on. Even if you can communicate with your customers via email, there could still be disruptions during the transition period as contacts migrate or sign up for new accounts.
For your most valuable customers, go the extra mile and specify a channel other than email that you can use to contact them. While every single contact is important, you’ll want to take special care of your VIPs. It would be terrible if any customers slipped through the cracks, but it could be an absolute disaster if you don’t make sure your VIPs are accounted for.
5. Get the Most Out of Your Deliverability Tools
Don’t wait for June 1, 2017 to start leveraging your ESP’s deliverability arsenal. Using domain reports or inbox previews could be your greatest tools to ensure that your email is delivered and grabs the attention of your recipients before and after the May 31 deadline.
6. Get Your Team on the Same Page
Brief your call centre team about the upcoming changes and make sure you’ve prepared call scripts for missing shipping notifications or alerts. A consistent response from your customer service department goes a long way toward proving how much you care about your customers.
7. Change Your Email Signup Message
This might seem obvious, but make sure you alter your email signup or login message to notify new customers that they shouldn’t sign up using any of the soon-to-be-defunct Orange addresses.
8. Root Out Invalid Addresses from Your Database
After Orange, Wanadoo, and Freeserve domains are retired, be sure to thoroughly clean up your database. If you don’t eliminate all remaining affected addresses, you’ll notice bounce rates will rise as you continue sending email campaigns to addresses that no longer exist.
Remember that you’ve still got a small window of time to get these subscriber records updated with new email addresses, so you have time to run a series of awareness emails if you like. After that, the addresses will be rejected by EE’s servers and removed from your lists. Seize the day before it’s too late.
Steven Ledgerwood, Managing Director UK, Emarsys
Image source: Shutterstock/kpatyhka