Confirmation emails provide a valuable service to the sender. They let those sending emails know the recipient has received the desire email and whether or not it was read. Confirmation of these two facts are important for many reasons. Email marketing can be extremely effective. However, if messages are not received or read it is the equivalent of a message falling on deaf ears.
Understanding Email Confirmations
Email delivery confirmations are especially useful if a contact’s email address has not been determined to be valid. The easiest way to tell if an email has not been received is to receive a “failed delivery” message. However, if such a message is not received an email may still go unread due to “spam catcher” techniques used by many common email services. Some anti-spam software will send a “false failed delivery notice” so that an email address cannot be validated.
Email Confirmation Goals
The two main goals of confirmation emails are to get a confirmation that the email was delivered and to get a confirmation that the contact has received and read the message that was sent. Confirmation emails can be extremely beneficial. In fact, confirmation emails can be valuable marketing tool, putting a better focus on marketing resources. Here are three ways to get more out of confirmation emails.
1. Delivery Confirmation Request
Email delivery confirmation is a way to confirm delivery be sending an email back to the recipient that the email has been delivered. Most MAPI-compliant email client programs will support a delivery confirmation request. This method is not full proof, however, since it requires a manual confirmation from the recipient of the email message. It may be best to avoid a delivery confirmation request for some recipients, as some may see it as an annoyance. Judge the use of this method by the amount of delivery confirmation requests received back from those receiving emails. Web-based services such as Hotmail and Yahoo do not support delivery confirmation requests.
2. Read Receipts as Email Confirmation
Just because a “failed delivery” message was not received, that does not mean a recipient actually read the email. The email may have been delivered to the correct account, but one of two things may have occurred. Either the email was trapped in a spam filter or the recipient’s email address is not valid and the email server being used to send the emails is designed to catch invalid emails. The “request read recipient” feature is a common feature of most email programs. As with the delivery confirmation request, the recipient of the email has to agree to send back a read receipt. This method may be too much of a bother for some recipients, especially if the emails sent out are part of a “cold effort” where random emails are sent out as part of a marketing effort. It should be noted that some email programs may trigger an “alert” message if content that is part of email message is deemed “unsafe.” This method works best with contacts who have been responsive in the past.
3. Transparent Image
This method is more of a do-it-yourself method, but still may be effective in finding out if a recipient received and read an email. A small transparent image is included in the body of the email. After a recipient reads the email message, the email program they are using will try to download the transparent image. The image needs to be on a web location where statistics related to it can be recorded. The attempt to download the image serves as an email read confirmation since the recipient had to have opened the email for the image to be downloaded.
It is important to use caution when using some methods. Email confirmation methods that annoy the recipient may do more harm than good. Gauge email confirmation efforts accordingly and eliminate the methods that do not produce significant results. If used correctly, confirmation emails can be an effective marketing tool.