ISP's (Internet Service Providers) are becoming to e-mail what search engines are to websites.  The big ISP's of the world (Google, Yahoo and Hotmail) are studying e-mails more closely all the time and making decisions about how relevant they are to the recipient.

A recent article cited consumer behaviors that influence e-mail relevance both positively and negatively.  Here's what they found out.

Consumer actions that are defined as positive
•    Clicking on some portion of the e-mail
•    Moving an e-mail from spam folder to your inbox
•    Replying to an e-mail
•    Archiving an e-mail after opening it
•    The process of forwarding an e-mail

Consumer actions that are defined as negative
•    Labeling an e-mail s spam
•    Deleting an e-mail without reading it
•    Unsubscribing
•    Opening an e-mail then deleting it

After a few rounds of testing these actions, Hubspot recommends three things:

1. Personalize e-mails based on prior customer behaviors.  Segmented E-mails to prior customers will result in far greater interaction than e-mails sent to mass audiences.

2. Personalized e-mails (to a particular person) result in greater engagement.

3. Remove non-responders from the list.

This last recommendation is painful to do, because we think that the more we send out the more potential customers we might reach.  But, the opposite is happening really.

As ISP's act more like search engines it's clear that quantity alone isn't the answer.  Engagement is.  Therefore, eliminating people from your e-mail list who never respond will increase your response rate.  A higher response rate makes it far more likely that your e-mails will make past the ISP spam filters and to your customer's inbox.

ISP's as search engines.  A fantastic insight that should increase your e-mail engagement rates.