Yahoo! just joined with GMail in caching all images before they are returned to the end user. All images within Yahoo! Mail will now be saved to and served from Yahoo! image servers, including your tracking pixel.
There are ramifications to the email marketer. At first blush this feature appears to benefit the customer in that all emails will have consistently rapid download speeds. However, additional marketing effort need to be taken when addressing these changes. Potential negative impacts behind these change to email marketers start to emerge as you begin to consider the trade-offs that can be detrimental to the marketing efforts.
- All images are transcoded – This means that they are not in fact serving up the original images. They are in fact taking a digital copy of the original image. The stated reasons are consistent performance. Unfortunately, this addition adds another case to the testing matrix for email marketers.
- Open properties are suppressed – The tracking pixel is also replaced. If the meta-tags are set correctly on the tracking pixel, the open will be passed along to the original tracking pixel. All meta information is lost, mobile, desktop or browser, how long an email is read and where it is read from.
- Supply of email metrics is reduced– By controlling the data available for open metrics, the mailbox providers are reducing the supply of available data driving up the value for those that can provide them.
- Pay-per-click will increase in cost – Make no mistake, Yahoo! and Google are ad networks. By reducing the efficacy of reporting in email marketing, PPC will go up in cost as a byproduct of the increased demand.
Perspective – All is not lost. Even with the rise of mobile, email still provides the highest ROI in the digital marketing space. This new Yahoo! feature should serve as a wake-up call to the real work of email marketing. Features like the one introduced by Yahoo!, and previously Google, reinforce the importance of leveraging technologies created to maximize open and click-thru rates. Technologies at the top of the email marketing funnel such as Send Time Optimization, Subject Line Optimization, Segmentation, and List Hygiene.
Though nothing has changed with regards to the impact email marketing makes, there may be more work for the email marketer. The email industry and marketing is still the large money-making machine that it has always been. These kinds of changes reinforce the need to double-down your email marketing spend and stay ahead of the curve with effective tool that proactively address changing technology parameters in the email space.