6 Tips For Maintaining Email Deliverability During the 2022 Holiday Season
The winter holiday season is rapidly approaching and that means email senders in countries around the world are gearing up for some of their biggest promotional events of the year. As you start making your lists and checking them twice, we thought we’d help out by sharing some best practices for maintaining strong deliverability during the 2022 winter holiday season.
1. Use information to your advantage
Most email senders know that using data related to your email subscribers to inform your campaign planning allows for easier segmentation and successful personalization, the cornerstone of effective email marketing. With the release of Apple Mail Privacy Protection, it’s now even more important to look at data points beyond just email opens when evaluating a subscriber’s true historical engagement.
This year, try using a broader range of data related to your email subscribers and their engagement with your brand to inform your decision making; that way, you can ensure you’re prioritizing and protecting your most engaged email subscribers (and avoiding those unengaged subscribers, who could cause immediate and long-term sender reputation issues if you continue to message them). To complete your view, you could consider using metrics like email clicks, purchases, web visits, and registration date to get a better picture of how each email recipient is engaging with the emails you send—or leverage KPIs that are unique to your brand, which may be more insightful in determining a subscriber’s engagement level.
The changing data landscape around email opens also highlights the increasing importance of allowing subscribers to easily share their thoughts and preferences around getting email communications. If you use that feedback in your campaign planning, this can lead to both better deliverability and more effective email marketing during your holiday sends and beyond.
2. Send with intention
We know that you’re going to have some of the best deals around this year and your subscribers are surely excited to hear about them! However, competition for subscriber attention reaches a peak during the holiday season. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to be thoughtful about the campaigns you send and who you send them to.
The era of batch and blast emails is over, and both subscribers and mailbox providers/ISPs are expecting senders to personalize and segment their email campaigns in alignment with their subscribers’ preferences. Sending batch and blast campaigns to a wide audience that potentially includes unengaged or inactive subscribers can cause a slew of deliverability issues. You may see these types of subscribers being generally unengaged, ignoring your emails, deleting without reading them, or even worse—marking them as spam. The end result? You run the risk of seeing weaker deliverability going forward.
3. Don’t rock the boat
While we know the campaigns you have slated for the winter holidays are likely outside of the norm of your day to day promotions, that doesn’t mean you should suddenly and dramatically change your email marketing tactics. You’ve worked hard to build a solid sending reputation, so don’t undo that effort by making too many changes to your day-to-day sending strategies as part of your holiday approach.
Making those changes without evaluating the benefits versus the risks of long-term sending reputation issues could be potentially catastrophic to the success of your email program. If you do need to make changes, give yourself plenty of time to test and prepare in advance. Otherwise, you could be putting your deliverability at risk.
4. List fatigue is real
Many email senders look to boost the impact of their marketing by increasing both the total audiences they are reaching and the number of email campaigns they send during the winter holiday season. Keep in mind that subscribers can easily become fatigued if you are sending them too many emails, especially if those messages are out of alignment with their expectations and/or needs.
While it’s tempting to resend email content to try and garner a few extra opens or clicks, this approach can actually cause adverse effects on subscribers if not done carefully. Frequent sends to highly unengaged and undeliverable email contacts can also have an adverse effect on overall deliverability. Be sure you are sending only relevant email content to subscribers who desire it—and if you’re planning to do resends, do so with thoughtful intention to select groups of subscribers who are likely to be receptive to these messages.
5. Say hello to new friends
It’s not uncommon to see an uptick in email sign-ups as you start promoting potential sales and deals during Black Friday and beyond. Make sure you greet these new subscribers by having a welcome email or onboarding series that introduces your brand and sets proper expectations for what kinds of emails they will receive from you. One smart way to ensure that your relationship starts strong? Set up a preference center in advance of these holiday sign-ups and nudge users to indicate if they are interested only in holiday promotions or if they want to hear about your brand going forward.
Having this information on subscribers early on in their customer lifecycle can help you keep your list clean and maintain good year-round deliverability. Keep in mind that holiday shoppers may not be buying for just themselves and some of them will potentially lose interest in your email campaigns once their holiday shopping is over.
6. Be consistent with your sending IPs and subdomains
It’s not a good idea to suddenly change the sending subdomain, “from” domain, or IPs you’re using for sending emails right before launching winter holiday campaigns. Sending IPs and sending subdomains take time to get warmed and to build a sending reputation, so a last-minute change can often be counter-productive. You’ll also need to be sure that your sending subdomain is fully authenticated in alignment with industry best practices, since failing to do so will likely cause deliverability issues.
Subscribers may also already be familiar with a particular “from” domain you’re using for sending (i.e. “[email protected]), so changing this at the last minute may cause subscribers to be confused and ignore your emails. Lastly, making these types of changes in order to avoid existing deliverability issues will likely make things worse rather than better—plus, it won’t solve the root cause of those challenges. For one thing, ISPs and mailbox providers may be suspicious of this change, as it’s a frequently used tactic by spammers. There are no overnight or quick fix solutions to solving deliverability problems, so be sure you’re addressing the root cause instead of trying to avoid such issues by switching sending subdomains or IPs.
The winter holiday season is an exciting but intense time for most email marketers. There are tons of opportunities to gain new subscribers and see positive feedback from existing customers, but only if you’re thoughtful about how you approach your email strategy. Make sure you give yourself plenty of runway to plan in advance and make changes with careful consideration; that’s the kind of approach that will lead to a successful winter holiday sending season and maintain strong deliverability.
Stephanie Wooldridge is an Email Deliverability Consultant based out of Indianapolis. Outside of geeking out about email, you can find her in the garden tending to her plants, reading a new comic book or trying out new macrame designs.