Holiday sending is here - and in full swing! ‘Tis the season for email marketing. The fourth quarter of each year boasts the largest number of holidays, which marketers can use to their advantage to boost engagement and maximize revenue, according to YesMail.
During the 2013 and 2014 holiday seasons, consumers opened more email than ever. In the past two years, average open rates for marketing emails during the third and fourth quarters remained steady - especially during the holidays of Q4. According to YesMail, the volume of emails sent during this time increased by 46%, with 57% of email subscribers spending between 10-60 minutes browsing their email during the week! You’re likely to reach people no matter where they are. Another study by eMarketer shows that holiday sales will grow 5.7% this year—the biggest jump since 2011! Ready, set, send!
By this time you’ve most likely thought through your email strategy and approach, and you’ve probably sent a few campaigns as well. Regardless of the strategy you pick, deliverability of your campaigns should play a huge part in your email marketing plan - not only for the holiday season, but for your strategy moving forward. There are many factors that play into the deliverability of your campaigns, such as email design, the verbiage you use, subject lines, and engagement of your audience. Most importantly though, sending to a list of quality email subscribers is going to be a big part in whether or not your email gets delivered to the inbox or to the spam folder! Using a reputable email validation service that provides quality email list cleaning will be key in maintaining your list and winning the deliverability battle through this busy season.
The more email sent, the greater the risk.
During the holiday season, email marketers send more mail to subscribers than ever, and at a higher frequency. Increasing send frequency is necessary to push your product, your service, and your holiday deals - but it doesn’t go without increasing sender risk each time you hit send. More campaign unsubscribes during the holidays is likely to happen, but avoiding complaints (ie. marked as spam) is going to be crucial. Each ISP (such as Gmail and Yahoo) handle complaints and engagement differently. The more complaints you receive, and the less engaged your audience is, the more likely your email will land straight in the spam folder.
Back in September we published a Deliverability Troubleshooting Guide on our blog for all the major ISPs out there: Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud and AOL. During a period of increased sending would be a great time to brush up on the latest guidelines from ISPs you send to everyday!
The older the list, the more cautious you should be.
You and many others will probably send more email during this holiday season than you do in the rest of the year. This means that having a stale mailing list will expose you all the more. The worst thing that can happen is that you get blacklisted by an ISP, or blocked from sending by your ESP, right in the middle of your holiday campaign - don’t let this happen to you! In addition to ISPs monitoring complaints and engagement, your email service provider will have to be more careful during this time as well. Email list cleaning is key here. This is done by using an email validation service regularly and by keep an extra close watch on your list and doing some manual cleaning as complaints come in.
When you use an ESP for sending, the provider is sending mail on your behalf - and on behalf of everyone else using the platform. Because of the increase in sending all together, ESPs have to be on their toes when it comes to monitoring campaigns, and making sure email lists are up-to-date. It’s not unlikely for marketers to send holiday campaigns to much older lists, rather than the usual lists they send to on a regular basis. If you’re in the same boat, I’d recommend sending very carefully to people who haven’t engaged in a while - and make sure that your list has only deliverable subscribers before you ever hit send! Reducing risk during holiday sending is going to be crucial.
Before sending, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have permission to mail to these subscribers?
- Do these subscribers engage with my campaigns regularly?
- Am I likely to increase my sending frequency? By how much?
- Have I properly handled complaints and unsubscribes for my list?
- Is my list stale? Does my list contain only deliverable addresses?
Assessing engagement and cleaning your list of undeliverable addresses is the first thing you should do prior to sending holiday campaigns. While it’s true that email conversion rates increase considerably during the holidays, this won’t happen if your email list is stale!
Making sure your list is of the highest quality possible will help to decrease bounces, and ensure your campaigns make it to the inbox this holiday season.
For further reading on holiday sending, check out 4 Ways to Get Your Holiday Emails Soaring and Why Quality Matters More than Quantity.