The holidays are upon us, and many marketers are working hard to prepare for their biggest season of the year. After all, customers are on the lookout for gifts and experiences they can buy for their loved ones and, let’s be honest, for themselves. And they’re willing to spend big money to buy the best.
In fact, Adobe reported $108.2 billion in online sales generated during the holiday season in 2017, an increase of 14.7% year over year. It’s predicted that Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined will generate over $10 billion in sales this year. And this year’s numbers are expected to be even bigger.
And it’s no surprise that email is a primary driver of holiday revenue, accounting for up to 20% of online holiday site visits. With email being one of the most profitable ways to advertise your business (for every $1 spent on email, up to $38 is made in return), you’d be remiss to neglect the revenue-driving potential of email marketing this holiday season.
Mastering deliverability for your holiday email campaigns
With all the profits up for grabs this time of year, customers expect their favorite companies and brands to offer deals and promotions to attract their business. And your subscribers know the inbox is where most of those deals will find them.
Brands compete for space in their customers’ inboxes as well as for their money this shopping season. Likewise, mailboxes are prepared for this annual record-breaking time of mail volume, and receiving servers will be even more heavy-handed about rejecting and filtering email.
You have amazing offers and incentives and want to make sure your customers and subscribers see them; reaching their inbox and avoiding trouble couldn’t be more crucial at this time of year.
As a marketer, you know that orchestrating a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday demands a finely tuned marketing strategy and that email will be one of the chief tools in delivering strong sales performance. Not only do consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those that don’t receive email offers, email subscribers are also 3x more likely to share content on social media than leads who came through another channel.
A powerful holiday email marketing campaign brings in more revenue from your most loyal customers and also leads to more shares, meaning you convert new customers.
But how do you outperform an increasingly crowded inbox, and cut through the noise during the busiest online shopping days of the year?
Deliverability is the key to holiday email marketing success
By focusing on key strategies to optimize your sender reputation and boost and maintain subscriber engagement, you’ll reign supreme in the inbox.
Improving your deliverability means your emails will land at the top of your subscribers’ inboxes consistently, but during a time when you’re sending more emails than usual, maintaining your deliverability can’t be left to chance. Instead, make deliverability a priority and take deliberate steps to improve your sender reputation and get ready to see your best results yet from a holiday email marketing campaign.
Read on to discover the 5 steps you need to take to maximize deliverability for the biggest shopping season of the year:
1. Review your subscribers
The first step to improving your deliverability is purging your list. Take a hard look at your subscribers to weed out the ones who are no longer active and segment your audience based on how recently they’re interacting with your emails.
It’s always a good idea to know who your most engaged subscribers are so you can utilize them for A/B testing while your least engaged subscribers—and even your totally disengaged subscribers—should receive their own re-engagement campaigns.
Consider slowing down emails to your inactive audience as these people can skew your deliverability: If a contact only opens one email a month, sending them more than that will lower your open rates and, if you fill their inbox with messages they don’t open, possibly cause them to unsubscribe or mark your email as spam, key factors in determining your deliverability.
The higher volume of your audience who do not open your emails, the more likely your overall email volume will be deemed unwanted by Mailbox Providers reviewing how their users interact with you. You may find more emails being sent to junk folders as a result.
It’s also important to take the time to review sign-up sources and ensure you have the right permission to email your subscribers before sending them emails they didn’t ask for. This holiday season also means you’ll probably convert new customers and new subscribers, so be sure to optimize new signups and plan for healthy lists of active email addresses with ReCaptcha + Confirmed Optin as part of your welcome emails. That way, no one ends up on your list who doesn’t want to be there.
Though this email from Madewell isn’t holiday themed, it wouldn’t take much to add a seasonal picture for this time of year:
A list full of excited and engaged contacts will increase your open rates and click-throughs, improving your deliverability.
2. Focus on send frequency
Sending too many emails to people who don’t want them probably won’t re-engage them, but it might annoy them. 78% of consumers unsubscribe from emails because brands were sending them sending too many emails. Sending too many emails is a great way to disengage your audience. Avoid inbox fatigue by only sending emails when your subscribers want them.
Not sure how often your subscribers want to hear from you? Don’t bother digging deep into your analytics. Instead, simply ask them. Provide your subscribers with the option to determine their own send frequency by self-subscribing to monthly or weekly updates from your brand. Allowing your subscribers to self-segment takes the guesswork out of your email marketing and allows you to feel in control of your email marketing strategy.
Another great way to improve your deliverability is to optimize your send times according to when your subscribers are most likely to see and open your emails. There are plenty of studies that offer advice on when you should be sending your next campaign, and they all suggest that Tuesday-Thursday from 8-10am are the best times to send, while your subscribers are still fresh. Getting an email in front of your contacts at the right time can be the difference between an open—and eventually a conversion—and getting deleted.
3. Personalize your emails
With all the data companies gather, subscribers expect their favorite companies to use that data in order to send them relevant emails about only the content they find valuable.
In order to send only the content your subscribers want to see, segment your list according to age, location, gender, or whatever makes the most sense for your business. And the more specific you can get, the better. In fact, you should aim to create a segment of 1. After all, marketers have witnessed an increase of 760% in email revenue from segmented campaigns, so the more specific you can get, the better results you’ll see.
Though it might seem like a lot of work to create emails tailored to the smallest segments possible, utilizing dynamic content means you don’t have to do that much extra work in order to send information tailored to your segments. Dynamic content allows you to change aspects of your email based on the segments you’re sending to. For instance, subscribers with an interest in Las Vegas would see a picture of the strip while subscribers interested in New York City would see a picture of the Statue of Liberty.
When you regularly send your subscribers high-value content that benefits them, they begin to look forward to your email and open it right away. Your open rates will go up, as will the trust people have in your brand. Not only will you improve your deliverability, but you’ll also increase your revenue, customer retention, and brand loyalty.
This holiday email is a great way to tell your eco-conscious subscribers you have the gifts they’re looking for:
4. Consistency is queen
The most important thing to remember during the holiday season is not to make any major changes to your email marketing strategy. It can be tempting to fire off emails once, twice, or more a day during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Small Business Saturday, but remember, if you’ve been sending one email a month up to that point, you’re likely to get sorted to junk by spam filters or deleted by your subscribers who aren’t accustomed to hearing from you so often.
A major spike in emails sent to the same subscriber in a day from your brand is going to hurt your deliverability, so if you want to increase your sending, gradually increase your send frequency over time in order to prepare your subscribers and email providers.
5. Mobile optimization
It’s not surprising to anyone that more people are conducting business on their mobile devices than ever before. This is true for online holiday shopping, too. According to Adobe’s findings, mobile accounted for 33.1% of the total $108.2 billion generated, bringing in $35.9 billion.
Likewise, 46% of all online orders on Thanksgiving Day and 50% of all online orders on Christmas Day happened on a mobile device. Additionally, emails not optimized for mobile devices get deleted by 71.2% of users and 30% unsubscribe from the list if the emails are not mobile optimized.
Needless to say, if optimizing for mobile isn’t currently a part of your email marketing strategy, take the time this holiday season to incorporate it. Subscribers respond best to emails that work where they’re reading and more often than not these days, that means emails have to work well online. Emails that don’t render well will hurt your deliverability in the long run.
This email from Uber is easy to see at a glance and will look great on mobile or on a desktop:
Senders who are laser-focused on their most engaged subscribers are the ones who cut through the noise and are least likely to experience issues when sending their holiday email marketing campaigns.
If you don’t pay close attention to your email marketing strategy this time of year, you can expect issues that don’t have technical solutions: inbox placement is tied directly to your sender reputation, which is dictated by your list health, list management, and sending volumes.
You won’t see your share of holiday revenue if your emails don’t get in front of your audience, so taking the time to consider the ways you can improve your deliverability this season will improve your results and ultimately lead to your best holiday season yet.