September 25, 2018

Warm up and hunker down ahead of the email holidays.

Settle in, emailers, and let me tell you a story about the nightmare before Black Friday. Emails were going out left and right. Some landed in the inbox, and some landed elsewhere. However, that’s not the scary part of this tale…some senders realized their emails didn’t land at all.

Why? Because they didn’t properly prepare for the new world that is “holiday email.” It’s a season unlike any other, so why would they continue sending emails as though it was a random day of the week? Perhaps they just didn’t know any better.

That’s where you will be different, because I’m here to help you understand what you need to do to have successful email marketing campaigns this holiday season. With changes in the mailbox provider (MBP) space and new legislation worldwide, this year is even stranger than those passed. Don’t fret. You’re in good hands now, but it’s time to get going.

How to Nail Holiday Emailing:

Prepare early
Do your IP and domain warm-up now. If you haven’t started, waiting any longer could mean you rush through the process and make costly mistakes.

Select your lists wisely
The holidays are not the time for win-back or re-engagement campaigns. If you need to do them, do them ASAP. When it’s time for holiday deployment, use only your lists with recently active subscribers for the best outcome.

Don’t try dormant emails
GDPR and CASL are real things now. Beyond poor form, contacting inactive subscribers could open you up to a world of hurt ($$$), thanks to limitations on how long you can contact people with implied consent.

Chat up your email service provider(s)
Keep your ESP(s) in the loop. Let them know if you’ll be increasing volume and/or frequency, and have escalation plans in place in the event of any issues. Provide them with your schedule, keep them engaged, and operate as a team during peak season.

Recognize MBPs see massive increases in volume
Bandwidth does not change during the holidays. That does not stop the holiday email deluge. How many emails are we talking about? In 2017, SendGrid sent 2.1 billion emails on Black Friday, which is a significant increase from 2016, when they sent 1.6 billion. So yeah, that’s a lot of email, which means greater competition for inbox placement. Make sure you’ve warmed your IPs, followed all deliverability best practices, and designed a killer email (that works) to go with all that techy goodness.

Authenticate before it’s too late
When email volume goes up, so does spam volume. Confirm your authentication records (SPF and DKIM) are correct and reflect your current IP configuration. Less than 10 SPF lookups and properly rotated DKIM keys should be a high priority on your list. Do you have a DMARC policy for your domains, regardless if you send from them or not? You probably want to have one at least in a monitor-only mode to help you see if you’re being targeted or have emails coming from sources you didn’t remember (or know about).

Get comfy with going with the flow
Anticipate the worst, because you’ll be ready to implement fixes without a lot of chaos. Know what you’ll do if you get blacklisted, rate limited, or have bulk folder delivery. Preparing and planning is half the battle of issue resolution.

Hopefully this helps you get ready for a big year of not just email, but successful email translating into a lot of dollars for your brand. If you want even more holiday readiness tips, our Experts sat down for a quick video talking about this very thing. Happy Email Holidays!

Author: Matthew Vernhout

Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional (CIPP) with more than a decade of experience in email marketing. Matt is 250ok’s Director of Privacy, and he is currently the Vice Chair of the eec, after serving for several years as the Chair of their Advocacy Subcommittee.

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