It’s one of the most crucial times of year for marketers to interact with their customers and prospects, and not just to pass on festive wishes. Christmas brings vast potential for brands, whether they’re retailing products or pitching services for the year ahead.
So why then, do so many Christmas email campaigns fall flat?
Part of the problem is achieving cut through. The volume of email sends rockets and, with people feeling particularly time precious at this time of year, there’s a huge temptation to focus solely on the essentials. This means any non-urgent emails are just parked for another day or, worse still, deleted altogether.
But that’s assuming the email actually reaches the recipient. Christmas is also a notorious time when brands struggle with deliverability issues, usually because they ramp up their activity and simply get blocked by ever-savvier ESPs.
However, this obstacle can be overcome. Here are five tips to tackle email deliverability in readiness for the holiday season:
1. Build up your data now
If you plan to start emailing a large volume of contacts regularly, around the Christmas period, you need to build up your deliverability profile now! If you use the next few weeks to gradually ramp up your activity, this will heighten your credibility with the mail servers, in time for the all-important month of December.
2. Ensure inbox placement
The more recipients open and click your campaign, the greater the chance you’ll successfully reach other inboxes. The mail servers will deem your emails as relevant and authentic. So, use these early pre-Christmas weeks to focus on engagement, rather than a sale. Think carefully about the type of content that is likely to attract an open and click and prioritise that, certainly for now.
3. Segment your audience
Identify and segregate your most engaged contacts from the rest of your database, and send any new emails to them first. Even if you don’t vary the creative asset or messaging, this segmentation activity will boost your deliverability profile as the early emails will perform well. Then, slot in less engaged recipients over a period of time and monitor whether any segmentation tweaks need to be made.
4. Maximise your deliverability window
If it doesn’t matter when an email lands, begin the distribution activity as slowly as possible, and throttle so many per hour, each day, until all contacts have been reached. Obviously some content is more urgent, so if you need to send all in an hour, send in the hour. But, if you can allow three days in total, allow three days. This is another practice that will register favourably with the mail servers.
Also, ensure your email provider will support you with this approach. Find out, quickly, for example, whether your marketing automation partner can facilitate intelligent email throttling. Can they analyse and block out times of day/days of the week that don’t perform, so that a planned and optimised deliverability window can be devised? These are very important questions to ask. If your marketing automation provider can’t do this, or you’re relying on manual throttling, things need to change, and fast! Otherwise, you’ll get left behind by the changing demands of ESPs in 2017.
5. Train your audience
Educate your audience so that they automatically associate your emails with great content. Include tips, giveaways, inside information and/or discounts – whatever you think will capture their attention. If you’re a retailer, for instance, pull your contacts away from deal aggregators and voucher sites, by training them to understand that their inbox is the best place to find the greatest offers. Over time, this will reduce your reliance on affiliate marketing too!