Helpful Hints for Hitting the Inbox During the Holidays

Cathie McFarren, Deliverability Analyst

We all want to enjoy this magical season – and the increase in online sales that hopefully comes with it – but unfortunately, so do the spammers. As the holidays come closer, ISPs will be on high alert to fight spam, and marketers will be under the microscope. With the pressure to beat the mad rush to the inbox and reach as many consumers as possible, it can be tempting to dredge up those older unengaged contacts on your list. But resist the urge! It’s the No. 1 thing NOT to do this holiday season!

Don’t go after the unengaged. Trying to awaken subscribers at this time of year won’t help at all. In fact, it can be very damaging to your deliverability. Stay focused on engaged subscribers. They’re the ones who will help your reputation thrive with the ISPs and, ultimately, drive sales for your organization.

Here are a few other helpful hints for making it to the inbox this holiday season:

Get Permission.

The process of getting to the inbox starts well before you hit send, and explicit permission is where it all begins. Obtaining explicit permissions – getting subscribers to actively sign up to receive your communications – is key all year round. Don’t rely on implied permissions, such as a pre-checked box, for opt-ins. Some subscribers may not notice the box and will likely be much less engaged or even ignore your emails altogether.

Be Relevant.

Once you have solid permissions, be sure your messaging and offers are relevant to your subscribers. Get to know their habits and interests so you can talk to them in a more personalized way and keep them engaged. If subscribers aren’t engaging with your emails, some ISPs will take notice and flag you as an irrelevant sender, which could result in your future campaigns landing in the spam folder.

Check Your Send Cadence.

Don’t be that annoying marketer! How often to send this season is a tough call. You want to increase offers, but at the same time, you must be sensitive to your subscribers. It can be different for each vertical, and caution here is essential. Yes, each send can potentially generate additional sales, but sending just one message too many increases the risk of unsubscribes and spam complaints, which in turn leads to higher attrition.

Identify Your Brand.

Use a well-known name in your sender name so people recognize you amongst the mass of emails in their inbox. Also, consider using your brand in the subject line to reinforce your brand identity. With the huge volume hitting a subscriber’s mailbox, identifying who you are is vital. During the holiday rush, subscribers will be quickly scanning their inboxes to decide what messages to open and which ones to simply delete.

Create Clear Calls to Action.

Be straightforward about what you’d like subscribers to do with your message, and don’t put the CTA in an image. Many email readers have images turned off by default, and with so much sensitivity around viruses and malware, users are often cautious about enabling them. Additionally, ISPs don’t usually like large images since they can’t see all of the content of your message. Be conservative, and use alt tags and more text to tell subscribers about what you’re offering.

Double-Check Domains.

ISPs scan for domains that are on blacklists, so be mindful of the domains you use in your message’s URLs. One simple domain can destroy your campaign. Know who you’re working with!

Secure a Spot on the Safe Sender List.

It’s ideal to get your subscribers to add you to their contact list. Try including a friendly reminder in each email. When subscribers add you as a safe sender, your messages bypass most filtering by ISPs and go straight to the inbox.

Plan for Delays.

As sending is at its peak this time of year, sending early and during off hours can help you avoid the congestion.

For more inspiration and tips on how to have a successful holiday season, visit our Holiday Marketing Academy.