Sending Smarter for the Holidays: 5 Tips to Stay in the Inbox

Chris Kolbenschlag, Director of Deliverability

This holiday season…let’s send smarter. Sending smarter during the busy holiday season can help improve your deliverability and help you rise above the onslaught of campaigns to consumers.

Just like shoppers are increasing their visits to the stores this holiday season, marketers are increasing their attempts to visit the inbox. This increase in volume causes not only a jump in valid email, but also spam. You have to first make sure you are not seen as a spammer to the ISP and once past that hurdle, you have to stand out from the other marketers once in the inbox. In this blog post I’ll address how you can jump your first hurdle, getting into the inbox.  Here are the steps to follow this holiday season to show you are a legitimate marketer sending emails to people who want them.

  1. First and foremost – Permissions rule! As a smart marketer trying to reach the inbox, make sure you have in place clear collection methods. Collections methods such as co-registrations, appends, auto opt-in can be weaker in terms of engagement in comparison to the other contacts in your list that clearly opted in by taking an action on your web site or when checking out via the shopping cart. ISPs want to see you are a relevant sender, so sending to your stronger contacts is top priority. If you don’t have the correct permissions, you could lack engagement and ultimately lack inbox placement.
  2. Relevancy also rules! – what good are permissions if you are sending irrelevant content to your subscribers. Sending out an offer out that is specific to a certain age group or gender can cause a lot of missed interactions. Behavioral marketing is a must right now. Know what to send and to who for optimal relevancy. Targeted marketing drives higher engagement which helps with deliverability to the inbox. It’s a mad rush to the inbox and the way to rise above is to be relevant.
  3. Don’t spike your volume – By sending more, the risk for un-engagement also increases since you are ramping up to people who may be ignoring you and they will just ignore you more. In addition, also be careful of annoying engaged people (you may turn them into unengaged subscribers!). While sending to those who only purchased from you last season is a good marketing strategy (ideally they’re in the market to buy gifts again), it is a risk. Segment out those buyers and measure those results to see if you need to back off.
  4. Engagement – this would be a good time to segment your lists into engaged and non-engaged. You may want to send more often to the engaged list since they have a record of interaction with your messages. Continue to focus on your engaged subscribers and avoid trying to resurrect unengaged subscribers. If they weren’t interacting with your emails prior to the holiday season, they most likely aren’t going to now that their mailboxes are full of messages.
  5. Email Format – It’s a challenge to not get excited with a large image in your email. Pictures sell, but remember images are off by default in consumer email readers, therefore use alt tags to show the call to action (20% off, free shipping) in order to get buy in to open or show those pretty product images.

The secret to the inbox this holiday season is simple, send mail that people clearly signed up for it and make it relevant. Sending outside this can create people who ignore you and say your email is spam and therefore you will be corralled into the bulk folder like the spammers and irrelevant marketers.

Happy Sending!

Chris Kolbenschlag
Director of Deliverability at Bronto