Since 2008, retail sales has increased consistently during the holiday season.
According to Deloitte, retail sales are expected to grow 5 – 5.6% from last year.
This same forecast expects eCommerce sales to rise as much as 22% throughout the 2018 holidays.
These projections cause email marketers to have visions of not sugar plums, but dollar signs; many retailers expect to see 20-30% of their annual sales made during this period.
From an email marketing perspective, we expect to see email volumes increase drastically during these times. Return Path reported increased email volumes on Thanksgiving Day 2017 that were 78% above the yearly average, and the highest spike (122 percent above average) on Nov. 29.
While these numbers can be intimidating, marketers who adhere to email marketing’s best practices for successful deliverability will be able to take advantage of these times of higher consumer activity and engagement.
With that in mind, we put our heads together – and our over 15 years of experience – to give you 4 sure-fire deliverability tips to get your emails in the inbox this holiday season.
#1 – focus on email marketing engagement
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift in how many of the major U.S. ISPs (AOL, Gmail, Microsoft, and Yahoo) determine how to filter incoming email.
Marketers still need to do everything they can to limit the amount of negative metrics ISPs see when they send an email campaign, (spam complaints, spam trap hits, and hard bounces).
But many ISPs now highly value another trend: how users are interacting with your email marketing.
This determines how an ISP will place your messages in the inbox, (inbox vs. spam).
We recommend creating segmentation rules based on your business cycle. Set them up to only send to email subscribers who’ve exhibited an open or click within a set parameter.
If you’re a daily sender, then you may want to create an aggressive segmentation rule to only send to those subscribers who’ve opened within a 15-day period.
Marketers who send a few times weekly should create segmentation rules with either a 30 or 60 day parameter.
It all depends on how aggressive you’re willing to be.
#2 – use targeted campaigns
Sending targeted emails will always foster higher email engagement rates compared to batch and blast strategies.
During the holiday season it’s tempting to follow the notion of simply sending to everyone on your list. It’s an attempt to maximize the exposure of your email campaigns.
But it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
According to the Data & Marketing Association, marketers typically see as much as a 760% increase in revenue on targeted campaigns than those that aren’t.
Consider wisely whether you use batch campaigns this season.
#3 – make re-engagement a priority pre-holidays
Before the holiday season begins, marketers should send a re-engagement series. It’s important to complete this step before the holiday email onslaught begins.
The goal is to reconnect with inactive subscribers.
A re-engagement series typically last a few weeks. Plan for it to be completed before any Thanksgiving/Black Friday email campaigns send.
By weeding out inactive subscribers, your holiday email campaigns will boast higher subscriber engagement. This in turn aides your reputation with ISPs.
It also maximizes conversions and ROI on these campaigns.
#4 – monitor your reputation
After implementing any of the above strategies, it’s important to know if they’re actually working. You’ll want to track your IP reputation and analyze inbox placement trends via seed testing.
Knowing your reputation – or how your email is potentially being filtered – allows your team to be much more effective.
If you’re unknowingly struggling with your inbox delivery with a particular domain, the increased sending during the holidays is going to hurt you.
It will be that much more difficult to make things right after this busy time of year.
conclusion: boost your sales with smart deliverability tactics
The holiday season offers an exciting opportunity for eCommerce marketers to boost sales with smart email marketing initiatives.
And it all starts with deliverability.
Making sure you have this key aspect of your email marketing program squared away could mean the difference between a money-making and penny-pinching holiday season.
Our deliverability team is here to make sure your company doesn’t go into these times recklessly or blindly. While the prospects of success are certainly realistic and attainable, the risks of damaging your reputation are also prevalent if your marketing team doesn’t follow proper best practices. We’ll give you inbox placement monitoring and consulting services so you know exactly how you sit with ISPs such as Microsoft or Gmail. Reach out today to learn more!