7 Email Deliverability Checks for a Stress-Free Holiday Season
The holiday season means more of everything: more food, more days off, more credit card debt and, for marketers, more email deliverability issues. Deliverability issues always come at the worst times and most people don’t have a contingency plan to deal with them. Here are seven things you should plan for now so you aren’t caught off guard during the holiday season:
1. More volume means more issues. Most marketers drastically ramp up their volume in the weeks leading up to Black Friday without paying much attention to the effect it has on sending reputation. Internet service providers (ISPs) look at how consistent your mail volumes are. Dramatically ramping up volume can cause issues. Devise a plan to slowly increase volume so reputation filters don’t flag your mail streams.
2. Are your feedback loops working? More subscribers generally mark email as spam during the holiday season. It’s a good rule of thumb to audit your feedback loops before the start of the holiday season to ensure you’re not only receiving all subscriber complaints, but your system is also unsubscribing them from future mailings.
3. Warm up new IP addresses. Moving to a new IP address or email service provider during the holiday season will result in increased blocks or mail going to the spam folder — unless you warm them up at least a month beforehand. Start by sending email to your most active subscribers from the new IP in small segments, gradually increasing volume while monitoring and pausing if issues arise until you’re at full capacity.
4. Don’t be tempted to send to old, inactive addresses. Knowing this is the time of year that most subscribers are in the market to purchase something, marketers may reach far back in their archives to mail to inactive addresses or even their bounce file. Doing so can result in mailing to spam traps and an increase in spam complaints. Both are email reputation killers.
5. Offer choice. Last year Zappos did something remarkable: The e-tailer informed its subscribers that the holiday season meant more email volume from them. If you weren’t happy with the prospect of receiving more email, you could keep the usual frequency. Disclose your plans for frequency, give subscribers a choice and make it easy for them to opt out if they wish.
6. Review your soft bounce rules. Most systems have rules around how many times they retry a soft bounce like a “too busy, try again later” message. It’s a guarantee that most ISPs will experience some capacity issues with the increase in mail volumes. Increasing the number of retries will prevent you from bouncing out a good address. It will also mean your email will finally get delivered.
7. Protect your brand. The holidays also mean an increase in phishing messages. Oftentimes these messages are posed to look like they came from a legitimate brand to get their victim to open the email. This can cause subscriber mistrust. To prevent this, register your domains with a third party anti-phishing registry and authenticate with SPF and DKIM.