The Path to Holiday Email Optimization Part I: Checking Your Foundation
For just about every consumer marketer, the winter holiday season generates the majority of revenue for the year. It's the season in which most businesses invest the bulk of their time and money in their marketing programs, and rightfully so. As the opportunity approaches email marketers typically concentrate on gaining consumer mindshare and showcasing value, laying the foundation for holiday purchases. The leaders do even more.
Before focusing time and money tactical program elements, like crafting the perfect subject line, the leading marketers begin by reassessing their programs' structural integrity. That phrase may sound weird in the context of email, a purely virtual marketing channel, but the literal concept of structure does indeed translate. If your program is not solid at its base — and easy to visualize and adjust — you can't build on it. It's basically a stack of cards waiting to fall apart.
Having a structurally sound email program also grants you breathing room to experiment and explore new ways to market to your customers. You can use the precious weeks ahead of Black Friday to get creative and test new ways to engage subscribers when it matters most.
Metrics to Watch
The first step toward building — and maintaining — a solid email program foundation is knowing where your emails end up. To do this you need to understand which metrics to track and what they can tell you.
Inbox Placement Rate (IPR)
This metric is the percentage of your email that arrives in your subscribers' inboxes — essentially your program's deliverability. Unlike your delivery rate IPR counts only messages placed in the inbox — not the ones that land in the spam folder or go missing — giving you a more accurate understanding of your program's ability to reach your audience. This is a key metric that helps uncover fundamental problems in your email program, which can be difficult to see or diagnose otherwise.
Reputation (Sender Score)
The next metric you need to know and track is your reputation, or Sender Score. This is essentially a credit score for email marketers — the higher the score the more trustworthy a sender is to mailbox providers. Your sender reputation is linked to the IP addresses you send email from. When email comes from a given IP, mailbox providers typically consider reputation when determining whether to place your email in the inbox. Sender Score is a proxy for this reputation. Mailers with a high score (90-100) have a higher percentage of their email delivered to the inbox while those with a lower score will see more of their email routed to the spam folder or blocked outright.
Steps to Take
After you have a better understanding of your metrics, take action to strengthen your foundation. These steps will help you patch up the holes in your email program and solidify the structure so you can begin optimizing for performance.