The Path to Holiday Email Optimization Part I: Checking Your Foundation
Clean Your Lists
To ensure you have a solid email base you need to perform a thorough cleaning of your subscriber list. This doesn't necessarily mean cutting it, but there are some cases in which removing addresses with increase the total reach of your email program. The first case, which is admittedly uncommon, is unknown addresses. Most sending platforms remove these automatically, but if your list has hard bounces — addresses that the mailbox provider can't resolve — get rid of them. Marketers that continue to mail to unknown addresses signal to mailbox providers that they employ poor list hygiene, and their reputations and deliverability suffer as a result.
Another kind of address you shouldn't have on your file, but absolutely must get rid of, is spam traps. There are two types of spam traps: recycled and pristine. Recycled spam traps are email addresses that used to be real subscribers' accounts, long ago before they were abandoned, and have been reactivated by mailbox providers to detect senders that send to people who can't possibly have opted in or reconfirmed their interest recently. The second type of spam trap are pristine spam traps that were never used by real people. These are used by mailbox providers and email security specialists to detect senders that can't have ever received consent of any kind to send messages to these accounts.
The last step toward a solid email program foundation is authentication. Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and by not authenticating your program you are leaving its structure open to an attack. Mailbox providers want to help you to protect your program and your brand (and their account holders) from abuse, but they need a way to determine whether messages attributed to you are legitimately from you. Authenticating your email accomplishes that and enables you to use DMARC to proactively defend your program from criminal abuse.
DMARC allows you to tell major mailbox providers to deliver authenticated mail from you to your subscribers, and to stop unauthenticated — and potentially fraudulent — messages from reaching their inboxes. Implementing and testing DMARC ahead of the holiday season will help ensure that your marketing program, as it accelerates and works harder to generate sales in this critical period, won't be used by cyber criminals to defraud consumers.
Once you have a sound email structure, you can begin to build on your foundation by finding ways to optimize your program. In Part II, I'll identify the metrics provide a deep analysis into your programs health and tactics that will help boost your performance for the upcoming holiday season.