When it comes to email marketing, your success lives and dies by reaching the inbox.
Being filtered to the spam folder is almost the same as not sending the email at all—your mail sits like an invisible ghost wandering unseen in their mailbox. Because who looks at their spam folder anymore, right?
The only way to avoid this is to create strong expectancy and interest in your subscriber base for your email campaigns.
While this is always true, it is an especially important fact to consider as we draw near the busiest (and most difficult) email marketing season of the year—the end-of-year holidays.
Why the holidays can be more difficult for email deliverability
Around the upcoming holidays, everyone is busy wishing their customers a happy holiday. promoting end-of-year deals, or trying to win new customers as they come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to make a change.
And they’re all using email marketing to communicate around it. More deals and campaigns means more comms and, subsequently, more email traffic.
Besides the fact that it makes wrestling for attention in the inbox more difficult, it is also a time when more bad email decisions are made and more bad actors come out to hide in the chaos.
There have often been reports around this time that mailbox providers will tighten up their parameters around what makes it into the inbox or not during this season due to the rush of problematic traffic.
Whether that’s true or not, it is still important to do your due diligence to earn the inbox by following email best practices.
Below you will find some of the top things you should focus on as you prepare for this holiday season (with more best-practice advice listed here).
Top 5 ways to help your holiday season emails land in the inbox
1. Make sure Custom Domain and CAPTCHA are in place
Custom Domain authenticates your email traffic to receivers as legitimate and can be helpful in maintaining a connection with you as the sender to the strong reputation you’ve earned.
Make sure all your signup sources are secured with reCAPTCHA to help protect against spam bots adding bad addresses to your lists. This can cause reputation problems during this most crucial time of the year (not to mention any time of year).
2. Clean out old, long-term unengaged addresses
A regular re-engagement strategy should already be a part of your email marketing practices. Removing consistently-unengaged subscribers from the usual audiences during this time is especially important in boosting your reputation and maintaining inbox placement.
Otherwise, each send including these long-term unengaged subscribers is an erosion of your reputation, so a sudden issue with inbox placement could easily arise at the worst possible time (trust me, I’ve seen it).
Note: If you do not have a re-engagement strategy in place, I would definitely recommend it but not during the most important time of year for sending.
3. Focus on timely content based on recipient activities rather than general bulk sending
Activities like page views, add-to-carts, and much more can be easily tracked in Ortto and used to reach the recipient when the decision to buy matters most.
Triggered Playbooks and Journeys based on such activities that elevate those items of interest through liquid tags in the content can reach your recipients in a timely manner more effectively than one-off generalized bulk sends at peak traffic hours.
The future of email marketing is personalized, automated campaigns that meet the recipient’s needs quickly and efficiently.
4. Reward expectations by creating engaging subject lines and desired content
While reaching the inbox is important for visibility’s sake, you can’t stay in the inbox without creating intriguing subject lines and content to earn the recipient’s engagement.
By utilizing our AI Subject Line tool, you can test and strategize on creating subject lines that are the most appealing to your audience for your content, and get suggestions on higher-performing alternatives.
In addition, by creating focused content of interest you can teach your subscribers to expect and desire your emails as a consistently rewarding experience.
5. Don’t make sudden changes in the middle of everything (domain, content layout, etc.)
Once the holiday season gets in full swing, it’s no longer time to test and/or make drastic changes so you’d better get to testing things now before it’s too late.
By then, many different changes could cause unexpected problems that could be difficult to resolve in a timely manner.
Change in sender domain
Change in sending IP
Addition of old, forgotten lists to your normal audiences
Major overhauls to content structure or sending patterns
Basically, once you get within a couple of weeks of the holiday season, it is especially important to stay the course at that point with the tools and strategies you’ve set up to use.
You can remove more unengaged subscribers from your audiences but will likely need to see the rest through otherwise.
As is always the case, the easiest way to continue to reach the inbox is to create content that your recipients want and are looking for.
With the above advice, you can create an experience where subscribers whose inboxes are filled to overflowing will proactively search for your email, even if it’s not sitting at the top of the inbox
And that is the best way to consistently gift your business the inbox this holiday season.