The official deliverability checklist for 2020 holiday marketing

John Peters

At Emma, we have some pretty incredible thought leaders on our team, and we’re excited to feature more of their email expertise on our blog. Allow us to introduce you to John Peters, Deliverability Specialist, and our go-to for making sure your holiday emails make it to the inbox just the way you hoped. Thanks for joining us, John! 

2020 certainly has been an unusual year (to say the least!), and we’ve all felt the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in both our personal and work lives. 

As individuals, we’ve had to adapt to many uncertainties and live within new (and changing)  limits of what we can and cannot do. Most businesses have also struggled in similar ways with closed store locations and reduced foot traffic once they reopened. 

Traditionally, the peak shopping season is from mid-October to the end of December, which includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday shopping. With many people being reluctant to visit stores in person this year, businesses need to focus on their online presence and promote themselves via email marketing more than ever.

Because so many businesses are relying on digital marketing this year, we can expect an even greater increase in global email traffic, which consequently puts a greater strain on the resources of Mailbox Providers. Marketers need to be mindful that Mailbox Providers may struggle to manage this increase in email traffic, and therefore have stronger rate limiting in place and apply stricter thresholds for spam filtering. This doesn’t mean that email marketing will be ineffective, it just means you’ll need to be more mindful if you want to maximize success. 

Email deliverability checklist 

To capitalize on the 2020 shopping period and maximize deliverability success, it’s important to start planning and preparing now. Before you send your next marketing email, check off these items to assess the health of your email marketing program.

To begin, make sure the people on your list:

  • have directly opted-in to your list 
  • have received at least one of your emails in the last 12 months
  • have engaged with you in the last 12 months (like opened an email, clicked a link, or made a purchase)

Make sure your online forms:

  • are protected by reCAPTCHA from spambot attacks
  • activate a welcome email for new subscribers to manage their expectations about email content and how often they’ll receive your emails
  • use a Subscription Center to collect valuable information directly from your audience

Check the technical set up of your account:

  • verify DKIM authentication is set up for your email domain
  • ensure both your “RSVP” and the “reply-to” addresses can accept mail

To get the most of your email list, you can use:

  • list segments to organize sends based on engagement, sending less to your unengaged subscribers
  • Insights to monitor monthly engagement trends for your emails by delivery rates, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates 
  • list segments to identify and opt-out dormant recipients with no activity in over 12 months

Once you’ve checked off those points, it's on to the fun part of creating personalized and relevant content that your audience will look forward to receiving. You can also A/B test your subject lines to see which is the most eye-catching and likely to stand out in the crowded inbox space.

Finally, we must be mindful that, between personal and global circumstances, as well as an increase of mail in their inbox, individuals will be more prone to feeling mail fatigue. One way to mitigate mail fatigue is to reduce overlap in mailings where the same audience receives similar email content within a short time. With Emma HQ,  it is easy to drill down into individual sends, monitor delivery rates and manage authentication for all sub-accounts within an organization.

Wrap up

As we ramp up to the 2020 holiday season, marketers need to maintain a laser-sharp focus on reaching their subscribers’ inbox. It’s more important than ever to review how you collect emails, protect your sign-up forms from spambots, effectively manage your lists, target your engaged audience, and remove dormant contacts from your lists to maintain a positive sender reputation. 

Good email marketing is about following good deliverability practices, as well as being consistent while providing relevant and personalized content to an engaged audience. Keep this deliverability checklist at your desk to remember these best practices and reach your audience when it matters most. Happy holiday sending! 

About the Author

John Peters

John Peters is a Deliverability Specialist for Emma and Campaign Monitor, and has been part of our Compliance and Deliverability team for seven years. He's a regular editor for our deliverability-focused blog posts.

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