Boost your inbox placement during the holiday season

David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising,” once said: “If you want to be interesting, be interested.” In a world where we are sending 333 billion emails every day, it’s a challenging task to be and remain interesting to your subscribers.

During the holiday season — late October through December — the number of emails and email sent per day is even higher as businesses double up their email marketing efforts to boost their sales. In 2021, there were 120 billion emails sent resulting in 20% of online visits, which translated into consumers spending over $200 billion online. Making sure your emails land in subscriber’s inbox is key to delivering on your digital strategy.

So how can you make sure your emails are standing out from your competitors during the holiday season? Reaching the inbox is the essential first step. You can invest hours on your email marketing strategy, write a compelling subject line, and have beautiful imagery and content personalization in your HTML. However, if your emails don’t get delivered, the customer doesn’t have an opportunity to convert, which translates into your business losing the chance to increase engagement and boost revenue opportunities.

To ensure a maximum deliverability rate during the holidays, or any peak season, focus on these six key email marketing strategies to ensure email marketing success.

1. Plan and test ahead

If you are training for a marathon, would you be running with brand new tennis shoes on race day? Or would you stick to the training routine you have been preparing for months and use the shoes you know that work for you? Apply this same logic to your email sends. Test subject lines, email creatives, and figure out what time of the day works best for sending email at least four weeks ahead of the holiday season.

2. Ensure your ESP’s infrastructure is up to date

There are three technical deliverability basics that all your emails should followed and have set-up prior sending: SPF, DKIM and FBL. If you have been sending for a while, it’s likely that you already have them configured. But it’s worth it to double check. If you’ve been testing new personalization JavaScript content on your email, you may have delegated a new domain or you might have done any sort of changes on your email platform. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

3. Ensure your email lists are clean

ISPs use algorithms that are not published online to help them determine what emails are coming from a legitimate sender vs. a spammer. Hitting several hard bounces like email addresses that do not exist or invalid domains would spike these algorithms toward the spam folder. Make sure you clean your list before you start sending it with an email address verification tool to remove your bad data.

4. Focus on email engagement

Subscribers who are opening and clicking your emails within the last 6 months are more likely to be engaged with your brand and therefore to make a purchase. Depending on your frequency of send, categorize your subscribers on these three basic segments: active (openers and clickers for the last 6 month), lapsed (openers and clickers for the last 6-12 months), and inactive (openers and clickers for the last 12+ months).
Tip: If you contact your inactive base, make sure that their email send volume does not go over 10% of the total daily send volume of your active base.

5. Think mobile

For the entire holiday season in 2021, $88 billion – 43% of online retail sales — were made from smartphones. This means that your email creatives need to be mobile responsive to not miss out any opportunity to engage with your audience. Remember that the rule of thumb to display a whole mobile subject line is 25-30 characters.

6. Watch out for big spikes on send volume

Will an increase in volume harm your IP reputation? This is the most recurring question we get from our clients every holiday season. ISPs don’t like seeing spikes on volume as this could be considered a spammer activity. Although each business is different, as a general rule, don’t go over more than a 50% increase. Should you need to go over this percentage increase, stagger your send in waves across the day to ensure the volume does not hit everyone in one go.

Learn more about deliverability best practices from Adobe Experience League.

Carlota Iglesias Martinez is a Senior Deliverability Consultant at Adobe. She has 8 years experience in CRM and email marketing with a focus on Email Deliverability Best Practices. Having worked as CRM Manager across several industries, she joined Adobe as an EMEA Deliverability Consultant in 2018 to help customers improve their email marketing strategies to successfully achieve inbox placement.