Guess What's Missing from Your Holiday Email Strategy?

Think quick: What factor is most critical in achieving email opens?

A perfectly penned subject line? Nope.

A recognizable "from" name? ‘Fraid not.

A great preheader? Really?

There’s only one way your email marketing can be opened — and that’s if it’s actually received by subscribers. So give yourself a big pat on the back if you came up with deliverability.

We email marketers have a bad habit of losing sight of the fundamentals. Deliverability in particular is often taken for granted, until hints of trouble arise. This is the worst time to start thinking about it, because you’ve already lost the opportunity to reach some portion of your audience. And an audience that cannot be reached cannot be converted.

So before you get too entrenched with awesome, creative ideas for your holiday email marketing strategy, step back and consider how you will maximize deliverability between Black Friday and Boxing Day. Here are a few suggestions.



Clean up your database. Don’t even think about sending your holiday campaigns to a messy mailing list. Naturally, you’re already suppressing hard bounces. In addition, you should audit your last engagement with subscribers and take action — now — with those who have lapsed.

Begin a reactivation campaign for anyone who last clicked or opened between six and 11 months ago. For subscribers who have been dormant for the past 12 to 24 months, send a repermissioning message. Then eliminate all addresses that are unresponsive.

And for those who last opened or clicked more than two years ago — just say “Sayonara.” These addresses are likely abandoned and run the risk of turning into spam traps.

Having trouble saying goodbye? If cutting the dead weight of disengaged addresses simply isn’t an option, enlist a data hygiene service to verify good addresses.

But do yourself a favor after the holidays, and calculate whether those dormant addresses produced any ROI. You may discover the costs for data hygiene and marketing are greater than the revenue that audience generated. Or not! Your findings can help you set best practices for the future.

Ramp up email volume cautiously. Sudden volume fluctuations are red flags for many ISPs. Get your deliverability team involved in your holiday campaign plans now to ensure a smooth and steady ramp-up in mailing volume and frequency.

Once your campaign is in full swing, keep an eye on soft bounces. Significant lifts are indicative of ISP blocking, which can take days or even weeks to resolve — time that is exceptionally precious during the critical holiday season.

Minimize spam complaints. Nothing tanks an IP reputation faster than spam complaints. It’s a no-brainer — but good reminder — that you should only email individuals who have opted in to your campaigns. And if you’re mailing to subscribers outside of the United States, there’s a good chance it’s also the law to only email people who have provided express consent.

In addition, be certain that opt-out links are prominent and easy to locate at a glance. You’re bound to lose some subscribers this holiday season, and hard-to-find unsub links may prompt spam complaints.

Finally, be certain offers are relevant. You’re not the only marketer jockeying for attention in the inbox — subscribers will be sorting through an avalanche of holiday promotions. This is no time to throw spaghetti at the wall. Remember, any message that’s considered unwanted is spam. And subscribers who feel overwhelmed by irrelevant offers could be quick to flag your messages.

Ho-ho-hope it’s a successful holiday sending season for you and yours!

1 comment about "Guess What's Missing from Your Holiday Email Strategy?".
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  1. Keith Reinhardt from FreshAddress, Inc., October 19, 2015 at 11:55 a.m.

    Great suggestions! The most important factor affecting the ROI of your email marketing campaigns is reaching customer inboxes.


    It’s crucial to consider the potential costs associated with blocking and blacklisting issues stemming from underlying hygiene problems when evaluating the cost associated with data hygiene services. 


    Spam-filtering organizations always ramp their efforts right around this time of the year in an effort to keep up with the holiday email season. Unfortunately, many reputable marketers can get ensnared in these filters, which can bring your email program to a grinding halt.


    A simple risk-reward analysis should indicate that it pays to utilize the most comprehensive email hygiene, correction, and validation service if you’re looking to both protect your marketing efforts against catastrophic risks and generate the highest revenues and ROI on your marketing investment.


    To learn more about how the leading marketers and nonprofits keep their email databases safe to send, see




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