You should begin to prepare your email marketing database for the holiday season in August and guess what? I’m here to help you get started on that.
I’ve barely been able to bust out my entire summer wardrobe, yet here I am writing about the holiday season. Why? Because I care about you and your emails, and your email sender reputation, and your customers. I care about it all. There are a few things to keep in mind before the holiday season approaches. Arm yourself with the proper tools now so you’re not caught panicking in a time of crisis.
Gear up your email marketing for the holidays by following my steps as outlined below, and by downloading my free eBook that reviews the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails from 2014 to get your creativity flowing!
Clean Your Lists
This has got to be #1 on your list of things to do. The last thing you want to do during the holiday season is get blacklisted by sending to fake accounts. It can severely impact the revenue you generate during the most money making time of year. I want to spare you the nightmares of explaining why you got blacklisted to your executives.
Do a clean sweep of your database and validate email addresses. There is a lot of software or online services you can purchase (for a reasonable price) that will make cleaning your database easy and quick. The majority of invalid email addresses are due to syntax errors (too many @ symbols, missing a “.”, etc), these tools will help you identify those syntax errors and correct them. Consider adding these people to a re-engagement campaign as they’ve yet to hear from you since you’ve corrected their email address. Additionally, you should remove any invalid email addresses returned by the cleanup from your database.
Some of these email validating tools allow you to validate new emails collected after the initial cleanup in real-time. Once a subscriber provides you their email address online, these tools ping their email address to ensure it’s valid and active before adding it to your database.
Related: Using CRM with Email Marketing
Learn how to stay off the naughty list
Now that your database is clean, ensure you remain on the good list. An easy way to achieve this is to consistently monitor your bounce rate. Remove (or unsubscribe) any addresses that have hard bounces. Most email marketing platforms will help you manage inactive email addresses, removing them from your active list after a certain number of unsuccessful email send attempts.
The more difficult challenge when it comes to staying off the naughty list is not triggering super sensitive spam filters. And it’s tough to pinpoint what makes them mark you as a spammer as every email service provider has different criteria (and you know, they don’t want actual spammers to figure out how to get past their filters).
Authenticate your domain
This is a check for getting to a subscribers inbox, if you’re sending email from an authenticated, private domain, you’re doing it right.
Managing the reputation of your IP Address
Your reputation can be negatively affected if your subscribers begin to file complaints and marking your emails as spam. If you’re on a private IP address, you’ve only got complaints against your team to worry about, however for those of you on a shared IP, you don’t know who else is using that IP address. If you’re with a reputable email marketing platform, they most definitely have rules in place to prevent shared IP addresses from affecting other customers.
Clean up the content of your email
I know you’re all extremely excited about the Black Friday promotion you’ve got waiting for your subscribers, but please, keep the !!!!!! to a minimum. They’re an immediate target for spam filters. As are all CAPS, anything with the word FREE or references to anything financial-related. Be sure to have a great balance of text to images and a plain-text version of your email.
Know who you’re talking to
Do you know how many subscribers are opening your emails up on their mobile device? Or what your top email clients are? These are extremely important throughout the year, but use the holiday season as the time to knock this task off your to-do list. Find out where your emails should look amazing and how creative you can get with your emails. If the majority of your database is using anything Apple to open your emails, you can have so much fun with your email design – get animated. If everyone is still using Outlook 2007 (these people still exist), your creativity may be limited.
Truth be told, I never stop thinking about the holiday season. Earlier this year I wrote a post about the best Black Friday/Cyber Monday email designs. Take a look at some of my favourites from last year and see how you can make them your own. Pinterest is also a fabulous resource when looking for email design inspiration. Stand-out in the inbox this holiday season by downloading my free eBook on Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails by clicking the button below.