12 Days of Christmas: Scrooge Isn't The Only Complainer At Christmas Time!

For any email marketer, having a good sender reputation is the first building block in ensuring that your marketing emails achieve delivery to your subscribers’ inboxes. Sender reputation is used by ISPs, spam filter vendors, and corporate domain administrators as a reliable indicator of legitimate email traffic. Broadly speaking it is a function of unknown users, spam complaints, and spam trap hits – if these factors are healthy, this will be reflected in a good sender reputation score. According to Return Path’s recently published Sender Reputation Report, programs with a Sender Score of 100 are 38% more likely to get into the inbox than those with a Sender Score of 50.

The festive season poses a unique set of sender reputation challenges for email marketers. The imperative to drive sales is a massive one, and most programs will be ramping up their activity during this period. The risk is that as broadcast volumes increase, unknown users become more prevalent as a result of seasonal subscriptions, and spam complaints go through the roof as subscribers are overwhelmed by the tidal wave of email marketing that is rolling into their inboxes.
So – what to do? Essentially, it’s a case of “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Especially during this period, marketers should be checking their sender reputation regularly, and taking remedial action if negative variances are identified. It’s easy to do – simply visit www.senderscore.org and plug in the IP address or sender domain that your program is using. If you are an existing Return Path client you can even more information simply by drilling down into the key factors that are influencing your reputation score using the Reputation Monitor tab.

If your program’s sender reputation metrics do take a festive season dip, here are some actions that you may want to consider:

• Reduce unknown users rates by paying attention to list quality. Particularly at this time of year, new subscribers are more likely to sign-up as part of their festive season shopping to get discounts and access to special deals. Ensure that subscribers supply good email addresses when they do sign up, and then validate them by using a confirmed opt-in process.

• Reduce spam trap hits by focusing on list recency. ISPs co-opt dormant addresses for their own monitoring requirements, and an increase in spam trap hits will compromise your sender reputation metrics. As part of your festive season preparation, consider a re-activation campaign for your non-responders, and only retain those subscribers who actually want to continue hearing from you.

• Reduce spam complaints by recognising that subscribers receive many more marketing emails at this time of year ( not just yours ! ) and engagement is diluted as a consequence. It’s therefore even more important to drive positive subscriber engagement by segmenting your list based on previously observed behaviour (i.e., recent email activity like opens and clicks; recent website activity; or recent purchase activity), so that your subscribers are targeted with offers that are timely and relevant to them.

Ultimately, it’s a case of “an email customer journey is for life, not just for Christmas!” The suggestions that are being referred to here should form part of an ongoing commitment to basic email marketing best practice. By doing so, you will be taking the first steps toward ensuring that your sender reputation is far more than just another broken New Year’s resolution, and that it remains consistently high for all 12 months of the year.

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