I'm Wishing for a Whitelisted Christmas

We’re in the home stretch – the last few shopping days before Christmas.  Retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar establishments, are desperately trying to grab your attention and get you to spend your gift-giving generosity on their sites.  Close on the heels of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, this is the busiest shopping season; let’s see if we can glean some email intelligence from what just happened and apply it to these remaining shopping days.

Retailers use different strategies and channels to attract potential buyers.  Because email marketing is one of the more cost effective channels, it can be overused during these peak shopping times.  Email volumes spike dramatically – with many competing offers, messages, images and schemes to try and grab your attention.  But these emails have a chance of achieving their goals only if they are read by the target recipient.  In this post, let’s look at Inbox Placement Rates and the effect of Return Path Certification on these rates during peak mailing seasons, specifically the recent Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.

Members of Return Path’s Certification program participate in an email whitelist that leading mailbox providers and filtering companies rely on to identify legitimate, reputable and secure mailers.  Mailers are audited and monitored against defined program standards and compliance with these standards brings direct and indirect benefits – primarily, higher inbox placement rates for Certified senders: the foundation for higher response rates.

This advantage of improved inbox placement for Certified senders over non-Certified ones has even more impact during times of peak mail volumes.  It is during these times, such as during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, that marketers most want their mail to get through to their recipients; they are competing against each other for their audiences’ fickle attention span.  You can’t catch their attention if you can’t even get into their inbox!

The chart below provides email intelligence for this year’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend for two global mailbox providers, Yahoo! and Hotmail.  The gap that normally exists in inbox placement rates between Certified senders and non-Certified senders increased dramatically during this peak season – at Hotmail the gap increased by 36% and at Yahoo! the gap widened by a whopping 77%!  This gap widened as Certified mailers maintained consistently high placement rates – meaning the non-Certified senders’ placement rates dropped during times of peak mail volumes.

To support the hypothesis that this drop was seasonal in nature, the numbers show that the gap narrowed again in the days following Cyber Monday.  At Hotmail the gap shrank by 29% and at Yahoo! the gap reduced by 75% – bringing inbox placement rates closer to what they were prior to Black Friday.

The message is clear: for the times when you most need your emails to get into the inbox, Certification delivers.  While non-Certified mailers could be held back due to seasonality or high volumes, you can rely on the Return Path Certification program to maintain its consistently high placement rates – getting you into the inbox and helping you achieve your campaign objectives – be it for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the last shopping days before Christmas, or any other day of the week.


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