Poetic Advice: Please Respect Subscribers This Season

Stephanie Miller, email marketing expert
By Stephanie Miller
VP, Global Market Development

A poem from an AOL postmaster called Nightmares Before Christmas says it all (and in rhyme!).

You’d think that retailers who already send 5-10 non-targeted email messages a week (yes, that is sometimes more than one a day) would not have much room to grow in frequency this season.

You’d be wrong.

Our Return Path deliverability and reputation data is already showing a huge increase in volume – which peaked over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend. December is traditionally a very busy season, with not only retailer and travel marketers sending more email, but also other categories like b-to-b and financial services.

If that makes you worry your emails (and ROI) could be suffering from a lack of light and attention – it should. However, there are some things you can do now to protect your sender reputation, achieve high inbox placement and consistently earn a response during the season of giving (and inbox clutter).

Zag on the Timing: With so many marketers flooding cyberspace, consider timing your messages differently than the rest of the crowd. It’s just like leaving a little early or a little late to avoid the rush hour crush during your daily commute.

Get Certified: It’s not too late to see the benefits of third party Certification this season. Not only will it help you bypass some of the spam filters at major ISPs but you’ll also get images and links turned on by default. If you work with a Return Path Certified ESP/MTA Partner, you can also have immediate benefits turned on (we’ll turn them off quickly if you don’t qualify of course), which is an enormous benefit.

Stay on Target: Resist the urge to send everything to everyone. If there is pressure to drive more revenue, you’ll experience a higher response rate if you customize the product mix, the content placement (e.g.: top vs. bottom) and the call to action. If you do nothing else, customize the subject line by target audience to make it as relevant as possible.

Find your Segment: Certain segments are high value while others are low value. For those who opened/clicked early in the season but are no longer responding, they may have purchased already so slow down the frequency. Those who just purchased may enjoy a follow up offer, but only if it’s targeted. Package up data from last season – last minute gift card purchasers, multiple purchasers, seasonal-only purchasers – all may respond better to tailored offers.

Remember, hope is not a strategy. Sending more without focusing on sending more value is a lose-lose for your response rates, inbox placement and your long-term subscriber loyalty. It’s not too late to improve your inbox deliverability and response this holiday season.

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