Sending Holiday Email: What's Most Important?

The holiday season,  so much promise and opportunity, but also so overwhelming and fraught with unknowns!

You may be pondering what are the hot new gifts this season? Or how much eggnog can I physically drink this year? Or even if you can convince your family that Gremlins actually IS a Christmas movie!  For email marketers though, the question is how can I make sure I’m getting into the inbox, making my customers happy, and generating revenue? Here are some metrics to focus on as we enter the holiday sending season.

Authentication failures (and a lack of authentication) can have a large impact on inbox placement. Authentication allows the receiver of an email and the mailbox provider to confirm the identity of the sender. If the identity of the sender cannot be authenticated, mailbox providers may reject the message or put it through additional filters to determine whether it should be delivered. Without authentication, your chances of being filtered or blocked by major mailbox providers are increased.

As a legitimate business, authentication is not optional; it is essential to securing your brand and online reputation. There are three primary methods of authentication: SPFDKIM, and DMARC. As JD Falk points out in his blog, forging a sending domain is all too easy, so spammers will use this tactic to trick unsuspecting subscribers into opening messages they weren’t expecting to receive. This can erode trust in the subscriber community and damage brands’ reputations.

Read rate
Your read rate indicates the percentage of delivered emails that subscribers viewed. Unlike your open rate, your read rate does not depend on image rendering, and therefore can give you a more accurate view of how subscribers are interacting with your content. This metric offers insight into how your subscribers are engaging with your messages. By tracking the read rate of different campaigns you can see what content resonates more with subscribers.

As the holidays approach, understanding which emails resonate with subscribers and which do not can guide your content and maximize engagement. Read rate can help you determine which subject lines are working, what topics resonate most with your subscribers, and how interested they are in receiving your messages.

Delete without reading rate
This metric shows active disinterest in your content, but not necessarily dissatisfaction with your brand. Your deleted without reading rate tracks the percentage of your emails subscribers send to the trash unopened, indicating that they saw your email come through but were uninterested in reading your content. Mailbox providers expect engagement to stay consistent during the holiday season, even if frequency increases. If DWR rate increases during the holidays, take a step back and reconsider content strategy and list segmentation.

Complaint rate
This rate — total complaints out of all delivered email — indicates active dissatisfaction with your program. Having a high complaint rate can impact your deliverability by lowered your sending reputation — not an ideal thing to have for the upcoming holiday. Smart marketers will turn complaints into an advantage by tracking where they occur and identifying the source of the complaint — either content types or subscriber segments, and possibly uncovering structural problems in your program.

Sending volume & frequency
Whether it’s consistency in volume or frequency, mailbox providers will notice trends in your mailstream. They start to recognize your IP address and become familiar much quicker when a pattern is evident. It’s important to keep a consistent mailing cadence and volume instead of spiking up and down. Spikes and drops lead to issues such as complaint hangover, where subscribers may complain a day or multiple days after a campaign has been deployed. This results in high complaint rates on days with lower volume and may lead to mail being filtered to the spam folder as a result.

When it comes to mailing frequency, put yourself in your subscriber’s shoes. Setting expectations around the relationship you have with your subscribers, in this case, how often and when you mail them, establishes a foundation of trust. If frequency is erratic or changes, it can disrupt the relationship and cause subscribers to question if the mail is legitimate or not.

Still have questions?
Return Path hosted a webinar Ask the Experts: Holiday Sending Do’s and Don’ts where a panel of email experts answered questions directly from attendees around these metrics and many other pieces of email and inbox placement. Listen here!

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