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Holiday Mailing Lessons for 2019

The 2019 mailing year is already well underway. For many senders, that means dealing with reputation fallout from sky-high holiday volume and re-implementing best practices on outbound campaigns that may have been improperly removed. For the Oracle Deliverability Operations team, it means reflecting on the patterns and practices we have monitored over the November and December mailing period, and leveraging those lessons to improve mailing for our customers in the year to come. No matter where you find the current state of your own mailing program, our insights below will provide a foundation to improve your mailing practices in 2019.

Volume

Yet again, we continued to see a year-over-year increase in overall messaging volume for the holiday mailing period in both November and December. Considering US shoppers registered record-breaking levels of shopping over Cyber Monday in 2018, this is not surprising. But it is important to remember record-breaking email volume isn’t necessarily a good thing for everyone.

Many senders think launching more email will result in earning more ROI, but user fatigue can cause serious harm to a mailing list. This is particularly true if the increase in volume is due to repeat messaging rather than an organic increase in general mailing list size. Bombarding recipients—or worse opening up targeting to an entire list regardless of opt-in status or engagement—will drive spikes in bounces, spam complaints, and negative brand awareness. This will lead to reputation and spam placement issues that can take weeks to resolve. It is important to give recipients a break in the inbox and to only target individuals who are opted-in and engaged.

Gmail Reigns

In other unsurprising news, we saw the largest volume of outbound mail go out to Gmail. Gmail has long been a top email client for users in terms of market share and could even surpass the Apple iPhone for the top spot in 2019 if growth continues.

2018 saw Gmail focusing on improving the user experience with updates to their inbox interface, including added features allowing you to:

  • Snooze messages
  • View messages in confidential mode
  • Receive annotations on messages before they are even opened.

What does this mean for senders going into the New Year? It tells you that best practices are more critical than ever before.

Senders have the ability to feature their messages in the inbox in new ways, but none of this will matter if campaigns keep finding themselves landing in the spam folder.  

Speaking of Landing in the Inbox at Gmail

Throttling and reputation-based filtering appears to be the new normal on a larger scale at the Gmail ISP. While user preferences (i.e., if a receiver adds a mailing address to their address book, drops a message in a particular tab, or flags a message as spam, etc.) still have the power to override the ISP’s placement algorithms at an individual level, more and more senders are falling victim to overall deferred or delayed delivery based on their reputation alone. As has long been the case at other ISPs, this is determined by the same underlying factors, namely IP- and domain-based reputation.

Lax best practices and increased volume over the holidays can add up along with everything else, and the result. If engagement-based criteria (such as how much time has passed since a user opened or clicked a campaign) are overridden, unsubscribes ignored, or acquisition best practices (i.e., confirming opt-ins) allowed to fall to the wayside, it’s likely that hard bounces, spam complaints, and reputation issues will swiftly occur.

Senders need to make sure they are:

  • Targeting their best users (those who are regularly engaging)
  • Acquiring their users correctly
  • Removing inactive segments/processing unsubscribes on an ongoing basis

Now is the time for senders to take a step back, review their campaign performance, and assess what strategies did and did not work for them. And most importantly, it’s time to triple check that all best practices are applied and functioning as they should be on outbound mail in 2019.

Learn more about emails and how you can use to their utmost potential on mobile with Oracle Marketing Cloud’s Mobile Email Guide.”

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