The holiday season is officially here and with revenue on the line, many marketers will increase their outbound campaign volumes to meet the shopping demands of their customers—and with good reason.
The National Retail Federation now expects sales in November and December to increase 3.6% to $655.8 billion this year, but sending more mail does not necessarily mean taking home a bigger slice of the pie. As increased volumes of email are deployed by senders, there are the critical metrics to keep in mind to ensure deliverability health is not skewed by inflated sending.
Over the last few years, our Deliverability Team has consistently seen November and December to be the highest mailing months in terms of overall volume for our customers, and this year is no different:
By sending higher frequencies of mail to engaged customers, senders are spreading the same opportunity for campaign engagement (email opens and clicks) across a higher volume of communications. As such, it is possible that open rates or click-through rates will fall during this time—though aggregate engagement levels remain the same.
This may seem counterintuitive to some, but it is important to monitor changes on a per customer basis, in addition to a per campaign basis to ensure continued engagement. Senders need to see the full picture of their performance, and not skew reports with inflated numbers.
Of course, this is all under the assumption that frequency of mail is accountable for the increase in sending, rather than marketers mailing to larger, unengaged segments of their lists. It’s important to remember that the holidays are not a free pass to target older audiences, or roll the dice by mailing out to an entire list.
In fact, the opposite is true. In addition to blacklists like Spamhaus growing more sensitive to malicious sending during this period, many ISPs have also tightened levels of spam filtering and blocking to combat the extreme levels of email volume sent at this peak.
So how is a marketer to know if they are seeing a drop in metrics caused by spam placement rather than the effects of higher frequencies of mail during the holidays? By utilizing strict engagement-based segmentation rules on all sending, and following best practices. Period. Like any other time of year, senders should only target their most engaged users, and implement acquisition strategies to prevent bad data from entering lists in the first place.
Finally, it is also not unusual that higher volumes of mail lead to lower hard bounce rates overall. Again, this is not necessarily a good thing. If senders are opening up their lists, invalid contacts have a higher likelihood of being processed early on in the sending process. This can lead to lasting reputation impact throughout holiday mailing and beyond including bulking, blocking, and blacklisting, and should likewise be monitored closely.
So what should senders do?
The holiday season is well underway. Act now if you want to get your emails into the inbox by downloading the Email Deliverability: Guide for Modern Marketers.