6 Proven Ways to Ensure Holiday Inbox Deliverability

The holidays are upon us, which means retailers will soon be dialing up their email marketing.

Don’t be at the mercy of ISPs who try to “protect” their email users from unwanted messages. Ensure inbox deliverability and subscriber engagement by focusing on compelling communications that your recipients will look forward to opening.

“Engagement filtering” looks at historical factors like messages opened, messages deleted without being read and messages responded to in determining what gets delivered to the inbox… and what gets relegated to the bulk folder.

The bottom line is that your emails need to work extra hard this year to engage recipients if you want to be invited to the inbox party.

Here are some proven ways to boost your email marketing success:

  1. A warm welcome is appreciated. When StrongMail did its annual lifecycle email marketing survey, we found that welcome programs are becoming a very important way to engage consumers. Seventy-eight percent of our 1,000 survey respondents reported using them, and of that 78%, 46% showed increased revenue as a result. A well-executed welcome introduces a new customer to your brand, gathers critical data about that customer’s interests, and sets the stage for well-targeted messages that stand a much greater chance of being opened.
  2. Double check those RSVPs. In order to engage your email subscribers, they actually need to be subscribers. If you are one of the few retailers that have a double opt-in email program, you certainly find that not everyone confirms his or her subscription immediately or at all. Sometimes a simple follow up (one-time – don’t be a pest!) is all you need to increase conversion. If however, you do not leverage double opt-in (as most of you likely do not) then consider the response to your Welcome Message as an indication of potential long-term interest. If the message isn’t opened and/or clicked, you may consider messaging to the audience differently (both contextually and frequency) until some level of engagement is realized (or not).
  3. Giving back is good. The Gap’s “Give and Get” program is a great example of a retailer combining altruism with a great engagement strategy. Subscribers get a nice discount, part of the proceeds from their purchase benefit a non-profit of their choosing, and they are encouraged to share the deal with friends. Especially during the holidays, feel good offers can be big motivators.
  4. Don’t forget the party favors! A little incentive can go a long way. When recipients get something in return for their attention, they are more likely to engage with your brand. Video game retailer GameStop offers reward points for consumers who answer their opinion surveys and United Airlines gives bonus miles to subscribers prompted to update their preferences.
  5. Out with the old… “do not reply” button, that is. A lot of marketers talk a good game about communication being a two-way street and then send out messages marked “do not reply.” How about trying “we want to hear from you” instead? Encouraging email recipients to provide feedback can improve your inbox delivery — it turns out that ISPs look at replies alongside other filtering metrics!
  6. Say thanks. Movie ticket service Fandango entered subscribers automatically into a sweepstakes as a way to thank them for their business and keep them engaged as they watched for the winning announcement via email. How’s that for a win-win?

Kara Trivunovic is Global Director of Strategy at StrongMail, a provider of interactive marketing solutions for email marketing and social media.

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