From the desk of Kimberly Paxton, Head of Email Deliverability at Blueshift.
As we gear up for the 2020 holidays, we’ve already seen a number of inquiries around Prime Day this year and how the 2020 holiday season may be different than previous seasons. While this is a favorite time of year for so many it may also be the busiest — and stress seems to make its presence known for so many in the months ahead.
Many refer to this time of year as “Holiday” or “Peak Season” and efforts throughout the year may simply be leading up to these few precious weeks where most see a huge uptick in sales, revenue, and even engagement. We see the beauty in the turning of leaves, time spent with family and friends, fireside chats, and snow-filled days which are all on the horizon, though we all know these cherished times will be sharing the stage with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Small Business Saturday …and the list goes on.
The Blueshift team is ready to help you make the most of the season ahead, however it fits into your marketing plans. Whether this is a season of high volume and high demand for you, or simply the time of year that presents the most challenges in terms of reaching the Inbox and staying there – let’s talk about what’s to come and how to make the most of it all.
Peak Season & Increased Volumes
With the holiday season right around the corner now is the time to begin preparing your list. This is one of the most critical pieces for deliverability success at any time of the year, but especially in the months ahead when you will be fighting with so many for your place in your customers’ inboxes.
If general, if housekeeping is not something your team has performed in a while, start today. Ensuring that you are working with a clean list is the only way to ensure that you will be able to minimize negative reputation factors like hard bounces, spam trap hits, and excessive spam complaints.
- Each of our partners offer Validation tools for those programs that do not have confirmed opt-in actively in use. Reach out to our email experts for more information if you are questioning your program’s list hygiene before embarking on marketing plans for the remainder of the year.
Current Program Health Check
- Pay attention to the trends you will find in your current reporting monitoring efforts through the Blueshift platform/Insights. We recommend regular monitoring for all email programs, both Promotional and Transactional throughout the year, but especially now.
- Do you see issues currently with spam complaints? Are you experiencing challenges reaching the Inbox at Outlook? Reacting to these trends prior to executing our most important strategic plans this year will keep us from struggling with acceptance rates as well as deliverability rates. Our Email Deliverability Holiday Guide can be found here if you’d like to learn more.
Set Proper Expectations with your Audience
Letting your subscribers know what to expect is always a good idea and if our cadence or frequency shifts towards the end of the year and this is unexpected, your program will likely take the hit. An increase in spam complaints or unsubscribes is likely, in addition to engagement dwindling as many recipients experience list fatigue this time of year.
- Notify your audience of what is to come.
- Offer an Opt-down option as opposed to just the ability to opt-out.
- On that note, be sure your audience has access to a preference center where they will be able to take the reigns and let you know what they want from you.
Share your Plans With Us
- If you expect to see volumes increase significantly during this time, it is best to start gradually increasing volume before your peak volume day(s). Notify your Blueshift Customer Success Manager of any expected changes or volume increases and we will work with you to ensure we are prepared.
In the end, we are here to help and are just a shout away. Reach out to your Blueshift Customer Success Manager if you would like to discuss your plans in greater detail or if you feel meeting with Deliverability Services would be beneficial in order to best prepare.
Recent Outlook Changes Impacting Deliverability
Our biggest challenge these days has to be reaching the Inbox at Outlook domains and we are tackling this issue with everything we’ve got. We’ve been in discussions with the Postmaster team since trends we’re being spotted during our regular monitoring efforts. It has been confirmed through industry discussions and data sharing that recent changes were made on the Receiving side with Outlook and that these changes have resulted in current deliverability issues for a number of senders.
These changes are to be expected throughout the year with the 3 major Providers; Gmail, Verizon Media Group, and Outlook and are not temporary in nature. Providers make these types of changes frequently, though few impact our mailing efforts as significantly when we are aligned with best practices and mailing subscribers who want to receive our mail and are actively engaged with our programs. None of these changes are published or even publicly confirmed once discussions begin amongst senders and ESPs alike, so it can be tough to pinpoint exactly what is going on when trends are identified and this is where we can help.
Through your ongoing monitoring efforts, troublesome trends such as low open or click-through rates, elevated bounce rates, or spam folder placement may be found and these issues should be addressed right away. If you are having trouble addressing these issues or identifying the root cause, please reach out through the Blueshift Support portal and our team will dive in with you.
Currently, these changes are impacting mail sent to all Outlook domains; live.com, outlook.com, msn.com and hotmail.com, and all related country code TLDs. Deliverability Services is closely monitoring all mail streams and will be raising any blocks related to reputation found to the Customer Success team.
- Following standard best practices across the board is recommended, in addition to ensuring alignment with the Sender Guidelines being published by the Postmaster at Outlook.
- Please review your current performance metrics and let us know if you have identified high bounce rates at any of these Outlook domains or if open/click-through rates are lower than expected.
If you are not currently experiencing issues with the Outlook domains, there is no need to take action at this time.
Let us know if there are any email deliverability topics that you would like to see covered, outside of current events and ISP updates. There is always something going on in our world and we’re happy to share our knowledge with you, and we look forward to opening up dialogue on hot topics in email deliverability.
Beginning in January 2021 we will begin offering business hours so that answers to your most important questions may be answered. Stay tuned for more details on the day and time selected! Now, get back to sending those amazing emails and continue giving those customers of yours what it is they want!