All over the world, consumers are very familiar with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and of course the seasonal festivities of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s (Gregorian) and Thanksgiving. Your own personal inbox is probably already inundated with the gift of plentiful messages and offers for some or all these occasions. But as you know, not all these emails will succeed. Many will simply be deleted, some may never even reach your recipients’ inboxes. If your organization is ramping up campaigns and email sends for the fourth quarter, then here are few things to keep in mind, so you can avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Hitting the wrong button

Although it may be tempting this time of year, you want to avoid sending to everyone you possibly can in your database. The messages may feel like a sudden surprise to the customers you haven’t contacted in a while. Your email recipients have multiple options to interact with email messages that they may have forgotten they signed up for, and they might not necessarily pick the right one. Instead of using your carefully crafted subscription management page or simple global unsubscribe, they may opt to:

  • Block the contact (your From: address or maybe your entire sending domain)
  • Report spam
  • Report phishing

When recipients react with the tools listed above, they send signals that your email is unwanted spam to their mailbox providers. You will start to see more of your emails delivered to the junk or spam folder and opens/clicks will decrease.

Spam traps

Spam trap email addresses lurk in poor-quality data and can damage your sending reputation and your ability to get into the right mailboxes. Spam traps are email addresses that are not currently owned by a human; think of them more like data feeds. Spam traps can be owned by a blacklist, an ISP or spam filter, or a sensor-network, where they are used for reporting purposes only.

What is the impact of sending to spam trap addresses? Backlisting and a hit to your sender reputation for starters. Blacklists often use spam traps to identify potential spammers. If you send email to their spam trap addresses, they will list the IP address that was used to send the email. If you send to spam trap addresses owned by ISPs, they will use this information to calculate your sender reputation and it can impact the delivery of email.

Clean marketing lists are the best protection against spam traps. Keep your marketing lists clean using regular data hygiene such as the steps shown here and you will remove unengaged subscribers and clear out any spam traps at the same time.

Unengaging content

You probably have heard the mantra “content is king” so often that it has become a cliché, but it is still a powerful truth. The power behind that throne is engagement. If no one wants to read that content, and it doesn’t drive action, you might end up seeing your email messages again be ignored. Worse, they could be reported as junk/spam.

Don’t give them the empty calories of a tired and wan, overly general holiday greeting, with no engaging copy or links they want to click. Put your best messaging and offers forward.

Not checking your technology

It can be exciting and even fun to craft email messages and campaigns for the holiday season, but don’t let that distract you from a few important technical details. It’s worth taking the time now to ask yourself two critical questions. If you don’t know the answers to the questions below, your IT team can help.

  • Have you included the ClickDimensions SPF mechanism in your SPF record?
  • Have you implemented DMARC over the last year or two?

Read through this article or ask someone on your IT team to read just the first paragraph and confirm you have the ClickDimensions mechanism in place in your SPF record.

If you already know you have a DMARC record for the domain that you use in the From: field of your email sends, but you haven’t told our support team so we can be sure your SPF, DKIM and DMARC all line up for great delivery, then read this and this and, if need be, contact ClickDimensions support for assistance.

These two simple checks should only take a few minutes but could really pay off in the “under-the-hood” technology of placing your email messages, and you may have missed checking them until now.

Happy Holiday Marketing!