Remember the Little Things this Holiday Season

Fall is my favorite time of year. The changing colors, the crisp air, football, and the anticipation of gathering with friends and family for the holidays. It is often a time for reflection, to think of days past, accomplishments, failures, and the promise of tomorrow.

For marketers, Fall is less a time for reflection, and more a time for action. It is a very important time of year as the revenue gained from upcoming holiday sales may determine if your business is profitable for the year. The pressure to achieve results is stronger than ever.

In an effort to achieve better results, many marketers look for new technologies such as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI), and Artificial Intelligence. The hope is that implementing these technologies can help improve the customer experience, introduce your brand to a larger audience, and lead to an increase in email revenue. In my experience, the new technologies get a lot of attention from marketers and rightly so. The competition for the inbox is fierce, and if you are not innovating and striving to improve, then you risk losing your customer to a competitor.

With an increased focus on new technologies and the increased holiday workload, what happens with many marketers this time of year is that the little things in your email program get overlooked and fall to the bottom of your priority list. It is understandable, but it is important to realize that all of the little things you do as a sender actually do matter.

While these little things by themselves may not have a large and direct impact on your inbox placement (some have bigger impact than others), having bad sending practices or metrics in addition to ignoring these little things can make reaching the inbox a bigger challenge.

1. Data quality: The quality of your data directly impacts deliverability. Syntax errors such as a misspelled domain name, a misplaced period, a missing username, and a missing @ sign are missed opportunities. Keeping your data clean improves your chances of reaching the inbox and making the sale.

2. Design errors: Misaligned columns, bad text and background color combinations, missing graphics, and misspelled words may cause your email to be perceived as spam.

3. WHOIS record: Ensure you have updated contact information and do not use a domain privacy service. Spammers use domain privacy services so be transparent about who you are and how you can be contacted.

4. Role Accounts: Ensure you have the abuse@ and postmaster@ role accounts configured to receive email and monitor them daily for communications from subscribers or mailbox providers. 5. Add your abuse@ and postmaster@ role accounts to Mailbox providers may look up your information there to try and contact you.

6. Personal whitelisting requests: The major mailbox providers and spam filter companies all recommend asking subscribers to add your sending address to their address book or contact list. In most cases, your sending address in their address book or contact list causes your email to bypass the spam filter and land in the inbox.

7. List Unsubscribe: Most major mailbox providers use the list-unsubscribe header. It provides recipients an option to unsubscribe rather than complain, leading to a better sending reputation.

8. Reply-To address: Mailbox providers find you more trustworthy when people reply to your emails. Encourage this behavior and be responsive when contacted. Be sure not to use ‘do not reply’ as a username as it sends the wrong message. a. Use a Reply-To header if you need replies to go to a different address than your sending address. By default, replies are sent to your sending address.

9. Monitor Out-Of-Office messages: Congratulations! Spam traps don’t send messages when they go on vacation; you have reached a real person.

10. Bad links: Make sure that all links go to a legitimate landing page and that there are no page errors. Be sure to check the links in your pre-header and footer as these areas are often ignored.

11. The email footer: Be sure to link to your preference center and promote other important aspects of your business like: About Us, FAQ, Contact Us, Unsubscribe or Privacy Policy.

12. Privacy Policy: Ensure the privacy policy link is located near the submit button and update the language to provide clear (non-legalese) language about how the email address is used and how to unsubscribe.

13. Personalization: Be sure to address your subscriber by their first name or title (e.g. Hi Jane, Hello Mr. Smith). Be sure that the message personalization is working and not inserting the database field name or just a person’s last name (e.g. Hi <first_name>, or Hello Smith).

14. Alternative Text with Images: Display actionable and engaging text that appears with a disabled image. Most email clients disable images by default, so alternative text can help describe your message or offer in the preview pane.

In most cases, these little things require a small number of resources to implement or fix and they contribute to mailbox providers seeing you as a more trustworthy sender. So be sure and take a few minutes each day to focus on the little things in your email program. Looking for more insight on what can block you from the inbox? Join our upcoming webinar—The Fact and Fiction of Email Filtering—on Wednesday, October 23rd.

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