Whatever may happen this holiday season, it’s pretty clear that shoppers are less likely to flock to stores or congregate in long lines waiting for the big Black Friday, doorbusting sales. In fact, many retailers have stated they will stay closed on Thanksgiving day to dissuade large crowds on the day before Black Friday. 

Whether your business plans to stay open, offer curbside pickup, or move to only online sales, consumers will depend on digital interactions to know what’s happening with your brand. Ensuring that your email program is up to snuff will be vital to getting your messages delivered to customers’ inboxes at the right time. Here are our email predictions to help you prepare for holiday sending in 2020.

Prediction 1: More and more email 

The last several years we’ve seen year-over-year increases in sending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday—and we expect this year will be no exception (check out the chart below). 

Twilio SendGrid Holiday Sending Volume

In 2019, we processed 4.1 billion emails on Black Friday and we wouldn’t be surprised if there was an even larger increase this year. Many brands that didn’t send as much email last year will lean on email to get their offers to those who would normally shop in stores. 

If you plan on ramping up the amount of emails you send, use these tips to increase your volume of email in a controlled and stable manner. 

Warm up your sending: While we wish we could compare email to sports cars, you can’t go 0-60 with your email program. A huge jump in sending could get your email sent to spam, your domain blocked by mailbox providers, or your IP deny listed. Here’s more on how to warm up your program. 

Start now: Amazon had Prime Day late this year, Oct. 13 and 14th, rather than the usual date in July. It’s spurred us all to think about what we want for Christmas, what we should get others for the holidays, what we should purchase now or hold off on. Likewise, you should get ahead of your customers’ holiday shopping by starting offers early. This will also help you slowly increase the amount of email you send over the next couple of months. 

If you’re looking for a reliable email provider known for its ability to scale, sign up for a free trial with Twilio SendGrid.

Your email provider: A huge increase in sending (like the massive volume of emails sent on Black Friday) can cause email providers to become overloaded with email, delaying send times. It’s important to find a provider with the history of providing high availability and quick transit times, especially during the crucial holiday season. Twilio SendGrid prepares for Black Friday year-round to ensure that your email is delivered in a matter of seconds.

Prediction 2: Email security will matter

The influx of email since March has provided more opportunity for bad actors to impersonate brands and slip through filters undetected. The number of phishing attacks also tends to increase during the holiday season. In fact, research from Barracuda shows that the week before Christmas of 2018 the number of spear phishing attacks spiked 150% above average.

Source: Barracuda, Spear Phishing Top Threats and Trends

Between the increase we’ve seen since COVID-19 and the possible jump over the holiday season, you’ll want to prioritize security for your email program. Phishing attacks can be costly to both your bank account and to the success of your email sending.

The impersonation of your brand can cause recipients to mark your email as spam, damaging your sender reputation and your delivery rates. But don’t fret—you can take the following preventative measures to protect your brand from phishing scams. 

Email authentication is vital to preventing phishing attacks.

Authenticate your email program: While SPF and DKIM are necessary (and important) protocols, to prevent phishers from impersonating your brand you need to set up DMARC enforcement. Without DMARC enforcement, bad actors will still be able to send emails on behalf of your sender address. 

Monitor your sending: To set up DMARC enforcement, you need to know who is sending from your domains. This helps you authorize legitimate senders while blocking fraudulent ones that are spoofing your brand’s identity. To find out who’s sending from your domain, use Valimail’s free DMARC Monitor tool. 

Prediction 3: Creativity will win out

With digital communication being the main method of reaching consumers this holiday season, you’ll need to get creative with how and when you communicate. 

Recipients are already bombarded with promotional deals throughout the holidays, making it hard enough to stand out in the inbox. Without the ability to reach as many customers in store, how do you replicate the excitement of the holiday season and Black Friday deals?

Less is more: Just because you can send more email, doesn’t mean you should. Recipients are already overwhelmed with the influx in digital communication (Zoom fatigue, anyone?).  Instead of stuffing the inbox with daily offers, send a targeted, personalized email once a week. 

Incorporate SMS, social media, and display ads to reach customers across platforms.

Omnichannel opportunities: Pull in other channels to create an immersive digital experience for your customers. Include similar messaging and visuals across channels to create a cohesive experience. Here are a few exceptional omnichannel marketing examples.

Interactive experiences: One of the most challenging parts about the lack of face-to-face communication is that communication often feels one-sided. Consider how you can bring customer interaction to your digital promotions so that it becomes a two-way conversation.

For example, you could design interactive emails with colorful rollover effects, quizzes, or other Easter eggs. Could you create a series of countdown emails with an advent calendar of offers to keep the excitement rolling through November?

Whatever you decide to do, aim big. Creativity will shine through the clutter. For inspiration, here are a few holiday emails that caught our eye. 

That’s a wrap

We can only guess what will happen and change in the coming months, but there is one area we’re pretty confident in: email. So when it comes to your email program this holiday season, be sure to:

    1. Prepare for higher sending volumes
    2. Prioritize email authentication
    3. Get creative with fun, personalized campaigns

For more email tips for this sure-to-be-strange holiday, check out our articles:

Good luck and happy sending! 



Julie Griffin
Julie is the content marketing associate at SendGrid, helping to write and edit the blog, as well as enhance SendGrid’s SEO efforts. When she isn’t at the office, you’ll find her buzzing around Denver’s coffee shops, breweries, and yoga studios.