Our Deliverability Consultant, Luke Martinez, took some time to sit down with me to answer the questions we received during our last webcast Holiday Sending Hacks. The goals of your holiday email can be a bit different than your traditional email program, but the deliverability basics stay the same! Below you’ll find our holiday sending thoughts and recommendations from unengaged users to unsubscribes.

What do you consider “unengaged” users? For example, people who don’t open or click in 90 days?

Unfortunately, there’s not a specific time we recommend (like X number of days or months of un-engagement), because it really depends on your business model, the type of email you’re sending (and at what frequency), your reputation as a sender, etc. For example, we would expect a sender who sends daily emails to remove unengaged users quicker than those sending a weekly newsletter.

If you’re not quite sure where you stand with your unengaged users, we recommend implementing a “win-back” campaign that targets unengaged recipients. It essentially asks if they would still like to receive your mail. If they click “yes” to keep receiving the mail, keep them on your list. If you don’t hear anything, it’s time to “sunset” or retire them off of your list.

When tracking opens and clicks, do you use unique or gross numbers?

We recommend looking at both. Generally when we talk about open rates, it is referring to aggregate, and not unique. However in some industries, where people are known to repeatedly open single messages, it would be a good idea to look at unique opens instead. For the most part, people look at aggregate opens over uniques, unless there are huge discrepancies.

How is a seasonal unsubscribe implemented?

A seasonal unsubscribe would be an additional option on your email preferences page, or better yet, on your actual email. You could add them to a temporary suppression list to re-add after the holidays – separate from your normal suppression list used for “sunsetted” users, unsubscribes, or bounces.

Do ISPs and spam filters become more strict during the holidays?

No. Spam filters and ISPs do not crack down on spammers or change their thresholds during the holidays. The same rules that apply the rest of the year, apply during the holidays. Increases in blocking, filtering, and throttling are generally the result of increased mail volume and frequency, which in turn lead to lower engagement metrics and higher spam complaint rates.

My business is seasonal, so I really only send my customers mail during the holidays. How do I avoid getting into trouble when I only send to my users once a year?

Only sending to your list once a year can put you at risk of hitting a large number of spam traps. When an email address goes unused for a long period of time, ISPs can repurpose these addresses into spam traps. We know that a year is more than enough time for an email address to become a spam trap, so what can you do to minimize the damage of sending to a list that is a year old?

When mailing an old list, we recommend that you start your holiday campaigns with a re-engagement message. If a user interacts with the re-engagement message, add them to your standard holiday mailing list. For users who don’t interact with the message, try them one or two  more times and (unless they engage) remove that address from your mailing list.

Do unsubscribes negatively affect my sender reputation?

An unsubscribe is not the worst thing that can happen to you. While we know that a large number of unsubscribes can begin to impact your sending reputation, the consequences of a spam complaint are much more damaging. Make sure users can find your unsubscribe button, because if they can’t, they will always be able to find the “mark as spam” button.

Interested in more holiday sending information? View the full webcast!

Kate Schmeisser
When Kate isn't trying to teach herself the ukelele, make it through the mountain of books on her nightstand, or figure out if they are actually being serious about suggested serving sizes on ice cream, she is the Creative Content Manager.