Holiday Email Sending 101
The following guide was put together by the SendGrid support team to ensure you optimize your email sending this holiday season!
Here at SendGrid Support we know how crucial your holiday sends are. Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways to drive revenue during the holiday season – it’s a busy time for the email industry, so it’s critical that your campaigns are executed properly and best practices are followed to get the most value from your holiday sending. We’ve put this guide together to make sure you’ll be set up for success!
There are many different factors involved in delivering your mail effectively. Two of the most important elements are warmup and sender authentication.
Starting your sending off right and building your reputation as a sender is the most important element of holiday success. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to repair a bad sending reputation, so it’s essential to start off strong if your campaigns are on a strict schedule.
Warmup processes will vary greatly depending on what type of plan you are on. Our Free and Essentials plans utilize shared IP infrastructure to deliver mail, while our Pro customers are given dedicated IPs for just their sending. Below are the best practices for getting started with both types of sending.
Free and Essentials Users (Shared IPs)
One of the biggest benefits of using shared IPs is they don’t need to be warmed up. Because you’ll be sharing IPs with other users, mailbox providers will be used to receiving traffic from these IPs. This means that you will be able to send your mail as quickly as you want. However, you are sharing your sending IPs, so your delivery can be affected by the reputation of other customers. To learn more about sending from shared IP pools, click here.
Pro Users (Dedicated IPs)
While dedicated IPs can ultimately provide the best deliverability for an established email program, they need to be “warmed up” to achieve best results. IP warming is the practice of gradually increasing the volume of mail sent via a dedicated IP address according to a predetermined schedule. This gradual process helps to establish a reputation with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as a legitimate email sender.
When an inbox provider observes email suddenly coming from a new or “cold” IP address, they will take notice and immediately begin evaluating the traffic coming from that IP. Since ISPs treat email volume as a key determining factor when detecting spam, it is best to begin sending a low to moderate volume, eventually working your way up to larger volumes. This gives the receiving email providers a chance to closely observe your sending habits and record how your recipients engage with your mail.
You can choose to either use the SendGrid automated warmup if you have multiple dedicated IPs, or you can manually follow our suggested warmup schedule. When automatically warming up an IP, SendGrid limits the amount of email sent through that IP per hour. Any email requests that exceed this hourly limit will overflow to any other existing warm IPs on your account. For more information on dedicated IPs, click here.
Sender Authentication is a critical element of email delivery. Sender authentication is the functionality that shows ISPs that SendGrid has your permission to send emails on your behalf. This permission is given by the act of pointing very specific DNS entries from your domain registrar to SendGrid. These DNS entries will automatically setup SPF and DKIM records for your mail. There are three types of sender authentication – domain, link branding, and rDNS.
Of these, domain authentication is the most important, as these setup SPF and DKIM records. Link branding will mask image and click tracking links with your domain, and rDNS will create custom reverse DNS for your dedicated IP if you are on a Pro package. The sender authentication process can vary depending on what DNS host you use – please see our detailed documentation here for more info.
Other Sending Best Practices
Other Sending Best Practices
Putting in some legwork up-front will make the holiday sending season much easier. Our Expert Services team has put together a 4th Quarter Email Playbook to provide information on how to prepare and get the most out of your email campaigns this year. We suggest reviewing their content here. Our deliverability team has also put together an awesome best practices guide. This will walk you through everything you need to know to have a successful email program. Check out the guide here! If you have additional questions about segmenting traffic, timing sends, list hygiene, or anything else, feel free to reach out to support!
If you’re looking to get dedicated onboarding/ramp up manager, our specialists work with you throughout the setup process to ensure that your email program is built for success and operates as expected. To get started with a paid consultation, please fill out one of these forms to receive a quote.
Once you get your sender authentication setup and understand the type of warmup you’ll need to implement, you can start sending. There are three ways to send mail with SendGrid. You can use our Marketing Campaigns web application, connect with us via SMTP, or integrate with our fully RESTful API. Here are our guides for getting setup to send with each system.
Your customers will receive hundreds of emails throughout the holiday season, each encouraging them to shop their holiday deals and receive exclusive discounts. In order to stand out from the crowd during the busiest marketing time of the year, try using SMS to reach your customers in a quick and personal way, directly on their mobile phones.
SMS, or text messaging, is a powerful communication channel that businesses can use to capitalize on their holiday promotions. In fact, 90 percent of all text messages are opened and read within three seconds. Because SMS boasts extremely high engagement rates, it’s imperative that brands use SMS to capture the attention of their customers.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use SMS marketing during the holiday season.
Send time-sensitive holiday promotions
Since people are actively searching for gifts during the holiday season, SMS messages are an effective way to alert shoppers about your exclusive deals and holiday promotions. The open rate for SMS is 90 percent, compared to just 20 percent of emails, reflecting customers’ opinions that texting is a more trusted, personal way to communicate and receive marketing offers. Sending your promotional message as a text instead of an email will help your offer stand out from your competitors’ and alert your customers immediately about your time-sensitive offers.
Use location-based messaging
Gift-givers don’t want to spend hours browsing through stores–they want to find deals, fast! With SMS, you can segment your messages to send your recipients offers that can be redeemed in-store at the locations closest to them. Doing so will prompt them to stop by your nearest location and participate in your holiday promotions, optimizing the shopping experience for both you and your customers.
Give inventory updates for popular products
It’s likely that some of your most popular holiday products will be temporarily sold-out as the shopping season reaches its peak. Use SMS to send your customers inventory updates to notify them when their favorite items have been restocked at your store.
Grow your contact list
The holiday season gives you a unique opportunity to build your SMS subscriber list. As customers are eager to stay up-to-date with deals, offer them exclusive discounts when they sign-up for your texting list. Encourage them to text a keyword to your shortcode to subscribe to your mailing list and receive special rewards via text.
Send tracking notifications for shipped items
Customers that order from your online store will likely be anxious to receive their packages on-time as the holidays approach. To put their minds at ease, use SMS to send tracking updates that notify your customers when their packages have shipped and when they will be delivered.
The holiday season is jam-packed with shopping, sales, and savings. Having SMS in your marketing toolbox will help you capitalize on your holiday promotions and build a strong relationship with your customers.
For more information on how SMS can complement your existing email program, talk to an expert at Twilio.
We’re here to help guide you through your holiday sends and get the most out of our system. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in our documentation, please get in touch with us. If you are on a paid plan, using our 24/7 live-chat feature will be the fastest way to get your questions answered.
Live chat is great for quick questions regarding your account and SendGrid features. If you have a highly technical issue, creating a ticket will be the best way to get in touch with us. Tickets allow us to easily provide and receive technical information, and can be escalated to a dedicated team if needed. Phone support is best for account-specific questions and getting started. Phone support is available Monday through Friday 7AM to 5PM MST.
To get in touch with our team, simply log into our support site here and start typing a question. We’ll provide some self-help resources as well as the ability to create a ticket, start a live chat session, or request a callback.
Although email delivery can be complicated, following the tips above should position your email program to achieve success for the holiday season! If you want to brush up on some more last minute email program improvements, check out our 4th Quarter Email Playbook.