There are some gifts that no one wants; the itchy, orange sweater your aunt knitted for you, the latest Nickelback album or a 12-pack of toilet paper. But here’s a gift that we can guarantee no one wants this holiday season: spam. As you’re starting to put together your shopping lists as well as your email lists for the holiday season, keep your recipient’s interests in mind. As with gifts, customizing your email campaigns with ISP and customers preferences in mind can result in better results. By now you’ve learned how to build a solid contact list and which goals to set before sending a campaign. This week, we’ll review a few points to safely land your email and win the inbox.

One key word: Deliverability

As an email sender and recipient, you might think that spam is a thing of the past, thanks to regulations and efficient “direct-to-spambox” algorithms. Though, despite all of the work ISPs and webmail clients put into building strong anti-spam filters, spam is still a very real issue. To better understand why this is the case, you first have to understand a key term: deliverability. Deliverability is the measurement or rate of emails that successfully reach the inbox as intended. According Return Path’s last Inbox Placement Benchmark Report, roughly 18% of legitimate commercial emails never see the inbox. Either they hit the spam folder or, worse, they are reported “missing”.
Why are so many legitimate emails being labeled as spam? The late 90s saw a rise in spam, which resulted in ISPs and webmail clients teaming up to build stronger anti-spam filters. While the number of real spam hitting your inbox has declined, on the flipside, these filters are so efficient that legitimate emails are often being categorized as spam too.
As you send greater volumes of email over the holiday season, you will either be messaging more customers, messaging more frequently, or both. Following deliverability best practices will therefore become more important than ever. As a result of your changed sending, a few things might happen: customers can become disengaged and mark your emails as spam or you might message old customers that are no longer actively opening your emails. These responses can have a negative impact on your sender reputation. Here are a few simple tricks to keep in mind to ensure an optimal deliverability.
Spam- The Gift That No One Wants

Prepare the runway before taking off

Before you start ramping up your holiday promotion emails, you’ll want to be sure your emails are “authentic”. Work with your tech team to make sure you have all of the basic settings that help ISPs and webmail clients recognize you as a reputable sender. Setting up validation systems such as SPF and DKIM will help validate your legitimacy as a sender in the “eyes” of ISPs and will reduce the number of emails that go missing or are mislabeled as spam.
Also, be sure to do a thorough clean of your contact list, if you aren’t already. Use a re-engagement campaign to filter out all inactive email addresses and also be sure all bounced and unsubscribed email addresses no longer show on your contact list. Remember, all email campaigns should always have a clear and direct unsubscribe button or link somewhere in the body. These simple steps can go a long way. They will show ISPs and your customers that you are serious about building a strong customer-brand relationship. In return, you will be rewarded with a high deliverability rate and high sender score.

Send presents and offers, not spam!

After setting up your account, it’s time to focus on the content of your email. If you don’t want to be considered as a spammer, don’t act like one – but it is helpful think like one! Learn how algorithms identify spammers and avoid these practices.
Most importantly, your customers should be able to instantly recognize you as the sender of each email communication. Clearly display your company name in the sender name or email address.
Avoid common spam vocabulary in your subject line: caps lock, usage of words like “URGENT”, “FREE”, or anything related industries that phishers and spammers like to endorse (luxury, medication, money transfer…)
Also, be sure to keep responsiveness in mind. Create different versions of your emails; HTML and plain text, to ensure a version of your email will show up even if a browser cannot display HTML.
Have a good picture to text ratio (20% pictures and 80% text should be OK) in the body of your emails: emails made of only pictures were an old spammer practice, it helped them hide their messages since anti-spam filters searched for keywords written in text. Since then, ISPs and webmail clients will flag emails with too many pictures.
Above all, it’s all about putting your customers first. Put yourself in your customers shoes – what kind of presents (or content) would they be happy to open? When customers are engaged, KPIs will be higher, they’re more likely to add you to their address book and treat you like a friend. Not only will they trust you, but ISPs are more likely to trust you as well.
With these tips in mind, you should be off to a good start!. If you’re looking to dig deeper and become a deliverability pro, check out our white paper with 34 tips that will increase your deliverability.
Tune in next week for more on winning the inbox this holiday season!


Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing.

Holiday Emailing Guide