We know what you’re thinking…“Ugh, holiday email talk… in August!? My neighbor took down their inflatable Santa and sleigh just last week to make way for folding chairs and a new super BBQ for an all-day Labor Day grill out.”

Or maybe it’s “Oh no, please don’t remind me of last year’s Thanksgiving where I spent all weekend apologizing to my in-laws for getting stuck on the phone and computer fixing merge variables and scheduling issues from our Black Friday email campaign! :cringe:”

So why in the world are we talking about holiday email this early in the year?

Whether you had a stellar holiday email campaign last year or it completely tanked, planning and preparation is an absolute necessity when it comes to creating a successful campaign each year. With everyone’s goal of getting as much mail out as possible to notify customers of holiday sales, office closures, and season’s greetings, let’s take the time now (while we still have it) to ensure the success of those mailings.

The good news is that with the help of SharpSpring’s in-house deliverability experts, as well as SharpSpring’s full suite of marketing automation tools, there’s no reason to fear the busiest email season of the year!

We’ll walk you through the steps needed to experience higher open rates—during the holidays and all year round.

This is the first of three, holiday preparation posts. Why aren’t we giving you all the tips right now? You’ll see that some of our recommendations require time—another reason why we’re starting early.

Today, we are going to focus on clearing any delivery issues, plus increasing deliverability. What’s the difference? Deliverability is focusing on getting mail to the inbox, while delivery is only about confirming the message was accepted for delivery. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was delivered to the inbox, though—it could have landed in the spam folder or may have been pushed aside into quarantine.

Since ISPs are the gatekeepers to your recipient’s inbox, the first step to a successful holiday campaign is ensuring you have a positive sender reputation with ISPs. That’s why resolving any outstanding delivery issues is so important. We want to prevent bounces, spam complaints and the like, as well as complete setup of domain authentication, and grow volume over time with directly opted-in recipients.

1. Authentication and Delivery

  • Authentication
    • Complete setup of DKIM (if you have not already)
    • Consider setting up DMARC to ensure you don’t encounter spoofing issues around the holidays that could make it difficult to carry a positive reputation for getting mail delivered to the inbox
      • Unsure how to do this? Reach out to our Support team so we can help!
  •  Delivery
    • Remove role addresses, disposable domains, and invalid addresses from mailing lists to avoid issues with hard bounces, spam complaints, and potential spam traps.
    • Implement confirmed opt-in so only directly opted-in contacts who truly want your mail, receive your mail. This will also minimize the risk of spam complaints, unsubscribes, spam trap hits and several other delivery and deliverability challenges with future sends.

Check out the next posts in our holiday preparation series…

2. Recipients, Volume, and Personalization

3. Design, Testing, Sending and Monitoring Results

  • Plan out the types of emails you’ll send over the holidays.
  • Test, test, test and then test again!
  • Holiday sending schedules
  • After the send… Monitoring results
Jessica Kaplan