Alice Spencer Senior Manager, Deliverability Services at Ometria
Posted 03 November 2020

3 factors to consider for Black Friday deliverability wins

Topics: Black Friday

With Black Friday soon upon us, understandably this year there is a lot of curiosity about what to expect. Given the current global pandemic, the usual rush or excitement around the Cyber Weekend may feel quite different. What remains apparent however, is that customers are still shopping online.

Now a majority of brands are truly ‘digital-first’, shoppers expect messages to increase slightly, but those  messages must remain timely and personalised. 

To take things back a step, tailored messages are the gold-standard for any smart retailer but those messages are also not impactful at all if they don’t reach inboxes. Deliverability is the essential component of your marketing strategy. And to make sure that you have one less thing to worry about outside of targets, customer engagement and crafting those excellent campaigns, we’ve noted three factors to consider around your deliverability and important questions to ask yourself, as you do final checks before the 27th November.

What impacts campaigns making it across the finish line? 

Increased volumes

Mailbox providers are sensitive to both sudden and large changes in volume. Their systems are built to detect such behaviour and view it as potentially spammy as it mirrors the behaviour of spammers and fraudsters. As we’re well aware, Black Friday is one of those periods where your email sending can triple or even quadruple due to automated campaigns and need to share sales updates and and when they take place. When planning how to safely increase volumes consider:

  • How much will your daily send volumes increase by?
  • How much does increasing your volumes affect deliverability and campaign performance? Use previous occasions when sends have increased in volume to benchmark what happens when you increase volumes by x%?
  • How are you increasing the volumes? Will this come through contacting older contacts that are not included in your day to day segments?  Or through increased frequency to existing contacts?

You should always plan to increase the volumes over several sends; to do this look at the difference in volume between your current daily sends and the planned maximum sends during the peak (of the Cyber Weekend). For broadcast sends a good rule of thumb is to avoid sending more than double your average. 

Sending messages to older or less engaged contacts

During the Cyber Weekend, understandably, you want to reach out to your entire database – which at times may include older contacts who are not regularly sent to. Of course, this poses a risk. This might mean: an increase in user complaints, unsubscribes and spam folder placement. The top mailbox providers, gmail, microsoft and Verizon Media all take into account user engagement when determining delivery of campaigns to either the inbox or the spam folder. 

During peak season the added pressure on mailbox providers systems due to increased volumes across the email industry leads to more senders seeing mail go to the spam folder or be rejected. The subscribers themselves can also feel bombarded by emails, especially from senders they may no longer engage with. 

Email addresses that have not been recently sent to also run the risk of no longer being valid and so may bounce as an unknown user or have been turned into a spam trap. High numbers of unknown users or spam traps can also potentially cause deliverability problems. So, this is something very important to consider when creating segments.

See our post on why these customers may have ‘lapsed’ or become inactive, along with tips to get them to re-engage, minimising the chances of your eye-catching campaigns hitting the spam bin. Data hygiene is especially critical in the run up to Black Friday. 

Things to consider when looking at any existing re-engagement/win-back campaigns that are running: 

  • How successful are these? 
  • What are they triggering on, e.g last order, last engagement with email or lifecycle status? 
  • What content are you using?
  • Do you need to run a specific re-engagement campaign ahead of peak for contacts not covered by the current re-engagement campaigns?

 An example may look like:  if your day-to-day sends are to contacts who opened an email in the last 6 months but the criteria for re-engagement segments are for those who haven’t opened in 12 months, you should craft a specific campaign for those who last engaged between 6 – 12 months ago.

Black Friday Burnout

When planning activity leading up to Black Friday itself marketers need to consider how early to start offers. Some consumers will take advantage of offers as soon as they are available, as the industry has seen retailers start offers earlier each year in order to beat their competitors. 

It’s important to note that this can have some unforeseen consequences; early bird shoppers disengage very quickly as they have already made the purchases they want.  

On the other hand, subscribers who lay in wait for the best potential deals on, or near, Black Friday  can feel bombarded by messaging if it starts too early. Once subscribers start disengaging with campaigns early,  it could lead to later campaigns being delivered to spam and the subscriber missing out on an offer they wanted.

Striking the right balance for your audience is key. If you are planning to start early consider: 

  • Do you have enough different offers to keep the subscribers engaged without becoming repetitive?
  • Are you making offers which are unique to Black Friday and or Cyber Weekend? Is there enough FOMO attached to the incentive?  

Conclusion 

As you can see, deliverability is an important part of your Cyber Weekend planning. To make sure that your campaigns are reaching the desired inboxes, remember to consider the below points as you add the final tweaks to your Black Friday strategy. 

Increased volumes

  • How much will your daily send volumes increase by?
  • How much does increasing your volumes affect deliverability and campaign performance? Use previous occasions when sends have increased in volume to benchmark what happens when you increase volumes by x%?
  • How are you increasing the volumes? Will this come through contacting older contacts that are not included in your day to day segments?  Or through increased frequency to existing contacts?

 

Re-engaging older contacts 

  • Do you need to run a specific re-engagement campaign ahead of peak for contacts not covered by the current re-engagement campaigns?

Things to consider looking at your previous ‘win-back’ campaigns 

  • How successful are these? 
  • What are they triggering on, e.g last order, last engagement with email or lifecycle status? 
  • What content are you using? 

 

Black Friday Burnout 

  • Do you have enough different offers to keep the subscribers engaged without becoming repetitive?
  • Are you making offers which are unique to Black Friday and or Cyber Weekend? Is there enough FOMO attached to the incentive? 

 

How matched are retail marketers to their customers expectations? Read our latest download ‘The Black Friday Barometer’, where we asked 4000 consumers and 300 senior retail marketers what they’re expecting during the most unpredictable Cyber Weekend of recent history. 

 

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