Disaster awaits retailers who aren’t planning Christmas email marketing campaigns right now

Retailers will face email deliverability nightmares if they aren’t planning their Christmas marketing campaigns early

Don't ruin your email deliverability rating.
Trashing your deliverability: Might as well
pour BBQ on your keyboard

Although August is too early to see any Christmas decorations in Macy’s in Manhattan or Schwegman’s in New Orleans or Kimbell’s department store in the movie Miracle on 49th Street, it isn’t too early for those retailers to begin planning their Christmas email marketing campaigns.

Why bother to plan this far in advance? Why not wait till the last minute, slap together your creative and punch it out to your list? Because if you don’t plan now, you’re going to blow your email deliverability to smithereens. Then I’ll get a phone call from you the day after your “Thanksgiving Day-a-palooza blowout” email blast and have to hear all that pouting from you saying, “My deliverability is down to 35% inbox placement! Our CEO wants an explanation! And then she said she wants me to blast more, more, more!” Yeah, blast out more email after you just trashed your deliverability. Why not just pour barbecue sauce on your computer right now.

Why retailers must plan Christmas email campaigns now

The normal email deliverability trap is that a large retailer, who’s spent a lot of time building an opt-in email list, will want to send out huge volume just prior to the Christmas season. The problem here is that ISPs don’t want to see massive spikes in email volume coming from you. They want to see smooth, consistent email volume being sent over a long period of time. So, if you normally send an average of 500,000 emails per month during the year, but then towards the end of November, in preparation for the Thanksgiving Black Friday sale, you suddenly send 12 million emails, ISPs like Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, and even “Charlie’s ISP and Laundromat” will block you (No!, not Charlie’s ISP! Insert shrieking sound here). That type of spike in email volume can look like spam to an ISP. And to them, if it looks like spam and comes in a metal can with a pull-top, it is spam and they block it.

A plan for retailers to avoid this problem

Whether you are a retailer or not, your email marketing efforts need to be planned so that you can spread out the volume much more evenly throughout the year.

Decreasing deliverability rate
Deliverability rates will plummet if you send
too much email volume during Christmas as
compared to other times of the year

Step 1: Reevaluate your life

Not really. But do reevaluate your need to send all that email. Are you sure your subscribers want all that crap? If they don’t want it they’re going to click the Report Spam button anyway.

Remember, ISPs don’t care that your CEO thinks that a bigger email list is better, they only care about their customers.


Reduce your email list to focus only on customers that want it. Conduct a re-engagement campaign well prior to the Christmas season. Ask subscribers if they still want your emails. Tell them that during the holidays you’ll be emailing incredible deals that would make Thanksgiving’s Black Friday half-off sales look as boring as a set of actuarial tables that predict the reproductive rate of the unladen swallow (the European type).

Step 2: Get engaged without the diamond

Create an incentive to engage with your emails. No diamond rings required. Create a contest, or offer an extra coupon to subsribers that consistently open and click links in your emails. Tell subscribers what you are doing and what they will win. DeBeers might want to give away a diamond ring though.

Step 3: Increase volume well in advance of Rudolph

Send increasingly more and more email volume over the next few months so that ISPs see your volume steadily increasing. These are not Christmas emails, these are emails that you might normally be sending out in July, August, and September. Sending out an increasing amount of email now will also serve to flush out the non-interested recipients who will unsubscribe (and hopefully not click the Report Spam button). You want to clear out your list now instead of having a high rate of unsubscribes during the holiday email season.

As you increase email volume, start segmenting your list so that you identify the really interested recipients. These are the ones who consistently open and click. Then, when it comes time to send out the big Black Friday email marketing campaign, you’ll know which customers really want all that email and which don’t. Send the highly engaged recipients a lot of email, but don’t send nearly as much to those recipients who’s engagement level is lower. By not sending too much to the lesser engaged recipients, you will be sending less overall email during the holiday season.

At the end of this plan, you’ll have sent out much more email in advance of the holiday season and much less during the holiday season. This will result in a more even volume of email being sent over time. Your sales results will be fantastic (thereby shutting up your CEO) and your deliverability rate won’t suck either.

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About Nate Goodman

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Nathan Goodman is a freelance fiction writer and the author behind The Special Agent Jana Baker Spy-Thriller Series. "A terrorist on the loose, a country in panic, and time is running out..." FOR A FREE COPY of book one, visit the author's website.