Part 2 During Peak: Avoid stalling at the first hurdle and not reaching the inbox with these deliverability best practices, along with how to manage the perfect segmentation mix.

Tim Roe | Compliance and Deliverability Director
Part 2: Black Friday shopping
Having your Black Friday campaign planned is one part. Ensuring it runs smoothly is another and deliverability is a key factor in that.

The rules of good deliverability don’t suddenly change over Black Friday, however the actions of many marketers do. Many resort to volume over quality, along with mass frequency to ensure their messages reach as many customers as possible.

However, this can come at a price and not always have the desired impact a marketer will want. According to the DMA the average inbox placement rate in the UK is 88% - meaning that 1 in 8 emails effectively fail to deliver. What is the cost of 1 in 8 of your customers not receiving your peak period emails?

About 90% of deliverability issues are self-inflicted by the brand sending the email either through poor sending practices or bad data. This not only has short-term implications hindering the potential volume of sales and revenue you will generate from your peak campaigns, but it also has longer-term implications.

Poor sending practices could increase the number of customers you lose through unsubscribes, or even worse complaints, and each customer lost reduces the future value of your database.

Brands that have good sending practices, effectively have a better reputation, which results in improved inbox placement, and ultimately better conversion rates. And a more engaged database, is a more long-term profitable one.

Email Apps

The foundation of deliverability is reputation

During peak there is a strain on customers inboxes, therefore ISP’s want to make sure they only show customers the emails they will want to receive, which is determined by reputation.

There are two key things you can control, to avoid damaging your reputation:
 
  1. Remove Inactive or disengaged contacts: Sending to these contacts is a signal to an ISP that your emails are not wanted, inevitability damaging the chances of the ones that are wanted getting through.
  2. Manage inconsistent volume: A change in volume during peak can trigger a drop in reputation as the ISP doesn’t know whether these are genuine emails or whether it’s a spammer. Ensuring you have a clear schedule and segmentation plan that sends the right volume of emails, to the right segments, can help alleviate any issues that might occur when you suddenly ramp up activity.
Therefore, to give your Black Friday campaigns the best chance of success you have to avoid the temptation of send to all – every day – and carefully consider frequency and engagement to craft the perfect segmentation strategy for your brand.

Receiving emails on mobile

The 5 aspects of good deliverability

So how do you go about building your peak period engagement strategy to generate the maximum revenue during this period? This can be neatly broken down into 5 areas:
 

1. WHO:

By no means should you hit ‘send to all’ in the hope that greater reach will mean greater sales. Use your existing transactional, engagement and behavioural data to build segments into three broad levels:
 
  • Green: those that have specified their preferences for your Black Friday emails, recent abandoned baskets and new customers.
  • Amber: those that purchased last Black Friday, often purchase with discounts, or have recently browsed.
  • Red: the most disengaged contacts with no recent transactional or engagement data
It goes without saying that those who might have purchased recently and are very engaged are more likely higher value customers, so its key to target them first.

If you do decide to send out your Black Friday campaigns to your disengaged red segment, make sure you do so “after” your highly engaged green sends.

Once the red segments start going out and the ISPs notice less engagement, it makes it more likely your emails could start to move into the junk folder - therefore get your main money-making campaigns out before that happens!

 

2. WHAT:

There are lots of options for the type of emails brands can run during Black Friday.  From building up hype, collecting preferences, countdown to launch, encouraging the creation of wish lists, VIP or first access and finally the main launch and closing emails.

It’s about choosing what campaigns should go to what segments, based on which will have the biggest chance of driving the desired outcome. For example, VIPs will be more interested in first look or special announcements, and your engaged green segments will want to see the build-up related emails.

As you should only email your disengaged red segment less frequently, these should only receive the most important emails in your campaign such as your launching and closing emails.

However, also ensure that the content in each type of email is personalised to the individual based off previous preference data such as their preferred brands or specific product types, as well as overlaying any recent behavioural data such as any products they might have recently been browsing.

The junk folder

3. WHY:

You’ve managed to get into your customers busy inbox and succeeded in getting them to open your email, but why should they engage with your brand?

You need to make it stand out from your competitors and capture their interest in seconds which you can do through interactive content. Including simple features such as:
 
  • Animated gifs or videos to bring to life static campaign imagery
  • Hotspots to provide more information to your customers on specific products within campaign imagery or carousels enabling you to showcase more of your black Friday deals
  • Scratch and reveals to add playful elements so customers can scratch away to reveal exclusive discounts or news
  • Countdown timers to a specific deal ending to encourage urgency to purchase
  • Animated CTA’s to really catch the attention of your customer to make that all important click to site
Interactive content is a proven way to increase engagement and those customers who are more engaged, and enjoying the experience with your brand, are more likely to click through and make that all important peak purchase.

 

4. WHEN:

When to send an email is important not only in terms of the most optimal time to send, but also in terms of frequency. Even if you have good quality data, you can still generate complaints by over mailing your customers.

It’s important to understand that different segments will require different volumes. Your most engaged contacts might be happy to receive an email every day of your Black Friday campaign – others less engaged might only need one a week.

Using a predictive frequency model looks at how engaged your customers are and enables you to make informed decisions on the most optimal frequency and volume to send to different segments.

It’s vital you send the right volume to your customers to avoid creating a disengaged audience, that might potentially unsubscribe. The more unsubscribes, the less value your customer database becomes post peak.

 

4. HOW:

Finally, how is the message going to get there, what are the right channels to gain maximum impact and sales?

Email will be the most popular channel but with this comes increased competition, therefore consider how to increase the touchpoints you have with your customers by using other channels such as SMS and social to compliment your email campaigns.

Also bear in mind, any customers that might be disengaged with your emails, doesn’t meant they are disengaged with your brand!

So that is a perfect opportunity to utilise other channels at your disposable to ensure your Black Friday campaigns still have optimum reach, to maximise your success!

Look out for part 3 which will focus on tips for post peak! Getting your campaigns back to normal and maximising the value of all your new peak purchasers.
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