2020 has been a hell of a year so far, hasn't it? The COVID-19 pandemic, medical (physical and mental) health challenges, working from home, economic issues and more. And there are email challenges to boot. When the COVID-19 crisis landed, every company you've ever heard of (and more) immediately ramped up their email volume. Everbody's using email to contact their subscriber base. Not just e-commerce (though that's a big part of it), but literally any company where something changed due to COVID-19 has been sending you emails about it. And think about how that translates to what ISPs are seeing. The amount of email they're dealing with has exploded. Volume is way up. In some cases, I suspect systems are straining. One ISP's postmaster told me it has been like a bunch of black Fridays, over and over again. And there's no sign of things slowing down.
What that means to you, dear sender, is that the usual holiday guidance (don't change things up) applies tenfold this year. This is not the year to change ESP platforms, ramp up new IP addresses, introduce new domain names, or dig deep into your ten year old non-responders database. Because ISPs are more overwhelmed than usual, more things are likely to be on autopilot. Hammers are more likely to be dropped quickly, and favor requests are even less likely to be responded to favorably.
Now's the time (or really...two months ago was the time) to ensure that you've got all your technical ducks in a row. Is all your email authenticated with DKIM? Are all your IP addresses warmed up? If so, you'll have minimized the chances for technical (IP/domain-related) deliverability problems.
And what about monitoring? Monitoring is key. Make sure you have alerts set up to warn you of blocking and spam folder placement. Be prepared to loop in your friendly deliverability team for assistance with any issues that arise. (And be forgiving if it takes them a minute to get back you...it's the busy season here too.)
And finally, minimize volume spikes if at all possible. Not everybody knows this, but if your volume jumps from 100,000 messages per day up to 2,000,000 messages per day overnight, with no gradual increase -- nothing but "whoomp, there it is" -- that increase in volume looks supicious to the ISP. The more you can do to send consistent volume from send to send, the better that metric looks to the ISP and it helps reduce the chances of getting blocked.