Holiday deliverability in 2023 and beyond

Lots and lots of holidays, events and special days are approaching. Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Small business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday. Christmas. Kwanzaa. Hanukkah. (And more!) And for each of these, somebody somewhere wants to send an email about it, probably to sell something. This is the busy season. This fourth quarter of the year is prime time for email marketing efforts. Everybody is ramping up. Inboxes are more full than at other times of the year, because so many folks send as much as they can, looking for as much of that email-related revenue as possible.

This brings the question: how does one prepare for deliverability success during this time?

My colleague Jennifer Nespola Lantz, along with Gene Gusman from Zeta, recently presented a free webinar on this topic (good stuff – check it out!) and I though it would be good to add my own two cents.

The primary thing? The big thing? Make as few infrastructure changes as possible. Don't rebrand your company or your website. Don't try to warm up a new domain name, if you can help it. The goal here should be to lock your technical settings down for the quarter – schedule any implementations and significant mechanical improvements for January 2024. Why? Because that high volume that everybody else is sending means that engagement is likely to be diluted, meaning it'll be hard for a new brand or domain to get deliverability/reputation traction now compared to other times. On top of that, mailbox provider "postmaster" teams (the ones answering your "help me, I'm blocked!" tickets) are getting more tickets than usual. Meaning it'll take them longer to answer, longer to help, and the chances of handling error could even be increased. The more self reliance you can manage, the better off you'll be.

Want to dive deeper? Here's more detail on all of this, courtesy of my 2021 holiday tips post – all still relevant today.

And then be prepared for what comes next. January is the time to optimize your DKIM configuration and make sure you've implemented DMARC, ahead of Gmail and Yahoo's new sender requirements coming into force. Does your sending platform have list-unsub (and list unsub post) set up for you automatically? Do you have a clearly visible unsub link in every marketing message you send? Have you signed up for Google Postmaster Tools to monitor for spam rates above .3% (and aiming to keep those rates below .1%)? These changes are a reminder that marketing senders have to keep an active hand on the controls and periodically stop, review and update configurations as needed. And also a reminder that big mailbox providers are tightening up requirements, aiming to let through less unwanted mail.

It can sounds a bit scary, but if you're sending wanted mail, and your email sending platform is relatively up to date, support for the new requirements should come fairly easily.
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