Everyone has hot seasons of their own. However, for many businesses (save for those that operate in tourism and HORECA), summer is a chill time. Most of the clients take a vacation, grab their families and fly off to get some rest at a sunlit beach or pack for a hiking trip somewhere, far away from the urban chaos. Accordingly, things slow down, deals and appointments get postponed till autumn, employees enjoy a vacation of their own, and email campaigns get stopped. Why send emails in July if your recipients will look into their business inbox only by the end of August? Better take a pause and start everything again in September. After all, the sender reputation looks fine, the deliverability rate is decent, so why don’t you relax?
It all seems logical. If you worked hard to increase your sender score and befriend email services, you assume that you must have gained credibility among Internet service providers. Therefore, picking up where you left off shouldn’t be a problem.
Unfortunately, there will be a problem. Of course, it won’t be as much of a headache as warming up a completely new domain and building your sender reputation from scratch, but many of the customers we worked with came to us complaining about one and the same issue: Their autumn campaigns didn’t perform as they were supposed to.
After investigating the matter, we would find out that those campaigns were sent from domains that remained inactive for the summer, and the client didn’t have any performance statistics from June to August. Next, we would research further and realize that the client’s sender reputation went down, affecting the number of emails that got delivered and approved for the recipients’ inboxes.
This issue is more common than you think but rarely discussed. So in this blog post, we’d like to shed some light on that subject and explain why it is so important to turn up the heat for your email campaigns, even during slow seasons.
Your sender reputation is not set in stone
The structure behind email marketing is complicated and dynamic. Since most of the security threats are generated by human minds, security algorithms and spam filters must keep up. They constantly gather data, analyze it, view user feedback to notice dangerous patterns and take proper measures. Accordingly, those algorithms acknowledge that even legitimate email addresses and domains may get hijacked by a cybercriminal and used for harmful activities. Because of this, your sender reputation is under constant scrutiny. Every shift and change is noted, documented and compared to your previous performance. Every complaint is taken into account.
What’s so bad about not sending emails, however? Why would it affect your sender reputation?
The thing is, when your domain is inactive, it basically disappears from the radar. It doesn’t generate data, interact with receiving servers or do anything of notice. Then, when you start using your domain for email marketing again, Internet service providers and email services register a spike of activity from an inactive domain. Their first reaction is caution.
If you try to send the same volume of emails you were sending before your vacation, let’s say, around 3500-4500 emails per day, Internet service providers grow alarmed due to such a sudden change of your sending behavior. From their perspective, three months is a long time. So, if someone starts sending large volumes of emails from a previously dormant domain, it can be a hacker who stole access codes and is now trying to hide under a credible domain name.
It all ends up with your performance slowed down, your messages going to spam folders at a higher rate and even an increase in bounces.
Naturally, the older your domain gets, the more trust it has with Internet service providers, but it only means that they won’t penalize it instantly nor help the domain pick up the speed after months of inactivity.
For that very reason, we make such a huge emphasis on running regular mailbox audits, performance monitoring and sticking to a fixed schedule for sending emails. All these steps are vital for maintaining your image of a legitimate and trustworthy sender.
Deliverability issues are slow killers
Another reason why you don’t want to take a pause with domain warmup and performance monitoring is that you may fail to recognize a budding deliverability issue. It can be anything — an increase in bounces due to one or two of the email addresses on your sending list getting abandoned or inactive, a DNS settings error, etc. Regardless of its source, this issue will root itself deeply in your sending routine, slowly taking over and freezing your progress. The sooner you locate this issue and remedy it, the more you will be able to salvage it. However, the best thing you can do for your campaigns is to prevent such problems from emerging, which can only be done by continuing to warm up your domain and reviewing your sending list once in a while.
Your success is built on interactions
According to the rule of thumb, the domains that have a high amount of interactions with receiving servers have a higher priority. If your emails keep landing in front of your intended recipients who open them, read the body text, click the link and/or write back, you’re on the right track and you can expect great visibility during business months.
Meanwhile, domains that have interaction gaps lose their priority (it’s given to more active domains and senders instead), so it takes them a while before they can get their recipients’ attention back and restore the momentum of their communication back to its former glory.
Things change all the time
Another reason for staying tuned to your email campaigns is that you can’t just walk away from them for three months and expect everything to be the same when you come back. It’s like leaving a nice blooming garden unattended for three months and coming back only to see it battered by unexpected droughts, vermin infestation and neighbor’s chickens. Anything can happen. If you don’t pay attention in time, you may end up losing the results of your hard work to preventable obstacles.
In case of email marketing campaigns, you can run into such pitfalls as:
- Spam trigger words update. The list of words that are considered spammy is growing. The more phrases spammers try to slip in order to look legitimate, the more cautious you have to be about your choice of words.
- New email outreach guidelines. Such a thing as BIMI used to be a novelty a mere year and a half ago. Now it’s taken into account during a mailbox audit and email domains that don’t have a BIMI are considered untrustworthy. This is just an example of how much can change within a short period of time. If you aren’t here to take note and adapt, you risk having difficulties with keeping up and falling behind your competitors.
- Force-majeure. We’re not talking about natural or social disasters. As recent events have shown us, the world’s pace can change and drastically affect your workflow. However, staying connected to your prospects thanks to warmed-up mailboxes and domains would make it easier to maintain communication and regain your footing.
This paragraph may come off as a bit paranoid, but our experience with building email marketing campaigns has shown that preparing a stable, solid foundation and holding on to it is a more reliable tactic than facing the challenges on the go.
Is it possible to keep recipients engaged in summer?
All right, we outlined why you should keep warming up your domains and mailboxes. It raises a logical question: How can you do it when your target audience is out of the office and unavailable? Isn’t it a bad tone to bother people during their “me time?”
Agreed, summer engagement is complicated. But not impossible. You don’t have to be nosy or overwhelming in order to stay on your recipients' radar. A new season brings new behavior patterns, and with them, it presents the necessity for changing your strategy to the one that appeals to your prospects and helps you stay afloat.
Be ready for the drop
A decrease in your statistics from July to August is imminent. Some of your recipients will make sure to distance themselves from their work and spend some time with their friends and family. The good thing is, this type of recipient knows how to separate work and leisure, so they would be ready to check their business emails without any email fatigue once they’re back in the office. You just have to make sure that your messages can still reach them.
If you know this type of your target audience, make sure to send them an email with a request to connect again in September and book a slot in the schedule. It will allow you to send well-timed reminders about your arrangement shortly before your prospect’s vacation ends, keeping your recipient engaged and your communication active.
Also, a certain percentage of your recipients would definitely wander into their business inbox as they browse content and apps on their smartphones. At that point, peeking into their email is a habit. So, why not reward their curiosity?
This is where you had to invest in your content marketing. Make case studies that are relevant to your prospects’ goals, share articles about industry trends, provide some tidbits of information about your activity or even invite them to take part in a poll. The main secret of maintaining your browsing prospects’ interest is keeping your content short, exclusive and fun to interact with. Just two minutes of your recipients' time on a regular basis will do your future campaigns a huge favor.
To make it easier to send content and nurture engagements, you can congratulate your recipients with their upcoming vacation and offer them to subscribe to your blog newsletter, webinars or podcasts (if you make those), so they would stay entertained and inspired. Believe us — sometimes, people can take their mind off their work completely. As busy months grow closer, your prospects grow restless. They have plans to make things to take care of. They’re starving for ideas, they want to build their roadmap. Your content can give them the inspiration they need or direct them to the channel or tool they would want to use.
Seek the knowledge-seekers, reward them - and they will reward you with high deliverability and great engagement.
Take it easy on your prospects
Another thing to expect from your summertime recipients is that they want to rest, not work. So, don’t ask too much of them in your emails. Be respectful to their right to take a break, provide only the information they would want to interact with.
- Make your content compatible with tablets and smartphones. Your recipients won’t be checking their email from their desktop PCs or laptops. At best, they would grab their pad. Therefore, make sure they can view your content in less than one second (no download issues, no formatting conflicts.)
- Don’t force your recipients to actually talk to you. We go on vacation because we get tired of people. The last thing we want is to maintain a conversation via email. Save it for the autumn. Right now, think of the simplest activities for your recipients: Clicking a link, sharing your LinkedIn post, liking your article, et cetera, et cetera. Anything is better than a string of emails that basically shouts, “Talk to me, pleeease.”
- Study your recipients' behavior and adapt. All people act differently during their vacation. So stick to your statistics and start segmenting your prospects into groups. See who prefers short and entertaining content and who would rather stick to case studies and podcasts, who goes silent during summertime and who opens your email regularly, from July to September. This is where mailbox audits and monitoring tools will come in handy.
Warming up your domain and mailbox is a complicated and somewhat monotonous task. But persistence and stability reward you with high open rates and improving the performance of your email campaigns. So don’t be in a hurry to turn off the warm-up for your domains and put your email marketing tools away. Some work can’t wait till the end of summer, but it will make things easier for you in the long run.
With that said, we wish you a great summer. May it provide you with a time to catch your breath and find new business opportunities.