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I just read “Ensuring Black Friday and Cyber Monday Email Deliverability Guide” that was published from Message Bus and have to say that it was chock full of deliverability goodness for the email marketing geeks as we approach one of the heaviest email marketing weekends of the year. They made several key points in there and had lots of tips, but there was one that hit close to heart in there that could be the difference between a successful email weekend and a marginal one.
The point was around bounce thresholds and the advice was to ensure that you have a one hard bounce and your “out” threshold as well has having a realistic threshold of 2 to 3 attempts for soft bounces. I could not agree more on this and have a story to share that might put this thinking into a more realistic way to think. For the sake of the story, lets call this company: Wuhav (courtesy of Company Name Generator)
The story starts on Wednesday (day before Thanksgiving) where Wuhav had decided that they were going to double their volume over the holiday weekend to send and email every day starting on Thanksgiving. They had not done this in years past, but this had been an especially tough year for sales. All of the emails were queued and creative was approved. Starting on Thanksgiving and for the next 5 days, there were sending out 1 email a day about Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials. The deals were decent and the creative was fresh and inviting. They had been resting a good portion of their inactives since September in hopes of re-igniting those that had fallen off the engagement track with these great specials. Things were looking up and they were ready to make it a long and profitable weekend for themselves. Thanksgiving came and went and so did the email. Black Friday email came and went…and so did the email. By Saturday some of the marketing folks had checked the numbers and they were unexpectedly low and people started to panic. Wuhav was having a hard time understanding what was going on but no one at the company was alerted or called in and the ESP was no where to be found. What was lurking was several variables were contributing to what could have been a perfect storm…however one thing was obvious to me once I started digging in the week after the 5 days of emails. You see..one of the things I found was that the hard bounce threshold was set at 5 and since no one was really checking what was happening over the weekend, this little nugget went unnoticed. While this wasn’t the only factor why Wuhav had a terrible weekend, it did play into the weeks to come on their deliverability. Since 5 days went by and the bounce threshold was set it 5, each email kept going out like clockwork over and over to the ISP’s and to some degree had an adverse and somewhat contributory effect to weekend sales. Hard bounces were up over 400% YOY and delivery rates were at a historic 6 month low by the end of the weekend.
The key takeaway here is to check what your thresholds are and what if anything you are going to do about them if in fact you are mailing in-actives. The other takeaway is for you to have some sort of scrum/meeting on Friday, Sat and Sunday and check to ensure everything is running smooth and if any changes need to be made along the way. Have contingency plans in place, but most of all check everything 2 or 3 times through out the weekend…not just the sales/conversions etc….. I know that there is a lot to think about this coming week, but deliverability problems can linger for the remainder of the season and they certainly hung around for Wuhav and it was hard to recover.
Be proactive so you don’t have to be reactive on Monday/Tuesday morning.