When we talk about the importance of Q4 we’re not exaggerating. In 2015, the holiday period saw $107 billion in online sales with 20% being attributed to email marketing. It’s not a secret that email marketing has such an impact on sales. It’s why we see email volume increase by 23% during Q4.

Naturally, this significant increase in frequency means there is a greater risk of your emails being marked as spam, and your recipients unsubscribing.

During the holidays, building a healthy relationship with your subscribers is more important than ever. In this post we collaborated with deliverability expert Laura from Word to the Wise to share some best-practices to make sure every email you send lands in your subscriber’s valuable inbox.

Best practice #1: Keep Content Fresh and Relevant

Creating new emails can be costly, and some marketers try to cut corners by reusing creatives over and over again. Don’t do that. Subscribers get burnt out on content and will stop engaging if they always see  the same offers.

Rather than sending the same email over and over to your entire list, focus instead on segmentation and personalization to deliver relevant content, and offers, to your subscribers. The extra effort provides a much better experience, and is likely to reduce unsubscribes while boosting sales.

Best practice #2: Modify Email Frequency Based on Engagement

Laura has already spoken on how important engagement is when it comes to deliverability. If your emails are continuously being ignored this will hurt your chance of landing in the inbox.

As we alluded to earlier, the answer to combat poor deliverability due to low engagement is simple: decrease the volume you send to unengaged subscribers.

If you want to get sophisticated, add anyone that has recently visited your website to your engaged bucket—even if it appears as though they didn’t open recent emails. Oftentimes, an email will be enough to prompt subscriber to directly visit your website.

Best practice #3: Give Subscribers the Option to Opt-Down Rather than Opt-Out

During the holidays, it’s likely that your email volume will increase significantly. This increase in volume can do wonders at boosting sales. Unfortunately, the downside is that the increased volume can lead to a massive amount of unsubscribes—there’s a reason why Q4 is called “The Season of Unsubscribing”.

Giving subscribers the ability to specify the frequency at which you email them helps prevent a system-wide unsubscribe. Another option is to allow subscribers to opt-out of your holiday emails. While it can be difficult to implement this (technically speaking), it’s well worth the extra effort.

Best practice #4: Don’t Stress About Subject Line Filters Too Much

Subject line and word  filters are no longer the biggest email marketing worry, and in 2015, nearly 60% of emails containing promotions mention them in the subject line. If you’re emailing a promotion, mention the offer in the subject. After all, we’ve already established that even if someone doesn’t open your email they are still likely to visit your website simply because your email reminded them that you exist.

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to use promotional words such as “free”, “discount”, and so forth in your subject.

Best practice #5: Re-introduce Yourself to Inactive Subscribers

During the holidays many companies send emails to addresses they haven’t mailed in a while. Instead of just mailing them out of the blue, send dormant subscribers 3-4 emails giving them a reminder of who you are, why they are receiving this email, and what they can expect from you in terms of content and frequency. Remember that each subscriber is unique and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ email strategy is rarely appropriate.

A good way to re-introduce yourself is to connect to an action they’ve done in the past, such as ‘You purchased these shorts last year and we thought you’d like to take a look at this’. That’s often more than enough.

And, if you’ve already started emailing dormant subscribers, why not send a “should we keep emailing you?” email?

Keep emailing engaged users (as measured by opens, clicks, or purchases). Otherwise, we strongly recommend emailing unengaged subscribers at a lower frequency, or removing them from your subscription list entirely.

If you have any deliverability questions, get in touch with Word to the Wise. Laura and her team is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. And if you’re interested in auditing your own email program to see if your segmentation implementation is actually working like you think it is, sign up for MailCharts

Happy emailing and happy holidays!