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Best Practices for Email Deliverability During COVID-19

We have all received our fair share of emails from companies during COVID-19. Some have been more successful than others (to put it nicely). Emailing during this time has caused some companies to reduce their sending volume and cadence, while others have elected to either continue sending or to stop sending email in totality for the foreseeable future. 

The challenge as marketers is to know when to send emails, what to say, and whom to send to, so the emails are impactful. Below are things to think about when you are creating your email campaigns, whether you’re currently sending or when you’re ready to resume sending. 

Create Content Subscribers Want
Your email content should bring value to the subscriber.  General content should provide resources, tips, and other educational content that is related to your business. How-To’s, different ways to use your product, motivational and support resources are all good ways to get engagement. Below are some content ideas that could provide value: 

  • Event updates or cancellations
  • Information on how to access the services of the company remotely
  • Changes to hours of business or delivery times
  • How customers can help (non-profits)

Activate an Email Warming Schedule
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are accustomed to seeing regular email sending cadence and volume on a brand’s IP address. This regular sending cadence and volume causes an IP to be classified as “warm.” Email sending on a “warm” IP increases a brand’s chance of delivering email to the inbox along with other factors.

If your brand has stopped sending email for more than a month the IP will become “cold” in the eyes of the ISPs, the reputation that the brand built on the IP will be lost,  and IP warming will need to start from scratch when the brand is ready to start sending again.

We recommend Salesforce’s daily max recommendations for IP Warming. During this process the recommended daily and weekly warming volumes by email domain (Gmail, AOL & Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.) will also need to be taken into account. Don’t forget to start sending to your most engaged audience prior to when you stopped sending.

If you didn’t stop sending but lowered your daily send volumes, you should still develop  a plan to get back to your maximum daily send volume...think of the plan as a mini IP warming. Same general rules apply - don’t more than double your prior week’s daily average send volume as ISPs hate seeing volumes spike and will negatively react.

Regardless how much warming you’ll be doing, don’t forget to monitor each send to see how the ISPs are reacting. Reports such as Email Performance by Domain and Account Send Summary can provide a lot of insights. 

Be Mindful of Email Send Ramp Up
Email content for volume ramp up should be focused on driving engagement --  impacting both open and click rates.  It could be helpful to review previous campaigns that saw strong engagement for ideas.

If you are starting from a paused campaign, you will be re-establishing your sender reputation on an IP that has gone cold and lost it’s reputation. It’s very important to lead with content that drives engagement, specifically clicks. Plan on at least one email creative per week for the first 2-3 weeks of IP re-warming. As your volume and sender reputation builds, you can expand to multiple campaigns/week as appropriate.

Do not attempt to start sending at your previous full volume as this will cause the ISPs to believe that  the IP is initiating a spamming attack, likely resulting in the blocking of your emails or delivering them to the junk folder; negative sender reputation will be established. In turn it will take even longer to re-establish the IP’s reputation.

Now's the Time
Don’t delay. Now’s the time to develop your re-emergence plan, calendarize it, and socialize it internally. So, when your brand is ready to start sending there are no surprises internally, with the ISPs, nor with your subscribers.


About the Author
Susan Prater is an Associate Principal Marketing Consultant at Lev, serving her clients as a trusted advisor in the optimization of their digital marketing programs with the latest tools, technologies, and top-of-mind industry trends. Spending the majority of her 20-year digital marketing career client-side, she understands the internal challenges brands face with meeting their business objectives and goals and creates meaningful strategies and measurable tactics. She is a judge for Web Marketing Association’s Internet Advertising Competition, their WebAward Competition, and their Mobile WebAward Competition.  In her spare time she serves on various, local boards.