How to Warm Up Inactive Contacts for the Holiday Season

How to Warm Up Inactive Contacts for the Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season, which means that now more than ever, email marketers are busy little elves – carefully building, wrapping and writing to maximize their outreach efforts to get a bigger slice of the revenue pie. This often leads to email blasts that go to an entire contact list – which can result in negative implications for domain reputation and hurt overall holiday email performances.

If you’re looking to dig deeper into your file and contact those previously non-engaged contacts, we are going to share how to do this properly so as to not negatively impact deliverability. There are 3 items to be aware of:

  1. Timing
  2. Speed
  3. Awareness

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1. Timing: Start early

It’s called a ‘warm up’ and not a ‘race’ for a reason. The key here is to begin emailing to these older or less engaged contacts slowly, in roughly a 80/20 rule. So for your total sends, your list can include (at most) 20% non-engaged contacts and the remaining 80% should be your regularly-engaged contacts. Depending on the number of non-engaged contacts you are needing to reach, this means you may need to plan out these 80/20 sends as far as 8 weeks out. Start now! And remember, if you are able to do closer to 90/10 that’s an even lower risk.

2. Speed: Go slow and controlled

Even if you see success from the start, this does not mean you should abandon your previously agreed upon warm up strategy. Mailbox providers are quick to make decisions on who to filter in what can seem overnight. Commit to your gradual send strategy, and you’ll immensely reduce the risk of being throttled by mailbox providers, or worse – a spike in spam complaints.

3. Awareness: Know when to call it

If you begin to see signs that your warm up is negatively impacting all sends, it’s time to scale it back. You can first try reducing the amount of non-engaged contacts that you include in your sends, and/or the frequency at which you are contacting that non-engaged segment.

If that doesn’t work after a few days, it may be time to hold off the re-engagement efforts for a while. Remember, your domain reputation impacts all contacts, engaged and unengaged. It would not be worthwhile to forge forward with poor performance at the expense of impacting your engaged contacts and ultimately your shot at record breaking revenue this holiday season.

My contacts are warmed up, now what?

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Once you have completed the warm up, the work isn’t done. You should consider the cadence, frequency, and relevance of your messaging to those contacts. We suggest you contact those newly re-engaged contacts less frequently, and with your best offers to ensure they don’t succumb to email fatigue.

Remember, they’ve not heard from you in some time and saturating these contacts with emails may result in negative engagements such as moving your email to the spam folder, deleting emails without opening, or worse marking your emails as abuse.

How to measure success

How do you measure the success of your re-engagement efforts? How do you know if you are negatively impacting your hyper engaged segments? Here are some segmentation tips for gaining clearer metrics.

1. Review your open rates for both segments

Be sure to review your open rates for those engaged segments as well as the non-engaged segments separately, and as a whole. This will allow you to identify if your re-engagement efforts are negatively impacting your engaged contacts, as well as will give you a benchmark of how successful those re-engagement efforts are.

2. Monitor your bounce rate trend

A concern with warming up is that your volume so quickly increases that you are then filtered or throttled by the mailbox providers. A spike in bounces, soft or hard, would clue you into this behavior and be a key metric to consider scaling back your overall volume. Ideally you can isolate a particular mailbox provider that’s the culprit, and mail to those contacts at a different cadence.

3. Monitor your domain reputation

You should already be subscribed to reports that give you insight into your domain reputation but if not, now would be the time to start. You will want to know where your domain reputation was prior to beginning the warm up plan so that you have a baseline in case your efforts negatively impact your domain reputation. The best source is Google Postmaster, but we also outline other deliverability tools here.

What about those that don’t re-engage?

If all else fails, and you don’t succeed in re-engaging a portion of your older file, don’t worry – all is not lost. Focus on how you can find other mediums to connect with your contacts. For example, social posts and advertising, SMS, and good old fashioned snail mail.

You might be surprised, those who never engage via email may be a brand advocate on social or prefer timely SMS messages. Don’t forget that you have both the ability to integrate with Facebook and use SMS within automations to automate your holiday outreach through ActiveCampaign.

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