NOTE: This article refers to the use of ‘opens’ and/or ‘open rates’. In Apple's iOS15 (released 20 September 2021) and MacOS12 Monterey (release date TBC) software updates, new mail privacy settings will affect the usability of 'opens’ as a metric in Spektrix. For more information please click HERE.
If your organisation is new to using Dotdigital (previously known as Dotmailer) then before you begin to send out great integrated emails using customer data pulled from Spektrix, it may be necessary to ‘warm up’ your account. In this article we’re going to take a look at why you might want to do this, and how to go about doing it.
Why do I need to warm up my Dotdigital account?
If you have a large number of customers that you’re planning on emailing, it’s important to ease yourself into sending those emails so that internet service providers (ISPs) don’t think that you’re an untrustworthy or spam account.
- A new or ‘cold’ sending address has no history. Abrupt spikes in sending volume could hurt your sending reputation.
- Reputation is a huge factor for ISPs in determining whether to filter your emails to the junk folder or block them completely.
- If they choose to block you, your subscribers will never get your emails sent through Dotdigital.
This is why we recommend you use a different domain for your Dotdigital account to what you use for sending automated system emails. For example if you already use @mytheatre.com as an email domain, you might want to use @mytheatremail.com so that even if your Dotdigital reputation ends up harmed, it won’t affect your sending reputation of your one-on-one emails.
What do I need to do?
To ‘warm up’ an email account, you steadily increase the volume of emails being sent via a dedicated IP address according to a predetermined schedule. This helps to gradually establish a positive reputation with receivers such as Google, Yahoo, etc. as a legitimate email sender.
To put a warm-up together, you’ll need:
- A Dotdigital account.
- One or more Contact Preferences, set up in Spektrix and linked to Dotdigital.
- A total customer count for email sending (the number of email opt-ins you have).
- Data on emails that were successful in the past (what got a high open rate/click rate) if you have it. Due to Apple's update, ‘opens’ will no longer be a reliable metric for measuring email Campaign engagement. You will want to bear this in mind when reporting on your Mailings and look into referring to click rate as a more reliable means of tracking your customers’ engagement
With all of that available, you’ll then need to put together an email schedule which starts off small (in terms of the number of people you’re sending to) and gradually builds up to larger volumes.
You’ll want to create a schedule that follows these steps:
- Firstly, start by sending a couple of emails to just a few people internally. Send a link in these emails and make sure each person you send them to clicks that link.
- Increase the number of recipients the emails are being sent to, sending to some of your best customers who you know are likely to engage with it.
- Increase the number gradually to larger and larger groups while sending content that’s appropriate for the increasing audience size.
Let’s take a look at the key elements to consider for each step of your schedule.
There’s no set time frame that a warm-up should occur within, as it’s going to depend on the specifics of your organisation and the amount of customers that you have. However, the minimum recommended time frame for warming up an account is two weeks. We recommend taking a bit longer so that the process can occur more naturally.
The number of recipients will likewise be unique to your organisation. You will know best what the largest number of email recipients you might ever want to contact at one time is, and you should work gradually up to that number. We recommend doubling the number of recipients for each email sent as this keeps the schedule on a gradual increase, but that’s not a hard number that needs to be hit exactly.
It’s important to ensure that these emails are being interacted with, especially in the early stages. Emails being opened (though bear in mind that this is no longer a reliable measure) and links being clicked help improve the reputation of an email address as they’re indicators of interest, and that the recipients consider the emails legitimate and worthwhile.
To keep track of who’s engaging with your emails, you can add a Marketing segment into the customer list used for sending warm-up emails that looks for people who have opened emails or clicked links in emails. You can then count up the number of people who were sent each email and those who opened it to see what proportion have been engaging with them. We would advise referring to click rate as a more reliable means of tracking your customers’ engagement.
We recommend that you start by sending the emails internally so that you can personally follow up with people and ensure that each email is being opened and any links included are being clicked. Then you can branch out to loyal subscribers and frequent bookers - people who are more likely to engage with your emails. After that, continue to expand out until you’ve included everyone who has given you permission to email them.
It’s really important that the first few rounds of emails are all opened and interacted with. The more engagement in the earlier stages, the better.
For the earlier emails to small groups of people, it may be good to send discount offers, membership expiration emails, or invitations. Pre- and post-show emails almost always have high open and click-through rates so they’re a good thing to do early on. You can look at your past emails that you’ve sent with a previous email provider and investigate what typically resulted in the best response.
Then, you can expand out to larger invitations, event announcements, and newsletters. The important thing to remember is to be strategic about what will result in the most people interacting with the email while also being appropriate for the number of people it’s being sent to.
Here is a sample warm-up schedule:
You can see from this plan how the number of recipients of the email essentially doubles with every one sent. You can stretch this out over several weeks, depending on the number you’re building up to.
If open and click rates aren’t what you’re hoping for, think about holding off on sending the next email until you see that a good number of people have engaged with the previous one. Alternatively you could take a step back and send an email to a reduced number of people that might be more likely to engage with it, following the tips in this article.
Protecting your sending reputation is very important for you to be able to reach all of your customers. After warming up, it’s important to maintain your reputation. The primary way of doing this is by respecting customers’ contact preferences and letting people manage them themselves.
Dotdigital also uses a tool called the Data Watchdog which monitors the emails you’re sending and will stop you from sending an email that it considers might harm your reputation. If that’s the case it will prompt you to make edits to your recipient list and try sending again.
If you need help coming up with a specific plan for how to tailor this to your organisation, or have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team.