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How to optimise your email database for the Peak season

During the Peak season many brands enjoy the spike in their web traffic and sales. But don’t get too complacent – there’s still work you should be doing to optimise your subscriber list, before you reap the benefits.

Preparing your email data

In our recent article three key trends to consider for peak planning 2017, we ran through some key stats about the Peak shopping season.

Email is still the major channel for generating revenue - with 20% of all revenue attributed to emails during the last Black Friday – vs 11% during the rest of 2016.

The potential from email this year is again huge, so it’s important to start looking at the current shape of your own email database. Think about how old your email data is; are they all still valid and active email addresses? Do you still contact customers who’ve never made a purchase? Maybe you acquired data from a 3rd party - is it as up to date as it can be?

Having a large volume of email subscribers means nothing if the data is not accurate, complete or relevant. Analysing your email data should be an integral part of your preparation for Peak and we’ll touch on the 3 key areas to help build this:

  1. Data cleansing
  2. Re-activation
  3. New sign-ups

1. Data hygiene – keep it clean

All companies face the same issues with the quality of their email marketing database. It will inevitably diminish each year, as customers change their email addresses, or delete accounts. Cleaning your email data is essential to maximise your delivery rates, response rates and increase your ROI – why pay to send emails to an invalid address?

Protect your sender reputation

One of the main factors affecting email deliverability is your sender reputation. A high level of undelivered email addresses (bounce rates), and lack of subscriber engagement, can ultimately damage your sender reputation, making your emails more likely to be marked as spam. It’s therefore vital to routinely clean your email lists, rather than waiting until you’re blacklisted.

You can work with your email service provider (ESP) on this or if you don’t have this level of service available to you, there are plenty of platforms that can help you clean and verify your data, such Emailmovers, Emaillistverify and Data Validation.

Having clean email data will ensure that your messages always get through to your customers – and this is never more important than during the Peak season, with so much email competition.

Remember, it’s about the quality of your data and not the quantity – an invalid email address will never convert into a sale.

2. Reactivating campaigns – wakey wakey!

So you’ve cleaned your data and removed all those bad invalid email addresses. But clean email addresses doesn’t mean loyal and engaged customers. If you’re still not reaching your expected conversion rates, you should look at a reactivation campaign.

A reactivation campaign is an email campaign or multiple campaigns specifically targeted towards “sleeping subscribers,” or subscribers that haven't engaged with your emails in a long period of time.

In a recent report conducted by the email marketing experts Return Path over 25% of email addresses in an organisation’s database are ‘inactive’ – email address that have not shown any activity in more than 30 days. They may well have purchased from you before, but they since gone off the radar.

You will need to identify these email addresses and send them specific content to re-engage them and get them excited about your brand and products again.

Reason for non-engagement

It’s useful to consider the reasons why a customer may have become inactive. It could be that they have too many emails in their inbox; maybe they still love your brand, but just a little incentive to purchase. Or maybe your products are no longer relevant to them.

Understanding this will tell you who has the potential to return as a customer, and more importantly, who doesn’t. For the latter, it’s much better for them to unsubscribe via a reactivation campaign, than to eventually mark you as spam. The messaging for a reactivation campaign needs to be different from your ‘business as usual’ email content. You’re trying to win over customers again and remind them about your brand or products. This means using a different tone of voice or giving them a unique special offer, that will their attention. Think about:

  • Subject lines - We miss you! We want you back!
  • Special offers or limited discounts - Re-subscribe today and receive XX% off
  • Use new or different content like videos, product previews, reviews
  • Use personalisation – not just with their name, but create a one-on-one message based on their past history

Make sure you clearly present those subscription options – if they’re not interested, then it’s ok if they unsubscribe. Ultimately you want an active and full engaged database.

3. New sign ups - say yes please!

If someone visits your website, they already have some interest in your brand or products. So, while they’re on the website, make sure you take the opportunity to tell them about the benefits of signing up for your emails. Don’t forget those all-important Peak offers they’ll get straight to their inbox!

Include your email registration forms on every main page of your site, as well as your high traffics pages. Think about your customer journey and where you can get their attention, such as the checkout page, on their order confirmation emails or if you ask for product reviews.

And it’s not just your website that you should optimise for sign-ups. Continue this on all your other digital channels; blogs and social media are a great way to capture those engaged customers.

Loyal customers will bring more customers

Your loyal customers are your best brand ambassadors. A ‘refer a friend’ campaign will encourage them to share and recommend you with those they know will love your products. Reward them with incentives and offers which they’ll get once a friend has signed up.

And don’t forget those customers you’re targeting in your re-activation campaign – a double incentive could seal the deal!

Finally, think about the choice of emails available. Maybe offer different options on the type of emails they can subscribe to and give them the choice to change the frequency they receive it. Having this ability to decide what they receive is a real positive to the customer.

Keep it legal!

While you are thinking about your email marketing, don’t forget to make sure you're up-to-date with the latest data protection legislation. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018, so start to familiarise yourself with it now.

And do look out for more of our tips on email messaging and scheduling during the Peak season, which will follow soon.

Romona Koomar
T: 020 7092 3581


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