Email marketers face a conundrum during the holidays. They know they have to increase both list size and frequency but they also know that messages that aren’t relevant and over-mailing are the two biggest reasons people opt-out and/or submit spam complaints. And that can greatly damage their ability to reach the inbox, putting their holiday email strategy in jeopardy.

But, all will be well if ramp up your deployment schedule in a responsible and measured fashion and pay close attention to deliverability best practices.  Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

Monitor complaints

One of the easiest ways for subscribers to opt-out of an email list is to click the “report spam” button. When a subscriber complains, he or she should be removed from your list immediately and automatically, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monitor the abuse report after each send. Reviewing this information will help you quickly identify – and resolve – any issues.  If you haven’t looked at your abuse report lately, you should do so before you begin your holiday campaigns.

Warm Up your IP Address

ISPs closely monitor your sending routines over time, so a sudden increase in volume will look suspicious. Slowly increase your volume and deployment times leading up to the holidays and be sure to manage your IP addresses carefully, including closely monitoring reputation, setting up authentication, throttling deployment, list hygiene, etc.

Let Customers Opt Down instead of Out

To help mitigate complaints, be sure every message includes an opt-out button that is easy to find and use. After all, if a subscriber wants to unsubscribe, it’s better for them to click the unsub button than the spam button. Another best practice is to let subscribers opt-down instead of opting-out. This strategy will help you keep your subscribers engaged and happy with the emails they receive this holiday season.

Monitor Engagement

The holiday frenzy doesn’t give you an excuse to throw all of your engagement best practices out the window. For example, if you usually suppress subscribers who haven’t opened one of your emails within a certain time frame, you shouldn’t start sending them daily holiday campaigns. Before the holidays, try to re-engage those lapsed subscribers with a fabulous offer. If that doesn’t work, be sure to keep them on a suppression list for most of your holiday campaigns. You can certainly send specific holiday re-engagement campaigns to them throughout the season in an attempt to recapture their attentions, like beau coup did last December, but don’t blast out every single one of your messages to inactive subscribers.

Pay Attention to the Changing Landscape

A lot of big things have been happening in the deliverability landscape recently – Gmail’s tabbed inbox, Yahoo’s release of unused email addresses, CASL, COPPA, Cybersecurity Act of 2013, to name a few.  If you aren’t up on all of the latest news and regulations, you should brush up before the holidays. A great place to start is by subscribing to James Koons’ blog

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