Could a halo sending strategy help you reach more inboxes?

Could a halo sending strategy help you reach more inboxes?

By Kath Pay

If your emails regularly miss the inbox, it’s likely that ISPs are flagging problem addresses in your database and blocking emails to those addresses or sending them to the spam folder.

Because customers generally open only the emails they see in their inboxes, we need to persuade an ISP’s automated filters that you’re a reputable sender whose emails deserve the inbox. The “halo sending strategy” is one potential solution to use – if you meet the criteria for success.

What is a halo sending strategy?

The goal of a halo strategy is to enable more emails to reach inboxes instead of going to the spam folder or getting blocked outright.

It assumes that if you begin sending a campaign to an ISP with your highest-quality, or most recently opened addresses, it creates a halo effect that extends to all the email addresses in the delivery.

Most single-campaign deliveries mix addresses of varying quality and recency of opens together, and that can trigger an ISP’s filters if it encounters too many low-quality addresses early on in the send.

Why “halo?” The “halo effect” is like the old high school social phenomenon. If you and I hang out with the popular people at school, people will eventually look at us more favorably, even if we aren’t as attractive, smart or athletic as the in-crowd.

Consider using a halo sending strategy if you need to make more from your email campaigns or if you have problems reaching the inbox. What I find most often is that solving one problem, such as deliverability, goes a long way toward solving other problems like revenue.

Segmenting to create the halo

The “halo sending strategy” essentially turns your single campaign delivery into four or five segments, based on recent opens, and then sending each segment one at a time, one right after another.

Your first segment will include your most recent openers within a specific time frame, such as the last 0 to 60 days.

This initial send of these highly engaged addresses can persuade the ISP that you are a reputable sender, and that your recipients really do want these emails. It creates a halo effect that extends to later segments, which might have more problematic addresses.

Because the ISP has already decided to trust the first rounds of messages you sent, these later addresses get the benefit of the doubt.

Your next segment will include the next most recent addresses based on activity – say, 60 to 90 days, although the actual time frame will depend on your audience, buying cycle and other unique factors.

Your remaining segments will be the ones you would consider least active, if not actually inactive. These are the addresses that generally cause the most deliverability problems.

How to set up your halo strategy

When following a halo strategy, you begin by sending to the addresses in your first segment. You’ll wow the ISP because you’re sending to one high-quality address after another, and that halo effect can signal the ISP’s filters to send all the succeeding emails right to the inbox.

Although you’re sending your campaign in segments, the ISP sees it as a single campaign, so its treatment of your earliest emails will extend to all addresses in all of your segments.

The benefit of using a halo strategy is that it can deliver to more inboxes, meaning more subscribers will see them, open them, click on them and potentially convert. This benefit doesn’t end when your campaign run ends.

Because you’re generating higher engagement through opens and clicks, that boosts your overall sender reputation, making your next campaigns even more likely to reach the inbox.

Halo strategy in action: Printerpix

We used this strategy to take Printerpix, an ecommerce company, from 0% deliverability into Gmail to 100%.

We needed to solve major deliverability issues before we could tackle other concerns such as redesigning email templates, using A/B testing to increase conversions and then building out the rest of Printerpix’s email programme.

After solving several technical issues, we set up our halo strategy, in which we segmented the database into four groups based on recency of opens, from most recently active to least recently active. Then, we sent emails in the order of activity, beginning with the most recently active.

Our ultimate goal was to help Printerpix increase revenue, but that would not happen until we got deliverability under control. Simply eliminating inactive customers would not solve the problem in the long term. Our halo strategy helped Printerpix emails reach the inbox again, and that cleared the way for the rest of our improvements.

Want to know more about how we solved Printerpix’s deliverability issues and helped the company increase its revenues by 240% in the UK and 297% in the U.S.? Read the detailed case study.

Caveats about using halo strategy

As helpful as a halo sending strategy can be to solve a deliverability issue, you should understand some special conditions for using it:

Dedicated IP address: This strategy may not work as well if you share an IP address with other senders at your ESP.  That’s because bad sending practices by other users on that IP address can damage your own sender reputation.

Open rate: We use opens instead of clicks to create segments even though the open rate is not a reliable engagement measure. That’s because ISPs use opens to measure engagement. Clicks, while a meaningful engagement indicator for a business, don’t factor into ISP filtering decisions, so we don’t use them for segmentation in halo strategy.

Segment activity: Halo sending strategy works better when your active segments are larger than your segments of less active or inactive subscribers. If you have far larger inactive segments, you won’t see as much gain.

Interested in using a halo strategy to reach more inboxes?

This concept originated with Steven Henderson, now with Emarsys. After using it with many of our clients, we refined it and renamed it as the halo sending strategy. And the good thing is, we have a track record of success in using it!

We’d love to work with you to assess whether it could solve your deliverability issues, raise revenues, get your unengaged into the inbox instead of the spam folder and help your email programme achieve its goals.

Give us a shout – we’re here to help!