No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts
As we approach the holidays we thought we’d ask our panel of email experts to offer some advice on holiday email marketing to help you get a little more jingle out of your holiday campaigns.
We asked email marketing experts from Campaign Monitor, Twilio Sendgrid, Holistic Email Marketing, Email Monks, Alchemy Worx, OmniSend & eFocus Marketing to share ways to help you optimize your sending strategy for the busiest time of the year.
Here’s what they had to say…
Get Specific With Your Sends By Using Automation & Personalization
It’s no surprise that the holiday season drives substantial profits. In 2018 alone, holiday retail sales climbed up to $658.3 billion—nothing to scoff at. And now, of course, in this highly digital age, online holiday shopping is becoming even more convenient, with email generating the lion’s share of revenue. As the number one holiday marketing tool, email is definitely a tactic you’ll want to take advantage of this holiday season.
But how can you shy away from the typical batch-and-blast technique and get even more specific with your sends?
With email automation and personalization, you can deliver six times higher transaction rates by delivering the right message to the right audience. Integrating these types of email sends into your holiday strategy allows you to successfully target certain audiences, like sending subscribers specific discounts on items based on what they’ve purchased in the past.
If you’re really looking to increase sales this upcoming holiday season, email marketing can help make it happen—and this guide to holiday email marketing is the perfect first step.
It’s Not Too Late To Tweak Send Times
At this point in the holiday season you should have your strategy, offers and emails loaded and ready to go. If not, then that’s a whole separate conversation.
It’s hard to offer advice at the 11th hour but if there’s one thing you could still consider and tweak is timing.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are simultaneously the super bowl of email marketing and trench warfare. Inboxes swell, mobile phones vibrate till their batteries expire because every nature of promotion is invading them.
Often times marketers will want to get their messages out first thing in the morning—this seems like a sound strategy, but is it? If everyone else is in the process of delivering email in the morning then your message might get lost in the shuffle, actually it’ll be eclipsed and pushed down in the inbox.
Splitting your list and testing morning vs. afternoon vs. evening delivery could help you determine the best window of opportunity for the next year.
People are creatures of habit and the holidays are rituals that repeat—family traditions anyone? Don’t be afraid to use the forthcoming holiday to better understand the iterative nature of email and how to capitalize on its reach and ROI for the future.
Target Audiences Based On Their Buying Patterns
Email marketing is a crucial channel to support the customer experience and generate revenue during the festive period; according to Shopify, email was responsible for 24% of holiday sales during the 2018 holiday season.
But to target people in a way that will maximize engagement, it’s important to understand their behavior—what they are buying and when—during this period their habits will often differ from their habits during the rest of the year.
More than half of UK consumers (53%) plan to do the majority of their Christmas shopping in November or before (including 37% in November alone), whilst only 12% of shoppers expect to do the majority of their Christmas shopping in the week before Christmas (see source).
Look back at your data from previous years—what percentage of your audience started to browse (use website tracking data to ascertain this) and then buy holiday-related products or products that differ from their usual patterns, during which time periods leading up to the holidays? Is there a difference in buying times between different genders, age groups, geographical regions or personas within your audience?
Also, consider which sections of your audience only buy from you during the festive period and what their spending levels are during this time. What type of products do they usually buy? Have they previously bought only wrapping paper from you or more likely to buy big-ticket items?
This type of analysis can start to give you an idea of the different segments of your audience to target in different ways with appropriate messaging.
And don’t forget, although many people do still splash out on themselves, gift-giving is the biggest spend area. So, if you only personalize based on what someone has purchased previously, browsed or interacted with during the rest of the year, you’ll miss the opportunity to recommend products outside of this normal range for others they may be searching for. Adapt the 1-2-1 personalization you normally use and offer gifting inspiration outside of their normal shopping habits.
A Short Holiday Punch List
Email Thought Leader
Write a catchy subject line that matches the holiday mood. Make it unique as well as specific. Your messages should be short but engaging.
More often than not, your target audience may not check their email inbox as attentively during the holiday season due to being with family and other things like vacations.
To make sure your offerings get read and engaged with, promote them across social media channels as well, and include social sharing buttons in your emails to obtain greater engagement.
Also, with the busyness of the holiday season and shopping, more than half of your subscribers are accessing emails on mobile devices looking for coupons or offers when in stores, which means that you must ensure a responsive design for your emails to read well across all devices.
How to Test your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Subject Lines – In Advance!
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, August Bank Holiday or Labor Day. These are just a few of many important days in the retail calendar.
Days that can make or break your month, quarter or year. They are also days when email send volumes are at their highest level and competition in the inbox at its most cutthroat, days the email channel really needs to deliver.
Holiday and special event subject lines need to be at their best to stand out from the crowd, which requires testing. Yet holiday subject line testing is something almost nobody does.
There are three reasons:
- You can only test on the actual day.
- Subject line testing takes several hours wasting selling time.
- No one wants to risk a bad subject line on people who are about to buy.
Touchstone uses AI to replace humans in your subject line tests, so this is no longer the case, this means you can test any holiday subject line well in advance and have a GREAT subject line ready to go on the day.
To prove my point, I tested 80 different Cyber Monday subject lines using Touchstone and would like to share the results and a handy guide to subject line testing with you.
Get Permission From Visitors & Have a Plan for New Buyers
There are two often-overlooked strategies for this period, that I’ve observed with most brands that I’ve worked with.
1: Not gaining marketing permission throughout the entire customer journey.
During this peak season, brands are having an increased number of unknown/new visitors to their websites. These consumers were drawn to your site for a reason but didn’t buy and left without giving you permission to market to them. There’s a good chance you’ll have to pay for them to visit again (PPC/Banner ads etc). Prioritize helpful on-exit popovers throughout the journey covering:
- general abandonment (targeting those who haven’t looked at a category, a product or added to basket)
- category abandonment (targeting those who have looked at a category but haven’t looked a product or added to basket)
- product abandonment (targeting those who have looked at a product but haven’t added to basket)
- basket abandonment (targeting those who have added products to their basket but abandon before they get to the checkout page)
As these are on-exit popovers, only one will be shown as they’re exiting and the rules will be to show the highest intent popover if they do multiple actions.
2: Not having tactics in place to persuade new buyers to become repeat buyers.
As I mentioned above, the holidays bring swarms of new shoppers to your site. Besides getting them to join your email or loyalty program, develop helpful, automated tactics to bring them back to buy again.
A Mix of Planning, Innovation & Visual Appeal
I think planning is most frequently overlooked aspect when it comes to holiday email campaigns. Despite being such a lucrative period, marketers fail to make the most of the Holiday season. Keeping in view the resource crunch during the Holidays, it is imperative to plan well in advance so that you have enough time to create innovative emails that can cut through the noise in the inbox.
Another tactic that is absolutely essential is to let the subscribers know ahead of time that they will get to see more emails from you during the Holiday season. Doing so will make sure that it does not get too overwhelming for the recipients to check your emails.
Create a sense of urgency by adding a countdown timer and promoting a limited time offer. You can even segment the highest-spenders and send them an exclusive sale invitation. It will not only pique their interest but also help you in increasing the same.
Last, but not the least, try to make your emails visually appealing with animations, cinemagraphs, gamification and other interactive elements. Here are some examples to inspire you.
EmailMonks incorporated the principles of gamification in their Thanksgiving email.
Don’t Forget to Transform Your Customers For a Season Into Customers For a Reason
Black Friday is an event ripe for bringing in new customers. Customers are actively searching for products with high intent to purchase, so it’s the best time to capture them.
However, many online merchants focus solely on acquisition, and while that may be a huge part of what gives Black Friday so much revenue potential, it’s a wasted opportunity if that’s the only thing you’re focusing on.
My biggest tip? Lay the foundation to acquire and keep those new customers once the Black Friday rush is over.
Start by making sure that your initial experience is the best it can possibly be. Everyone focuses on cart abandonment, but be sure that your welcome emails are in place too. In 2018, we found that welcome emails were nearly just as profitable as cart abandonment workflows.
More No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts Coming Soon
Stay tuned, we’ll be posting more No Bullshit Advice soon. Read our last installment Marketing Automation Beyond The Welcome Email or catch up on the entire series here: No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts.
And as always, feel free to share your thoughts with us on Twitter.
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