It’s the happiest—and busiest—time of year, which doesn’t stop marketers from upping the ante. Email marketing drove 20 percent of online sales over the 2015 holiday period, according to the Custora Pulse Holiday Recap Report, which provides benchmarking data from more than 200 online retailers and 500 million shoppers.
November and December present a unique time in the customer life cycle. Subscribers are more in tune and receptive to promotional emails. The challenge for marketers during the holiday season is creating a successful email campaign that stands out from the crowd. Try these 11 tips (many of which will serve you well anytime of the year):
1. Go mobile. According to the Vision6 Email Marketing Metrics Report, 48 percent of emails will be opened, and 30 percent of online sales will occur, on mobile devices over the holiday period. Mobile-friendly emails should be designed with smaller screens in mind. Use a single column layout and make your links easily touchable.
2. Add images or GIF animation. Make your marketing emails visually appealing and sparkly for the holiday season. Even if you don’t have access to a designer, you can take advantage of free online image editors to create images that will resonate with subscribers. GIFs are easy to create and add a unique splash of fun to emails that really set them apart.
3. Don’t experiment with your brand. You might have new brand concepts in mind, but now is not the time to experiment with these concepts across your email audience. Communicate and represent your brand in a consistent way by sticking with your logo, color scheme, and font style.
4. Make it feel urgent. Set deadlines to promotions, use time-sensitive language in subject lines and include call to actions to encourage readers to act now.
5. Avoid the abandoned shopping cart. On average, 68 percent of all online shopping carts get filled and then abandoned. You likely don’t have time to solve the mystery of abandonment, but you are presented with a huge opportunity to re-engage with those customers to recover the potentially lost sale. Try deploying an automated cart-abandonment email to encourage customers to complete their purchase.
6. Reward loyalty. Your loyal customers deserve recognition and a big thank-you. After all, they kept you busy during those non-holiday months. Show loyal customers how much you appreciate their business by giving them an exclusive offer, a discount, a sneak peek, or free shipping. You can also try an alternative to monetary rewards with tips or free “how-to guides.”
7. Be social. Widen your audience by including share-worthy content in your holiday email marketing content. Social sharing links make it easy for people to share, and your campaign has a greater chance of catching on as it’s forwarded on to others. Try encouraging prospective subscribers to sign up for emails in exchange for new deals.
8. Go old-school with an in-store event. Even though online shopping is on the rise, connecting with email subscribers in person is a crucial key to success. Leverage the holiday season to invite subscribers to an in-store event where they’ll not only become more likely to make a purchase, but also maintain their loyalty to your brand.
9. Choose relevant content. Relevancy becomes even more important over the holiday season since everyone is lobbying for new customers. Try sending dynamic content that is actually relevant to the individual consumer based on their location or interests. For example, just because we’re celebrating winter holidays does not mean all people will experience snow. Select sunny images for a summer version of the holidays for recipients based in warmer areas of the world.
10. Show your human side. You are not a robot, so don’t let your subscribers believe you are. Add a personal touch to your content. Call people by their name, crack a joke, use a conversational tone, and otherwise make it sound less sales-pitch-like, and more like an email you’d send to a friend.
11. Trust your gut. Only you know what works best for your business, and we all can agree there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to email marketing. The success of campaigns varies wildly across industries. Draw on your experience with past campaigns to determine factors for success, from subject lines to calls to action. Toward the end of the year, you’ll hopefully have access to findings from the previous months that you can then apply to your holiday email strategy.
The more tuned in to your customers’ preference you become during the busy holiday season, the more effective you’ll be across email marketing campaigns. Like any other time of the year, successful marketers know their audience. Your audience during the holiday season is likely to be even more receptive —so continue to provide value to your customers through email marketing.
Zoe Beath is the head of marketing in North America at Vision6, a leading integrated marketing solution for email and marketing automation. Beath is an experienced tech marketer with a strong background in B2B marketing. At Vision6, she drives the company's marketing strategy with the goal of helping customers succeed. Beath holds degrees in commerce and the arts from the University of Sydney.