Black Friday and the holidays are fast approaching. Big box retailers have filled their storefronts with holiday décor, and Santa will soon to have hour-long lines at the mall. You’ve got a choice with your brand: to embrace holiday marketing or to let it pass you by. Of course, you know that your strategy, no matter what needs to engage your customers across multiple channels. And with email being 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter, it’s important to note that email is not to be ignored.
In this blog, I’ll cover six critical tactics to run a successful email marketing campaign this holiday season.
According to DMA, marketers have found a 760% increase in revenue attributed to email from segmented campaigns. Start with some basic segmentation: separating your active subscribers from your inactive subscribers. This not only ensures the best possible deliverability, but you can then target the two separate groups with different messaging. A simple subject line tweak to the inactive segment that feels personal and triggers emotions, such as ‘We missed you,’ can go so far as re-engaging them. Once you have this covered, you can delve deeper into segmentation, focusing on things such as age, gender, browsing activity, and purchase history.
A key element of successful email marketing lies in personalization. This can be as simple as putting the subscriber’s first name in the subject line or body copy of the email, or something a little more sophisticated, such as re-targeting the consumer with similar options to items they have previously purchased or browsed, or adding personalized suggested content through a solution like Marketo ContentAI. Campaign Monitor’s report states that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, so why not start there?
Remember—always keep an eye on your data and watch to see what works for your audience. If you consistently achieve a higher open rate with subject line personalization, consider making it a permanent fixture in your email strategy.
One strategy for the holiday season is targeting inactive subscribers with a re-engagement campaign in the lead-up to Black Friday. This means slowly ramping up the re-targeting campaign—to avoid being blacklisted—and aiming to re-activate subscribers and build your database in time for the big sales. The first step is ensuring these subscribers are still within the time limit of permissions in the various CAN-SPAM/CASL laws. Once you have that covered, you can split the segment into manageable chunks and begin to email.
I suggest sending a similar email to that of your active list, with a varied subject line and intro paragraph. This keeps it relevant and straightforward and only involves minor copy tweaks to be more personalized to that segment. At the end of a couple of weeks of re-engaging these subscribers, hopefully, a number will drop back into the active list, just in time for those sales!
Another tactic in the lead-up to the holiday period is to re-email those who have not yet opened the email from your initial send. If you’re sending a daily email, wait 6-8 hours and use a query to find those subscribers who haven’t opened.
Compile a segmented list of these email addresses and re-send the email—with a different subject line and hero. Everything else in the email can remain the same, and you should hit the audience who choose to check their emails at a later time. If they happen to see the earlier email, the subject lines are different, so it’s win-win.
One of the key elements of successful email marketing is testing. With a test and learn principle, it is possible to continually make improvements to those all-important KPIs, such as open rate and click-through rate. This principle remains true around the busy holiday period, and you should continue to utilize it to boost engagement.
Subject line testing is the most obvious, with a straightforward tactic being to send two separate subject lines to a select group of active subscribers, and send the remaining subscribers the winner 2-4 hours later. This ensures relevancy and can be done each time an email campaign is sent if desired. (Tip—most email service providers will automatically send the winning subject line to the remaining subscribers, so no need to set an alert here!)
Once you have subject line testing covered, try moving on to content testing. You could test static vs. GIF in the hero image or a different content layout. Always split these A/B tests and keep all other variables the same to ensure a fair test. The time of day and day of the week are other tests to optimize send time. Remember to re-test these each year, as the database changes over time and so can preferences. Analytics will be your best friend here. Pay close attention to the insights provided, and continue to build on them to achieve a successful strategy that consistently improves your KPIs.
6. Mobile Optimization
Always make sure your email design is responsive. According to MovableInk’s Consumer Device Preference Report from Q1 of this year, 73% of email is now opened and read on smartphones or tablets, and 27% is viewed on a desktop (non-apparel). With over half of all emails being opened on mobile devices, a non-responsive design will cause high unsubscribe/spam rates and deter consumers from interacting with your brand. Ensure that you are providing the best possible user experience to your consumers so that your click through and conversion rate don’t drop over the holiday period. With an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent, email continues to be the most effective online marketing tool.
With these six email marketing tips for the holiday season, you’re set for success! Do your email marketing tactics around the holidays differ from the rest of the year? How might you introduce some of these tactics into your strategy for this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.