Although we still have a few weeks until Thanksgiving, many consumers have already started their holiday shopping, or are at least starting to think about what gifts their loved ones might appreciate this year. And not all of their shopping is taking place at local malls and department stores—60% of consumers are planning to do at least some of their shopping online, making online retail the top sales channel this holiday season. If you sell any products or services online, it’s time to prepare for the onslaught of online shopping by rolling out your holiday email marketing campaign. Unsure how to stand out from all the other online retailers competing for attention in shoppers’ inboxes? Read on for 6 tips to improve your email marketing in time for the holidays.
Make Your Messages More Personal
Rather than just sending the same bland mass messages to your entire email list (and seeing your open and click-through rates suffer as a result), consider dividing your list into segments so that you can send slightly more personalized emails. You might, for example, look at behavioral data such as past purchases to offer product recommendations to different segments of your email list. If a shopper has abandoned their shopping cart on your site, you could send them a transactional email reminding them that the product is still waiting for them. You might also use demographic data, such as gender or geographical location, to promote the products and deals that are most relevant to specific groups of customers.
Tease Time-Sensitive Sales
If you’re planning to offer discounts on major shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t just assume shoppers will know about your great deals—give them all the important information they need and get them to anticipate your discounts by sending a series of emails leading up to the sale date. You might send email subscribers a message several weeks before the sale reminding them that it’s coming up, another reminder a few days before the event, a reminder on the day of the sale, and a message after the sale. Let shoppers know about other last minute holiday shopping deals they may enjoy even if they missed this sale. Just be careful not to get too carried away with your series of emails—there’s a negative correlation between email frequency and engagement, which means that at a certain point, sending too many emails leads to fewer recipients opening them. The ideal send rate depends on the type of business, so be sure to track your email open rate to determine at what frequency you are most successful and at what frequency engagement begins to drop off.
Share Gift Guides
While the holidays should be a happy time, they’re often overshadowed by the anxiety of finding and purchasing the perfect gifts for friends and family members. In fact, a Consumer Reports survey found that 68% of shoppers stress out about holiday crowds and long lines at stores, while 28% stress over picking gifts. You can reduce your email recipients’ stress levels—and make them more likely to buy from you—by sending out emails with gift guides featuring groups of products that may be good choices for different people on their list (e.g. ‘Gifts for Mom’, ‘Gifts for Outdoor Lovers’, etc.). You might also consider writing a blog post with actionable holiday shopping advice (such as ‘How to Find a Meaningful Gift for the Person Who Has Everything’) and including an excerpt from that post and a link to your blog in your next monthly newsletter.
Offer Special Holiday Deals for Email Subscribers
Reward your email subscribers by offering them special holiday discounts, deals, coupons, or gift cards that can be redeemed on your site. Be sure to include the specific deal in the subject line of the email (e.g. ‘10% Off’) in order to encourage recipients to click through and receive the deal. If it’s not feasible for your business to offer huge product discounts or free shipping for the entire month of December, consider participating in Free Shipping Day on December 18th and notifying email recipients ahead of time. Free shipping is the holiday promotion that gets the single biggest response from shoppers, so it’s a good choice even if you only pick one holiday deal to offer. Just make sure to tell email recipients how long their purchases should take to ship so that they can be sure their gifts arrive on time.
Track Your Metrics
You should be keeping track of email marketing metrics throughout the year, but it’s especially important to measure your email campaign results close to the holidays so that you know what works well (and what doesn’t work well) when it comes time to roll out another holiday email campaign next year. Keep track of your open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, unsubscribe rate, and revenue per email in order to determine which holiday emails had the greatest success. You should also pay attention to your conversion rate, as this will have a huge impact on your revenue per email. Pay attention to what pages on your website users land on after opening your email and what path they take if they make a purchase.
A/B Test Your Emails
If you want to tweak specific components of an email to figure out what works best, you can also A/B test it by sending one version to a percentage of your email list and another version with one change (such as a different subject line) to another equal and representative percentage of your email list to see which version gets more engagement. You can then send the more successful version to the remaining, larger percentage of your email list.
By paying attention to what works well with your holiday email marketing this year, you can be better prepared to anticipate your customers’ needs and hit the ground running when the holiday season comes around next year.