Practical Ecommerce

Email-marketing Tips for Cyber Monday 2015

Thanksgiving Day is around the corner and most holiday shopping will soon begin. In this article, I’ll share tips for making your email programs a success for 2015 Cyber Monday.

Address Customers — and Prospects

Cyber Monday is the time to communicate with all customers and prospects in your database. Many ecommerce merchants have developed a sophisticated segmentation of customers and prospects for their email marketing campaigns. In a given week, month, or even year, they may not communicate with everyone in their database.

On Cyber Monday, email folks who have not heard from you in a while. This includes people who have become less responsive by not opening, clicking, or purchasing from your site in some time.

Segmentation tactics are a smart idea to help improve the performance of your email campaigns while keeping your database trim and healthy. But revisit some of the lapsed customers in your database with reengagement campaigns every so often, especially for Cyber Monday and the holiday season. You never know when a customer may decide to purchase, especially if he hasn’t heard from you lately. He may welcome your “From” line this year.

For example, I’m a subscriber of emails from Harry & David, the retailer of gourmet food baskets. Harry & David stopped emailing me because I hadn’t purchased in over two years. But the company emails me during the holiday season — and I look forward to receiving the offers.

Harry & David sends emails to lapsed customers during the holiday season.

Harry & David sends emails to lapsed customers during the holiday season.

Verify Email Addresses of Infrequent Recipients

Be cautious, however, when emailing people infrequently. Email addresses churn rapidly. There is a good chance that some of them have changed. Run a verification on old email addresses, especially if you plan on emailing many of them again.

Email verification is a data hygiene process whereby data companies flag emails that are no longer valid, changed, spam traps, people who are high complainers, and have a high rate of opt-out rate. It’s done by pinging the ISP, who sends back the data. For example, an email verification service could send Yahoo email addresses to Yahoo, which would report back.  

Verification flags possible problem email addresses so you can eliminate them prior to deploying, which will help with deliverability and IP reputation.  Many companies — such as Acxiom (my employer), FreshAddress, StrikeIron, Experian — offer verification services. Pricing is typically based on a cost per thousand, perhaps $5 per thousand email addresses.

Begin the Order Process in the Email

Look at your email templates. If you feature products in the email, what do the buttons say? Improve generic calls to action — such as “Learn More” or “Shop Now.” Consider moving the purchase process up a step, to include “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” buttons in the email itself.

Feature your best selling products for this time of year to help increase the number of clicks on a Buy Now button in the email itself. Shortening up the purchase process even by one step will lead to more conversions.

Use ‘Cart Starter’ Tactics

If you have an effective abandoned cart email program, your goal for Cyber Monday should be to get people to place something – anything – in their carts. If they abandon the carts, try to pick up the sales through the abandon cart email process.

Cart starter tactics are designed to get people to add something to their carts immediately through an email, or from the home page. This can be free surprise gifts that they receive with any order, or a best seller on your site that is marked down significantly, or a just really good deal. Use Add to Cart buttons directly in the email. The goal here is to get the shopper to load items in her cart — and continue shopping on your site for other products, too.

Tracking, Attribution Becoming Complicated

This year, more than ever, people will shop from their phones and tablets. They’ll also shop from their desktops and laptops while at work.

The increased number of mobile devices in a household and the complexity of an individual’s shopping process create a more complex purchase path. It is increasingly difficult for retailers to understand their shoppers’ behavior, and to attribute sales to the correct promotional channel. This makes it difficult to allocate budgets based on revenue from a given channel.

For example, when analyzing sales in Google Analytics from email marketing, the tracking parameters may not fire correctly or translate when an individual clicks from an email on his mobile device and gets to the mobile version of the site. This could result, incorrectly, in reporting a significant decrease in sales attributed to the email channel.

Understanding these possible breaks in tracking is important when measuring your email campaigns to ensure you are making the right marketing decisions.

Repeat Success from Last Year

Review your campaigns from last year. Look at subject lines that produced the highest open rates. Look at the creatives that had the highest click-to-open rate. These should serve as a baseline for this year’s campaigns.

Additionally, review last year’s emails for the highest sales, highest average order sizes, and best conversion rates. See which products were featured, and what discounts or deals were given in those emails. Use these, too, as a baseline, but include new products. Learn from last year. Apply those lessons for 2015.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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