Editor’s Note: This is “Part 2” of a two-part series on email marketing for the upcoming holiday selling season. “Part 1: Preparation” we published earlier.
In “Email Marketing for the Holidays, Part 1: Preparation,” I addressed ways that ecommerce merchants can plan early for the holiday season. In this article, I’ll look at strategies to help increase sales and conversions during these key weeks.
Test Different Subject Lines
Look at the email subject lines from retailers during this time of year. The majority will stress offers, such as “Take 30% off any order today!” These subject lines can be effective. But instead, try using subject lines to get people to open an email. Consumers love “top ten” type lists. So take advantage of that and create an email that isn’t just begging for a sale, but truly trying to help a consumer. This strategy typical does well via viral marketing and sharing on social sites. Here are ideas.
- “The best 5 gifts you haven’t thought of.”
- “25 gifts under $25.”
- “Ten gift ideas for every personality.”
- “5 gift Ideas for the person that has everything.”
This strategy doesn’t have to revolve specifically around gifts; it can be content-driven as well, such as the following.
- “5 ideas to make your holidays memorable.”
- “10 ways to make this the best holiday season ever.”
- “5 no-fail holiday party recipes.”
Featuring top-rated gifts from the previous season is also a good way to introduce new ideas for your customers, such as this Home Depot email.
During the holiday rush, sometimes the retailer that wins simply stays in front of the consumer. Increase your email frequency and volume during the holidays. This increase in frequency and volume should reflect your sales distribution. For example, if sales from November and December are 30 percent more than any other month, send at least 30 percent more emails during this time. If your segmentation strategy has been to not send emails to unresponsive subscribers, make sure to contact them at least a few times during the season to re-spark interest.
Offers and messaging should also be tailored to the type of customer you are contacting. For unresponsive customers, consider a “win-back” strategy; consider increasing the offers or incentives for those individuals. For loyal, repeat customers, consider gift ideas and an easy shopping experience.
Assume every email you send this holiday season will be viewed on mobile devices. Use all of the best practices about designing emails for mobile — see “Good, Bad Email Design for Ecommerce Merchants,” my previous article. Make sure the order paths and landing pages from the email are also optimized for mobile and place shoppers as far down the purchasing path as possible.
Remember the Offer
During the holiday season, people are purchasing gifts for others; oftentimes they do not have the exact gift in mind. This is a good opportunity for retailers to showcase products. Buyers are motivated by offers and sales this time of year. Make sure those offers and sales are compelling. Here are promotional ideas to consider:
- Free shipping;
- Percentage Off;
- Dollar value Off;
- Free gift;
- Buy one, get one half off;
- Try something new.
For this holiday season, try something new. Try sending emails at different times. For example, if you normally send at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesdays, try 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Completely revamp or change your email template. Sometimes a new, unproven idea turns out to be the most successful.
Monitor Your Competitors
Subscribe to all of your competitors’ email programs, now. Savvy email marketers will sometimes suppress domains of their competitors. So make sure to subscribe with a generic email address like a Gmail or Yahoo!. Keep in mind the emails you receive may be different than what others will receive because of your lack of purchase history with the competitor. But it should still give you an idea of the type and frequency of competitors’ emails.
Remember Loyal Customers
During the holidays, take time to thank loyal customers for their business, or offer a special holiday greeting. These messages can be informal. You could include pictures of the people behind the scenes, for a more real and personalized feel.