Practical Ecommerce

5 Email Messages to Send Before Christmas

The 2013 Christmas shopping season is nearing its end and online retailers want to capture every possible sale before many shoppers go into retail hibernation in the first quarter. To help spur late Christmas season sales, consider sending five email messages aimed at overcoming shipping costs, offering discounts, and building lasting customer relationships.

Although there are some reports that overall retail spending has been down during the 2013 holiday shopping period, ecommerce and mobile-based ecommerce are on the rise. Cyber Monday ecommerce sales, as an example, reached $1.735 billion originating from desktop and laptop devices, according to comScore. Even Black Friday, which is better known for brick-and-mortar retail sales, saw online spending reach $1.198 billion in the United States, again according to comScore. Mobile online spending may also have grown, as some reports indicate that mobile-based site traffic was up 55 percent around Thanksgiving.

Timely email marketing messages that address customer concerns, appeal to a shopper’s sense of value, or just seek to make lasting relationships may help some Internet merchants end the fourth quarter well. Here are some suggested messages that you might send in the next two weeks.

Last Chance for Free Shipping

Shipping costs are a major concern for holiday shoppers. Eighty-five percent of online shoppers said that free shipping was either “important” or “very important” for making an Internet purchase, according to the Shop.org Holiday 2013 survey released in October.

With this data in mind, send an email message notifying shoppers when they reach the final day that the free shipping your store offers would successfully get a present to its recipient by December 24. This date will vary by location, so plan to segment your email audience geographically when you send this email or provide a map or a list of regions. As an example, a merchant based in California may say that December 18 is the final day that free shipments to New York will make it on time, but December 20 might be the deadline for shipments in California or Oregon.

Free Shipping Day

Closely related to the first email message mentioned above, consider participating in and promoting Free Shipping Day, December 18, 2013.

To participate, visit the merchant sign up page on the Free Shipping Day website. Your store must be willing to offer a free shipping option that is guaranteed to get an order to its destination by Christmas Eve.

Once your store is registered, add badges to your site, confirming participation, and send an email message informing your customers about the offer. More than 600 online sellers are participating in Free Shipping Day this year. Your business could be one of them.

Last Chance for Any Online Order

There will be some procrastinating shoppers who will simply need to get a gift to some family member or friend at the last possible moment. For these very last minute shoppers, send an email letting them know when is the last possible day they can send a package. In many cases this will be December 23 for overnight shipping, but even on the 23rd, there will be a time of day when all pre-Christmas shipping will cease.

Some merchants will offer discounted overnight shipping at this final hour, giving shoppers who spend $100, half price next day delivery.

After Christmas Clearance before Christmas

Before Christmas, your online store is probably enjoying a significant amount of traffic and sales. After Christmas, you may still make sales, but arguably post-holiday purchases and traffic will be much less intense.

Consider offering the same deals that you would after Christmas in the final week before the holiday when shoppers are still in the mood to spend. To do this, look at the sales velocity of items that you would rather not hold in inventory for the next few months. If it is unlikely that you will sell out of an item, offer it now at something close to what you would be willing to sell it for in mid-January. You will get it off the books and out of the warehouse.

Happy Holidays

Finally, on December 23 or 24, send a simple, non-sales related holiday message. Experience shows that this final Christmas greeting may serve two purposes for online retailers.

First, a genuine holiday greeting is likely to build a lasting relationship with some shoppers. This heartfelt note at the end of a flurry of offers and discounts could stand out in the inbox.

Second, it may also encourage last minute shoppers to choose your store. Often email messages, even ones without a sales-related call to action, will send additional traffic to your site, and around Christmas additional site traffic often turns into additional sales.

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Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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