12 Email Marketing Tips for the Holidays, Part 1

Although the holidays may seem far away, smart retailers are already planning their email marketing strategies for the upcoming busy season, according to Jim Davidson, manager of marketing research at Bronto, who spoke at the email marketing firm’s breakfast event in New York City on June 12.

At the event, which was part of the multicity Revenue Revolution Tour, Bronto distributed a whitepaper called The Top 12 Marketing Tips for the 2012 Holiday Season. Here are highlights from the first six tips. Check back tomorrow for highlights from tips seven through 12 in part two of this article.

1. Write an email production and crisis management plan. Review your email production processes and determine where efficiencies can be gained, the report said. Regardless of how much pre-planning you’ve done, changes will have to be made and resources will be needed. Meet with your extended team (marketing, designers, production, email service provider, etc.) to discuss the entire production process from program conception to post-deployment analysis. Create a “holiday emergency contact list” that should include everyone on your team and related vendors as well as the reasons they should be contacted, especially outside of business hours.

2. Feature holiday-centric email navigation. Having holiday-centric navigation in your email messages will provide additional shopping opportunities for your subscribers. Also highlight the gifting section of your site, as well as shipping deadlines, store hours, etc. Break out the link to your gift center, for example, by using a different color treatment, seasonal imagery such as a snowflake or holly leaf, or perhaps some low-key animation. Considering the spike in email volume during the holidays, finding ways to visually direct email openers to key shopping areas and categorical choices can help make their task of tackling an overflowing inbox less daunting.

3. Maximize the footer. A key area where you can include supplemental information and provide additional clickthrough opportunities is in the footer of your email. You may not currently have a footer in your email outside of the fine print, but even if you’ve already mapped out your communication plan for the holidays, a specialized footer can easily be added to increase engagement and educate your subscribers. The footer should be informative and not distract from your primary message. Footer messages could include shipping deadlines, store hours, gift card promotions or customer service options.

4. Remail strategically. Let’s face it: Email frequency increases significantly during the holidays. Increasing your frequency can lead to several issues, however, including increased spam complaints, higher unsubscribe rates, people ignoring your email and an overall frustrating user experience. This is especially important if you’re considering remailing promotions to subscribers.

Consider segmenting your subscribers this holiday season based on various levels of engagement, then focus on those subscribers who are most engaged and who may need a bit more influence to complete their purchase. This may mean remailing subscribers who opened but didn’t click or clickers who didn’t purchase. While increasing email frequency can lead to more sales, having a more defined communication plan that targets subscribers based on engagement level can help decrease overall volume and provide a better customer experience.

5. Launch a countdown promotion. There are a few different approaches you can take to an “X Days of Deals” promotion, according to the report. These multiemail campaigns drive high engagement and help your email stand out from the clutter of an overloaded inbox. Try sending a dedicated email asking your subscribers to opt in to this specific program. This strategy enables you to include an additional email in your communication plan without taking away from your standard promotions. Also, the increased engagement that you see from this promotion could potentially help with delivery rates overall.

6. Offer a flash sale. Limited-time offers work well during peak mailing seasons. Increasing the urgency by clearly communicating the expiration date of a deal will drive subscribers to act quickly. When launching a flash sale, make sure to do the following:

  • accommodate all time zones of your customer base;
  • provide a window of time that will allow subscribers to receive the email and start shopping; and
  • communicate the offer and duration in the subject line (this will help to drive opens and avoid any confusion around the offer).

To read the full whitepaper — along with additional holiday marketing planning information from Bronto — check out Bronto’s Holiday Resource Center.