4 Holiday-Themed Email Takeaways for Retailers
The fourth quarter of each year is a stressful time for retailers — closing new contracts, securing old partnerships, earning loyal customers. Focused on annual revenue, many brands fail to see how valuable Q4 is to their marketing strategy. Packed with many popular holidays, retailers can leverage this time to boost consumer engagement and maximize the return on investment of email marketing.
A recent study from Yesmail proves just that. Using its proprietary Market Intelligence tool to analyze over 30 major brands between June 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2014, Yesmail offers four findings for better email marketing during the holidays:
1. The volume of holiday-themed emails is growing: Compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, 32 percent more brands deployed holiday-themed campaigns in last year's fourth quarter, with the majority (83 percent) sending general holiday campaigns.
Next step for retailers: Incorporate holidays into upcoming email campaigns, but be aware of timing. Every holiday has a unique time range for peak consumer engagement. For example, back-to-school and Black Friday campaigns do well when deployed close to the holiday, while Cyber Monday and Christmas emails are successful when sent out early. Understanding the timing for a holiday is an important first step for retailers.
2. Post-holiday emails require extra strategy: Relevant messaging, good timing and out-of-the-box creative can be instrumental in achieving better response rates. These features can make a post-holiday email a top performer.
Next step for retailers: When developing content for holiday-themed email campaigns, focus on relevancy. Use language that leverages the context of a holiday while also incorporating personal touches that subscribers crave. For example, themed narratives (an email campaign counting down to a holiday) leverage interesting and pertinent content and allow retails marketers to send more emails.
However, retailers should avoid forcing their products and services into holidays that are too niche. Some holidays, like Halloween, don't align organically with all retailers’ offerings. Email campaigns must relate a retailer and a holiday in a logical way. Otherwise, subscribers will find them forced and worthless.
3. More emails don't hurt engagement or response rates: Average open rates for the third and fourth quarters of last year were 14.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively, despite a 46 percent quarter-over-quarter increase of average email volume.
Next step for retailers: Start sending more emails. While high volume has meant annoyance in the past, subscriber behavior during the holidays suggests the opposite. Retailers can use larger campaigns to consistently nurture the consumer relationships toward call to actions or hard-sell emails. Every email is another chance to interact with consumers.
4. Deliverability improved in 2014: Overall deliverability rate for the fourth quarter of 2014 increased month-over-month and achieved a 2 percent increase year-over-year.
Next step for retailers: Increase email deployment at a gradual rate toward target holiday dates, and mix in holiday-themed campaigns with business-as-usual emails. First, increasing email frequency early on will condition consumers to branded content. Second, it will signal to internet service providers that mailing volume will be changing in the upcoming months. This practice establishes transparent email expectations and can help retailers avoid blocked emails as the holidays near.
With these four insights, retailers are already benefiting from increases to holiday-themed emails. While many brands are developing comprehensive and personalized email strategies, all can do more. During the 2015 holiday season, take advantage of collecting, analyzing and using historical email data. These data insights will lead you to the informed campaigns and high inboxing rates you're looking for.
Bob Sybydlo is the director of market intelligence and deliverability at Yesmail, a provider of enterprise email marketing software.