4 Email Tips to Connect With Customers This Holiday Season
Parties, cheer and goodwill abound this month, but for online retailers, visions of sugarplums can quickly vanish in the face of navigating through the high-stress holiday sales season. With email marketing driving 25 percent of all online orders on Black Friday in 2015, brands can’t afford to skimp on implementing email marketing best practices. However, 38 percent of marketers don't use personalization in their email marketing efforts, even though skipping personalization during the holidays can actually cause brands to miss out on potential revenue. In fact, email personalization has been known to increase conversions by 10 percent.
For savvy marketers who understand the impact of email personalization, this provides a big opportunity to stand out from the holiday marketing crowd and boost the bottom line. Email marketing can be one of the easiest things on your holiday to-do list. Just follow the tips below, and you’re sure to create emails that shine brighter than your neighbor’s light display:
1. Start with the sign up: No matter where you are in your list generation process, stop right now and ask yourself, “Is my list as personalized as it could be?” Review your sign-up process. Do you ask for just the email address? If so, you’re missing out on personalization opportunities because you know next to nothing (at least to start) about your new contact.
At the very least, make sure you’re collecting the new subscriber’s full name so you can personalize the subject line or salutation. Consider asking for one more piece of information so you can segment your audience further to make your contacts feel like you're talking just to them. Luckily, retail is one of the easiest industries in which to gather segment criteria; you can classify your contacts by location, product interest, gender, age, or even whether the individual is shopping for himself or herself, or for another person.
2. Segment, segment, segment: Mass email is a major time saver, but that doesn’t mean you should bulk blast your entire list. No matter the size of your list, there are opportunities to segment it to make your contacts feel that you’re paying attention to them as individuals and personalizing your message. Here are some ways to do that:
- By demographic or preferences: Information you gathered on the sign-up form gives you the ability to create different audiences. For example, if you gather age information, you can customize holiday email messages to appeal to each age range. Depending on the product, a younger demographic might be shopping for themselves, while an older audience segment might be focused on shopping for grandchildren. You want to make sure your message adapts to each audience in order to resonate as loudly as possible.
- By engagement: Contacts respond well to emails that reference their previous interaction with your brand (or lack thereof) because it shows that you’re paying attention to them. Consider sending a re-engagement campaign to people who haven’t opened an email in six months to prime them for holiday promotions (see examples and free subject lines here).
3. Sending and selling for success: The time that you send an email can be just as important as the personalization within it. You want to send emails when your contacts are most likely to open them and take action.
Plan your emails to deploy at times when your subscribers likely aren’t distracted, and at points in the day when they have time to make a purchase. For even greater personalization, segment your lists by time zone so emails arrive at the optimum time — no matter where in the world your contacts live. To determine the best time to send, test what days and times you see the most sales. There’s been research that shows Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday as having higher conversion rates than other days, in the time frames between 9 a.m., 1 p.m., or between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. However, it’s important to see what works best for your audience.
4. Don’t forget the human touch: Unlike an industry like finance where email marketing campaigns are fairly serious and buttoned up, online retail has the advantage of providing all kinds of amazing products that are fun to talk about and to buy. Remember, people like seeing a brand’s personality. Use this to your advantage, especially during the holiday season.
Have fun with your email design and subject lines; use creative photos or emojis (the latter, sparingly). Don’t forget that part of your job is to convey the feeling your product will evoke in your customers. Painting a picture about how great they will feel in their new clothes or how much easier their parents’ lives will be with a great gadget or how a piece of décor can help make lasting memories this holiday season can make all the difference. People don’t buy from companies; they buy from people they like, so it’s OK to show who you really are this holiday season.
Marion Price is the marketing programs manager of iContact, an email marketing solutions provider.