5 Dos and Don’ts for Weather-Related Emails
Were you prepared for the recent arctic blast? For West Coasters, what about those above-average temps? I'm not talking about whether you were ready to shovel your driveway or if you had a fully stocked beach bag waiting by the door, I'm talking about your ability to leverage these newsworthy weather events in the inbox.
Unfortunately, many breaking news events that could boost email engagement are unpredictable. However, there's a 100 percent chance that crazy weather will hit at some point during the year. Rather than take a reactive, last-minute approach, do a little work ahead of time to have these wacky-weather emails ready to go.
This isn't just a way to lighten up the inbox or to introduce some variation into your messaging, though there are certainly benefits to occasionally changing things up. No, there are actual measurable benefits to tackling the topic of headline-worthy weather. Open rates usually see the biggest boost, though clicks and conversions can also soar if these messages are done right.
Here are five dos and don'ts for having your emails ready before the storm hits:
DO: Build Segments
Wild weather patterns rarely impact the entire U.S. at the same time, and nothing is worse than receiving an email that's totally off the mark. I often receive blizzard-related emails even though I live in a much warmer part of the country that rarely sees snow. When building your segments, target regions that share similar weather patterns. Go beyond basic regions, such as the Northeast or the West, to include coastal areas or states that are similarly impacted by the Gulf Stream.
You can still modify these segments to include or exclude certain states before a send, but preparing the segments in advance will save you from the headaches and errors of rushing to create them at the last minute. Once the segments are built, you'll also have a better idea of how many subscribers you'll reach with each one, which can help you determine if the effort is even worth the work when the weather change hits.
DO: Prepare Product and Promo Options
The most buzzworthy weather themes are seasonal extremes or imbalances. Record-breaking temps on either end of the spectrum usually have folks chatting, whether it's super cold temps in the winter or super hot days in the summer. Discuss which of your products would work well in these weather conditions. Think about how to stay warm in the winter, beat the heat in summer, or make the most of a crazy hot spring day. There are so many options to consider, which means there's no excuse for not aligning products and promotions with these extremes and having them ready to go.
DON'T: Be Late
Even if you've prepared options for a trending pop in the weather, other factors such as an ongoing sale or pre-planned promotion could present obstacles to getting an email sent out quickly. In my experience, these emails perform best just after the weather predictions are made, and the response tends to trail off once the weather hits. By the time folks have to actually deal with the impact, your message may have lost some of its momentum. Several retailers were late to the game with the recent arctic blast on the East Coast and the emails, in my opinion, just fell flat.
DON'T: Be Insensitive
Another advantage of prepping weather-related emails and sending them early in the buzz cycle is that weather extremes can actually cause a lot of damage or simply just not be that fun to deal with. The anticipation of three feet of snow is much easier to talk about than having to deal with it once it's on the ground. If you aren't able to tackle the topic until the weather has already arrived, ensure that you're being sensitive to those who were negatively affected. In some cases, the negative reactions could easily go beyond the inbox and ignite a storm on your social media pages, which could have long-term lasting effects on your brand.
DON'T: Rely on Subject Lines
When extremes are predicted, too many retailers simply add weather-related subject lines and completely ignore the content of the email. The disconnect between a weather-related subject line and an email that promotes a sale for an unrelated product isn't likely to move the needle. Your prep work should have aligned products with various weather-related topics, so if you find yourself struggling to make that connection, it may not be worth tackling the topic.
Get your weather-themed email plan together now, and I forecast a nice bump in sales for you the next time the temps go crazy.
Jim Davidson is the head of research at Bronto, a cloud-based marketing automation software provider