With the holidays quickly approaching, retailers need to make sure they're optimizing their email campaigns. Emails continue to prove successful in getting consumers to take action and drive revenue, but they need to be more personalized and relevant than ever before to make an impact. In order to help boost your email program performance, here are five strategies to consider incorporating into your holiday marketing campaigns:
1. Ensure the quality of subscriber data obtained at the point of sale (POS). Retailers need to take appropriate steps to improve the quality of data obtained at the POS, as those subscribers often are highly engaged with the brand. In fact, between April 2015 and March 2016, welcome mailings to POS subscribers had a 32 percent higher click-to-open rate than subscribers obtained from other sources. To ensure data quality, marketers should invest in real-time email validation technology, train store associates for data collection and have customers verify data in real time.
2. Use social media programs to optimize engagement across all channels. Targeting subscribers based on their interest in social media can lead to high email engagement for brands. Welcome emails sent to subscribers who engaged via Facebook had an 11 percent higher click-to-open rate than other welcome emails from the same brand (22 percent for Facebook welcomes vs. 19.9 percent for other welcome emails).
3. Keep creative fresh and consider countdowns as part of holiday promotions. Fresh, creative ideas that add a sense of urgency are an important strategy for holiday campaigns. During the 2015 holiday season, a number of brands leveraged countdown clocks that helped boost engagement. Marketing campaigns that included a dynamic countdown clock had a 41 percent higher click-to-open rate and more than double the transaction rate of other holiday mailings from the same brands.
4. Include personalized subject lines and content to optimize connections with customers. Personalization can help boost performance of promotional emails. Based on data from April 2015 to March 2016, brands that included personalized subject lines experienced 27 percent higher unique click rates, 11 percent higher click-to-open rates and more than double the transaction rate compared with other promotional mailings. While personalizing emails with a first name can be effective, marketers also should consider populating communications with more granular data points, such as purchase or browse behavior. When personalization is done correctly, marketers can create an improved customer journey.
5. Make plans for retention programs to keep customer engagement high throughout the year. A proper retention strategy can help brands keep holiday-season customers throughout the rest of the year. Brands that sent “thank you for your purchase” mailings saw twice the open and click rates, as well as five times the transaction rate, compared to promotional mailings. Additionally, promotional campaigns that included “our way of saying thanks” experienced two-and-a-half times the transaction rate of other promotional mailings.
The 2016 holiday season will be no different than any other as emails flood in and clutter up inboxes. There's a constant battle for attention when it comes to email, and retailers need to optimize their performance. Successful retailers will not only make sure they have the right data, but that the focus is on the human relationship behind the data.
Spencer Kollas is the vice president of global deliverability at Experian Marketing Services, a company that unites customer identity, targeting and cross-channel solutions into a single marketing platform.