Holiday Promotions for Your Email Marketing Program
More and more consumers are doing their shopping online and your email marketing program may be more relevant than ever. According to Time, last year shoppers took to stores and e-commerce sites to do their holiday shopping as early as September. By the end of December, shoppers spent some $46.5 billion, up 10 percent from 2012. It's estimated that nearly 30 percent of this year's holiday shopping will be done on smartphones and tablets.
One thing that will get you on Santa's naughty list is targeting customers who have already disengaged. Many marketers are tempted to send their holiday email promotions to customers who haven't engaged with their brand in quite some time. They assume that sending the campaigns to more people will result in more people seeing the offers, but this isn't necessarily true. The addresses you've been suppressing throughout the year due to inactivity may include spam traps, and sending to spam traps and inactive addresses can lead to deliverability issues. With September through December being such an important period for holiday e-commerce, don't dig so deep into the data file, or you may end up with coal.
All the same rules for best practices for any of your email marketing campaigns apply, but here are some thoughts about your holiday campaigns:
1. Think about your product or service and decide what would be compelling enough to get people to act.
2. Announce your offer two weeks to three weeks out.
3. Send a reminder the week of the offer.
4. Send thank-you emails the week after the campaign to those who purchased.
5. Make it mobile friendly. More holiday shoppers than ever will be using their mobile devices to shop. Be aware that some people will be using smartphones and others will be using tablets; optimize your campaigns for both.
6. Add seasonal designs to your emails.
7. Facebook advertising is gaining dominance over other forms. Use it as part of your marketing efforts. There are lots of great examples of how Facebook has enhanced campaigns. One business I know of used Facebook for email opt-ins for a specific brand/initiative. It grew its email list by 170 percent, and the subscribers who opted in via Facebook were sent a welcome email that resulted in a 57.43 percent open rate.
8. Pinterest and Instagram are very popular and could be valuable assets, reflecting the growing importance of visual social media. For example, for the 2013 holiday season, Kahlúa decided it should approach its customers at every possible touchpoint. It launched a Pinterest page gearing up for the holiday season and used a sweepstakes to build attention and excitement around its "Taste the Spirit of the Holidays" campaign. Kahlua promoted a series of Kahlúa-inspired drinks and recipes. By combining its email marketing tactics with social media content such as blogs and videos, Kahlúa increased its Pinterest followers by 1,432 percent in a month.
9. Is there a company you could partner with, maybe one that has an established social network, blogs and videos you could piggyback on? For example, Kahlua partnered with the world's largest digital food brand, Allrecipes, gaining access to its large network of bloggers. This extended Kahlua's reach considerably.
10. Do A/B testing of subject lines, design formats and other elements of your campaign right up until the very end of the season. There's always time to make it better.
And here are some ideas for developing your promotional package:
- Gift guides: Helping your customers choose which gifts work for the people in their lives is much appreciated. Choosing the right gift doesn't come easy to everyone, and many of your customers will be grateful.
- Offer free delivery or free shipping. Be sure to include an end date.
- Gift wrapping is appreciated, either for free or for a nominal charge. If you offer a service, then gift certificates are appreciated.
- Charity: You could offer to donate a percentage of every sale to a local cause or have your customer choose from a list of charities.
- Have a plan for capturing last-minute shoppers. As it gets closer to the holidays, give just a few simple choices rather than all your products. Be sure to let consumers know the latest they can order to get their gifts in time.
- Consider promotions for not just Christmas, but holidays of other faiths as well.
Creating a successful holiday email marketing strategy may require more thought than in the past. Social networking, the meteoric rise mobile device usage, and the rising dominance of online shopping have created new environments. Therefore, new assumptions are needed for businesses everywhere. As always, the bottom line is making it clear to the consumer what unique product or service you offer, how it will provide a benefit to them, and how to get your message to them above all the rest.
Alyssa Nahatis is the director of deliverability at Adobe Campaign, a cross-channel marketing solution that allows marketers to deliver personalized experiences across online and offline channels.