Email Applied: Promotional Planning Ideas That Will Make Your Life Easier
How tightly do you plan the upcoming schedule for your email campaigns? Marketers who view email as an important sales and acquisition channel are likely to have a detailed plan for what their email content will include in the next 90 days. They also have a skeleton outline for email offers over the following 90 days. Yes, successful email marketers are actively planning the next six months of activity.
It’s helpful to develop a promotional planning calendar months in advance. We’re all aware of the major gift buying opportunities that are coming up — such as Father’s Day, June graduations, July 4th and more. You certainly want to capitalize on these, but if you’re smart you want to look for other opportunities that tie in with your business, help you stand out in the inbox and resonate with consumers.
Here are some examples that aren’t obvious but should get you thinking:
- Despair.com puts a reverse spin on motivational posters and products. In keeping with its irreverent style, the company’s email program is called “The Wailing List.” Despair.com took advantage of the Charlie Sheen controversy to introduce a special T-shirt with the subject line: The Wailing List — Two and a Half Minds.
- The change to daylight savings time was the perfect opportunity for Brookstone to promote its automatically programmable clocks. The subject line was appropriate: Never worry about Daylight Savings Time again! The email promoted the clocks, but the company was clever and included additional information near the bottom of the email. “Don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.” Brookstone explained many fire departments encourage people to change batteries at this time to avoid problems.
- Disney also used the same theme to promote a recent sale. Its subject line read, “Don’t Be Late! Daylight Savings up to 30%.” The email had an Alice in Wonderland theme and included Alice and the March Hare holding a clock. The email’s promo code was “Daylight.”
- For this year’s Oscar Awards, high-fashion e-tailer Vivre promoted another Oscar in its emails — Oscar de la Renta clothes.
There are plenty of online resources to help you plan your email promotion schedule. Here’s a look at just a few entries for May. The lists are usually extensive, but the trick is identifying the opportunities that are pertinent to your business. Then come up with creative ways to take advantage of those events.
- May 4 - May 10: National Wildflower Week
- May 4 - May 10: Small Business Week
- May 5: Cinco de Mayo
- May 8: Mother’s Day
- May 11 - May 17: National Running and Fitness Week
- May 17: New York Stock Exchange established (1792)
- May 24: International Jazz Day
Promotional Planning Cadence
In addition to taking advantage of events, you can do other things as you develop a promotional calendar. Probably the most important advice is to promote a good mix of products and offers. An example of a month of promotional emails from a clothing and accessory company can be found in the chart below. (I’m registered on its list.)
Notice the company sends many emails, but it varies the focus to appeal to its list. It segments and uses sales, but also provides a nice variety of products — particularly to its target segment.
Take a moment to think about this plan. It’s relevant to me as a female, since I provided this information when I registered. In most emails I see relevant products based on my gender. The company does use many offers, including free shipping and sales, but some emails have no offers.
Focus on Subject Lines
Retailers know that they need to stand out in the inbox. Subject lines drive open rates. Take a minute to think about your own email behavior. If you receive a series of emails with subject lines that continually promote discounts (e.g., 5 percent off, 10 percent off, 20 percent off), they probably don’t grab your attention. Many other retailers are using the same tactic. Continuous promotion of sales and discounts can cheapen your brand. Try a mix of promotions. Here are examples of subject lines that might spur your thinking:
Sales and Savings
- Just In! 8 Fabulous New Looks...20% Off, Too
- Our Spring Wardrobe Event - Save up to $200
- Our Printing Mistake = Your Golf Ball Savings, Up to 40%
- Score Big Savings - Up to 40% Off at Our Game Day Sale! (sent before the Super Bowl)
- And the winner is: You. Save up to $339 on select Dell systems. (sent before the Academy Awards)
- We’ve Got Spring Fever: 3 Savings You Can’t Miss!
- Expires in 48 HOURS - Claim Your $25.00 Coupon Now - on orders of $50 or more
- Go clearance-crazy: Save up to 65% before these deals go.
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It takes discipline, but advanced planning makes your life easier. You’ll have a blueprint that provides direction and guidance.