Email Applied: The Perfect Date
Are you ever at a loss for what to include in an upcoming email campaign? Calendars can be a very useful tool to keep your emails fresh, lively and timely. Let's examine what should be in your calendar and how detailed it should be for the short and long term.
There are several elements to a successful calendar planning system:
- holidays that you can leverage;
- internal events such as new product launches, seasonal events and planned marketing offerings; and
- ensuring there's a variety and cadence to the products and promotions you feature.
Taking Advantage of Holidays
Holidays are important buying times, but there are also psychological factors at work. People look forward to holidays, and they're generally in a better mood and more receptive to offers and product ideas around holidays. You're well aware of the big holidays and buying occasions during the year, and I'm sure this is part of your overall plan.
However, there are plenty of additional opportunities you can take advantage of. Here are some examples:
- Daylight savings time is hardly a biggie. Brookstone featured self-setting clocks, which is a perfect tie-in, and Disney ran a sale with the promo code "Daylight."
- Barneys New York sent an email after the most recent presidential inauguration featuring clothing from a high-end designer with the headline, "We love Isabel Toledo! And we love that Mrs. Obama loves Isabel too."
- Hewlett-Packard took advantage of a recent Super Bowl to feature a wide-screen TV in its email campaign with the headline, "Reach out & touch the big game!"
- Sears sent a geo-targeted email with the subject line, "Heavy snow is forecasted in your area - be prepared." This smart marketing move serves as a timely alert for customers and a value-added service, but it also sells. The email promoted snow blowers, snow tires, shovels and more.
- Road Runner Sports used April Fool's Day to launch a sale with the subject line, "Runner! New INVISIBLE Running Shoes Are Outta Sight!" The email went on to explain that invisible shoes aren't real, but this offer is. The promotion was 10 percent off plus free shipping.
Think outside the box and make things fun and interesting for your subscribers. Make sure your planning calendar includes all the major holidays and other quirky events that you might take advantage of. There are many online calendars you can access to spur your thinking. One that I like is ButlerWebs; it gives you weekly and monthly observances.
Once you've identified the holidays and events you'll include in your marketing efforts, put them on the calendar and determine how many emails will go out in support of a particular holiday.
Inclusion of Internal Events and Important Marketing Efforts for Your Company
Each company has its own internal marketing cycle that must play into your email planning. Special events (e.g., new store opening), new product launches, seasonal product changes, enhancements to your website and newly added services all need to be added to the calendar plan. Also, be sure to think about other marketing efforts that are taking place that should be on the calendar.
Consider the following:
- Are you sending a direct mail campaign? You may want to let customers know beforehand and feature the catalog cover or outside envelope in an email.
- Have you just created a page on Pinterest or another social media site? You may want to send a dedicated email to your list to get them involved.
- Are there great customer reviews on your site that you want to create a promotion around?
- Have you created videos that would be helpful to your audience?
- Is there an upcoming contest on Facebook or Twitter that you want to share with your email audience to get them involved in another digital channel?
- Do you have a blog? Your email subscribers might be interested in checking it out.
Some of the ideas above would result in a single email, but others should be added to your calendar for periodic additional sends. For example, if you find customer reviews increase your metrics in multiple ways, you may want to send emails on top-rated products every six weeks to eight weeks.
Ensure There's a Variety and Cadence
It drives me crazy when almost every email I receive from a brand screams discount and sale. This isn't good marketing and it cheapens the brand. You need to mix it up and present your readers with a variety of themes, promotions and subject lines. A calendar can help with that. Here are my thoughts on how detailed your calendar needs to be:
- Upcoming month: very specific with promotions, holidays, offers, themes and products to be featured. Subject lines should be specific (although they can be tweaked). The number and types of emails to be sent and the segments they're to be sent to should be addressed.
- Next two months to three months: higher level showing holiday tie-ins, planned offers, general product categories to promote and any special emails by topic that are outside of the normal schedule. A series of bullet points is fine. Include a general plan for targeting segments.
- Following four months to six months: top level mapping out of overall promotions, holidays, announcements and themes.
As you can see, the upcoming month is granular in detail. As time marches on, you need to flesh out the specifics to keep on pace. Planning is everything. Calendars are an important tool to keep your audience engaged. Use them and you should reap the benefits of higher opens and clicks.