Tips to Improve the Performance of Your Holiday Emails, Part 2
It's no secret that for most retailers, the holiday season is the biggest opportunity for growth of the year. As summarized in part one of this two-part series, the biggest driver of this growth is through email marketing.
Part one of this series explains how to visually engage with subscribers, how to use promotions to protect margins and increase email engagement, and how to utilize product recommendations. Continue reading below for more tips on how to use email marketing for a successful holiday season.
Understand the Impact on Your Automated Messages
Set it and forget it, right? While this premise has some validity, be aware of your messages during the holidays. After all, you will no doubt increase your email subscriber file during this time. That means more welcome messages. But people may be shopping for different reasons and on different time frames than those throughout the rest of the year. Here are three examples of automated messages that can be most impacted:
- A welcome series is designed to onboard new email subscribers. However, think of the experience. Is the incentive included in the welcome message less than those of your everyday promotions at this time? If so, you may want to either change the incentive (e.g., tiered discount) or remove it altogether. You may want to edit the content of these messages to include gift-giving sections, or really hone in on your differentiators, such as an extended holiday return policy. You may even want to reduce the time between or overall number of messages sent.
- Cart abandonment messages are powerful, especially during this season. However, the holidays bring an increase in consumers doing comparison shopping or using their shopping cart as a wish list. This can drastically impact your send strategy. It may not make sense to send this message one hour after abandonment. Like with a welcome series, you might consider adjusting the timing between messages, the number of messages sent, and incentive structure, if applicable. I've had clients add a fourth and fifth message during this season to great success.
- Purchase anniversary messages are great lifecycle messages, however, sending these messages at a time when many purchases are indeed gifts can be a bit off-putting. Last year I received one of these messages in late November, and to “celebrate” I was given a discount. The problem? I received two other messages from the same brand on the same day, both touting 50 percent off. I probably don’t need to tell you, but this was a much better offer than the one I was given to celebrate. The anniversary message didn't add value to my experience.
If you wait until Black Friday, or even Thanksgiving Day, you’re leaving money on the table. Gray November, month-long series of discounting is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Last year every day in November generated more than $1 billion in online sales for the first time. In total, 58 of 61 days in the holiday season reached this mark.
Expect to see deep discounting all month long, maybe even as early as late October. Black Friday is now celebrated for a week, not a day. During the holidays I track subject line-advertised discounts sent to me and group them by week. This past year, beginning the week of Nov. 12, the most popular discount offered to me was 50 percent off. This held steady through the end of November. For individual days between Thanksgiving Day and Nov. 28, the only day to not have 50 percent off as the most popular promotion was Sunday, Nov. 26. On that day, 50 percent off was the third-most advertised (30 percent off and free shipping, respectively).
If you want to grow your email marketing revenue, whether you discount or not, plan on Nov. 1 as the first official day of your holiday season. Remember, if you’re not leading, you’re playing catch-up.
When planning your holiday email marketing strategy, a lot goes into it. I encourage you to focus on your own email experience with brands. Look at your own inbox for inspiration. Focus on what your customers will experience, and how to optimize each of those points of interaction. With any luck, and a little bit of planning, some of that 15 percent of projected growth will fall right into your pocket. For more creative inspiration and holiday planning tips, be sure to visit Bronto’s Holiday Marketing Academy.
Greg Zakowicz is the senior commerce marketing analyst for Oracle Bronto, a cloud-based marketing automation software solution for mid-market to enterprise retailers to track their e-commerce and email marketing efforts.