Preparing Your Email Marketing Strategy for the Holidays, Part 2
The holidays are a "make it or break it" time for marketers. In my last post, I addressed pre-planning to poise your company to capitalize on the shopping season. Now it's time to address issues that get to the heart of your planning strategy. Consumers are looking for the best deals, gift ideas and the hottest items.
Step Up Your Frequency
The holidays are a peak selling season for many merchants. This is the time to take a calculated risk and step up your email frequency. One big danger is that you'll get more opt-outs, but you'll also get higher sales. It's a trade-off … and one that's worth taking.
One thought to minimize your risk is to treat your inactives differently; stick to your normal schedule with this group.
Promotions That Will Get Your Cash Register Ringing
Using your full arsenal of promotions is important during the holiday season. Since this is a key buying season, you don't need to focus entirely on offers that reduce margins. Nevertheless, promotions certainly play a role.
Here's a look at how various promotions performed for an Experian CheetahMail client during the 2011 holiday season (the winners are highlighted in red).
You can see unique opens, clicks, transaction rate, revenue per email and average order value for each type of offer. Here I've highlighted the offer types that garnered the highest activity in each category. Dollars off, percent off and free gifts created a lot of engagement. Use this information to your advantage.
Of course free shipping is a winner. Consumers love it when the purchasing bar is lowered. It should definitely be in your arsenal of promotional techniques.
Here's a J.C. Penney postcard email format in HTML-lite that presents over 40,000 items on sale — plus there's free shipping on orders of $25 or more. The promo code is "Shop25," which is easy to remember. The subject line read "Our Biggest Cyber Sale Ever + FREE SHIPPING On Orders Over $25."
J.C. Penney also makes it easy to navigate directly to the department of interest on the right side of the email.
Saving money is also a big motivator for consumers (this is the case during any season). Sharing via email or social can spread the word. When asked what type of email campaign received the most shares on a worldwide basis, promotions with a discount was the winner.
This Lands’ End email offers 40 percent off any one item, and it's time sensitive as the offer ends that day. The subject line was "Right down Santa Claus' lane: 40 percent off any item - ends tonight!"
I like the image of the snow-capped mountain as support for the main headline, "Give the gift of warmth." In addition, St. Nick's picks is a nice touch. At the bottom of the email, Lands’ End promotes customer service with gift cards, gift boxing, its personal shopper service and more.
Gift With Purchase
A gift with purchase can also be a catalyst to spark sales. It's another promotional element that's easy to test. I've seen results that show as much as a 150 percent improvement in revenue per email with this tactic.
Coupons are similar to discounts, but they seem more tangible — particularly when they're visually represented like this Banana Republic email. The retailer used a barcoded coupon with an additional 15 percent off a purchase of $100 or more. If you have retail locations, a barcoded coupon can make a lot of sense as a way to drive in-store traffic.
In part three of this series, I'll examine additional email marketing techniques, creative approaches and multichannel efforts tailored to the holiday season.