Preparing Your Email Marketing Strategy for the Holidays, Part 3
In the final installment of this three-part series (make sure to check out parts one and two), I examine why it makes sense to ramp up your frequency during the holidays, when to begin your holiday promotions and leave you with some offer strategies that work.
Stepping Up Your Frequency
As you all know, the holidays are a "make it or break it" time and you want to make the most of it. So, this is the time to take a calculated risk and step up your email frequency. One big danger in doing so 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 way to minimize your risk is to treat your inactives differently. Stick to your normal schedule with them. You might consider a strategy used by Zappos.com. The online shoe and apparel retailer sends an email to its list at the beginning of the holidays, letting them know that it will be sending three mails a week ONLY during the holiday season. The email reads: "From now til the New Year, we'll help you rock your holiday gifting. With three new emails a week (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday), you'll get tons of holiday hints for everyone on your gift list ... including you."
(By the way, the lighter green section near the bottom of the email is interesting. It shows Zappos Family Care Value: 6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication.)
Timing Your Holiday Emails
You may also want to consider a slow buildup to the holiday season. I remember going into some retail stores in October that already had their Christmas decorations up. Some brands do start early, and some of your email subscribers may be early planners. Capitalize on this trend.
At a minimum, start emailing your list on Thanksgiving to take advantage of the official kickoff to the holiday season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are key shopping days. In 2011, 29 percent of brands sent two or more emails on Cyber Monday! It's the peak day of the season for email volume.
Stores are crowded on Black Friday. This email from Sports Authority focuses on easy in-store pickup. It encourages people to shop online, but to pick up their orders at their local store to save on shipping and handling. There's a big convenience emphasis on "Skip the lines". The email's subject line read: "Black Friday Pre-Sale! - In Store Only - Skip The Lines and Pick Up On 11/26!"
Be sure to communicate the date and time of the last chance consumers have to purchase in order to receive their shipment before Christmas. The email's subject line should call attention to this last order date. Give enough time for people to take advantage. An email from skin care products retailer philosophy read: "free expedited shipping ($16.95 value) - last chance for holiday delivery!" All subject lines from the company use lower case to stand out in the inbox. I love the added value included with free and fast shipping.
It's a good idea to send one last email early on your last shipping day that makes sure your subscribers knows about your shipping cutoff date.
But you need not be done yet! Do you offer e-gift cards? If so, this is another promotional opportunity to capture sales from last-minute shoppers. Send an email promoting the availability of e-gift cards as the perfect holiday gift for the family member you can't decide what to buy for. Remember, you must do everything you can to capitalize on the holiday shopping season.
The shopping season still isn't over, however. It's not too late for one more try. Consider a last-minute reminder such as this example from Omaha Steaks, with the subject line "Forget someone? We'll ship it FREE!"
Other Offer Strategies
In prior blog posts I've covered some common promotional techniques. Here are a few additional ideas:
- email-only promotions can make your subscribers occasionally feel special;
- gift with purchase;
- coupons; and
- buy one get one (BOGO).
Make your subject lines evocative. Here are some of my favorites from 2011:
- More kringle, less jingle: 40% off your entire order!
- Faster Than A Speeding Reindeer! 50% Off Express Shipping
- Christmas delivery with express shipping - on Dasher, on Dancer, on Procrastinator
- The ultimate last-minute gift (no wrapping required)
I wish you all a productive holiday season. Remember, you need to be planning now!