Oy, it’s already Q4. Holiday season is officially upon us. For many marketers, the happiest time of the year turns into the most stressful time of the year. You’ve got your big strategic initiatives planned, but is there still time to tweak your email programs so they drive more conversions and revenue than they did last year?
Here’s the thing — you probably don’t have enough time to make sweeping changes to your holiday email campaigns now without breaking your calendar, budget or process. But you can still move the needle with some practical tips and tricks. We sat down with Kristen Speagle from BrightWave in an interactive webinar recently, where we picked her brain for recommendations. Here are the answers you’ve been waiting for:
Q. What are some creative ways to make email marketing messages really ‘pop’ and drive a response this holiday season?
A. Countdown timers, scratch-off offers, polls, animations and calendar reminders are all great ways to boost message engagement and stand out in the inbox—but don’t over-complicate your design…sometimes less is more. Highlight your top offers and consider sending customers to a landing page that gives additional information or offers. Just be sure that landing page doesn’t take the customer out of the purchase path.
Lego uses Liveclicker’s LiveReveal feature to engage email subscribers
Q. How should I approach email design for the holidays?
A. Create a sense of urgency with your creative, and send an email with a surprise offer extension to customers who didn’t take advantage during the original offer period. Holiday gift guides are another good way to help shoppers find the perfect gift for people on their list. And don’t be afraid to be fun and quirky. Holiday shopping is fun and exciting, and this is the perfect time to insert a bit of lighthearted humor to get people’s attention.
Chico’s uses time-based targeting to personalize emails and present current offers
Q. Regarding message cadence, is this really a time that marketers should ‘just send more?’
A. My favorite rule of thumb also applies to holiday email campaigns: If you have something to say, say it. If you don’t, then don’t. It’s more important to be highly relevant and targeted than to blast a bunch of messages that will turn subscribers off. Inboxes are typically bombarded with offers during the holiday season, so stand out by making sure your emails are relevant to the individual and include interesting creative elements that keep you top of mind.
Q. How should I use historical data to ensure relevance?
A. Align offers with customer profile and behavior data. If you have an offer for a product that the customer has previously purchased or expressed interest in, make sure that offer is front and center. Use your subject lines, pre-headers, and hero content to highlight the offers that are most likely to interest each customer inpidually.
Another clever email from Lego prompts recipients to add a reminder to their calendars
Q. What are the best practices I should adhere to in my holiday campaigns?
A. List hygiene, mobile optimization and deliverability are key for holiday. Since most people are viewing these offers on mobile, it’s super important that your emails are optimized for display on mobile devices. So take a mobile-first approach to creative. List hygiene and deliverability go hand in hand, so make sure your new subscribers are providing valid email addresses. Email file size, image/text ratio and sending domain authentication are important factors to keep in mind when designing your holiday campaign. Make sure your emails are getting into inboxes.
In addition, it’s important that your email tells the customer exactly what to do. Use clear and thoughtful imagery and calls-to-action. If the customer needs to use a code to redeem an offer, keep it prominent. If they need to go to a retail location, make it clear and provide them with the address of their closest store.
Q. Last but not least, when should email marketers really start planning for holiday?
A. NOW! It’s never too soon, particularly with long-tail production requirements for channels such as email. Once you have your holiday offers finalized you’ll want to immediately begin planning how to communicate those with your audience to create the most interest and engagement. Think about key shopping dates and use those to determine send cadence. For example, many brands tease Black Friday offers well in advance of Thanksgiving and extend them through the weekend. Or, they remind last-minute shoppers to place their orders before the online shipping deadlines so they’re not disappointed on Christmas.