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‘Tis the Season for Holiday Planning (Now!)

As originally published on the Oracle Modern Marketing blog.

It’s beginning to look a lot like … September.

Which means your holiday planning is in full swing! Instead of writing an article with vague ideas that only add to your growing to-do list, we decided to give four specific tactics you can execute NOW to better position your programs for a successful holiday season and Q4.

Tip #1: Test, Test, Test

The first item on your holiday prep list should be to A/B test. Now is the time to determine the right creative mix for subject lines and email designs so your content is fully optimized and ready for the holiday season.

It’s a real opportunity, especially when you consider a surprisingly high number of marketers still aren’t testing. In fact, research shows that nearly 39 percent of brands never or rarely A/B test their broadcast and segmented emails.

The good news is that there are tools that can help automate the process and deliver winning creative in real time. This reduces the effort needed to analyze results and send a winning version.

Your broadcast messages shouldn’t be the only touch points to benefit from a test – also consider testing your automated and triggered messages for maximum impact. According to the same research, successful email marketers are 70 percent more likely to A/B test their triggered emails at least once a year. Also, these marketers are 95 percent more likely to A/B test their transactional emails at least once a year.

Start your test now, and carry it through the holiday season with dynamic testing tools that continuously test creative versions to ensure the champion version is always deployed.

Tip #2: Refresh Your Welcome Emails

The next item to tackle is a welcome series refresh. Your welcome series is your chance at a first impression, and if you are not personalizing that content, the impact of personalization later in the journey can be lost.

Here are a few suggestions any brand can implement to improve their welcome series – and generate better results:

  • • In welcome message No. 1, start your relationship off on the right foot by featuring first name personalization in a fun font over an image.

text overlay of Micki holiday blog

You can also begin to progressively collect user preferences via a poll to personalize future emails.

master cuts holiday blog

  • • In welcome message No. 2, dynamically serve up category or product recommendations aligned with the preferences you collected in the poll using a targeted webscrape. This email is also a great place to start telling your brand story – feature an embedded video that brings your company story to life.

chicos holiday blog

  • • Finally, use welcome No. 3 and 4 to collect even more user preferences with additional polls, surveys, and other interactive devices. Just remember, use the preference data you collect to serve your customer with the personalized experience they expect.
Tip #3: Don’t Forget Transactional Emails

Think quick: What is the one message all converted shoppers receive in their experience with your brand?

Shipping confirmations are often an afterthought in the marketing strategy – sometimes they are even executed by a different team – but think of the opportunity these messages represent. WIth high open and re-open rates, as customers anxiously await and track their precious packages, these emails are the perfect opportunity to keep a customer in your branded experience instead of sending them to a third-party tracking site.

For example, digital retailer Evine uses live business context data to display live package location information in its shipping confirmation emails. This tactic increased month-over-month click-to-open rates by 16 percent.

tracking holiday blog

Tip #4: Plan Ahead with Time-Based Campaigns

Our last recommendation focuses on planning. The phrase, holiday rush, is not an exaggeration. Timely offers and communications are key for a consumer looking for the best deal, and driving urgency is one of the most effective tools in your marketing playbook.

This demand is the perfect opportunity to use time-based targeted messages. Create an hourly, daily, or weekly deals campaign, and drive urgency with a mix of countdown timers, add-to-calendar calls to action, and images that change in real time as offers expire and new promotions come online.

These types of messages successfully cut through the clutter by delivering dynamic content that is always up to date and never provides the negative experience of an expired offer.

torrid holiday blog

deals holiday blog

A Gift Any Email Marketer Will Love

As you start developing this year’s holiday campaigns, don’t resort to the same old, same old approach. This year, get creative with innovative new strategies and technologies that are proven to increase important email metrics and improve sales. With these four tips, you can truly give the gift that keeps giving – highly engaging email campaigns your customers will love.

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Take a look at our Holiday LookBook for even more great ideas, or download our holiday checklist to make sure you stay on track.