Since nothing about 2020 has been normal, we expect to see atypical holiday shopping patterns. With a significant decline in foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores, Deloitte projects ecommerce sales to surge by 25 to 30%. As retailers rely on email during the holiday season, deliverability is more important than ever because the ISPs become more strict with filtering as senders change their audience, list size and cadence.

We have some guidance on how you can mitigate the risk of a deliverability issue with all of those factors in play.

Sender Reputation Is Key

With this influx in send volume, ISPs must make adjustments to how they accept and deliver mail. All senders are competing for more limited inbox placement, so ensuring your sender reputation is, and remains, healthy is critical.

Metrics that ISPs look at when scoring your sender reputation include:

What to Monitor to Avoid Deliverability Issues

Open rates should be consistent across the top ISPs. If one is significantly lower than the rest, you may have an inboxing issue at that top domain. Are soft bounce rates higher than usual across any major ISPs? That may mean they’re blocking your mail due to abusive metrics or poor sender reputation.

Specifically within Gmail, you can use the Postmaster Tools. If your IP and/or domain reputation dips below medium to low or bad, that is usually indicative of a sender reputation issue at Gmail, resulting in mail being filtered to the spam folder.

Other metrics to monitor to ensure you’re not at risk for deliverability issues include:

Most holiday strategies involve sending to less engaged users or users at a more regular cadence, which often results in hard bounce and complaint spikes, and decreases in user engagement. If these metrics are atypical, it’s important to ensure your delivery and inboxing aren’t impacted.

Helpful Recommendations

With holiday deliverability nuances, we have some recommendations to keep in mind during the season.

  1. Don’t introduce any new lists to your ESP.
  2. Avoid mailing older lists you have not consistently mailed.
  3. Do not fully remove suppression lists. If you want to begin sending to lesser engaged users, slowly begin well before the holiday season starts. That way, issues can be mitigated before Black Friday.
  4. Be cautious of new acquisition sources. Test them prior to the holiday season and ensure they don’t result in hard bounces and complaints.
  5. Edit your signup and opt-out pages carefully.
  6. Be careful changing your sending cadence. ISPs will penalize you for an inconsistent spike in send volume, so increases in cadence should happen slowly. Provide preferences to allow users to opt down from increased marketing.
  7. Do not change your sending domain.

Download Delivering Results to the Inbox, our sister brand Sailthru’s ultimate deliverability playbook, to learn more about all the essentials, including the complex path messages take en route to the inbox, how deliverability drives revenue, the importance of sender reputation and more.

If you think your customers don’t care about getting personalized emails from your brand, better think again. The proof is right there in the numbers, this time in a new report from Formation:

These consumers aren’t talking about the basic tactics for personalized emails like mail-merging their first names into the subject line or greeting or varying content by gender. As the study notes, “75% of consumers said the marketing emails they open frequently contain segmentation, indicating these are now table stakes.”  

That’s a solid conclusion, which concurs with findings Liveclicker reported in 2019 from a study by The Relevancy Group.

The business case for 1:1 personalized emails

That study, The Value of Personalization Optimization for Retailers, revealed the business case for advanced personalization: Every $1 you spend on advanced personalization returns at least $20 of additional revenue that’s over and above email’s already amazing ROI of $44.

But, just as basic personalization doesn’t move the needle for consumers, it won’t generate that eye-popping ROI, either. What does? The advanced personalization that shows customers you know who they are as individuals, not just records in your database.

1:1 personalized emails that are cool, not creepy

The Formation study, which studies factors that affect customer loyalty, includes a key data point not often found in personalization studies: 

Personalization tactics that increase engagement and loyalty, such as personalized emails, web sessions and location-based mobile messaging, can also turn customers off.

How you use that personalization can make or break your campaign. Meaningful personalization will increase loyalty, but failures (the dreaded “hello first-name” error, wrong locations, segments or buying/browsing history) can make customers distrust your messages and transfer those ill feelings to your brand.

The solution: Let strategy guide your choices

Personalization succeeds when it creates messages that help your customers shop more successfully, or with fewer frustrations. Start by identifying the pain points you want to address, and then look for ways you can combine real-time moment of open technology with behavior and inventory data that can help take the pain away.

Although there are dozens of ways to use this data for meaningful personalized email, the three suggestions below are all tactics you can test now to see how which can help you achieve better results in the hectic holiday months to come:

1. Real-time shipping progress: Holiday ecommerce will be bigger than ever this year, but if shippers face capacity shortages, that means packages could get delayed unexpectedly. Real-time shipping updates keep your customers in the loop and off the phone to your call centers, wondering where their goodies are.  

2. Live offer and inventory updates: Clicking on an offer in an email and then finding the promotion expired or the product is sold out isn’t just frustrating for customers – it can actually drive them to your competition, looking for a similar deal. Using time of open allows you to swap in a comparable item or substitute a new promotion for an expired one.

3. Local weather: Whether you’re able to start promoting outdoor events, you can help attendees decide whether to attend by letting them know what kind of weather to expect, using both time-of-open and location data. This data can also help you choose appropriate images or product assortments, such as promoting flannel PJs for customers in wintry climates and lighter-weight sleepwear for warmer locations.

Wrapping up

Using data creatively – but appropriately – is your key to the kinds of 1:1 personalization that customers crave and which makes them feel as if you know them without worrying that you’re looking over their shoulders constantly. Testing different levels and uses of personalization now can help you create more effective campaigns, whether you need them for day-to-day marketing or the all-important holiday months.

Email is like a digital Swiss Army knife. Sure, the actual tool has what you expect: knives that stay sharp for years. But the add-on tools, like a bottle opener, screwdriver and tweezers, help you survive everything from a battlefield to a picnic. (Thanks, corkscrew!) Email also does just what you expect: It sends important messages to your subscribers and customers. When you plug in an amazing collection of tools, you extend email’s utility and reach way beyond the inbox, creating cross-channel experiences and bringing scattered audiences together. 

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Below are six ways email can add power, connection, utility, discovery, information and value. These cross-channel experiences giving recipients more reasons to open (and reopen) your emails and buy from you instead of a competitor.

1. Add the people’s voice 

Bring in fresh content and outside voices from your social channels to give your emails added impact and inject the human touch that makes a standard campaign email more like a conversation than a sales pitch.

Besides boosting your email messages, your social channels get exposed to a new audience and the repurposed content gets a second life in email. Win-win for everybody.

2. Offer event reminders

Everybody needs a little nudge, whether it’s to show up at a major real-world game, concert or store opening or to head online to a virtual event. You can’t rely on your customers to keep opening your email to find out when and where they have to be.

An add-to-calendar function is perfect for cross-channel experiences. With just a tap or click, your customers can add your event to their calendar apps. Then, just before “go” time, they’ll get a calendar or email reminder about your event. Smooth!

3. Tap to text

People used to say that SMS and text would kill email. Turns out they link up beautifully on messages that are more effective delivered via text. A tap-to-text function lets customers reading your email on a mobile device tap a link, which automatically populates a text message with offers or other content.

Your desk-bound customers aren’t left out, either. A tap-to-text function should include device detection, which can deliver a message with instructions for joining the text program to readers on desktop or laptop browsers.

4. Create audio experiences

Email delivers more brand-building value when it can keep recipients in the message as long as possible while also giving them something to do while they’re there. Create a custom branded Spotify music playlist to promote an event and embed the live feed in your email. 

Bonus: Allow your subscribers to share your playlist with friends to gain viral exposure to untapped audiences.

5. Ask for opinions

Everybody has one (or many). Knowing what’s on your customers’ minds these days can help you tap into the zeitgeist and shape your content and message focus. You can do this two ways:

6. Show a video

It worked for your exhausted high-school teachers, and it works in today’s red-hot video climate. Adding video to email raises response and conversion rates, and new technology and email standards mean more subscribers will be able to see the video instead of a static image.

Retailers, see what you can do

Download our retail playbook for step-by-step suggestions on how you can deliver hyper-relevance, capitalize on the multichannel experience and then surprise and delight your subscribers and customers with cross-channel experiences that bring them back to your message again and again. 

Email is the workhorse for many marketing teams. According to a 2019 Econsultancy survey, email is the most effective marketing channel, while social media came in fifth. With sticky subscribers and reliable revenue, email does have a more established value than social media, but social can’t be topped for its engagement factor. Rather than determining a winner between these two channels, these differences offer the perfect case for combining them.

At a time when marketers have limited resources to create new content, social posts and user-generated content can be a welcome addition to email marketing campaigns and newsletters. Email and social media can also be used to cross-promote, creating two sticky channels that drive home important messages. What’s more, while everyone is at home and online more than usual, marketers can get creative with new forms of social engagement over email, too.

Combining email and social media creates real connections

Newsletter publishers should take a page from the digital publisher’s playbook, embedding real social media posts into their content to create more engagement. More than one-third of all article pages online now contain social embeds. From popular memes to heartwarming posts, social content adds immediate interest in an article without a lot of heavy lifting. The same is true for email newsletters, where social content can spice up a tired template.

Marketers can start by simply searching Pinterest and Instagram for well-shot images to highlight from customers and fans. ‘Wichcraft, the NYC sandwich chain, shares social posts of customers enjoying their food in their “simplest of pleasures” email campaign, which encourages some fresh air time at lunch. BistroMD uses a real-time Instagram social feed that features healthy meals customers receive as part of their plan. These examples serve as stand-ins for professionally shot content and also add a level of authenticity that’s hard to copy with slick marketing imagery.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau notes that numerous studies indicate authenticity is key for people to trust brands, and UGC is among the top-rated content online. The UGC posted on a marketer’s social channels offers a particularly important element as customers are finding their way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people are transacting online more than before, and they’re shifting their habits and brand loyalty. It’s better to be a brand that online customers can relate to than to be generic and forgettable.

The furniture retailer Made.com created a campaign in April called “Stay Grounded,” which included a collection of photos from customers’ own homes on Instagram. The photos offer the perfect mix of inspiration and authenticity. Made.com promoted it in a newsletter campaign that encourages subscribers to vote on their favorite images. The online pet- and house-sitting site TrustedHousesitters features Instagram pictures in its conversion emails to engage with potential members, particularly Housesitters. Potential customers love the inspirational pictures of pets and homes in their email campaigns, which they pair with educational messaging about house sitting and info about how TrustedHousesitters works.

Cross promotion drives engagement on both channels

Now is the time to sign people up for, well, everything. Customers are open to new online experiences in 2020, and it’s important that marketers give that to them. Many email templates fail to offer the very basics in cross promotion. 

The email footer is the easiest place to start. For example, West Elm has a nicely designed email footer with links and icons for each social channel where fans can follow, like, and share. Even better is when brands build social calls to action within the email itself or when special social instructions add more engagement. For example, L.L.Bean doesn’t ask people just to sign up for its social channels but also to add the simple but effective suggestion to “Share Your Adventures” with #BeanOutsider.

It’s also important to add email newsletter sign-up links to relevant social media posts. Marketers can repost elements of their newsletter to promote it on Instagram, for example, with a link or call-out to get more content by signing up for email. 

Social and email can also be used together to promote online events or to drive engagement in brand-new ways. Since the start of the pandemic, many marketers have had to get creative to add ways to engage with customers virtually, and email and social media can help. For example, Taubman Centers adds some extra fun to subscribers’ inboxes with Spotify playlists. GrubHub offers discounts to people that sign up for virtual concerts on their own YouTube channel with promotions in their newsletters. 

This unusual time will not last forever, but people’s habits will be changed forever. Now is the time to make an extra effort to capture new subscribers and create new ways to engage. Marketers also have a unique opportunity to forge new relationships online, when people are craving authenticity and something new. The unique value of email and social media marketing combine to help marketers make these important connections.

This article originally appeared in Street Fight.

Great email marketing isn’t a one-way street. It’s a two-way conversation between your brand and your customers, held in the privacy of the inbox. You’re probably great at holding up your end of the conversation, but where’s your customer’s voice in your messages? You can make it heard when you add customer content, like reviews, ratings, winning entries, customer images, social media comments and images.

Top 10 reasons to add customer content to your emails

There are myriad reasons why user-generated content can help you create more engaging, more effective email. Consider these as just a good starting point:

  1. Win-win: Show your customers that you value their commentary and contributions. That builds brand engagement and equity. 
  2. Community: Customer content can build community among customers with similar interests and promote your social media channels.
  3. Social proof: Reviews and ratings from peers give them the guidance and support they need to buy more confidently.
  4. Inspiration: Images and how-tos pulled from your social media, user groups or content entries show customers what other people do with your products.
  5. Partner up: Customers share the content-creation workload with you.
  6. Instant influence: Build up a market quickly for new products by sharing them with loyalty program VIPs or high-profile followers and then spotlight their comments or ratings in email. 
  7. Variety: Customer content helps you vary your message. People aren’t in the market every time you email them. Customer content can keep them interested until they’re ready to buy.
  8. Face time: Customer content humanizes your emails. If your brand is one of many in their consideration sets, having emails with a human connection can help you move to the front of the pack.
  9. Trust: Ratings, reviews, endorsements and proof of use helps build trust in your brand.
  10. Rewards: Customer content can be an easy and inexpensive way to spotlight your most engaged and influential customers.

How to find and include customer content 

Start with your user groups and social media channels like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Look at review platforms like Bazaarvoice, Qualtrics and Medallia for a steady source of customer content. But the best source is the same as it ever was – your pool of customers. Just ask them!

Automating your customer content curation

The best part is that including more UGC doesn’t have to mean a lot of extra work for your creatives and coders. In fact, it can even save you time and effort; crowdsourcing content can mean your team spends less time brainstorming and producing it themselves.

One simple way to streamline customer content curation is the implementation of an automated feed that sweeps up customer content from your website, social media channels and independent sources and then serves it in dynamic content modules in each email.  

It takes some advance work to set up rules to filter out irrelevant or unwanted content, as we explained in a recent blog about adding user reviews to emails. Once you get those in place, you just need to keep an eye on the feed and adjust it as needed.

3 Rs of customer content use

1. Keep it real. Today’s hyper-aware consumers can spot fake sentiment in a flash – and they’ll hold your brand’s feet to the virtual fire if your message strays too far from your brand identity.

2. Keep it reliable. Reviews are popular because people love to express their opinions. Many customers refuse to buy unrated products. But consumers also are getting more worried about fake reviews. A BrightLocal study found 92% of consumers ages 18-34 said they spotted fake reviews, compared with 59% of older consumers (54+). 

3. Keep it relevant. Automating a social media feed cuts your email prep time, but you must keep an eye on it to make sure the selections you include are relevant to the brand and support your email’s objectives.

3 brands doing it right

It’s not hard to find good examples of brands that have figured out how to feature customer content in their emails. That’s good because it means brands are finally seeing the value of letting their customers do their marketing for them.

But it also means that including customer content is becoming a differentiator among brands. In other words, if your customers don’t see themselves now in your messaging, they might go find a brand that does.

Below are three uses of customer content:

1. The Body Shop

This promotional email shows how to use customer content to sell a product. It draws a direct line from the product to a related customer review to the buy button. The review softens the hard sell but can still nudge customers into acting. 

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2. PetSmart

This email makes us feel warm and happy all over; and not just because PetSmart achieves an entire cat-carrier full of goals with this email:

Besides, it’s packed top to bottom with kitty and doggy pictures. What’s not to love?

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3. TripAdvisor

Reviews and ratings are standard fare for travel companies, but they’re also an area where customers are becoming skeptical about fake reviews. TripAdvisor addresses that by adding a human touch, incorporating a real headshot of each featured reviewer to add authenticity to each commentary.

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Want to see more? MailCharts curated a group of consumer emails featuring 15 premier brands at the top of their game. Each incorporates customer content differently to achieve different goals. Check it out for even more inspiration!

Email and SMS (Short Message Service) messaging are the chocolate and peanut butter of the digital marketing world. Each is great on its own. But they’re unbeatable when you pair them up in a program that uses the strengths of each channel to create a communications mix that recognizes when, where and how consumers want to be reached.

This synergy is even more important today, given the pandemic-drive move from physical to digital commerce. We don’t know whether consumers will continue to stick with digital-first for shopping. But marketers should do all they can to capitalize on this shift, and forging more cooperation between the two channels is one way to do it quickly.

What you miss with an ‘either-or’ mindset

SMS is usually touted as the ultimate email-killer. A 2020 Omnisend study credits SMS with an average 14.2% click rate and having SMS in the mix of an omnichannel campaign increases conversions by 47%
Still, email hangs on as consumers’ No. 1 preference for brand communications. Here’s why you need to create a partnership in your marketing decisions:

1. The two channels share some big benefits:

  • Real-time content based on time, location, transactions and more
  • High ROI 
  • Low barrier to entry
  • Easy to automate and personalize

2. Each channel does some things better than the other. 

The 160-character limit on an SMS message doesn’t give you much room for education and nurturing. And an emailed fraud alert or flight change might not get seen in time. That’s why you need both to serve your customers best. 

3.  Each channel can build up the other one. 

SMS to email: Send a message with a link to your preference page so they can sign up for email messages. Email to SMS: Add a tap-to-text function to your email that lets customers opt in to SMS with just a few taps. 

Both of these help you widen your contacts with your audience and give them more options to stay in touch with you. Win-win for everyone.

Caution: Remember “WIIFM!” Figure out ahead of time how each program fits into your messaging plan, and tell customers up front what you’ll send and when and why it benefits them to opt in. That’s the WIIFM, or “What’s In It For Me?”

How email and SMS can work together

You can probably come up with dozens of use cases to join up email and SMS that benefit everybody. For example, Thrive Market, an online grocery retailer and Sailthru customer, uses email and SMS marketing in tandem. If someone hasn’t engaged with email, Thrive Market tries to reach them via SMS.

Here are three tactics that you can test and implement quickly:

1. Create a new engagement segment.

If you already ask for mobile phone numbers along with email addresses (that is, you ask specifically for a mobile number and not a general number), run a query to see whether customers who provide both are more likely to buy or use your services. If your query pans out, target them for special treatment in high-traffic periods like holidays or travel high seasons to increase propensity to purchase.

2. Use tap-to-text to contact customer support.

Your email can become another port of entry for customers who need to contact customer support. Add tap-to-text to open an SMS conversation with a customer agent to resolve problems like missed deliveries, rescheduling services, travel hiccups or order errors. Or use tap-to-text to encourage subscribers to opt-in to another form of communication.  A leading brand in the travel industry gained over 1600 opt-ins in 24 hours by implementing tap-to-text with Liveclicker.

3. Combine email and SMS in retargeting sequences.

Abandoned-cart reminders are a natural place to start. Add an SMS alert to your abandoned-cart email series if a product in the cart is about to sell out or go on sale. If you don’t maintain perpetual carts, alert via SMS before you close out the cart. Test to see which actions are better suited for email or SMS. 

Final thought: Set up your SMS strategy before you start sending texts 

Nobody wants a mobile phone that buzzes or pings every five minutes. Decide which messages are suitable for the always-on immediacy of a text and which need email and its richer information environment. It takes less time to type “STOP” on a text than to find and click an unsubscribe link.

Email marketers are under tremendous pressure right now to perform, while at the same time facing tightening budgets and shrinking resource pools. That means it’s never been more important to get the most possible value out of every campaign, and take steps to make production more efficient.

This includes a core component of every good email marketing program: testing.

Testing is important for effective email marketing because you can see whether you’re investing your time and budget wisely. But traditionally marketers have had to wait hours – sometimes days or even weeks – before you find out which variable of your test generates the results you want. That means you can’t apply your findings until the campaign is over, often well after those insights would have been most helpful (in that campaign!).

Testing + dynamic content = faster, better results

You can solve both problems when you join A/B testing with dynamic content in an astonishingly simple, yet powerful, combination. Here’s how it works:

You set up a typical A/B test comparing two versions of creative: hero headlines, CTA buttons, product features…whatever you want to compare performance. But here’s the important part—when adding the creative to your email code, you make sure to do it as dynamic content (content that can be changed and adjusted at any time).

Then deploy the campaign as normal, and wait for the opens to start. Once a statistically significant winner is determined, the testing platform automatically swap in the winning content for all recipients—even those that already received, or even opened, the message. BAM! The higher-performing, better-converting creative is now sitting in the inbox of your entire list.

The result? Faster results and better campaign performance. 

If you can set up your testing through a dynamic content platform to monitor performance and automatically update your campaign with the winning content, that’s one less task on your list.

Two more bonuses:

3 tests to try using dynamic content and moment-of-open technology 

Try it out on three tactics that can help you capitalize on the changes in consumer behavior and other special challenges that will make this holiday season one for the books. 

1.  Update your BOPIS/BOPUC strategy with dynamic product recommendations

Hypothesis: Adding dynamic personalized product recommendations to a pickup reminder will generate incremental sales without increasing spam complaints or unsubscribes.

Rationale: BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) and BOPUC (Buy Online, Pick Up Curbside) helps customers buy local and get their goods faster than waiting for home delivery. The emails you send when their orders are ready to claim give you a chance to upsell or cross-sell customers, just as you can with regular order confirmations. 

Test: Your control is your regular pickup notification. The variable is the same email with personalized product recommendations pulled from inventory. Test to see whether customers respond to this additional content.

KPIs: Unique/total clicks, conversions, unsubscribes, spam complaints

2. Test static versus animated coupons

Hypothesis: A coupon using a scratch-off animation will attract more clicks and conversions than a static coupon

Rationale: Animated GIF support is nearly universal now in email browsers. Plus, a moving object is more likely to arouse curiosity and clicks.

Test: The control is the static coupon. The variable is the animated coupon. Divide your database into two segments at random, and test to see which one draws better responses.

KPIs: Unique/total clicks, conversions, purchases, revenue.

3. Increase personalization throughout the email message

Hypothesis: Adding personalized content in more locations (greeting, images, offers, location-based elements) will increase customer engagement and conversions.

Rationale: Most marketers can personalize the subject line or use segmentation to target content manually. Adding personalization throughout the email instead of segregating it to one location tells your customers you know them as individuals, not just numbers. 

Note: With this multivariate structure, you’re comparing one entire email to another instead of individual sections like the subject line, image, call to action or offer.

Test: Your control is your standard email with one personalization element, or none. Your variable is an email in which you add multiple personalization points, such as a combination of the following according to the data you have for each customer:

KPI: Unique/total opens, unique/total clicks, conversions.

Want to learn 7 more ways to improve your email workflow efficiency?

Testing is just one way you can streamline your email process, leaving you more time to think, plan and analyze. Check out our new guide, 8 Secret Workflow Hacks Email Marketers Use to Get the Job Done (With Results!) and get tips like these: 

Download your copy now and get ready for better results!

Amazon’s decision to delay Prime Day extravaganza to October could throw a wrench into retail marketers’ Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns, threatening to steer holiday spending away from the traditional Thanksgiving weekend shopping extravaganza.

The Prime Day challenge, plus surveys showing nearly half of U.S. consumers expect to spend less on holiday shopping and a significant share remain skittish about in-store shopping, mean marketers must engage customers more creatively to compete and win in this highly unusual and uncertain holiday season.

5 tactics for Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing 

Many marketers are counting on a record-breaking holiday season this year to make up for lost time. Make a few core adjustments and adaptations to set your email program up for success during the peak of the holiday shopping season.

1. Anticipate the Prime Day challenge

Coresight research shows one-third of consumers will do their holiday shopping on Amazon Prime Day (which could land in early to mid-October and run as long as a week), while only 15% said they would shop on Black Friday instead.

It’s a problem because Prime Day shoppers might end up with less money to spend on Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions or have finished most of their holiday spending. 

Delivering a better customer experience with advanced personalization and real-time data can help marketers recapture shopper attention by the time Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around six to eight weeks later. Adopt flexible tactics like:

2. Double down on loyalty

Loyalty programs are rich sources of data that marketers can use to keep members’ eyes focused on their stores and websites with some clever messaging strategies:

3. Stress convenience and safety of local store shopping 

Coresight research also shows that consumers are once again avoiding public spaces like shopping centers and malls as COVID-19 cases rise again. 

It’s too soon to predict what will happen when the holiday shopping quarter begins on Oct. 1. However, marketers can use email to explain how they keep customers and employees safe in their stores and what services they offer, like curbside pickup and BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) for time-pressed or cautious customers.

Besides this content – which can also explain mask requirements, sanitation, and store layout changes to reduce time spent online – marketers can use dynamic content modules that contain late-breaking news, such as sudden changes in hours or open locations. 

Adding a map or store address of the nearest open location can keep foot traffic going to the right stores and reduce shopper frustration.

4. Get on your customers’ calendars

Whether it’s an in-store VIP event or a major promotion online, an add-to-calendar function lets customers add the date to their phone or desktop calendars and then generates a reminder just before the event happens. 

This is a big bonus because the reminder comes from the calendar—appearing on the desktop or the phone lock screen—and keeps the big day from getting blitzed by wall-to-wall Prime Day promotions in the inbox.  

5. Keep email content up to date and accurate with real-time inventory data and moment of open technology

An October Prime Day might pull inventory as well as spending forward six to eight weeks. That, along with supply chain disruptions, can lead to shortages and out-of-stocks for Black Friday Week promotions.

Marketers can use dynamic content powered by real-time data to swap out-of-stock promotions for in-stock merchandise, even after sending the email. Moment of open technology refreshes email content automatically whenever the customer opens the message—another way marketers can reduce frustration and increase conversions.

The real benefit of advanced personalization: Resilience and reliability

There’s no doubt that 2020 is testing retailers like never before. But marketers who connect with their customers on deeper levels and offer them more than just a deep discount, who reduce barriers and frustration and build trust and reliability will be the ones who come out on top when the world rights itself again. Get actionable inspiration to shape your own email strategy for success through BFCM and beyond in the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook.

Download your free copy now!

In a normal year, many email marketers would be hard at work right now planning strategy and campaigns for the holiday shopping season. But these days it’s hard enough planning a campaign just a week or two out, let alone three to six months in the future. 

And nothing’s more frustrating than scrambling to replace a campaign you had to scrap because something went wrong at the last minute—except, perhaps, scrambling in damage control mode as you realize a campaign you just sent has incorrect or outdated information.

This year, with so much riding on a successful holiday season, you must be able to plan campaigns knowing your hard work and creativity won’t be wasted if conditions change unexpectedly. But how can you do it without pulling your team off other projects to create and test hasty replacements?

Here’s the not-so-secret secret: Dynamic content that you can swap out as needed will keep your messages fresh and up to date no matter when your customers open them.

3 easy ways to work dynamic content into your messaging

Dynamic content lets you update messaging and creative in emails at any time. It’s as easy as changing out a header image on your website, and updates can be automated or made manually depending on the situation.

You probably know about some tried-and-true uses of dynamic content, like a map that shows your customers where to find your nearest stores. These days, with businesses opening and closing at short notice according to government requirements, that feature is more essential than ever. But dynamic content can do so much more, keeping all your hard work and holiday planning as evergreen as the finest tannenbaum.

Need some holiday email marketing ideas? We just came out with a new guide, the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook, which is filled with ways to use dynamic content to boost revenue, help your team work smarter and build customer engagement that makes your brand your customers’ reliable source for easy holiday shopping. 

Here are three tips from the Lookbook you can use right away to create campaigns that will stay relevant and usable months after you create them:

1. Give customers a gift they can open again and again

Keep your subscribers clicking on your emails with a multiple-day, multi-touch campaign that highlights different limited-time promotions (like a “Twelve Days of Christmas” campaign with last-minute gift ideas).

Dynamic content ensures that each subscriber sees only your current offer, no matter which email they open or when they open it. It ends the frustration customers feel at clicking on a tempting offer, only to find themselves shut out when they reach your website.

2. Make the moment unforgettable

Whenever you have a big event coming up, like your Black Friday kickoff or a VIP gathering at local stores, include an “Add to Calendar” function in your email invite.

With just a couple of taps, your customers can add your event to their calendars. They’ll even get a personalized reminder when it’s time to show up!  

3. Reduce your follow-up workload

Expired offers and out-of-stocks are some of the hazards that go along with the harried holiday shopping season, but they don’t have to be business as usual in your email messages. And, in this year of disruption and uncertainty, you could be dealing with other issues like merchandise delays and regional business disruptions, too. 

So, use dynamic content to update your outdated email automatically with correct information. Your customers will see only the updated content whenever they open the email – even after you send it! Your team won’t have to spend time on follow-up emails or even the dreaded “Oops!” apology email. This gives your subscribers a better experience with your brand, too.

Want to know more? Get the guide!

Your copy of the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook is as close as a click. It’s free and filled with great tips to help you leverage the power of dynamic content and moment of open technology for more relevant and engaging email. 

Download your free copy now!

Retail marketers have their work cut out for them as we quickly approach a holiday shopping season that remains full of question marks. Advanced personalization that uses dynamic content and moment-of-open technology will be even more essential in this challenging year to bring value to email campaigns and help marketers keep up in an uncertain, constantly-changing retail environment.

It’s never too early to start planning, especially this year when marketers will pull every available lever to drive traffic, sales and revenue without relying on deep discounts or margin-eating incentives. 

Research from the National Retail Federation shows nearly 1 in 4 consumers say they start shopping in October or earlier. This year, you need to get ahead of these early birds to serve their needs and wants and retool campaigns quickly if conditions change. 

Need some help to get started on your strategic holiday plan? Find it in the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook, packed full of tips and tactics for sending emails that will get your customers excited about shopping this holiday season.

Early holiday numbers predict ecommerce will boom again 

U.S. retail sales, including holiday, will fall 14% in 2020, eMarketer predicts, while ecommerce should rise 18%, bolstered by shoppers who discovered the convenience of curbside/home delivery and in-store pickup. 

No matter what happens, retailers are in a stronger position today than they were in the early weeks of the pandemic. They have learned how to survive shutdowns and manage around product shortages and day-to-day changes. 

With the holidays looming, marketers can put that knowledge to work by using dynamic content and moment of open technology to create high-value email campaigns that roll with uncertainties and get customers excited about shopping again.

Tactic 1: Create up-to-date regional campaigns with moment-of-open location data. 

Different parts of the country will be at different stages of recovery this year, from full reopening to partial or total shutdown. Your email campaigns must reflect these variations, especially if your company relies on physical stores for sales and customer service. 

One email, many variations: Save time, money and resources by replacing all of your regional email campaigns with a single email template that includes dynamic content modules. These let you blend standard content for all shoppers with content that’s right for different regions.

A map of your nearby locations can update automatically based on where your customers open the email. Copy can list regional store hours or shopping policies. No worries about sending customers to closed stores or posting inaccurate information!

Tactic 2: Show customers how click-and-collect solves the need for speed. 

Many consumers are adamant that they won’t join the usual holiday throngs this year. Show shoppers you care about their health and safety by offering click-and-collect or “buy online, pick up in store” services that let them shop but stay socially distant.

Create a fun animation or short video that walks new users through the steps so they understand how the process works and gives them confidence to use the service, like this example from Tractor Supply Company.

Then, add it to a special promotional campaign or to purchase-confirmation emails if they choose the service at checkout. 

Remember to add location data and dynamic content to the mix! With these you can target the locations where you offer the service and swap in substitute content for emails opened in regions where you don’t offer it yet.

Tactic 3. Keep buyers in the know with refreshed shipping and delivery information.

Whether your online shoppers choose regular delivery or click-and-collect from a local store, keep them updated (and off your customer-service lines) with shipping updates that track delivery dates and times. 

Add this content to a dynamic module in your regular or triggered emails, or send a stand-alone email they can refer to whenever they want an update.

Want to know more? Get the guide!

Your copy of the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook is as close as a click. It’s free and filled with great tips to help you leverage the power of dynamic content and moment of open technology for more relevant and engaging email. Learn more about these cool tools, too:

Download your free copy now!