What’s scarier than a haunted house on a dark and stormy night? For email marketers, it’s being asked to churn out a last-minute Halloween promotion on the fly.

Don’t let that last-minute request throw you! Because our treat bowl is full of five last-minute Halloween email tactics to help you create maximum engagement—and eerie-sistible experiences—with minimal effort. 

Halloween is bigger and more boo-worthy than ever

This year, Halloween enthusiasm has rebounded to near-2019 levels. The National Retail Federation projects consumers will spend $10.1 billion, or $102.74 per person, on costumes, décor, candy, and food, up more than $2 billion from last year’s figure. 

Fortunately for you, plug-and-play interactive modules and personalized email elements recycled from previously successful campaigns will help you create attention-grabbing experiences in less time than it takes to put on your costume.

As always, begin your email planning with a specific goal for the campaign. Sure, you’ll drive a few extra sales, and that’s always a bonus. But a Halloween email campaign can also reveal data you can use to guide and refine your holiday email marketing content and targeting. 

5 last-minute Halloween email ideas for max engagement

Emails designed specifically for engagement can tell you more about your customers’ preferences, generate fresh, new ideas, and help you collect the zero- and first-party data you need to create even more relevant messaging. So, let’s get started!

1. Click to reveal the deal 

Mystery and Halloween—is there any more perfect combination? An effective email can be as easy as swapping in some Halloween visuals and asking customers to click on the one they like. You can go for fun (favorite candy or costume) or unearth some customer preferences by featuring Halloween-themed merchandise in several categories, but one thing is certain: this tactic is all treat, no tricks.

last-minute Halloween email ideas

Whichever approach you choose, be sure to use unique promo codes and virtual gift unwrapping experiences to make customer acquisition and attribution tasks easier to track and apply automatically.  

2. Suggest last-minute purchases and products

Gift guides are always popular. But this year, with the holiday shopping season and Halloween overlapping and inventory in a precarious position to deal with, your suggestions should reflect real-time order status and live updates to avoid disappointing customers who are ready to buy. If a product sells out, this real-time module can swap in a replacement automatically – no need to pause the campaign and rebuild the email.

3. Promote BOPIS and less spooky fulfillment services 
You’ll never go wrong by helping customers shop quicker and more conveniently. Let time-pressed shoppers know they can celebrate Halloween even if they had to leave preparations to the last minute by highlighting your Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) service.

last-minute Halloween email ideas

You can even include explicit details such as BOPIS locations and instructions for your order-availability notice directly in your emails to give shoppers one place for all the info they need. Just make sure your Halloween email campaigns stress ease of service and alternative fulfillment availability accurately.

4. Offer complementary options to delight every customer

Although Halloween has regained much of the steam it lost last year thanks to lockdowns and public hesitancy about gathering in large groups, not everyone is on board. Recognize this continuing hesitancy with content that refers to both large-group and at-home celebrations to the degree that it’s relevant for your brands. 

5. Give Halloween browsers a second chance to buy

Browse-abandonment emails can prod some shoppers to buy if you send them out right after they break off a session. Now, go back to your browsers who checked out your goods early in the season but never went back to buy and tempt them with an offer—especially if it’s something they browsed before but has gone on sale in the meantime.

Reach out to your previous shoppers with a gentle email reminder, using a dynamic product recommendation if possible, that incorporates each shopper’s browse abandonment history and available inventory. You can thank us for that engagement rate boost later.

Generate clicks, conversions, sales, and more last-minute

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and all the other marquee Q4 shopping events right around the corner, Halloween might feel like an afterthought. 

But a carefully designed interaction combined with these five last-minute Halloween email ideas can deliver plenty of value in the days leading up to Halloween, whether your goal is to drive extra sales, clear out inventory, or collect more data you can use to give your customers the best-possible experience.

This year, retailers everywhere will approach the holidays with an increased reliance on email marketing and ecommerce. But it’s not just that marketers will send more emails than ever this year; people will engage with your messages at never-before-seen rates too.

If you’re looking for some fresh, new email marketing elements to experiment with for increased holiday engagement, you’ve come to the right place. Because this blog explores three exciting email tactics you can start testing now!

Give loyal shoppers even more reasons to celebrate the season

Holiday promotions definitely help you drive new sales, subscriptions, and website traffic, but to tap into the true business potential of your email marketing strategy you can’t leave your loyal customers out in the cold. After all, you already know how to reach them and how to motivate them to buy—so give your VIPs the gift of rewards and special events like this Grove Collaborative email does.

email marketing elements to experiment with

Obviously, a GIF is going to be the first thing that catches any buyer’s eye with this interaction. But the smart, value- driven messaging supporting this visual-fueled content is our favorite piece of the (pumpkin) pie. Rewarding loyal customers with their own holiday before the holidays is a fun, interactive way to escape the all- too-common sales push this time of year—and for Grove Collaborate—an optimal way to inspire new purchases and increased engagement as well.

By rewarding their most loyal subscribers and customers with a celebration-worthy personalized experience, we also love the brand’s way-above-benchmark results. In fact, this campaign resulted in the brand’s best click engagement booster the quarter it was sent—as well as one of its highest revenue-generating emails ever.

What This Means for You: Don’t wait; get ahead of your peak holiday marketing period and target your best, most loyal customers with a special incentive ahead of everyone else. You’ll be surprised to see how stress-free Q4 can be if you don’t have to meet sales goals by selling your brand to every buyer first.

Let your customers shop from anywhere

Just like last year, the pandemic will make 2021’s holiday marketing initiatives a little more complicated than usual. With economic uncertainty, shipping delays, and in-store traffic approaching a standstill, this year’s messages need to be every bit as quarantine-friendly as last year’s campaigns. And that means giving your shoppers a variety of ways to browse and buy—exemplified perfectly by this Signet Jewelers experience.

email marketing elements to experiment with

Incentivizing surprise discounts and sales promotions that allow customers to shop however, whenever, and whenever they want was our favorite thing about this email. Signet Jewelers’ flash sale campaign gives online buyers everything they need to make a purchase. Weekly best sellers, shop-by-category capabilities, guidelines on safe shopping during the pandemic, and more are personalized touches that really knocked our candy cane-print socks off.

What This Means for You: Use your collected customer data and previous purchase history records to target buyers with a single threshold offer instead of multiple ones. By doing so, you build more straightforward, clear, and—most importantly—effective holiday email experiences. Testing these tactics now can result in increased Average Order Value (AOV) and conversion rates for key promotions and exciting flash sales throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Give your customers choices and complementary options

This year, there will be more online holiday shoppers than ever before. But will they be reading your emails for their own benefit, or on behalf of someone else? It can be tough to identify individual consumers’ intent and who’s shopping for whom. So, give your customers the best of both worlds like Fashion Nova did in this featured experience.

email marketing elements to experiment with

Beyond a clever display that accurately summarizes life amidst lockdown via visuals and copy, Fashion Nova’s holiday PJ party-themed message targets a single product category that’s relevant and engaging to self-buyers and gift givers alike. With options to browse pajama categories and complementary products like slippers, this brand turned a potentially sad stay-at-home experience into a special holiday event for its subscribers.

What we love most about this email is that it offers something valuable to every holiday shopper—no matter their motivation or who they’re buying for. By combining thoughtful, stay-at-home holiday messaging with highly relevant product recommendations and dynamic category combinations, Fashion Nova created a convenient shopping experience that gave every recipient great last-minute gift ideas. And after experiencing more click engagement than any other end-of-year email campaign, it’s clear that thousands of new and long-time customers took advantage of their personalized PJ party invitation.

What This Means for You: Cozying up at home will be a theme you’ll see across holiday messages in retail and media in Q4 2021. If you haven’t followed suit, prepare imagery that can support a holiday at home and holiday party look and feel in order to relate to potential customer behaviors.

But these three email marketing elements to experiment with aren’t all—they’re just the start of how working smarter not harder this holiday season can lead to even more success in 2021. For even more fresh, engaging email ideas, download our Work Smarter Not Harder Guide now!

Leading brands combined omnichannel personalization and dynamic features to create unique and compelling campaigns.

Sailthru, the leading personalized marketing automation technology provider for retailers and publishers, and Liveclicker, global provider of next-level personalization solutions for B2C marketers, both CM Group brands, announced that Thrive Market, a Sailthru customer, won a MediaPost EIS Award for email marketing excellence, and NASCAR, a joint Sailthru and Liveclicker customer, was named a finalist. Every MediaPost EIS Award honors “email marketers who are at the forefront of optimizing this powerful medium.”

Thrive Market – Winner, Transactional/Ecommerce – The online shopping experience on many websites can feel like being dropped in the middle of a warehouse — especially for something like grocery, where there are thousands of products to choose from. For Thrive Market, first-time visitors are immediately invited to take an interactive shopping quiz to help them find products perfectly suited for their individual needs, paving the way for a truly one-to-one personalized Member experience for the entire lifetime of that shopper — across content, email, mobile, and the site.

After that first visit, Thrive Market uses personalization from Sailthru to continuously increase the relevance of Member experiences, from personalized sales and content to personalized shopping experiences based on past purchases and preferences. Thrive Market saw huge growth through the pandemic and they continue to personalize experiences for loyal and new Members every single day.

NASCAR – Finalist, Best Interactive – Working with partners, Sailthru and Liveclicker, NASCAR improved on their birthday messaging until it found a winning combination. By combining the power of Liveclicker’s dynamic capabilities with Sailthru’s personalized triggers, NASCAR turned each simple email into a full-blown birthday surprise. Liveclicker’s platform and Sailthru’s A/B testing capabilities were central to execution as NASCAR tested a static image against a ‘click-to-reveal’ mystery birthday discount. The new click-to-reveal email transformed the passive promotion into a tactile, engaging experience. In the past year, NASCAR has sold more than 10,000 items through the campaign.

“We’re thrilled that two of our amazing customers were honored for their creative and engaging approach to email. Thrive Market and NASCAR both take dramatically different approaches, incorporating personalization and dynamic features to resonate with each of their unique audiences. We look forward to working with them on many more strategic campaigns in the future,” said Cat Orlandi, VP of Enterprise Customer Success at CM Group, the parent company of Sailthru and Liveclicker.

2020 accelerated ecommerce trends and online engagement like no year ever has. And yet, for many retailers out there, the pace of change and elevating consumer expectations has yet to slow down. Combined with record-high email conversion rates, this leaves a lot of opportunity for any retailer savvy enough to take advantage.

So, if your goal is to be one of Q4’s highest-performing digital merchants, here are four ecommerce trends you can use to increase your email conversion rate.

Personalize your welcome experience

Over the next few months, you’re going to see more new ecommerce shoppers than any other time this year. In fact, after surveying our retail customers, you can expect around one-third of your holiday sales to come from brand-new buyers.

And because our research also found that email is the most effective channel for converting new customers into loyal brand followers, your welcome experience needs to be on point going forward if your goal is inspiring success by incorporating ecommerce trends like personalization from your very first send.

Even something as simple as a customized welcome message based on where someone first engaged your brand can lead to massive conversion gains. Many retailers already use some kind of website referral process that immediately recognizes where a visitor comes from — so take advantage of this insight to personalize your hello in the context of each individual interaction accordingly.

ecommerce trends

If you want to take the ecommerce feel of your welcome emails to another level, ask your shoppers about the content they’d like to see and only deliver what’s relevant to their specific interests. By directing new subscribers and loyal customers alike to your email preference center as soon as possible, they can opt into the content they’re most likely to engage with — enabling you to deliver a more personal, relevant, and likely-to-convert communication right away.

Transparency and honesty are a refreshing ecommerce trend

If the past 18+ months have taught retail marketers anything, it’s that today’s buyers value trust and open communication more than ever. So, if you haven’t given it much thought yet, what does your brand stand for?

Online shoppers are increasingly basing purchase decisions on your societal impact—not products, services, or hollow mission statements. Are you working to create more sustainable practices? Do you care about climate change and fair trade? Let your engaged followers know about all the good you’re doing—then carry this approach over to your ecommerce environment.

ecommerce trends

Because, when it comes to ecommerce trends and modern customer expectations, an online experience that hides shipping costs, makes transactions overly complex and time-consuming, or features irrelevant products and messaging usually scares away more subscribers than it converts.

While there’s immense pressure to perform and convert as many shoppers to paying customers as possible, keep in mind that not every email or promotion you send has to push a product. In fact, shoppers worn out from seeing the same sales speak and pushy emails day after day are more likely to notice and appreciate your efforts for doing so.

Our 2021 Retail Personalization Index Consumer Survey found that two-thirds of all retail buyers believe a brand’s ethics and values are important — substantiating 5W Public Relations’ 2020 Consumer Culture Report that notes 71% of shoppers prefer to shop with brands that are aligned to their values.

Add value to every brand interaction

While personalized experiences and honest messaging is great, ultimately your ecommerce shoppers seek one thing above all else: value. And there’s a ton of ways to deliver value across every interaction without undercutting your competitors on price.

After all, a $20 toaster oven with limited functionality is likely to offer less value than a $200 model that will last 20 years or more. But if your product descriptions and marketing efforts don’t communicate this long-term value, how is anyone supposed to know? And—more importantly—how do you expect to compete against the online giants?
And where your email marketing effort is concerned, first-party data can be your key to creating the personalized value your customers crave. Did you know that retail marketing teams with a data-driven personalization strategy achieve 15% to 20% greater ROI?

ecommerce trends

Shopper-specific insights such as gender, birthday, brand-specific anniversary dates, customer acquisition source, Average Order Value (AOV), propensity to buy, purchase history, Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), personal product preferences, and whether someone’s shopping for themselves or someone else are all extremely valuable discoveries your team can use to make emails more engaging—and, more importantly, more likely to result in conversion.

Make buy now, pay later your best friend

Another ecommerce trend gaining massive momentum is Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL). Unlike traditional ecommerce and in-store layaway payment options, BNPL gives your buyers the benefit of instant gratification—and your brand the advantage of actualized revenue and conversions as soon as you implement it.

ecommerce trends

Because someone doesn’t have to wait until payments are complete to receive their products, emails that feature BNPL financing options increase conversion rate by 79% and AOV by twice as much on average. No doubt a huge boon for any retail brand looking to better recent results.

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to your 2021 holiday email marketing effort. Will the fear of another outbreak keep your customers at home? Or, will the chance to shop your deals in-store be too hard for them to deny?

Nobody knows — and for a savvy marketer such as yourself, these trends truthfully shouldn’t make much difference anyway. Because the only way to ensure holiday email engagement this year is by providing stellar interactions online and through every brick-and-mortar engagement. 

Sounds easy, right? In many cases, deceptively so.

Before your brand can deliver the relevant, engaging email experience your 2021 holiday audience demands, you need to be moving at the speed they are. Otherwise, you won’t be able to pivot and take advantage of favorable changes by the time consumers are choosing to engage with your messages.

Fortunately, that’s where this post comes in. By focusing on the five key focus areas mentioned below, you can find a few new, last-minute tactics to maximize holiday email engagement and make even the biggest Grinch’s heart grow three sizes in Q4!

Make mobile a priority, then worry about maximizing holiday email engagement

The key to making your holiday promotions — or any email, for that matter — more engaging is to make your path to purchase easy. Any campaign that gives someone a one-click shopping experience in the same place they’re browsing your products dramatically increases your odds of conversion.

In 2021, consumers are responding well to the omnichannel approaches more and more retailers are taking, particularly when it comes to mobile shopping.
In fact, our 2021 Retail Personalization Index research found that nearly half of all retail consumers browsed products and made purchases on their smartphone this year — increasing total mobile website traffic by as much as 80% for some forward-thinking brands that prioritize omnichannel interactions.

This will only become increasingly important as trends like mobile move from afterthought to top-of-mind in 2021. In fact, 73% of all ecommerce sales will take place on a mobile device by the end of this year. So, if you’re not operating with a mobile-first mindset, start making changes now before you fall too far behind the rest of retail.

Build loyalty and long-term email engagement

Holiday promotions definitely help you drive new sales, but retailers need to continue building community and goodwill with their customers to tap into the true business potential of these sends.  And that only happens after you maximize holiday email engagement.

So, what better way to improve your Q4 2021 campaign results than by catering to the needs and wants of your most loyal buyers?

A loyalty program based on your long-time followers’ personal preferences and values is a huge advantage for winning more revenue this time of year. Especially if you add juicy incentives like extra loyalty perks, double rewards points, exclusive discounts, free samples, or a free gift with every holiday purchase into the mix.

Bonus points for building omnichannel flows based on buyer behavior changes to grow loyalty and build rapport with your audience directly into your holiday email campaigns. By providing these highly personalized experiences, you can even follow individual shoppers across every channel to interact on their terms — giving them a sense of control and personal connection with your messaging rather than a lump of generic marketing coal.

If you’re looking to turn last-minute engagement into long-term email results, take your loyalty program  to the next level by tracking each shopper persona that made a purchase during the holidays. Then, design targeted post-purchase email campaigns and triggered messages to turn one-time transactions into repeat purchases regardless of season.

Add flexibility to your in-store experience

This year, COVID-19 is still a serious consideration for retail shoppers — as are the ever-evolving safety protocols and in-store precautions you take to protect your in-store customers this holiday season. While the future may look uncertain, don’t forget about the important lessons you learned in 2020 — or how they can help you maximize holiday email engagement among these shoppers despite another unprecedented season.

Be prepared to adjust your communications approach at a moment’s notice so you don’t leave any potential buyers feeling left out in the cold. Tear down traditional boundaries by integrating your ecommerce and in-store environments into a seamless brick-and-click experience. Because we predict that this season’s most creative marketers will also be the most successful.

Take a page out of their playbook and include special holiday events, hours of operation, in-store promotions, and any other brick-and-mortar benefit in your emails to entice digital buyers to visit your store and engage with multiple marketing channels in a manner that enhances their overall shopping experience.

Remember: holiday marketing success is a two-way street. While you shift your priorities to the ecommerce environment in 2021, be sure to keep your brick-and-mortar interactions in mind. Train in-store staff members to ask for customer data and promote email subscription/marketing opt-ins across every customer engagement to maximize the impact of your omnichannel strategy without lifting a finger.

Offer fulfillment and flexible payment options this year

Holiday shoppers are like snowflakes — every one of them is unique. But here’s something that may not be so obvious: building unique subscription models for each audience persona you market to can deliver tremendous results. After all, 80% of marketers are using automation to increase leads, 77% to increase conversions, and 76% to realize ROI in a year or less (including 44% over just the first six months).

While the risks of COVID-19 are nothing new, many people will still likely be hesitant to visit your brick-and-mortar stores in 2021. Making hybrid fulfillment options like BOPIS and curbside pickup as appealing an offering — if not more so — than they were at this time last year. Because more than half of all consumers plan to continue using these more convenient, customer-friendly fulfillment alternatives even after the pandemic ends.

If your in-store purchases typically feature a high Average Order Value (AOV), it’s a smart idea to create incentives that tempt traditional shoppers to take advantage of your alternative fulfillment options. A free gift upon pickup or a discount off their next BOPIS purchase can be a simple-yet-satisfying holiday experience that convinces first-time buyers to stick with your brand long-term.

Another trend gaining massive momentum this holiday season is Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL). Unlike traditional ecommerce and in-store layaway payment options, BNPL gives your buyers the benefit of instant gratification — and your brand the advantage of actualized revenue in Q4. 

Because someone doesn’t have to wait until payments are complete to receive their products, emails that feature BNPL financing options increase conversion rate by 79% and AOV by twice as much on average. No doubt a huge boon for any retail brand looking to better 2020’s holiday email engagement rate.

Prioritize trust and community in your holiday communications

If the past 18 months have taught marketers anything, it’s that transparency and honesty are more valuable than ever in your email messages. So, emphasize these values at every opportunity to maximize holiday email engagement in 2021.

After all, an experience that hides shipping costs, makes online purchases overly complex and time-consuming, or features irrelevant products and messaging usually scares away more customers than it converts.

While there’s immense pressure to perform and convert as many shoppers to paying customers as possible throughout the holiday season, keep in mind that not every email or promotion you send has to push a product. In fact, shoppers worn out from seeing the same holiday-themed communications for weeks or months on end are more likely to notice and appreciate your efforts for doing so.

Earlier this year, we found that two-thirds of today’s retail buyers believe a brand’s ethics and values are important — substantiating 5W Public Relations’ 2020 Consumer Culture Report that notes 71% of shoppers prefer to shop with brands that are aligned to their values.

But that’s not the only thing your customers expect from your holiday experience this year. Dig even deeper into the trend and tactics that can help you maximize holiday email engagement and take 2021’s results to the next level; download A Smart Marketer’s Guide to 2021 Holiday Success to get started.

The latest research from our sister brand Campaign Monitor shows that only around 15% to 25% of emails ever get opened. If you have a small to medium-sized business, that means you can expect subscribers to ignore roughly four out of every five emails you send.

But don’t get disheartened! Writing captivating email subject lines is an art. And, in this post, we’re going to teach you how to write subject lines your subscribers can’t resist.

But First: We’re Throwing You a C.U.R.V.E.

All good subject lines have one or more of these five elements:

Curiosity: Pique subscribers’ interest by telling them something they don’t know. The more shocking or surprising, the better. Or, ask questions—just not the yes or no kind.

Urgency: Your email subject line should make your readers stop scrolling and open their email RIGHT NOW instead of saving it for later. If they’re not worried about what they’re missing out on, you’ve still got work to do.

Relevance: A gripping subject line speaks directly to your subscribers’s needs, wants, and desires. It should feel personal, even if you didn’t personalize it.  

Value: Explain—or hint at—how your email will change their lives, even if it’s just saving a bonkers amount on a popular product.

Emotion: How do you want your email to make your subscribers feel: Excited? Anxious? Happy? Comforted? Whatever emotion you want to evoke, just make sure you do it right away—don’t wait for them to open your message or miss the chance entirely.

Of course, you won’t be able to squeeze in all these things into your email subject line every time. Nor should you try. Which elements you use will depend on what your email message is supposed to accomplish. 

Also, you should know which subject line templates drive your subscribers to click and convert most often (if not, that’s a good place to start your A/B testing program).

Which brings us to…

7 Email Subject Lines People Can’t Resist

Now, let’s look at seven tried-and-true subject line templates that incorporate the C.U.R.V.E. principles we just shared:

1. FOMO

No one likes to feel like they’re missing out, especially on a great deal. An easy, effective way to create urgency with nothing but your email subject lines is to add a deadline before an event ends or a product sells out to create the impression of scarcity. 

Example: “Last chance! Just 5 spaces left on our exclusive training webinar.”

2. Self-Improvement

Ah, a dependable classic. Promising people they can be a better version of themselves isn’t new, but boy does it work. Put another way, it answers the customer’s most pressing internal question: “What’s in it for me?”

Example: “Get six-pack abs in just 10 weeks”

3. The If-Then Statement

If you know your target audience well enough, then you’ll have a good idea of which characteristics they share. Mention a situation that applies to most, if not all, of the people on your list starting with your subject line. Then, link this to the solution you’re emailing them about. That makes any reader think, “Oh, wait, that applies to me!” And just like that, your email is scarily relevant.

Example: “Struggling with staff shortages? You need THIS tool.”

4. Freebies

No, putting “free” in your subject lines will not drive your email to the spam folder. Everybody likes to get something for nothing. So, give your subscribers the impression that something real and tangible is waiting for them. This approach is always a winner because it’s a great way to cut through all of the competing noise in your customers’ inboxes—especially if you personalize it too.

Example:. “Hi Ben! This month’s free marketing tutorial is now ready for your viewing pleasure.”

5. Cliffhangers

Humans are curious creatures. Create a little mystery or suspense and we can’t help but peek inside. Don’t believe me? Scroll to the bottom of this page to find out why.

Example: “Pssst! Bet you don’t know this profit-boosting trick”

6. Keeping It Casual

Being informal with subject lines is an increasingly popular method, with good reason. The idea is to mimic the way real people write subject lines to each other, be they friends or colleagues, to eliminate the sales and marketing speak that scares most subscribers away from your emails.

Example: “Are you free for a 10-minute chat tomorrow?”

7. Controversy

Okay, so you need to exercise this subject line tactic with extreme caution. Making an outlandish claim or questioning a popular belief is a great way to get clicks. Just make sure you aren’t overdoing it, or you’ll lose people’s trust! And they won’t click through to your website, which is what your email is supposed to do in the first place.

Example:  “Are you wasting money on Facebook advertising? Here’s why you need to stop, today.

Two More Tips to Drive Even More Email Engagement

1. Front-Load your main point.

Most inboxes will cut off the subject line somewhere between 60 and 80 characters. Meaning that—if you’re offering a discount or have something specific you want your subscribers to do—you should put that info at the start of your subject line, not at the end, to guarantee it’s seen. 

You might also have heard that short subject lines are better. That’s something else your A/B testing can help you prove or reject. An informal rule of thumb is that shorter subject lines drive more opens, but longer lines drive more clicks. And considering all of Apple’s recent changes, the door has never been open wider for new subject line innovation.

2. Use action-oriented verbs. 

Use strong verbs that tell subscribers exactly what you want them to do. Some good examples to start testing: “discover,” “reveal,” and “learn.” 

With email open rates becoming less reliable as a measure of customer engagement by the day, your subject lines need to amp up their click, conversion, and engagement-driving capabilities. This approach helps you measure what your customers are interested in, even if the click itself doesn’t lead to a conversion. 

Along with this new focus on engagement-focused success metrics, pay attention to what people are clicking on in your emails. Do the clicks correspond with your subject line, or are people clicking on other things like secondary offers or in-email navigation? Knowing the answers to questions like these future-proof your campaigns and make your next send even more effective.

One last word of advice: Test your subject lines before you depart from any standard formats. What works for one brand may not fly with your audience, so don’t be afraid to try and do new things. If you’re looking for even more inspiration, download The Smart Marketer’s Guide to 2021 Holiday Success now!

Few people would describe the last 18+ months as happy. Which makes Square Enix’s mission to spread happiness across the globe one unforgettable experience at a time is more important than ever.

For nearly 50 years, this entertainment industry juggernaut has helped people of all ages have more fun at home through infamous video game franchises like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts just to name a few. But recently, it was an unforgettable email experience that got our attention. And—more importantly—made Square Enix customers smile all over the world.

Square Enix

So, why is Square Enix’s interactive Endwalker experience our favorite email of September?

Email & video: a match made in marketing heaven

Today’s consumers are watching more online video content than ever—and that trend is growing with each passing day. And while the relationship between email and embedded video hasn’t always been a smooth one, tech limitations aren’t nearly as difficult to overcome as they were even a few years ago.

Now, in just a few clicks it’s possible to add videos to your email experience and enjoy benefits like:

In the case of Square Enix’s email, the brand took advantage of customer excitement for one of the company’s most highly anticipated video game expansion releases ever. Rather than simply announcing a release date and pre-order opportunities, it featured a full video trailer of its Endwalker content embedded into every recipient’s message to make this email a happy experience for every diehard Final Fantasy XIV fan.

Square Enix

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, we’d say starting an email with a cinematic trailer is a pretty unforgettable experience to deliver. Especially when they don’t even need to leave the interaction to view it! But that’s not even the best part…

Combining fun and fan service through interactive email elements

Today’s buyers are engaging more than they ever have with email. The problem for email marketers is that every company knows this, leaving shoppers to sift through hundreds of marketing messages every day—including more than half that are deleted without ever being opened.

To make your emails truly stand out, they need to deliver more than just a good deal or a clever product promotion. Today’s consumers crave fun, interactive email experiences that offer entertainment value. And our favorite part about Square Enix’s Endwalker email was just how seamlessly they combined so many interactive elements to make this experience truly unforgettable.

Square Enix

Following its 2021 Digital Fan Festival where several never-before-seen reveals were dropped, Square Enix tied the fun of this event into this email through an embedded survey to allow fans to show support for their favorite upcoming part of the Endwalker expansion.

By adding interactive images to each selection, Final Fantasy XIV fanatics had the ability to view each separate reveal in full detail before making their choice and viewing the global player base’s real-time responses.

That’s what we call fan service—and email marketing—done right. Thank you Square Enix for making everyone’s September a little more happy!

Direct marketing channels like email, in-app notifications, and SMS messages will undoubtedly be important elements of any holiday season strategy. But if you’re only using these communication paths to push out one-size-fits-all sales and generic promotions, you’re failing to tap into direct marketing’s true potential.

Because this year, your holiday retail marketing campaigns should also give you the gift of first-party data feedback you can use to make future initiatives even more jolly and engaging. And the industry’s smartest marketers are preparing a variety of low-effort, high-impact tactics and the lessons learned from an unprecedented holiday season last year to make 2021’s results even better.

Another year, another unprecedented holiday marketing season

Much like last year, there’s no magical 2021 playbook that leads to surefire success.

Between Apple iOS 15 privacy updates, ongoing pandemic safety precautions, and retail’s mass migration to ecommerce and online shopping, you’ll need to be as agile as ever when it comes to planning, implementing, and executing your seasonal marketing strategies if you hope to deliver on this year’s customer-centric growth drivers:

If you’re stuck out in the cold trying to plan your next holiday marketing campaign, our brand-new 2021 holiday marketing success guide is designed to help you evolve your tactics, elevate your customer experience, and crush 2020’s results with as little extra work as possible.

holiday marketing

Consider this playbook—and all of the ways to take advantage of Apple’s data privacy changes, five 2021 holiday focus areas, and five digital marketing must-haves included within—our special gift to you. Now, get out there and start spreading the holiday cheer like never before!

Today’s marketers are under more pressure than ever to perform. Between digital transformation strategies, massive consumer behavior shifts and preferences for online shopping alternatives, and an increasingly difficult data privacy environment to navigate, increasing the performance of your email campaigns is much easier said than done.

Especially if your business needs immediate improvement but lacks the time, budget, or internal manpower to make long-term solutions like an ESP migration viable. That said, there are plenty of places where low-effort changes can lead to quick, high-impact results.

Eleven, to be precise.

So, which email and CRM tactics can help you deliver more revenue and audience engagement with minimal (if any) extra work? How can you implement dynamic personalization without extra investment, dev resources, or martech stack reorganization required?

By downloading our newest guide, The Retail Marketer’s Guide to Email and CRM Tactics to Test Now, of course! Because it’s filled with trends, tips, and actionable strategies you can use to:

It’s one of the oldest maxims in the advertising business: People buy from other people, not from brands. 

But in the digital world, there’s no truth-telling best friend standing by with candid advice. So, who can your customers trust to give them the real scoop on whether or not a product lives up to your marketing hype?

The answer is easy: Other like-minded shoppers.

That’s why bringing User-Generated Content (UGC) like customer testimonials, images, and comments into your email content can more than double your conversion rate. People look to others like themselves to see what to buy, what to like and don’t like about a product, how to use it, and more. 

Adding UGC into your email messages has other benefits, too. It adds a human element to any marketing message, instantly building the opportunity for organic brand affinity. Because, let’s face it, social proof—the psychological phenomenon in which people look for guidance from the opinions or actions of others—and word-of-mouth advertising are two of the most powerful, well-known conversion motivators for a reason.

3 ways you can use UGC to increase email conversions

For major brands with high name recognition, a stable full of social media influencers, and a team that can keep tabs on consumer sentiment, finding and incorporating consumer-created content into an email sounds like pretty easy work.. 

But what about the majority of companies that lack a portfolio of glowing reviews or a major following and social media footprint?

With some strategic thinking and the right amount of automated technology in the mix, you can effortlessly pull UGC from review sites and social media platforms into your email experience. Giving even the most overworked one-person marketing teams out there the opportunity to satisfy shoppers and accelerate their path to conversion in three ways:

1. Customer testimonials, reviews, and recommendations

Honest, transparent communications like these should be at the heart of any customer-created content strategy. Because real-time testimonials, product reviews, and recommendations sourced from people actually buying from you aren’t just one of the most effective tools for increasing email conversions—they’re a great way to gain control over the market-driven narrative surrounding your brand too.

It’s no secret that most people like to feel heard and respected. In today’s ecommerce-driven business environment, millions of buyers enjoy rating and reviewing their purchases to help others out. So, appeal to this philanthropic instinct and elevate your customer experience!

Incorporating UGC into your email marketing efforts is as easy as making a simple request, whether that’s asking online shoppers for a 5-star rating at checkout or following up with a personalized email after the sale seeking a review of the product benefits most likely to convince like-minded, on-the-fence buyers to try it out for themselves.

UGC

To get started, add an automated review request to your post-purchase email flow. Set it up to trigger after customers have had a few days to receive their purchases and try them out. And don’t be afraid to follow up with a second request if testing shows people need a little extra prodding before they’re ready to give you an honest review.

That way, live content from customers’ social media profiles or ratings featured on a third-party review site can be pulled directly into your emails via data feed. Giving you the ability to create up-to-the-minute promotions and messages with highly persuasive, relevant pitches that feel less like sales-speak and more like a conversation between long-time friends.

If you really want to make the most of your UGC investment, you can review answers and customer responses manually to find the perfect content for your emails and product pages. Done well, customer-created content can even help you choose specific people for more in-depth interviews to uncover further trends and external thoughts about a specific product or marketing initiative.

2. Use UGC on social media to your advantage

By sourcing customer-created content from your loyal followers’ social media posts, you effectively expand your brand’s reach to create a community of like-minded, highly engaged customers. Compared to any one-size-fits all approach or generic sales promotion, adding user-generated social media engagement into your emails gives every recipient an experience that’s refreshing, reliable, and real—not one that was brainstormed in a boardroom or a marketing meeting somewhere.

And now more than ever, authenticity and honesty are values that matter to every brand and buyer. In fact, TurnTo Networks found that 90% of today’s consumers find this type of UGC helpful for making purchase decisions.

UGC

So, implement personalization technology that automatically sweeps any social media content your brand is tagged or featured in, meets your specific ratings criteria, and dynamically populates it into specific content modules within your email template to add the voice of the customer into your marketing strategy via social proof.

Once you’ve laid the foundation and started your brand conversation on social media channels, you can even run special promotions and exclusive discounts on these platforms to meet new audiences where they prefer to share their favorite products among friends, family members, and trusted influencers they follow. Making it more likely your brand receives the benefits word-of-mouth marketing brings.

3. Don’t be shy—share your favorite customers’ success

Believe it or not, customer-created content isn’t limited to consumer-facing brands—it has a place in your B2B email sends, too.  After all, many business buyers aren’t looking for a product. They’re searching for a solution to their most important problem. And a timely case study or impressive results achieved by a similar company can definitely be a compelling piece of content that convinces corporate customers you’re the perfect fit for them as well.

Too many email case studies or customer success stories, however, fall into the list of features trap where most messaging space is devoted to the mechanics and tech specs of your specific products instead of the customer benefits achieved by implementing them. Marketers want immediate, easy results—so use these unique perspectives to promote the destination, not the long, overly complex, and (frankly) boring journey it took to get there.

In other words, these emails shouldn’t be about you. Frame your customer-created examples in the context of the recipient’s mindset to answer the one question customers really want to know: “Can we use this product to experience similar results too?”

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TL;DR: Authenticity matters, and customer-created content delivers

UGC is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval: An unbiased third-party source of information and support that shoppers prioritize when deciding whether to buy or pass by your store. So, take a step back, relax, and let your most loyal shoppers and brand evangelists do the talking for a change.