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.
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:
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.
With holiday deliverability nuances, we have some recommendations to keep in mind during the season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
A lot of marketers would categorize email as the cozy sweater to social media’s black dress. While not as sexy as some newer channels, for years, email has taken the top spot in marketing ROI, and in a 2019 Econsultancy survey, respondents still picked email as the most effective marketing channel, with social media ranking only fifth.
But, why compare email and social media when they actually work better combined? Social media content, in particular, is a great resource for spicing up email, especially now, when marketers are looking for fresh content to use in their online communications. With a treasure trove of fan photos, reviews, and video clips, social media can help subscribers get inspired, connect to other fans, and engage in new channels.
In the early days of the pandemic, many advertisers quickly put together serious (often too serious) campaigns pledging their solidarity with their customers. Memes were shared widely that mashed up these stock-photo-heavy commercials featuring empty beaches, empty streets, nurses, doctors and family embracing. These relatively generic messages didn’t resonate nearly as well as ads that were pulled together from real user content on social media. Oreo in particular was smart about encouraging people to post their videos, which they quickly turned into a commercial.
It doesn’t need to be a prime time commercial to highlight social media content, brands can use social content in good email campaigns to resonate with customers just as effectively. Social content breaks through the stagnant feelings people have of the generic imagery they’ve been seeing lately. And with so many companies limited from shooting new content by social distancing, it can be the catalyst to variety and creativity.
‘Wichcraft, the high-end sandwich chain, features social posts of customers eating their food outside in their “simplest of pleasures” email campaign that encourages some fresh air time at lunch. BistroMD pulls in their real-time Instagram social feed featuring healthy meals customers receive as part of their plan, as well as success stories and a variety of nutrition topics.
It might feel safe to simply reuse old images or pull from a stock photo library, but it’s actually a bigger risk than incorporating UGC. The IAB notes that numerous studies indicate that authenticity is key for people to trust brands and that UGC is among the top-rated content online. Right now, many consumers are changing their shopping habits, and loyalty is at risk. Jumping ahead of the pack and embracing a chance to connect authentically with UGC is a good way to keep old customers engaged and to inspire new customers to keep coming back.
Don’t leave all the best images on Pinterest – pull them into an email template for immediate engagement. Create an evergreen element to your newsletter that highlights recent five-star reviews, or images from Instagram with more than 100 likes.
Furniture retailers Made.com created a campaign in April called “Stay Grounded,” which included an Instagram-based hub of photos from customers’ own homes. The imagery is the perfect mix of inspiration and authenticity and fits nicely into a newsletter campaign that encourages subscribers to vote on their favorite images. TrustedHousesitters features real-time Instagram photos in their conversion emails to engage with potential members, particularly Housesitters. Potential customers are typically drawn to the inspirational pictures of pets and homes within email campaigns, alongside educational messaging about house sitting and TrustedHousesitters as a whole.
Part of the value of authentic content is that it can lift people’s spirits during a stressful time. From weight loss clinics featuring real-life success stories to a roundup of funny pet videos, authentic content can make people feel good when marketers are unsure what exactly they can say directly without sounding out of touch.
Some brands are creating their own events to get their customers engaged. Taubman Centers brings fun to the inbox with Spotify playlists. GrubHub is offering discounts to people that sign up for virtual concerts on their own YouTube channel, promoting the event in email newsletters. The best clips can be used in email as playback to get people to check out what they might have missed.
With a record number of people online, doing a record number of things online, UGC and social media in general, has become an even bigger source of information, communication and entertainment for people. Brands should make sure to spread the love. There’s no reason for social media to be separated from the traditional creative-driven channels like brand advertising and email. The two, when put together well, can enhance authenticity and drive customer loyalty.
As an email marketer, you want your messages to show up when subscribers will see them first – at the top of the inbox instead of buried under a mountain of competing messages. Figuring out when to send emails so subscribers will see them is a starting point for email optimization. But if you stop there, you’ll miss a huge opportunity to use this data for greater segmentation and personalization.
That’s what will make your email break through cluttered inboxes and attract attention and engagement.
Not quite. Send-time data uses message opens as a proxy for checking email and suggests general sending times when subscribers are most likely to see them. But this method could mislead you into basing important decisions on faulty data:
If the subscriber doesn’t enable images, the email won’t send the ping, and the open won’t get recorded. You could end up missing a big chunk of data if a sizable number of subscribers seldom or never enable images.
That’s why you need to factor in “moment of open” data. It detects and reports opens based on proprietary elements within the email that get activated when a subscriber opens the message.
Send time tells you when someone opens your email. (See the note above about inaccuracy and under-reporting). Open-time data, integrated with dynamic content, opens the door to deeper segmentation and personalization that can drive the results you want – more clicks that lead to purchases, registrations or whatever action your email should deliver.
You can use open-time data in many ways to drive greater insight and engagement, but these three use cases illustrate how it works:
1. Make email personalization more personal and urgency more urgent.
Adding a first name to the subject line or message copy barely moves the needle these days for engagement. What does? A dynamic content module that changes time-of-day greetings (from “Good morning, Jacinta” for someone who opens an email at 9 a.m. to “Good evening, Jacinta” at 9 p.m.)
Open-time data also helps you get customers moving by using temporal terms (“today,” “tonight,” “tomorrow”) instead of expiration dates, which can be more abstract in the imagination.
2. Test to find the highest engagement time.
Many people check their email first thing in the morning, even before they stumble out of bed. But is that when they’re buying?
Suppose you send a juicy upgrade offer for a mobile phone service. People might see and open your email at 9 a.m. but not be prepared to act on it.
If you set up sending times using open-time data, you might learn your email gets more traction when your recipients are on their lunch hours or in the early evening, when they have time to consider it seriously.
3. Keep customers updated on key developments.
This can be a game-changer this holiday season, especially if expert predictions come true about a surge in online ordering, home delivery or curbside/in-store pickup.
Suppose you send a shipping notice at 3 a.m., based on STO, and your customer opens it at 2 p.m. In the intervening team, the package got delayed at noon. That 3 a.m. email is out of date, but your customer won’t know it based on your email.
Using open-time info, the customer who opens the email at 2 p.m. will see the updated content showing the revised delivery date.
We’re making it easier and more effective to access and tap into this data for your email campaigns and journeys with our new tool, Insights. Want to learn more? Request a personalized demo!
According to a 2019 Econsultancy survey, email is the most effective marketing channel, and it’s also an important link to other customer experiences on site, in store and on mobile apps. Getting email just right means making the entire customer shopping experience that much more relevant and effective. Hot Topic certainly does this, which is why the retailer won a MediaPost EIS Awards for Email Marketing Excellence in the Interactive Emails category.
Hot Topic used to have an animation in an email that looked like a scratch-off ticket, but wasn’t interactive. While the imagery was creative, it didn’t drive clicks to the site, and created a disappointing experience. The team knew that an interactive email experience could get people to go to the site at higher rates by increasing engagement.
Working with Liveclicker, Hot Topic created a fully interactive email design that would click to reveal a personalized, integrated offer based on data inputs from past purchase behavior. The emails showcased seasonally themed animation teasing either a 30%, 40%, or 50% discount that the customer would reveal by clicking.
The retailer then added both “copy to clipboard” and “shop now” calls-to-action to drive customers to the site easily. Similarly, if a customer can’t finish shopping in that session, a “remembering” feature ensures that the next time they open that email, the offer is already revealed and the code is waiting.
While Hot Topic and Liveclicker had done scratch-offs and coupons separately, the combination was new and innovative for the Hot Topic team. Liveclicker helped to streamline the back end experience so that both the engaging “scratch” interaction and the underlying coupon assignment could be integrated at moment-of-open in a consistent experience for all customers, and with minimal back-end work for the Hot Topic email team.
Hot Topic measured click-to-open rates and click-through rates to see if the new interactive feature was successful at driving engagement. Comparing the interactive mystery scratch-off emails to other campaigns that promoted equivalent offers showed just how valuable the concept was for Hot Topic. The newly interactive mystery campaigns on average saw a 30% increase in click-to-opens, 25% increase in click-through rate, and because they were driving more people to the site, a 14% increase in conversion rate over equivalent campaigns without the new feature.
This wasn’t the only EIS Award win for CM Group, either. RevZilla and Raise, two of our sister brand Sailthru’s customers, won awards as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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!).
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.