It’s a fun — or overwhelmingly stressful — time for email marketers, depending on what type of marketing persona you carry. As we approach the biggest retail push of the year, marketers are juggling lots of moving parts to ensure a solid customer experience for the growing number of online shoppers during the holidays.
Here are a few tips to ensure a successful holiday season while keeping your cool.
- Build and test your landing pages early. Depending on what type of business you are in, you’ll likely drive all email subscribers to a dedicated sale section of your website or create a new landing page specifically for email subscribers. Hopefully, you’ve found a way to templatize this process as much as possible so you don’t have to spend too much time on recreating the wheel for every holiday push. In any event, it’s important to get a jump on this at least a week or two prior to sending out your test emails to ensure a quality user experience. Even the most templated page is bound to throw out an error when prepping for a big promotional send. Your developers should do their own testing prior to handing off to you so that when you are ready to test your emails, anyone included in testing can review the whole process from clicking every link in an email to completing a purchase on your sale site. Though a bit process heavy, taking these detailed steps will ultimately help you build the best customer experience (i.e. minimize bugs and clicks) and over time will help you reach, maybe even exceed, your expected sales.
- Don’t overthink the creative. Going back to templating, keeping your email creative relatively simple will minimize some risks. Identify a few different templates that have worked well for you over the past year and maybe try a/b testing the call-to-action (i.e. save now vs don’t miss out) or verbiage (i.e. % off vs $ off) for incremental success year over year. Don’t worry about using the same layout as past holidays. Different colors, fonts, and imagery will make all the difference. Ultimately the overall user experience takes precedence over an impressive design that may be flagged as junk with some aggressive email client filters. Keep in mind this is a very busy send season in general and email clients and recipients both may be more sensitive to an overly busy email over a clean design that offers up everything they are looking for at first glance. Do what you know works best for you.
- Have some fun with your subject lines. Including emojis in your subject line may not be something you do throughout the year, but over the holidays it may be the one thing that really catches your readers attention. Think of the time of send when crafting your creative subject lines. You may see more opens with something like “Only 4 hours left to shop!” then “Time is running out! Save now”. If you’re doing multiple efforts (like 3 emails on Black Friday) try increasing the sense of urgency in every following effort. This may spark some curiosity and instill a serious case of FOMO across your subscribers.
- Plan for multiple efforts — In the digital age, loyalty is dying. It’s not enough to get an email from your favorite shop. There’s always another option to consider and during the holidays, your customer will be bombarded with a host of other viable options. With that said, multiple email efforts might be what is needed to take an on the fence window shopper to a happy customer. As a general rule of thumb, I like to have 3 efforts tied to my holiday emails. If you’re concerned about your deliverability and sender reputation, you could limit the second and third efforts to anyone who didn’t click or open the prior emails. Also, remember to play on the reader’s emotions and grow a sense of urgency in each consecutive send. Remember, cart abandon emails do well for a reason.
- Optimize your email send time and day. One of the most successful email campaigns I sent was a FLASH sale in early April, just before the Easter rush. That spring we decided not to run anything for St. Patty’s or Easter email promotions and I thought early April might be the opportune time to hit my readers with a big sales promotion. It was the calm before the storm and it worked even better than the spring holiday promotions we ran the year prior. Getting ahead of your competition and sending earlier sometimes pays off. Conversely, if you find your sales picked up most on the last day of your holiday promotion, you can offer up an offer extended email to keep capitalizing on the momentum. For B2B businesses, I like to look at my email calendar and find a 4-hour window where no emails (including any customer journeys or scheduled transactional sends) are going out to send a big holiday promotional push. It allows my subscriber to only focus on the one email send from that brand and they are definitely more likely to respond.