10 Last-Minute E-mail Marketing Ideas to Implement Before the Holiday Season Ends
You only have a few days left before Christmas and still need to make your numbers. So what should you do? Here are a few ideas on how you can still add some juice to your e-mail punch before the holiday season ends.
1. Make it easy. This is a time of year when consumers receive twice as much e-mail as normal — and just when they have a lot more to do. More e-mail volume and less time means less attention to your e-mail campaigns. The basic rules become more important when consumers are time-pressed. Tell them simply:
* who it's from;
* what's in it for them; and
* how to take action.
2. Spend extra time on subject lines. Subject lines — which offer you the first chance to grab consumers' attention — are more important than ever this time of year. As a result, be specific in your subject lines, and don't require recipients to open e-mails or have to go to your Web site for important information like shipping deadlines. That's an annoying waste of time, and most people won't do it.
3. Focus on urgency. On the subject of deadlines, there's more than just one date — there are deadlines for standard shipping, expedited shipping, in-store pickup and e-gift cards. Remind customers of each deadline as the dates approach. Put a countdown calendar in the same location in every e-mail you send. If you have stores, tell them about your store hours and locations in every e-mail you send as well, especially if you have extended store hours.
4. Promote gift cards. The electronic gift certificate is a mainstay of last-minute holiday shopping. During the final days before Christmas last year, 25 percent of all e-mails tracked promoted e-gift cards.
5. Or, use alternatives to gift cards. If you don't offer e-gift cards, let your customers send e-gift notifications that a gift is on the way.
6. Play the frequency card. Apparently, an easy way to make more money is to send more e-mail. But before you hit send on another e-mail message, think about the long-term impact. And if you do crank it up, set up a small control group to see whether the short-term revenue lift is offset by long-term list decay.
7. Segment to boost relevance. If you don't normally segment your e-mails, start now and start simple. Segment based on who clicked on your last campaign.
8. Promote gift card redemption before the year ends. Provide an incentive to redeem gift cards before the end of the year, or remind consumers that they can use them for after-Christmas sales.
9. Watch the competition. If you don't normally obsess about the competition, do so now. The economy has made many nonpromotional marketers promotional. Tight times mean more consumers shop around.
10. Focus on operational excellence. Everyone is busy this time of year. Recruit someone new who isn't normally part of the e-mail process to add an extra level of quality assurance. Be vigilant on the right offer, links and list segment.
Ed Henrich is the vice president of professional and strategic services for the San Bruno, Calif.-based Responsys, a provider of business-to-business e-mail and e-commerce solutions. Reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.