The pool is closed, the kids are headed back to school, and all hope seems lost. But wait! Holiday Season 2012 is just around the corner, and you are your company's Email Marketer Extraordinaire. These next few weeks are your moment to shine, and you have the opportunity to not just rake in the big holiday bucks, but to totally blow your sales targets out of the water (and to show off some outside-the-box thinking in the process).
By taking advantage of recent advances in email marketing technology, you can optimize email content in real-time, at the moment when messages are opened based on each recipient's time, location and device. As opposed to being frozen in time when you hit the send button, content decisioning can now take place based on when, where and how consumers interact with each message.
Here are five ways to tap into real-time email to make 2012 your most successful holiday season yet:
1. Show email recipients how many items are left in stock. Furby, Tickle Me Elmo, Zhu Zhu Pets: every holiday season features that one must-have toy that every child craves. This holiday season, increase shoppers' urgency to "buy now" by highlighting exactly how many of your to-die-for items are still in stock. If the item is sold out by the time your email subscriber opens the message, showcase the next best thing—you'll avoid disappointing customers and wasting email sends and increase the potential to make a sale in the process.
2. Countdown to the last day, hour and minute left to get presents delivered in time. Make "time is running out" more compelling by showing the precise amount of time left to ship merchandise for arrival by Christmas Eve. Also, show time remaining until one-day-only sales events like Cyber Monday and Day After Christmas expire. Clearly stating that there is 1 hour and 6 minutes left to shop is a lot more palpable than generically saying it's the "last day."
3. Get people promoting your holiday deals on social networks. Slapping little blue birds and Facebook icons to the bottom of email messages is NOT email-social integration. If you really want to get your customers social during the most critical sales period of the year, then stream the latest posts, pins, photos and tweets about your brand directly into email campaigns. By showing people what's being said about your brand by other real people right now, they'll be more likely to get in on the conversation.
4. Holiday shopping? There's an app for that. If you have a mobile app that offers a great, native handheld shopping experience, then make downloading your app the primary call to action when your email messages are opened on iPhones, iPads and Android-based devices. If your app is already installed, include links in your email to launch the app rather than Web pages. When those same messages are viewed on a desktop, display default, Web-focused content. Device targeting technology makes real-time content decisioning like this possible.
5. Test in real-time. Every day between now and the end of the year is precious: Don't waste time analyzing test results in delayed-time when you can find out what works best in real-time and deploy the strongest performing versions of your emails on the fly. Test variations of copy and imagery and let your customers tell you what works best rather than deciding for them.
Email has long been the marketing department's workhorse and deserves your love and attention. Give your email program the gift of real-time technology and get more of your subscribers' mindshare and wallet this holiday season.