Pressing Send on the Holidays
The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us — the holiday season. It’s also the busiest time of the year for most B-to-C marketers, who will be cranking up their email frequency and sending some high-stakes campaigns. But before pressing send, marketers should keep a few things in mind to ensure they have a successful holiday email season.
With major shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday only a few weeks away, planning in advance and clearly defining goals will be crucial for holiday success.
During November and December, retailers increase their email frequency by roughly 50 percent. But even though B-to-C marketers send more emails during the holiday season than any other time of year, only 20 percent start planning their holiday campaigns more than three months in advance. Getting a head start on designing, coding and content planning can help avoid rushing and decrease the possibility of mistakes.
Know Your Audience
Once you’ve defined your goals, determine which segments of your audience should receive your messages. While it may seem like a good idea to create a campaign that is sent to your entire email list, your message may not fit the needs of every subscriber. Blasting your entire list with irrelevant messages not only works against your campaign goals, but can lead to frustrated subscribers, declining opens and clickthrough rates, and more opt-outs and spam complaints.
Instead, establish which groups benefit most from your message through segmentation. Lists can be segmented in many ways — by past purchases, interests, and website and in-app activity, among others. More detailed targeting boosts relevancy, engagement and ROI significantly.
However, keep in mind that subscriber preferences change during the holiday season. They aren’t just making purchases for themselves — they’re buying gifts for others who may have different interests than them. This makes segmentation during the holidays even harder than any other time. If you’re unsure of what your subscribers want, ask them! Understanding subscriber preferences can help you tailor the content of your emails, ensure subscribers get what they want and decrease unsubscribe rates.
Optimize for the Inbox
As consumers actively search for the perfect gifts, standing out against the dozens of other emails that fill their inboxes will be critical.
What will compel someone to open your email? Including a trustworthy and recognizable pitch including the customer’s name and subject lines relevant to them is the first step to having your emails opened.
But also don’t forget about preview text! This bit of extra text in their inbox can capture your reader’s attention and determine if the message gets opened or lands in the trash bin. Optimizing for the inbox is key to increasing open rates and conversions.
Craft Your Content
After opening your message, consumers will want to see content that is relevant to their needs. While you may want to include a variety of information in your message, cramming in lots of content may confuse readers and increase the chances that your emails will be deleted, ignored or marked as spam. This is especially true during the holiday season because subscribers are getting more emails than usual — thus less time to spend on each message. They’ll be reading emails on their smartphones while they’re out running errands, allowing you only a brief opportunity to catch their eye.
Keep each message short and to the point. Including key highlights and linking to your website will help increase engagement and enrich interactions.
The content of each message should flow and lead subscribers to the call-to-action (CTA). Based on your goals, use a clear CTA that offers value and incentivizes the reader. As consumers rush to snag every gift on their list, creating a sense of urgency and timeliness in each CTA will help increase click rates and drive conversions. What will subscribers get for investing their time in your email and landing page?
You’ll also want to avoid using weak, passive language in your CTA. Instead of saying “Click Here” use CTAs with strong action verbs like “Book a Flight” or “Shop Now.”
This holiday season, email success will depend on early campaign preparation and planning. Understanding your subscribers and crafting relevant, focused messages will prompt readers to engage with your brand and encourage loyalty during the busiest time of year.
Lauren Smith is a Boston-area content strategist who has written hundreds of posts and reports on email marketing and design. Lauren currently heads content marketing at Litmus, a Web-based email creation, testing and analytics company, where she oversees the strategy, creation and execution of a variety of marketing content, including blog posts, infographics, landing pages and press releases. In her spare time, she enjoys trying out new recipes, traveling and debating the Oxford comma.