Cancel your vacation plans, email marketers. This summer
is not the time to relax. The back-to-school season
that follows — and the intense holiday shopping season
after that — makes summer the ideal time to test and
optimize your email program.
Build Your Subscriber List with Social
Ramping up your social integration and sharing activities in
the summer will generate new subscriptions and ensure your
campaign has maximum reach through the end of the year.
When the buying season hits in full force, you’ll only be able
to reach your customers in the appropriate channel if the
proper connection points are in place.
Provide share-worthy content in your emails, such as
educational tips or valuable offers and include social buttons
to encourage subscribers to share the information with their
social networks. Conversely, alert your social media followers
and fans that you have a special offer available to anyone who
signs up for your email newsletter. Also, provide different content
according to the channel; social media are ongoing information
streams, while emails are a chance for a personal and
During the summer months, conduct a special campaign
with content and promotions tailored to different recipients
applied throughout email, the Web and social media. This
cross-promotion will generate a higher degree of relevancy,
which means a greater chance to attract and retain customers.
Perhaps most importantly, a summer campaign familiarizes
the audience with your brand and your communications
ahead of the all-important holiday season.
Test Offers and Visuals
Test the format of your offers to provide some early insight
as to those that entice your customers to take action. Does
your audience prefer $10 off a large purchase or 25 percent
off any purchase?
Don’t forget about the visual aspects of the email, which are
vital throughout the holiday shopping season when consumers
are bombarded by an endless stream of messages and offers.
Should the call-to-action button be on the left or right? Does
blue or green work better? Even these minor design aspects
can make an impact. Establishing an effective design around
purchase-oriented aspects of the email can pay out benefits that
extend past the holiday season, as well.
Clean up navigation bars ahead of the shopping season,
too. In the rush of the holidays, people are moving quickly
and they might not read the content — but they could use the
navigation bar to visit your website or connect deeper with
your brand. Some email programs use a navigation bar that
varies according to the season.
Summer is also the best time of year to start testing the format
of subject lines. A great subject line pops out visually due
to the formatting, but keywords and phrases can’t be overlooked,
Segment Your Audience
Testing should revolve around key audience segments. For
example, if your campaign involves targeting different age
demographics, consider using images that correspond to each
age group. Discovering what resonates with each segment
before the heavy shopping season will increase the relevancy
of your message, giving you a lift in response.
Another way to segment is to divide the audience into
active and inactive segments, based on an algorithm for open
or click-through rates. Understanding this dichotomy is
important for two reasons:
• If you need to ramp up volume during the buying season,
an understanding of your active and inactive segments
shows where to focus efforts.
• The information allows you to measure success comparatively
for future campaigns based on what percentage of
your audience interacts with your messages.
Further segment your audience according to your subscribers’
desired frequency of communication. If you are working
with a large database, ask subscribers if they want to
change how often they receive messages. Your inactive segment
might prefer one particular communication each month
as opposed to messages every week. While some marketers
might consider ignoring inactive segments, these customers
might become active over the holiday season.
These levels of activity apply to both purchasers and nonpurchasers,
but purchasers should be treated differently. Make
sure they know you appreciate their business by thanking
them periodically or providing them with exclusive offers.
With list building, segmentation and testing alike, the key
is engagement. You want to have as many people as possible
engaged with your message and your brand when the holidays
arrive to compete with all the noise consumers are exposed
to. Summer is the calm before the storm. If you wait
until the holidays, it will be too late.
About the Author: Rusty Warner is the Vice President of Product Marketing for Alterian,
a full-service integrated marketing company that provides
campaign management, Web content management, email marketing,
social media monitoring and more.