There are few timeframes as critical as the climactic fourth quarter for retailers.
From Black Friday to Christmas to post-holiday sales-this shopping season signals both the year-end crunch and the optimal period to capitalize on the most lucrative time of the year. Not to mention, a successful holiday season for marketers often translates into strong momentum heading into the New Year.
Tasked with the pressure of meeting annual goals and the demands of consumers, marketers have their work cut out for themselves during this year-end frenzy. With inboxes filled to the brim and consumers more distracted because of the holidays, it can be tricky to break through the noise with an impactful message. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but there are plenty of ways email senders can overcome common holiday marketing challenges and maximize their chances of success this season.
Make Subject Lines the Star on Top
If there's one thing that accompanies the holidays year after year, it is the crowds - crowded airports, crowded shopping malls and, most notably to marketers, crowded inboxes. While many senders vie for consumers' attention throughout the year, inboxes are especially cluttered during the holidays from the abundance of email communications-all from marketers competing for shoppers' limited time and attention. In order for them to break through the noise and make merry with subscribers, creating outstanding subject lines should be first on a marketer's list.
The subject line acts as the gatekeeper to entice customers to open emails, so it needs to be well-crafted and personalized. First, marketers should present the audience with a personalized hook capturing their attention and incentivizing them to learn more by opening the email. By using A/B split testing, marketers can determine which types of subject lines work best and will capture the greatest amount of mindshare and attention.
Deck the Halls with Personalization
Welcome to the era of personalization where relevant content reigns supreme. While the traditional "spray and pray" approach of sending generic marketing messages may have fared OK in past holiday seasons, this approach now competes with the desires of today's digitally enabled shoppers. Modern consumers insist on messages that resonate with them on a personal level because they expect brands to use the context of their shared history. Too often, marketers waste resources creating the same experiences for everyone.
This holiday season, marketers can optimize their campaigns by using past purchasing data to personalize messages including when, where and what buyers have purchased. For example, if a marketer knows a consumer bought a specific type of technology during last year's holiday season, that person should receive an email with information about the latest prototype. This type of relevancy will reinforce two-way communication between consumer and brand and foster loyalty. Most importantly, offering authentic value to consumers will also help in converting clicks to purchases-ultimately boosting retailers' bottom lines.
Monitor Email Cheer through Cadence
Email cadence is critical to the success of holiday campaigns. Too often marketers bombard consumers with promotion after promotion without providing any real value. This over-mailing strategy not only becomes irritating for subscribers, but it can also be detrimental to email open rates.
Retailers should anticipate sending a greater volume of emails throughout the holiday season. However, rather than sending out blind blasts, it is important to first revisit campaigns from last year to learn from past performance. Marketers should take a look at both strong-performing emails and those that had high unsubscribe or complaint rates. Next, they should draft an email schedule ahead of time to plan campaigns and avoid saturating consumer inboxes.
For example, it is beneficial to target emails for shipping cut-offs to remind customers of their last chance to take advantage of standard or two-day shipping deals. Finally, marketers can also monitor their open and unsubscribe rates to determine if they should amp up or tone down send frequency.
While it can be easy for marketers to feel overwhelmed with holiday campaign prep and year-end quotas, following these tips will ensure a successful season for all. By perfecting subject lines, mastering personalization and carefully planning email cadence, both brands and consumers alike will be guaranteed to have a happy holiday season.
About the Author
EJ McGowan, general manager of Campaigner, has more than 25 years of experience in the software industry with expertise in building highly available, scalable SaaS-based solutions.
EJ McGowan, VP of Engineering for Glance Networks and Founder of Carpe Diem Software, is a highly experienced software professional with a career spanning over three decades. With a background in mini-computing and experience building major applications for microcomputers, EJ has a unique perspective on the evolution of technology. He was the architect for one of the first SaaS applications and now focuses on creating scalable and highly available applications for the on-demand marketplace. With a successful track record in building and leading development organizations and sales and marketing teams, EJ is a valuable asset in the software industry.