Cyber Week has come and gone, but the failures and triumphs of the greatest ecommerce week in history (according to a staggering number of reports on paid search spend, site traffic, mobile traffic, total revenue and more) shouldn't be forgotten.
In fact, there is a lot to learn from the companies that tackled Cyber Week head on and won.
From bolder colors to larger fonts, and even exclamation points, businesses fought hard to break free from inbox clutter during Cyber Week. The ones who were successful, however, took risks without jeopardizing their identity.
"The biggest challenge is trying to make an impact without straying away from your brand's core communication style, as you'll leave subscriber's confused and disinterested," said Responsys Director of Creative Services, Wacarra Yeomans.
One company that Yeomans thought got it right was Tiger Direct (the company that acquired CompUSA). Tiger Direct's innovative use of a live, dynamic countdown is what caught Yeomans' attention and enticed user action, as well (see image A).
Apple, which typically sets the bar on email design, also leveraged a countdown-type email to encourage excitement and urgency, when they sent out a preview email three days before Black Friday (see image B).
There were plenty of other elements at play for retailers during Cyber Week. When email marketing service Campaigner analyzed the data of customers who celebrated a successful Cyber Week (many of which boasted an above average open rate of more than 25 percent), it found two similarities: the use of testing and engaging subject lines.
It may come as a surprise, however, that two successful email subject lines from Campaigner customers during Cyber Week were relatively simple in nature:
[Contact.Name]'s 2012 Thanksgiving Sale Discount Coupon - This email subject line worked because nothing captures a person's attention more than their name, and its simple personalization went a long way.
Cyber Monday Sale! - Simple, yes, but too vague - no. Its vagueness relies on the (solid) assumption that customers associate Cyber Monday with the best sales of the year, so they already know what's inside. Thus, this Campaigner client used that former knowledge to create a to-the-point email subject line, and in turn, pulled customers in with the great deals waiting.
In addition to powerful email subject lines, Campaigner also noticed that its successful customers did A/B split testing in order to find the perfect campaign to hit their lists. Others sent at different times/days to determine which would be the best time to hit send.
"We had a few select customers who did some in-depth multivariate testing, which I believe is an innovative way to outline what their customers are looking for," said Campaigner Marketing Coordinator Wendy Griffin. "Some of the variables that were used were different offer formats and topics in the emails, small design changes, and different landing pages for different offers and, of course, subject lines.
"Many customers also used our segmentation feature to create different campaigns for different segmented lists. This is also a great idea because when you segment a list you know who is in that list and you can create campaigns completely dedicated to them and only them. It's been showed that customers who use segments have a higher open/click-through rate with our product."
On Brand & On Trend
When discussing Cyber Week winners, it's important to recognize the companies who not only stayed on brand, but also those who displayed consistent marketing collateral (Web pages, emails, social media, fliers, etc.) across all channels. Additionally, the true winners were ones who optimized email design and copy for a better mobile viewing experience, as Responsys states that some brands saw as many as 40 percent of their subscribers opening emails on their mobile phones.