Holiday Frenzy Ahead? Review Email Marketing Metrics for Success This Season

By EJ McGowan, General Manager of Campaigner

While Thanksgiving and Black Friday may seem months away, now is the time for retailers to make modifications to their marketing campaigns for the hectic holiday season ahead. How can retail marketers best prepare themselves for the coming frenzy? During this calm before the storm, retailers should take a step back and evaluate their email marketing metrics to obtain a better sense of their past campaigns' performance and prime this year's initiatives for success.

Keep in mind the following so you are ready this holiday season.

Evaluate conversion-worthy content with click-through rates

The first metric marketers should evaluate as they plan for the holiday season is click-through rates from past campaigns. How often subscribers click through is a good indicator of interest in email content. If past holiday campaigns have seen high click-through rates, consider recycling (and refreshing) some of that content for this year's campaigns. For email marketers, content with a proven performance record is the gift that keeps on giving. Additionally, use click-through rate as a criterion for A/B split testing to determine which content resonates most with customers.

Distribute test emails with varying messages, subject lines and graphics to select groups of recipients. The content variables that drive the most traffic to a website will be the best ones to use for larger campaigns as subscribers start shopping.

Determine top shoppers through conversion data

Marketers will want to keep a close eye on their conversion rates to not only determine the health of their campaigns but also get a pulse on customer loyalty. Additionally, consider building a "nice list" with subscribers most likely to fill their stockings with the company's products.

Identify those customers who regularly purchase products and spend the most in stores, and group them as a brand's best customers so promotions can easily be sent to them when the holiday season is here.

As companies start to segment holiday campaigns, they'll want to consider a staggered approach to manage traffic volume increases to their website and call centers. By referencing conversion data and sending the first batch of holiday messages to their best customer list, this will ensure top customers get the first look at products and promotions while inventory is at its highest point and also reduce the risk of running out of products they would be interested in buying. Additional factors to keep in mind as marketers plan their campaign's segmentation are matching promotions, geolocation and time zones:

+ If running multiple promotions, identify the audiences that best match each offer and distribute in batches accordingly.

+ Look at geolocation data to distribute offers for particular stores to customers located nearby.

+ Segment for different time zones so that messages arrive in customers' inboxes at an optimal time of day, regardless of whether they're on the East Coast, West Coast or somewhere in between.

Look at long-term metrics for holiday cheer throughout the year

Beyond immediate performance metrics like click-through and conversion rates, keep track of long-term metrics for insight into the overall health of campaigns and a marketing program. Brands should review content that has triggered unsubscribes to determine where messaging could use a refresh, and spend time accordingly to give messages extra cadence as they ring all the way to readers. Companies must pay special attention if they start to notice an uptick in hard bounces or if their deliverability rate is taking a hit as they are warning signs that a subscriber list may be outdated.

Brands should also take a close look at their contacts and move any invalid addresses to a "naughty list"¬ù so their holiday promotions arrive under all the right trees when it's time to deliver.

The holiday season will be here before you know it, so make sure you're taking full advantage of this current lull period. Look at short- and long-term metrics including click-through, conversion, unsubscribe and deliverability rates to get a pulse on today's performance and a better sense of how holiday campaigns will perform in the next few months. Use this data to drive A/B split testing and segmentation during the holidays to maximize performance during that pivotal time of year.