The holiday rush is imminent. Along with your hot cocoa, you'll need a plan to capture eager holiday shoppers. In 2014, more than 27 percent of ecommerce sales on Black Friday came from email marketing, and more than one-third (35 percent) of holiday shoppers say they used retailers' emails to keep track of deals.
The challenge is how to use email to get the most from your holiday marketing efforts. We've compiled tested tips that will help you make this season the most wonderful time of the year:
Deck your subject lines with cheer
Subject lines are critical -- 33 percent of subscribers decide whether or not to open your email based on the subject line alone. With email volumes increasing exponentially around the holidays, your subject line needs to work even harder to get potential shoppers to open your email and take action.
- Stand out: Using emoji (hello, Snowman!) can boost open rates.
- Be festive: Beyond emoji, use words like "Holiday Sale" for promotions. Holiday-themed open rates tended to be higher.
- Ask a question: "Ready to knock out your holiday shopping?" or "What will you do with your 50 percent off holiday coupon?"
- Make it urgent: Emphasize pending deadlines like "Cyber Monday Sale ends today" or "Holiday door-busters till noon only."
Show shoppers you know them
More than half (56 percent) of consumers say they expect retailers to use what they know from their past interactions and purchases to personalize gift-giving ideas this year. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent more likely to be opened, and marketers have found a 760 percent increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. Personalized product recommendations can also have a huge impact on your results: 77 percent of customers make additional purchases when presented with product recommendations that match their needs.
Here are product recommendation ideas to consider:
- Create a gift guide based on prior purchases tailored to shoppers' tastes, like this one from Nike.
- Make recommendations based on what subscribers have purchased, as Zappos did here.
- Look at browsing behavior to offer discounts on similar products in a welcome email. Vons/Pavilions did something similar here.
- Send a wish list reminder that shoppers can share, the way Birchbox did.
Check your automated email lists (more than) twice
Use email automation to boost purchases and save time. Set a trigger and when that action occurs, a specific email or set of emails will be sent to your subscriber. Some examples of automated emails you can send during the holidays include:
Thanks for purchasing
Once a shopper has purchased, you can use an automated email campaign to compel them to buy again. Suggest items on wish lists, recommend other products that relate to the one they just purchased, or offer special deals if they purchase again within a certain amount of time.
Send emails to re-engage shoppers who abandon their online shopping carts. Approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, and about 63 percent of it is recoverable by savvy online retailers.
From purchase receipts to shipping notifications, transactional emails are opened four to eight times more often than traditional emails. Adding cross-sell recommendations to shipping confirmation emails can also increase transaction rates by 20 percent.
Go mobile or get coal
One in four retail purchases was made on a mobile device during the holidays last year. Further, 45 percent of online retail traffic came from smartphones and tablets during the 2014 holiday season, up more than 25 percent from 2013. Here are tips for adopting a "mobile-first" mentality to make sure your emails are effective on any device shoppers are using this holiday season:
Use a mobile-friendly email template
Preview how your emails appear on different mobile email clients so you know your email looks fantastic in every inbox.
Keep it brief
On a small screen, five or six sentences can look like a novel. Keep your messages short and consumable, linking to more detailed content on your website or blog.
Use buttons instead of text links
If your readers' finger takes up a significant amount of space on the screen, the worst thing you can do is make them try to click a tiny link. Use call-to-action buttons to make it easy for subscribers to click-through.
Entice readers with a short summary of your email
Use the preheader -- the short summary text that follows the subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox -- to pull your reader in. They'll use this to decide whether or not they should open the email, so use it strategically to maximize the selling power of your email content.
You know that the holidays are high-stakes and that email works to reach consumers. Now it's time to make those things work together. Make sure you're using email marketing effectively during the time of year when shoppers are thinking about compiling their holiday wish lists, making purchases and interacting with their favorite brands.
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"Christmas E-Mail" image via iStock.