12 Email Tips for Holiday Marketing
Calvert Creative recently partnered with Shop Local Raleigh to present creative ideas to help businesses jump start their holiday marketing (read more about this event). Local experts shared their knowledge about SEO, paid search, landing pages, social media, email marketing, direct mail, and networking. They discussed how these tools and assets could be used effectively in holiday marketing campaigns, as well as how to begin strategically planning for these campaigns. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share the tips presented at this event. We’ll begin with Alex Ford‘s email marketing tips.
Wait…holiday marketing?! But we just celebrated Labor Day…isn’t this a bit too early to be thinking about marketing for the holidays? Do you really need to be playing “Jingle Bell Rock” while you’re in your tshirt and shorts?
You don’t necessarily need to be sending out those Christmas cards and Black Friday specials in September, but now is a great time to start planning and prepping for your holiday marketing campaigns. Other businesses are ramping up their email marketing efforts, especially during the holidays. Your competitors are more than likely sending messages to your potential customers, and now is the time to get ahead of the game.
Here are 12 Email Marketing Tips you can utilize now to help you stay ahead of the holiday curve and get ahead of the competition:
1. Look Back.
Take a look at your email marketing efforts from last year. What worked well for you, and what wasn’t as successful? Which subject lines produced the highest open rates? Which product or service page links received the most clicks and conversions? Which day of the week was the best to send? Looking at last year’s trends can help you prepare for the year to come. Revise and evolve.
2. Plan Ahead.
Use the time you have now to plan out your email distribution schedule. It sounds crazy, but it may take a few weeks to prepare a good marketing campaign for a 1-day holiday. Know when you plan to send a certain email, and schedule dates to write and review the copy, create and review the design elements, and test for usability. Know the important upcoming dates such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and plan the emails accordingly.
3. Segment Your Lists.
Use the data that you’ve collected from your customers and clients to your advantage. Separate the contacts that you met at last month’s tradeshow from the customers that just recently purchased a product or service from your company. Having more specific segmented lists and sending those contacts more specific content tailored to their interests and buying habits increases the likelihood that they will open your email and buy from you again.
4. Offer Member Exclusives.
Give your customers and clients exclusive deals that aren’t available through your website or marketing materials. This will help to increase your open and click-through rates, and helps make the reader feel that they’ve received something unique. Make these offers usable more than once and recipients may forward them along to friends and family or share your email on social media networks. Making these offers exclusive places more value on other emails that you may send them in the future, and decreases the likelihood that they will unsubscribe.
The more successful email campaigns are sent from individuals from within companies, not company names. This helps put a face to the company, and allows you to take a more conversational tone with the email rather than the traditional “Buy Now!” sales approach. Putting a photo with the name at the end of the email, along with your personal contact info, helps add to the personal touch.
If you’ve done a good job collecting info from your contacts and segmenting your lists, you’ll be able to personalize your emails even more. Consider merging info within your emails. For example, add a personal greeting (ie. “Hi David,”) and include custom info that would only apply to that specific contact (ie. “Last month you purchased the medium blue polo shirt, and we recommend this item…”). This approach makes for less of a mass email feel, and creates a more personalized and connected touch with your customers, clients, and partners, increasing your open and click-through rates, and increasing the likelihood of more sales.
6. Make It Time Sensitive.
Setting a time limit on your offer and promotions encourages your customers to make a move right that second instead of saying, “I’ll get to that later.” If you’re offering free shipping, make the expiration date of the promotion prominent in the email. Words such as “Only good through the weekend”, “Offer ends at midnight!”, “Only 4 hours left in this sale!” will prompt more opens and more clicks. We live in the last-minute, and offering time constraints will help move your customers and clients towards a purchase much faster.
7. Create a Series of “Daily Deals” and Gift Packages.
Sometimes it takes more than one email to convince your reader to buy. When you’re planning your holiday email campaign, consider creating a series of daily deals that lead up to the big holiday. Promoting a big discount or limited time offer on a daily basis can increase your subscriber engagement by creating a sense of anticipation for the daily reveal. This gives subscribers something to look forward to, and gives you a chance to highlight all of your different products and services over the course of several weeks. Folks love buying gift sets for their friends and family, and it helps when you have already organized your line of products or services into a one single packaged deal. Give a discount with the package, and be creative with how you combine the products or services.
This doesn’t mean that you should send an email every day from now until Christmas, but be creative in your emails scheduling, and make your email campaign work together as a series. This allows for an intentional multi-day communication approach, giving you a reason to reach out to your customers several times during the course of a week or month.
8. Leverage Reviews and Your Social Networks
Promoting fantastic offers or the amazing qualities of a product can influence a shopper to buy, but the increasing influence of social networking can’t be ignored. During the season when nearly every brand is offering free shipping and a steep discount, introduce a human and social element to your email communications by leveraging product ratings and reviews. Customer and client testimonials are gold, and the less time you have to toot your own horn, the better. Don’t just place your Facebook and Twitter icon on the side of your emails, integrate your social accounts and encourage your customers to leave their own reviews and engage with your brand online. Tell them to ask questions, and be prepared to respond to all of your wall posts and tweets.
9. Add a Compelling Subject Line.
Our attention spans are decreasing by the minute, and our inboxes are quadrupling in size, which means that you may only have a brief second to convince your customers to open your latest email. Be creative in your subject lines, don’t just go with “Special Holiday Promotion!” Be direct and specific about what’s inside. If you’re offering free shipping, say it up front!
Keywords such as “Free,” “Coupon,” and “Ends Soon” will prompt more opens. Funny and controversial lines work well too, so push the limit! Just be sure to test and compare your results so you’ll know what to use in the future.
10. Create a Strong Call-To-Action
Be sure that your call-to-action (what you want your customer to do with the email, such as “Purchase Now” or “Click to Learn More”) is prominent within the email. Make the button large and a different color. Less is more. Don’t include 10 different calls-to-action, but instead push them to buy your featured product or service package.
Don’t make your customer have to search for what they’re supposed to do with this email, put it front and center! The easier and quicker it is to click and purchase your products and services, the more likely you’ll generate a sale.
11. Follow Up, and Give.
Plan to send a follow up email or two after the holiday madness. Thank them for being a loyal customer, and let them know you appreciate their business and hope to see them again soon.
Remember, this is the season of giving. Don’t just sell and promote your business in every email that you send, otherwise you’ll have more unsubscribes that you can handle. Give your customers and clients something of value, and make it available for free. This could be tips and insider secrets, a whitepaper or e-book, or a free product if they come to your store and mention the email.
12. Test. Monitor. Refine.
The above tips and ideas can be helpful, but they won’t be worth much if you’re not analyzing your results. If you’re getting poor open rates, test different subject lines and delivery times. Maybe distributing emails on weekends or early mornings work better for you. Poor click-through rates? Try adding multiple links, or changing the style and size of your call-to-action buttons. The point is to not just send emails, cross your fingers, and hope that they perform. Analyze the results to see what’s working and not working for you, then make the appropriate revisions and continue to improve.
It may still be 90 degrees outside, and we may have just gotten through Labor Day, but now is the perfect time to be planning for your holiday marketing campaigns. The above 12 email marketing tips are just a start…what suggestions do you have? What has worked for you? We want to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment or question below.
If you have any questions, or need help with your holiday marketing strategy, contact Calvert Creative today.