7 Key Ways to Improve Your Holiday Email Campaigns

In a NewsLever feature last year, we shared 10 holiday email-marketing tips. This year, we update that list with seven key ways to help you improve and optimize your email campaigns during the holidays and all year long.

The 2011 holiday season was a strong one with overall sales increasing by 11% compared to 2010, according to Epsilon’s 2012 Holiday Trend Report. With the expectation that this growth trend will continue in 2012, we offer the following strategies, based on recent research and trends, to help email marketers stand out among the competition, drive more sales during the holiday season, and finish strong in 2012:

  1. Run a reengagement campaign now to get more subscribers interacting with your emails. What percentage of your email list are inactive subscribers — those who haven’t opened an email in 6 months or more? Just before the holiday season kicks into high gear is an ideal time to reestablish a connection with subscribers who were once actively interested in your products. So send them a special offer, such as a strong discount, new product samples, or free gift with purchase. In addition to helping keep your company top of mind during this busy season, an incentive offer may be just what’s needed to get inactive subscribers back among the actives on your email list in time for the holidays.
  2. Segment your emails. Rather than sending a single email blast to your entire list, use what information you have on customers, including demographics and purchase histories, to create and send emails that are likely to engage and motivate conversion. For example, if customers have purchased clothing for teenage boys in the past, sending offers for toddler clothing isn’t likely to capture their interest. Leveraging what information you have about subscribers and segmenting your email list accordingly will help you determine the best offers that will generate the best results for your marketing efforts.
  3. Take advantage of cart-abandonment recovery. As we discussed in a previous blog, cart-abandonment recovery provides a huge opportunity for increasing email-marketing return on investment. Essentially, cart-abandonment recovery involves setting up a trigger or drip campaign to be automatically sent to people who have started an online shopping cart, but never completed their purchases. The series of trigger email messages typically contain increasingly aggressive incentives to encourage users to return and complete their purchase. Considering that an estimated 60% to 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned, the potential income recovery is especially great during the high-volume holiday season. According to a recent Forbes article, the shopping-cart abandonment rate hit an all-time high of 89.2% on November 23 last year. In the same article, the author estimates that marketers can recover an estimated 10% to 30% of their abandoned shopping carts by using a sequence of follow-up emails to remind abandoners that they still have items left in their carts.
  4. Optimize your landing pages. Conversion is the final step in the sales funnel and typically relies on the landing page in email campaigns. That’s why having dedicated and optimized landing pages is so important, especially during the busy holiday season. If prospects and customers click through from your promotional emails to a site that is difficult to read and navigate, they’re likely to get frustrated and move on without converting. So work with your copywriters and designers to ensure the copy, design, headlines, calls to action, etc., are all working together to maximize your email conversion rates. For tips about how to optimize your landing pages, check out this previously published NewsLever feature.
  5. Test and evaluate subject-line performance early in the season. In their Holiday Email Marketing Guide, WhatCounts took a look at the click-to-open rate for the 2011 holiday season to determine if marketers got the open, how many of their users took action. Based on their findings, WhatCounts concluded that open rates drove email marketing in 2011 and marketers who “get the open, get the business.”What words resonate with your target audience to drive open rates? Epsilon found that the word “coupon” was used less frequently in 2011 subject lines compared to 2010, but drove high open rates. And though free shipping was often used in subject lines, it wasn’t as effective in driving open rates as in previous years, possibly because free shipping is now a standard offering during the holidays. Will words like “deal,” “new,” and “save” grab your customers’ interest and ultimately lead to more conversions? Test and find out now, so you’re ready to start the season strong.
  6. Integrate social media with your email-marketing efforts. According to the Epsilon report, social media played a major role in early holiday conversions, as customers sought out product reviews and testimonials, especially on Thanksgiving and the day before. So be sure your social media campaigns are up and running early in the season and that they complement your holiday email-marketing offers. Use an application such as North Social, for example, to activate a powerful social media campaign. With its user-friendly applications, North Social helps marketers easily create and manage their custom Facebook pages and promotional campaigns.
  7. Analyze last year’s holiday email performance data to help optimize your 2012 campaigns. Competition for retail dollars intensifies during the holiday season. Your customers’ inboxes are flooded with more emails than ever, and you have to try to stand out. For example, finding the best days to send your email messages is one important way to help optimize your open and conversion rates. Epsilon showed that email volume tended to be highest on Wednesdays and Fridays in 2011, while click rates were highest for emails sent on Sunday. Conversions were highest on Wednesday, followed by Saturday. On the other hand, WhatCounts found Thursdays were the best for open rates, while Saturdays came in second.

Although looking at 2011 holiday performance data compiled by these two major email-marketing studies gives you a good idea of the trends, looking at your specific performance data from last year is the best way to:

  • Determine the optimal timing for sending emails (e.g., number of weeks before and after the holidays and days of the week)
  • Identify the most effective segments to target
  • Create subject lines and offers most relevant to your subscriber list.

Getting the best results from a holiday email campaign requires a comprehensive strategy, effective implementation, and continual improvement of a number of components that work together to deliver against your campaign goals. The experts at FulcrumTech can help you improve and optimize your organization’s email campaigns during the holidays and year round. Email us or give us a call at 215-489-9336 and get started today!

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