Email marketing is the most important vehicle for reaching new and existing customers during the holiday season. Businesses can utilize holiday-email-marketing campaigns as a way to showcase new products, introduce new promotions and re-engage customers that haven’t shopped in a while.
With the “holiday season” kicking off earlier and earlier every year, if executed effectively, these handful of weeks can deliver massive financial gains. If managed poorly, however, brands are certain to see their efforts translated into lost customers and lost opportunities.
In fact, it is predicted that click-through rates for emails sent during the five-day shopping period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday will be 10 percent higher than the same period last year. With ever-evolving spam traps and increasingly clogged inboxes, businesses should consider the following tips for what it can and should do to improve the odds of its holiday emails being opened and clicked on.
1. Segment your holiday-email marketing lists
Segmentation of holiday-email marketing is vital to the success of your campaign. Think about location in regards to where certain holidays are celebrated and segment your mail accordingly. As a simple example, don’t send Thanksgiving-centric emails to customers outside of the U.S. You should also segment your list by age.
If an email address has been on your mailing list for more than a year, and there has been no engagement, don’t email them. Set policy throughout the year that if a recipient does not engage a certain number of times a year you will stop emailing them.
2. Maximize seasonal subscribers
Pay special attention to recipients who engage consistently over the holidays. If they make a purchase, become active in a certain group, buy holiday cards or listen to more music (whatever your business model is), make sure you’re interacting with them in response to their activity to keep them engaged in your deals and offers.
3. Avoid the spam list
All the discounts, sales, special offers and product launches are exciting. Unfortunately, the deluge of emails can be overwhelming for consumers.
Don’t be shy about making the unsubscribe button more prominent during the holidays. If a consumer has to look for the unsubscribe button, they can easily find the spam button. An unsubscribe isn’t the worst thing that could happen to your email list -- a spam complaint is much worse.
If you don’t feel comfortable making the unsubscribe button more prominent, offer recipients a chance to “down-subscribe” or opt out of your holiday emails in your preference center. This removes recipients from the extra emails during the holidays rather than unsubscribing all together. Come January, these recipients may be happy to hear from you again.
4. Test holiday-email campaigns
Watch your email engagement when you increase your sending frequency during the holidays. If your unsubscribe rate grows and your click-through rates decrease, it’s clear your campaign is not being well received.
A/B testing is a way to measure the success of your holiday-email-marketing campaign. Create two or three different email campaigns and send them out to segmented groups. Based on click-through rate and engagement, pick the campaign with the best reaction as the winner for your big holiday-email blast.
5. Stay consistent
Being creative and playing with your content during the holidays is a great idea. But straying too far from your fundamental brand (from address, logo, etc.) can be a dangerous game. Your recipients need to be able to recognize you during this busy time of year. Don’t lose your brand’s identity for the sake of cheerful holiday designs and ideas.
6. Don’t build from external sources or across business channels
Build holiday email lists organically and verify you have permission to email customers on your list. Just because it’s the holidays, don’t scrape the bottom of your list for more email addresses because it can cause more damage than it’s worth. Along this same vein, don’t share lists across business channels. For example, if you own shoes.com and bags.com, don’t send a shoes.com holiday email to your bags.com list.
The overarching strategy of your holiday-email-marketing campaigns should be to use caution, pay attention to metrics, send holiday mail to people who subscribed to your list and don’t increase sending frequency just because it’s the holidays.
A mistake this time of year could have you cleaning up your reputation long after the holidays are over.