The holidays can be a stressful time–and with customers starting their holiday shopping earlier than ever before, savvy marketers need to start planning soon to have a strategy that engages and converts.
While you can blast Facebook posts about a Christmas sale in October, that likely won’t do much. This is because holiday email marketing is better at building relationships and driving sales and conversions than social media marketing. In fact, email’s conversion rate is 6.05%, whereas social media’s conversion rate is 1.9%. What’s even more impressive is that the return on investment for email marketing is 4400%.
Below, we discuss how to plan effective email messaging for the holidays and provide tips and tricks that will make the most of your campaigns.
Plan Your Email Messaging for the Holidays
Planning ahead is an important part of a successful marketing strategy. This is especially true when it comes to holiday email marketing. Use tools and apps to simplify your processes and improve your productivity. Some of these tools include HubSpot, Zoho, OptinMonster, and Mailchimp.
HubSpot and Zoho are integrated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms. They help with marketing, making sales, and providing a seamless customer experience. Another great tool is Mailchimp. It helps you analyze data from emails sent and segment your email list (amongst other things). We’ll cover segmenting your email list and a few holiday email examples in a bit.
Planning ahead is an important part of a successful marketing strategy. Don’t miss out on crucial opportunities during the holiday season. Here’s a great place to start:
- What will your send calendar look like?
- How will you segment your list?
- Will the email be optimized for mobile?
Your Send Calendar
In other words, how will you set your holiday email marketing calendar to engage your target audience? Remember, you have to do this at the right time for optimal results.
Your email calendar should include the month, holiday campaign details, your target email list (more on that in the section below), and your subject line, amongst others.
Get organized by creating yours with an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheets. This is a great way to stay up-to-date and collaborate with your colleagues!
How Will You Segment Your List?
The target email list in your send calendar comes from the different groups into which you’ve divided your email subscribers.
When coming up with your holiday email marketing campaign, you can segment your audience into different groups based on age, gender, interests, marital status, and location, for example. By creating these groups of customers with similar attributes and interests, you can leverage this data and send them targeted holiday emails. Take a look at some of these holiday email examples to get an idea of what segmented emails look like.
As we can see from the Leesa® Thanksgiving email, it’s clear that the email was probably sent out to customers who are married and have children.
The National Geographic Black Friday holiday email marketing campaign most likely targeted customers who’ve shown an interest in the DNA Ancestry Kit. These customers may have searched for the product on their website or added the kit to their cart but didn’t purchase it (abandoned the cart). Another way they could have targeted the customer was to see if they read National Geographic’s articles on ancestry and/or DNA kits.
If executed properly, both of these emails most likely attained better response rates and generated revenue.
To segment your list, try carrying out the following strategies:
- Group Your Audience According to Age, Gender, and Location
Once you’ve started with the basics, you can break them down further in your holiday email marketing campaign. Age can be broken down into different age groups (i.e., 18–25, 26–35, and so on). This will allow you to better serve your target demographics by segmenting them.
- Segment Your Customers According to Company Size
Appeal to your business customers according to the size of their organization. Different aspects of your services will attract different organizations. This is crucial to address in all of your emails, not just the holiday ones.
An example of this includes enterprise-level clients vs. small business clients. The former will probably find being informed of your enterprise-level functionality in your holiday email marketing more valuable than a small business. In contrast, the latter will probably need more affordable services that don’t include this type of functionality.
- Group Your Email Subscribers Based on Where They Are in Your Sales Funnel
You want to segment your email list according to where your customer is in your sales funnel. By doing this, you’ll be able to ensure you send the right information and message to the right customer.
Someone who’s just opted into your email for freebies probably isn’t interested in a limited-time sale you’re promoting to someone at the bottom of your holiday email marketing funnel.
Similarly, a customer who is ready to buy a product (convert) is unlikely to find introductory information on a service or product that they have put significant time and effort into researching valuable. Another scenario is if they’ve abandoned the cart. This makes it clear they’re at the bottom of your sales funnel.
For some reason, they didn’t make a purchase. And you want them back. To achieve this, your holiday email marketing plan can include automated abandoned cart emails to remind them that their items are still available for purchase.
- Segment Your Email List According to Behavioral Changes
Keep track of your customers’ behavior and segment them into lists reflecting this.If you notice that a loyal customer purchases from your site at regular intervals and has stopped doing so lately, you may want to send them emails asking them if they have any queries or if they’re still interested in your emails.
You can take your holiday email marketing a bit further and ask them if they’d like to make a purchase, or take the time to introduce a new product or service and ask if they’re interested in learning more about it. This is a great way to retain customers and keep them engaged.
- Group Your Audience by Past Purchases
A great way to segment your email list is by determining your customers’ buying patterns. You can do this by identifying the items they consistently buy and sending them relevant emails based on this.
These should update them on products and/or services they’re interested in and care about. Making effective use of holiday email marketing in this way will help your business maintain high conversion and retention rates this holiday season.
A typical scenario of this is an e-commerce store selling electronics and tech gadgets. If you have a customer that usually purchases phone accessories, they probably won’t be too interested in buying ink cartridges for a printer.
Optimizing your holiday emails for mobile involves making them mobile-friendly for customers. Think short subject lines, using single columns (if text only), and including larger fonts. You also want to add buttons with emphasized calls to action. Incorporating these (and more) into your holiday email marketing campaign can help improve open rates, click-through rates, and sales.
With over 40% of emails opened on mobile devices, optimizing your emails for mobile can help your marketing efforts by engaging and selling to your customers.
Now that we’ve touched on a few examples of how to plan your email messaging for the holidays, let’s take a look at scheduling them.
Schedule Your Holiday Marketing Emails
Make the most of your workflow by automating your holiday email marketing lists according to your various customer personas. Experiment with A/B testing to get the most effective send:
- Automate your flow to make the most of working hours during Q4
- Discover and leverage your most engaged customers
- Create and Send Welcome Emails
Before getting into the nitty gritty of automating your emails, we recommend doing some A/B testing by sending one version of your emails to a subset of your email subscribers and another version to a different group. This will allow you to determine which email from your holiday email marketing campaign performs better (i.e., open rate, click-through rate, and conversions) so you can replicate these results.
Automate Your Flow
Make the best use of your working hours in the last quarter by setting up automatic workflows for abandoned carts. This way, you’ll be more efficient at using your time to re-engage your customers and get them to make a purchase. Take a look at this holiday email example for abandoned carts.
Discover and Leverage Your Most Engaged Customers
Analyze results from your holiday email marketing campaign to uncover which customers are more engaged and who will probably engage with your email. This way, you’ll be able to re-target them and drive more conversions.
Create and Send Welcome Emails
Use automated software to create and send welcome emails to new subscribers. These have higher open rates than other types of emails, at almost 70%. This isn’t the only benefit of welcome emails. Scheduling your holiday email marketing to welcome new users is also a great way to make a good impression with new customers, persuade them to make purchases, and possibly enhance your customer lifetime value (CLV).
This Walmart Christmas email is a great example of a welcome-type holiday email.
Deliver a Sense of Urgency With Your Marketing Emails
Don’t worry about flooding your customers’ inboxes (within reason). Just keep in mind that there is a fine line to walk with holiday email marketing. On one hand, you don’t want to lose out on increasing sales. On the other hand, you don’t want to annoy your customers and have them unsubscribe. Consider sending emails once or twice a week before and during the holiday season as a sweet spot.
That being said, if your emails are engaging, it shouldn’t affect your open rate. Create a sense of urgency by doing any of the following:
- Experiment with countdown timers
- Consider holiday discounts
By adding countdown timers you’re making customers aware that there’s a limited time to make purchases. This sense of urgency can help improve conversion rates and revenue.
Another way is to create a sense of urgency in the holiday email marketing campaign’s subject line. Or entice your customers by mentioning an exclusive offer in the subject line, then providing them with a promo code in the body of the email.
The exclusive offer in the subject line draws customers in and can improve open rates, and the promo code in the email’s body can result in increased click-through rates.
Make the Most of Your Emails
Want to get creative? We share our favorite tips and examples for upping your holiday email marketing strategy. Some aspects and decisions to keep in mind are:
- What will your branding look like?
- Will you use dynamic content in your emails?
- Will you use personalized messaging?
- An SMS component?
- Tie in your customer loyalty program?
This involves establishing how you’ll design your holiday emails. Will you use holiday-themed colors with your brand, like green and red, for Christmas? It’s important to keep your branding consistent across all platforms, including email.
You can achieve this by maintaining your brand voice, logo, and graphics and adapting them to the holiday theme.
- Using Dynamic Content
Dynamic content in email involves personalizing different aspects of emails in your holiday email marketing campaign according to the recipient. This helps you provide a more tailored experience for your customers. For example, you could send email updates on their order shipping details.
- Personalized Messaging
A great way to improve your email strategy is to offer your customers personalized experiences. Stick to a friendly approach by greeting them with a “Hello” and mentioning their names.
- Including an SMS Component
Similar to dynamic content in holiday email marketing where shipping details are sent to customers, you can include an SMS component where you send SMSs to inform customers that their order is out for delivery or remind them of your holiday sale.
- Tying In Your Customer Loyalty Program
In addition to enticing customers with discounts, your loyalty program can incentivize customers to buy products. It also helps to retain customers, which is more affordable than attracting new customers.
Once you’ve implemented these tips to up your email marketing strategy, you can look at ways of gathering customer feedback and improving your strategy.
Gather Customer Feedback and Use It to Improve Your Strategy
Never forget to consider the most important sources of feedback- your customers!
There are different ways to figure out what they like and dislike about your products, services, or emails. Here are some methods you can use to gauge feedback:
- A/B Test and Surveys
After implementing a/b testing in your holiday email marketing campaign, you can add surveys to obtain feedback from your customers. Use the results to understand what your customers thought about these two emails and how to improve them.
- Customer Focus Group
You can set up virtual focus groups with a sample of your customers that interacted with your holiday email campaign to learn about their perspectives and desires as consumers. This way, you’ll be able to glean insights that can help you make better marketing decisions for your next holiday email marketing campaign.
- Stay AGILE
Maintain your marketing’s strategic vision while staying current with trends. This entails figuring out how to manage and enhance your marketing processes. You can achieve this by making incremental improvements using continuous feedback from clients.
Following the above email strategies and examples for the holidays and throughout the year will help you improve your marketing strategy by understanding what matters most to your customers. This information is crucial in making the most impactful decisions about the direction of your campaign.
Succeed by Sending Your Emails Early and Often This Holiday Season
The holidays are a wonderful time to increase brand recognition, attract new customers, and generate more revenue for your company. Take your holiday email marketing to the next level by reaching out to the professionals at Coalition Technologies for all your marketing needs.