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Write Successful Holiday Marketing Emails

Write Successful Holiday Marketing Emails

By Megan CombsNov 21 /2019

It’s the holiday season, which means my inbox is filled with emails on emails all brimming with special offers. In the last two days, I’ve received close to 80 promotional emails and maybe five personal ones.

How many promotional emails have I opened? Maybe 5. Why? Because I’m just not interested. If I’m a marketer and I’m not checking my emails, then who is? It’s a question we should all be asking this holiday season.

Retailers send an estimated 95 million emails on Thanksgiving, 116.5 million on Black Friday and 106 million on Cyber Monday. These numbers don’t even include the millions of other emails that go out before Hanukkah or Christmas.

The big question here is how the heck do you stand out in all that noise?

4 Elements of a Successful Holiday Email Marketing Campaign

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday retail sales during November and December will increase between 3.8% and 4.2% over 2018 sales. That means shoppers are spending between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. Here are four ways to help your holiday offers stand out.

1. Write a Subject Line That Stands Out

Holiday e-commerce spending in 2019 will rise by 13.2%, which is more than three times the rate of total retail spending growth, according to eMarketer, and most of that shopping will be done via a mobile device. Experts predict the busiest shopping periods will be between Black Friday and “Cyber Tuesday.”

With these stats in mind, make sure you’re writing subject lines that read easily on mobile, meaning get your point across quickly and succinctly. Speak directly to your audience using their own language, and don’t be afraid to A/B test subject lines for different audience segments. For example, a man may not care about a sweater being cozy and sexy, but a woman probably will.

Here are a few examples from my personal inbox that led me to at least open the email.

  • The cure for cold feet ★Alpaca socks (Old Farmer’s Almanac)
  • Sleigh the holidays with savings on gifts + more (Shutterfly)
  • Your pup will really dig this (Pet Supplies Plus)
  • It’s time for the annual meowy holidays box 😻🎄 (CatLadyBox)

It may be a good idea to go back and look at last year’s emails to see how they performed. Maybe your puns fell flat or landed in the wrong audience segment’s inbox. Or maybe you had a really successful email you can replicate to this year’s product or services.

2. Provide a Fantastic Offer

Holiday sale offers can also accompany your subject line, but if they don’t, make sure the deal is clear as soon as someone opens the email. Not sure what to offer? Do a competitor analysis to see what they’ve done/offered in the past. Many people believe online shopping leads to better deals, so give them what they’re looking for. Rather than subscribing to all the email newsletters, tools like Milled or MailCharts (search engines for email newsletters) can offer a look back at your competitors’ past promotional strategies.

Take a look at previous offers you’ve run during other times of the year and see if different offers lead to more conversion rates. For example, did a “$ off” promotion perform better than a “% off”?

Most importantly, don’t give away the farm before the two biggest shopping days arrive (Black Friday and Cyber Monday). You want the discount offered on those two days to feel exclusive, urgent, and like something your customers have been waiting for all year. For example, amusement park Cedar Point had a limited-time offer to buy a one-day ticket at a discounted rate, plus get a Fast Lane pass for free. The front-of-the-line tickets typically cost as much as $100 or more in addition to regular park admission.

3. Add a Personal Touch

Accenture found that 91% of customers prefer brands that offer personalization, and marketers have reported a 17% increase in revenue when using personalization in their emails. Personalized emails target specific subscribers by leveraging previously collected data and information. Relevant information includes consumers’ names, the last products they bought, where they live, how many times they log into an app, and more.

Be sincere when communicating with your audience. Make them feel like a VIP and not just another person who buys your product. Consider ways you can be even more helpful to your audience. Can you offer reading recommendations? Tips for cooking? A gift guide? The more value added, the better your customers will respond.

4. Include a Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)

It’s OK to offer several CTAs, but CTA best practices note you get the best results when you keep it simple. Tell readers exactly what you want them to do and provide a clear path — don’t overwhelm them with 26 different places to click. CTAs should be brief (no more than five words), action-oriented and designed to stand out.

A few more tips before you send those holiday emails:

  • Proofread. Typos hurt your credibility.
  • Get the timing right. The best time to send your holiday emails varies by industry, the day of the week and the time of year. With a marketing automation system, use A/B testing to determine when your audience is more likely to open your emails and adjust the timing accordingly. You may be tracking this information already, or you can start A/B testing with emails you plan to send before the holidays strike.
  • Have a plan to follow up. Make the most of the emails you send by planning a follow-up offer to those who respond and scheduling a reminder email to those who don’t.
  • Up your mailing cadence. In general, people expect to receive more promotional emails during the holidays, so if you only email once or twice a week, consider upping it slightly to stay top-of-mind. In the same vein, use audience segmentation to avoid exhausting your full email list.

Make holiday shopping a breeze

You can stand out from the crowd this holiday season with fantastic subject lines, unbeatable offers, personal touches and clear CTAs. Think like a person, not like a brand and you can help your customers have a great holiday season.Email Marketing Strategies in Content & Design for 2017

Megan Combs
The Author

Megan Combs

With a background in magazine journalism, Megan channels her love of the English language and grammar into her writing and editing. Before joining Kuno Creative, Megan was a top content marketer at a leading healthcare media company, where she helped clients translate their brand promises into strategic digital and social media messages.
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