Rise Above the Holiday Email Marketing Mayhem

October 2015

With a sea of holiday deals and end-of-year promotions surrounding them, customers and prospects are turning to their inboxes to help navigate their way through purchases more than ever before.

Black Friday heralds the arrival of holiday deal season, and gone are the days of needing to bust down doors to take advantage. Last year, email marketing was the largest driver of online sales during the holiday shopping kickoff. Email accounted for 27.3% of online sales on Black Friday, 23.9% on Cyber Monday, and 23.1% during the Thanksgiving weekend overall. In the lead-up to Black Friday, Time Warner Cable Small Business has put together a series of informative tips to help businesses take advantage of every sales opportunity the season brings.

Business owners and marketers have become wise to this trend. Seventy-three percent of marketers say email is core to their strategy. During the rush of the holidays, the strategy is implemented with intense fervor.

With so many marketers leveraging the power of email to attract potential customers, prospects’ inboxes are quickly flooded with holiday emails and offers that make it hard for your message to stand out from the pack. It is crucial for small businesses to take a smart, creative approach to their holiday email marketing. Here are a few ways to do so. 

Less is More

With a small window in which to capture customers’ attention, you want to make your subject line clear, short and engaging. This may be a case of “Easy for you to say,” but there are some basic rules of thumb every marketer should follow. According to a report by Marketing Sherpa, the subject line length is between 40 and 50 characters. Readers are scanning fast through their inboxes and any subject stretching longer than that (or longer than their email platform can display) is likely to get trashed. Also keep in mind that mobile devices can be even more limiting. For example, the Galaxy S4 displays a maximum of 33 characters and the iPhone displays 35.

Other subject line tactics that work well for catching attention are to write in the form of a question (“Is This the Perfect Xmas Gift?”) or include a deadline (“Sale Ends December 15”). The email marketing platform service Constant Contact offers effective tips on creating an engaging subject line that contains a call-to-action.

This “less is more” approach also applies to the frequency of the emails being sent. There is often a negative correlation between frequency and engagement when it comes to email marketing. Meaning, the more frequently you send emails, the less people will engage with your campaign. Sending holiday promotion emails more than once a week can significantly lower reader engagement.

If you shoot out several blasts a week, they will at best start getting deleted or ignored by recipients, and at worst could be viewed as spam, from which customers and prospects will unsubscribe. 

Make An Offer

Holiday deals continue to be one of the safest bets when it comes to messages that make an impact with customers. Whether offering discounts, 2-for-1 specials, or a free gift with purchase, these sorts of offers will catch a customer’s eye. This doesn’t require steep discounts or pricey gifts, just something that offers a little extra value. Whatever you offer, ensure that it is consistent with your brand and the services and products you are hoping will appeal to prospects.

Email segmentation and personalization are essential to differentiating your emails from those of your competitors. Offers should be targeted to particular groups of prospective customers. Vary your email messaging to showcase different types of merchandise, based on the age, gender and interests of the subscribers. Before you settle on your email marketing strategy for this season, investigate all the options available from your email marketing platform and find out how you can extract and leverage differentiating data from your mailing list. 

Land Customers for the Long Haul

The holidays are the time to bring your marketing A-game. While tracking the performance of particular offers, subject lines and other elements of your email campaigns are always valuable, during the holidays you have a limited amount of time to attract prospective customers, so it’s not a period for trial and error.

Instead, focus on the future: How can you turn the prospects you attract with holiday offers into regular customers throughout the year? Send a thank-you email to those you convert to a sale and encourage them to sign up for your company’s loyalty program (if you have one) or ask them for feedback about their experience. The holidays should be a time to pull in significant revenue, but also a time to land customers who will want to continue patronizing your business for the other 11 months of the year.



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