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With only a few days to go, the festive season spending frenzy is well underway, but even as we begin to count down the hours there’s still a lot of shopping left before Santa jumps on his sleigh.
With that said, it’s getting a little late for planning any major holiday campaigns. After all, there are often a lot of people in the email production chain, however, it’s not too late to squeeze a little more out of the coming days.
The good news for last-minute marketers is that, as usual, not everyone was prepared to hit the malls and online stores early. There are throngs of late buyers with long gift lists that are still in gift-shopping agony. These procrastinators are either waiting for the best deals or just can’t figure out what the right gifts to get are — so yes, there’s still time relieve them of their commercial misery.
Follow these suggestions to help increase sales during the final week before Christmas:
1. Add a Sparkle to Newsletter Templates
No Christmas email newsletter is complete without the stuff of fairy lights. The Yuletide stretch is a dream opportunity to get the creative eggnog flowing and roll out seasonally themed campaigns. It’’s the perfect time to give emails a bit of a facelift and, as long as one doesn’t go overboard, consider bringing some bling to holiday templates.
Branding combines logos, layout and messaging to provide a simple way for customers to quickly grasp the basic values of any business. A good brand runs ubiquitously through all company communications, so regardless of the occasion it remains important to create an email template that reflects a recognizable image. The challenge here is simply to ensure that the brand is portrayed authentically, while still being festive.
For instance, you can get customers in the Christmas spending mindset by adding a holiday-themed header or gift navigation to emails. Some retailers have had success with animated gifs too, but only when used in moderation and only if it’s appropriate for the type of product or service on offer.
Giving holiday email campaigns an appropriate look and feel for Christmas can also be easy to do without running the cost and waiting time of having a special custom template designed. When production speed is an issue, leading email service providers recommend adding a few of their Christmas themed email embellishments available in their applications to a standard newsletter template.
2. Write Reindeer-stopping Headlines
The volume of commercial messaging increases during the Christmas period and the focus of these tend to narrow to cover similar ground: such as discounts, deals, gifts and charitable giving.
Especially with holiday inboxes so cluttered, whether or not someone opens an email is most likely to be determined by whether or not the subject line catches their eye.
Customers are rammed with promotions every day for months leading up to Christmas from other businesses — including those from competitors. With all the added noise, marketers need to work harder to capture the recipients’ attention.
For shoppers who are looking for the best deals, a subject headline that includes mention of a promotion or discount could be more likely to sway them to click on an email. A good strategy is to let them know before they even open the message that it offers information about discounted 11th-hour purchases, Christmas coupons or special promotional codes.
Think about whether keywords like “40% off” will help grab attention and bring bargains to the forefront for deal-stalkers, or whether their impact might be waning when there’s a lot more of this sort of language doing the rounds. Also think about if it will help to try and evoke emotion with statements like: “Wouldn’t this just be the perfect Christmas gift for Mom?”
Grab email subscribers with the first impression. To cater for those who can’t figure out what to buy for friends and family members; write subject lines that let them know that the email provides gift suggestions or other useful information. Another effective tactic is to personalise subject lines and try to make them funny or relevant to each customer in particular.
As always, before performing a bulk send, conduct A/B split tests with small portions of your database to determine which headlines will deliver the best results.
3. Santa is mobile, are you?
Many people will look for holiday gifts using mobile devices. According to Google, 44% of people will search for last-minute gifts from mobile devices. It’s important, therefore, to make sure all emails are mobile friendly.
In the US, recent data from Pew indicates that 11% of the population owns a tablet, and furthermore, research firm Nielsen has concluded that about 43% of the entire nation already own smartphones. Additionally, smartphone growth can perhaps be well illustrated by Android’s market share alone; which increased from 2.9% to 30.1% between Q2 2010 and Q2 2011, according to Strategy Analytics.
In the US, Mobile commerce sales reached 1.2 billion in 2009, nearly 2 billion in 2010 and it’s expected to grow even further his year.
To capitalise on this trend, we need to design campaigns that are easily readable on smartphones.
Use mobile-friendly templates that are 500 pixels or less in width, keeping images small for mobile users. It’s easier to grab attention quickly by keeping the most important information at the top of the email (since not everyone will take the trouble to scroll down further) and avoid putting links too close together. Consider shortening the overall length of your holiday emails and keep text to a minimum. If you’re sending coupons or discounts, allow subscribers to use them right from their mobile devices when they’re in-store.
4. Record sales and check it twice
Christmas planning in 2012 will be considerably easier if you document processes, successes, failures and insights while the 2011 season is still ongoing.
Make it routine to measure everything, by using professional email marketing software that lets you analyze campaign results during and post-Christmas. If you track your open rates, click rates, deliverability, conversions, sign-ups/unsubscribes and sales figures; you can measure campaign progress from one year to the next and identify any problem areas that need attention.
It also helps when refining a campaign for optimal targeting to have historical information on your readers’ behavior. Measure the emails and links which have generated the most revenue and you’ll know which segment of your customers are buying the most. Once you know this, you can tailor emails according to what has driven past purchases.
5. Keep caring, even after Christmas
People need to be looked after all year round. Even responsive clients can easily become disengaged if little effort is put into the emails following on from a successful Christmas strategy.
While one may be very successful in generating new customers in the run up to Christmas, what about the following year? How is one going to turn these folks into 24/7 365 customers?
The good news is that they have already made the decision to trust you as a supplier, and so, are more likely to be receptive to your messages. But if new sign-ups start getting irrelevant messages after Christmas, they may switch off as viable consumers for good. Here the key principle is to keep speaking to them while always having something of interest to say.
As part of the Christmas strategy, take into consideration other related sales such as New Year’s shopping and plan ahead for other future promotions. Send everyone who makes purchases a special email a few days later to supply recommendations for other up-coming holidays.
There are many ways to stimulate newsletter readers to keep engaging, however, one tactic to avoid the post December 25 slump is to send vouchers to new customers that they can redeem after Christmas.
Finally, the closer it gets to the weekend, the more likely customers are to shop on location instead of online due to the waiting periods associated with deliveries. Take this into account and remind readers about in-store deals.