Festive periods can be the most lucrative in a retailer’s calendar.
With increased sales and deeper customer engagement, there’s a huge wealth of opportunity for those that are savvy. However competition is high, as every other retailer in the market is also doing their best to earn the attention and a share of the consumer’s wallet.
To deliver the best results a solid email marketing strategy is essential to your festive marketing planning. Yes, there are plenty of channels you can pay to drive traffic to your site, but the competitive nature of festive periods will drive up that cost per acquisition whereas your email database is an asset that has a very low cost to drive consumers back to your site.
By applying the following tips, you'll be well on your way to driving the best results for your business.
1. Acknowledging various cultural/religious festive seasons
The “festive period” the time leading up to and including Christmas and New Year. However, this is becoming a rapidly dated concept. As brands, we have to understand the diverse audience we are marketing to, this means to also understand the many festive periods that can help drive engagement and increase sales.
These include Chinese New Year, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Eid – among many others. There are also many other celebrations that can drive audience engagement, such as Halloween, Día de los Muertos, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and more. Understanding your audience and planning accordingly is essential.
Related: In order to be more inclusive outside of your organization, you first need to build a collaborative culture within your organization. Learn all about diversity marketing, how to apply it to your campaigns, and then, download our collaborative culture infographic to help get you on track.
2. Setting objectives
An ancient Chinese philosopher once said “Tactics before strategy, is like the noise before defeat," which is ever true in marketing. Surprisingly, marketing teams fail to understand what their team’s role is in delivering business objectives. Take the time to understand what success looks like for each of the festive dates you are planning. This will enable you to set specific SMART goals and ensure you are using the right metrics to help you get there.
The metrics you should be tracking include all email metrics, site traffic, landing page conversion rate, Average Order Value, Total online sales revenue, repeat customer rate and your customer acquisition costs.
3. Build your database now
Google says that searches for Christmas shopping are the highest in the UK. Despite the volume of shoppers, there are many things working against you around this time: lower margins, increased competition, and much higher advertising costs means focusing on your email assets is incredibly important.
Now is the time to increase your email database and encourage your audience to sign up at as many touch points as possible. Take this time to ask questions of your audience, understand them better, this will allow for much better targeting and segmentation later on.
4. Segmentation and personas
A batch-and-blast approach is a wasted opportunity during the holidays. If you’re unable to deliver targeted and relevant campaigns based on behaviour, then segmentation is a great way to step your toe into personalisation. Segmented and targeted emails generate 50% of all email revenue, so it really is worth the effort. Below are three ways you can segment during the holiday season.
During and on the run up to any festive period it is so important to collect data, as we have just discussed. These potential customers are at the beginning of their lifecycle with you and therefore most probably the most engaged. Setting up a drip campaign focussed around the festive period will help drive the best engagement from this segment.
VIPs are your most loyal customers. During the holiday season, make sure to treat them special by rewarding them for their loyalty, giving them early access to in-stock items and sales before they go live to the public, and anything else to make them feel like their loyalty actually is paying off.
They may only purchase from you around the the festive periods, they may be buying for a friend or family member. Or they may just have moved on to another retailer - buy sending them campaigns using emotive language like “really miss you” or “welcome back” will help drive that extra engagement.
5. Welcome campaigns
The welcome email is the single most engaged email campaign. During the festive period, especially in the run up to Christmas tailoring your welcome email can add another depth of relevancy and can improve results significantly. Introducing your brand relative to the specific needs your audience may have over Christmas will help your brand stay front of mind during this period. Creating a series of emails is even more powerful and can nudge your audience to spend more.
Ninety-three percent of e-commerce companies see an uplift in conversion rates from using personalization. The key to your email marketing strategy is to deliver relevant messages at the right time and the best way to do this is based your audience behavior. This recreates the one-to-one experience a customer would get if they were served in-store. There are many ways you can personalize, which will be discussed later.
7. Cart abandonment
On an average day, 69% of people abandon their online shopping carts, and during Black Friday, that increases to 75%. Although there are a number of reasons for cart abandonment, during the holiday season, competition is elevated, making it more difficult for your brand to stand out over the competition.
Your audience may be looking at several providers to make the same purchase, therefore it is essential that you invest in technology that allows you to recover this lost revenue. Some brands can double their online sales just by implementing a cart abandonment program.
8. Social proof
Online reviews have been shown to impact 68% of purchasing decisions, and 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend, i.e. word-of-mouth marketing. Using social proof in email marketing can make a huge impact on how well your campaigns perform.
Social proof also goes beyond reviews; it can include live updates on how many items have just sold, crowdsourced bestsellers and availability updates. Don’t wait for your audience to click through to your site to show these numbers – integrate them into your email marketing creative, too.
9. Get creative
Getting creative with your campaigns can help you get noticed in the inbox. Take a look at your offers last year, which were the most successful? Can you do better this year? Add in countdown timers, dynamic images that change according to location or weather – try a horizontal scroll instead of vertical, or experiment with AMP for email. This is the time your emails need to shine.
10. Post-holiday relationships
Remember to continue the love post-holiday times. Email marketing is a great way for you to continue the conversation and build long lasting relationships. But also remember that purchase fatigue may set in; be a useful brand. Send how-to guides and extra content that relates to your business, rewards your audience, and just says thank you for your business. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can help build customer loyalty in the long run.
Want more tips on building out your email marketing strategy? Check out our resource hub for email marketing – filled with over 25 useful resources to help you hone your strategy!
Komal leads the Pure360 marketing team, focusing on market positioning, market growth strategies, and customer lifecycle marketing. Komal has worked with some of the world's leading brands including HSBC, Carphone Warehouse, Black & Decker, and First Direct, helping them get the best results from their email and digital marketing. She sits on the DMA Email Council, the Chair of the Learning & Communications Hub and an awards judge including the DMA Awards & E-Commerce Awards.