The Holiday Prep That Email Marketers Should Be Doing Now
Are you planning your holiday email campaigns for the coming season? If not, start now for success on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Last year, sales on Cyber Monday reached $2.29 billion, according to Adobe, demonstrating an increase of 16 percent year-over-year.
The holidays present a massive opportunity for email marketers, and if you haven’t already started planning your email marketing campaigns, it’s time to get moving!
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, it’s crucial that marketers develop a robust strategy to stay competitive and reach a broad range of customers, both old and new. So what should email marketers be doing now to prep for the holidays?
Do Your Research
Having a strong understanding of your existing customers as well as of the new customers that you want to reach is incredibly important in developing a successful holiday email marketing campaign. With that in mind, you must do your homework.
For example, Black Friday might not seem as important to email marketers as Cyber Monday, but a survey of Black Friday shoppers conducted by Wanderful Media last year found that 82 percent wanted to receive email updates on Black Friday sales, and 58 percent wanted to receive updates via mobile (I’ll touch more on mobile shortly).
There is a lot of valuable research available for holiday marketers and it’s up to you to use this information strategically to determine which approaches make the most sense for your business and for your customers.
Develop Strong Subject Lines
Although shoppers are motivated primarily by deals, especially during the holidays when shopping budgets are spread thin, there’s no hard or fast rule that states a discount or free shipping offer is the ideal subject line.
The idea behind crafting a catchy subject line is to distinguish your mail from that of the competition. The most effective subject lines will not only appeal to the wallet but also to the emotion a shopper might have a for a brand.
Unfortunately, there’s no absolute rule for subject lines, only general guidelines. Repeating the word “free” isn’t good, and having multiple dollar signs comes off as spammy.
At the end of the day, brands and marketers should consider not only testing their subject lines in popular mail providers and clients for deliverability before launching a campaign, but also split testing the subject lines with random sets of recipients to help narrow down the effectiveness of the subject line.
Prepare For High Volume Sending In A Short Time Frame
Timing is critical for email marketers, especially since Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns mean reaching out to a very high volume of customers within a very short time frame.
For example, a company might need to get an email out to a list of 10 million customers about a 4-hour sale effective immediately. It’s critical that all of those emails get out as soon as possible to provide shoppers the biggest window of time to buy.
We’ve all seen news stories about e-commerce sites crashing under huge surges of traffic around the holidays, but email infrastructure can experience major strains too. That said, is your email infrastructure equipped to handle this level of sending? Having your emails straggle into people’s email boxes after the sale is over will not win you any friends.
You can avoid overburdening your systems by thoroughly preparing in advance. If you’re working with an Email Service Provider, inquire about what kinds of plans they have in place to carry heavy email loads during the holidays.
If you have in-house email infrastructure, make sure to touch base with your operations and IT departments to address any concerns or potential challenges with regards to timing and sending volumes.
Get Access To Analytics In Real-Time
With so many different kinds of email systems available, marketers don’t always have the best insight into actual, real-time delivery data. What’s worse is that many marketers assume once they’ve hit “send” on a campaign, all of their messages will be delivered within minutes.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. This is especially an issue for marketers using content management systems to dynamically generate creative, because they likely aren’t getting the proper data to know whether messages are going out in a timely fashion.
Without access to real-time delivery data, your emails could get backed up in queues within email delivery servers and linger for extended periods of time, hours even, and you wouldn’t know it.
If you’re running time-sensitive deals or offers, it’s critical to know that your emails are getting to the inbox when shoppers are most likely to act. This is why it’s so important to get access to real-time data and analytics so that you can properly monitor your email marketing campaigns and readjust quickly if something goes awry.
Don’t Overlook Mobile
As I highlighted earlier in this post, more than half of holiday shoppers want to receive updates via mobile. In this day and age, it is critical that your email marketing campaigns are optimized for mobile.
Today’s mobile shoppers are location-aware shoppers. For non-e-commerce retailers in particular, those who can get deals or offers to shoppers near their locations have a great opportunity to increase foot traffic.
My company, Message Systems, commissioned a survey from Harris Poll earlier this year that found 72 percent of customer messaging decision makers say that their company currently uses location-based mobile strategies or plans to use them in the next 12 months. There’s a reason this number is so high – location-based messaging really works. If you haven’t already devised a strategy around mobile, now is the time to start testing it out!
When done correctly, email marketing campaigns around Black Friday and Cyber Monday can have a tremendous impact. Make sure to set yourself and your team up for success by conducting thorough preparations in advance of the holidays.