As the weather starts to get colder outside, the holiday email marketing push begins…
Your customers’ inboxes will be flooded with deals and steals, coupons and CTAs, fancy subject lines, and cute pictures of babies wearing tiny Santa hats.
As an email marketer, you need to be able to stay preeminent in your customers’ minds, but how do you break through all the clutter?
Lo and behold, I present you with the Ultimate Holiday Email Guide for 2015.
From our list of retail emails, I sifted through hundreds (maybe even thousands) of emails to find ones that broke through the clutter and absolutely dominated the holiday email marketing push.
So without further ado, let’s jump right in…
Step 1: Dominate Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is the first holiday to roll around and email-marketing campaigns need to be created right now to stay preeminent in the mind of your customers.
|Holiday Email Tip #1: Some retailers will start their holiday email campaigns as early as the second week of October, but the big marketing push tends to happen in the beginning of November.|
Begin by telling your customers about all the amazing deals coming out.
This Cyber Monday event is not just any ordinary coupon; it’s your BIGGEST SALE EVER.
Most retailers will extend their Cyber Monday anywhere from one day to a whole week. If you plan on doing this, you better be sure to let your customers know!
|Last Minute Holiday Opportunity #1: If you have the technology, catch browse and cart abandonment data during Cyber Monday for laser targeted marketing campaigns during the winter holidays.|
Step 2: Early Bird and VIP Marketing Campaigns
I’m one of the lowliest and worst procrastinators when it comes to holiday shopping (stores are still open on Christmas Eve right?) but it’s still a good idea to reward your best customers and those starting their shopping much earlier than most.
Here’s an example of an Early Bird email:
Similarly, don’t forget to reward your best customers with some good old-fashioned VIP love.
Another way to reward your best clients is by giving them early access to sales, or sneak peaks into upcoming deals.
Here’s four examples of VIP emails that absolutely are crushing it:
Step 3: Hit Record High Open Rates with Epic Subject Lines and Headlines
When it comes to start crafting our holiday emails, it all begins with perfectly constructed Subject Lines and Headlines for your email.
I’m not going to lie, 90% of retailers will use the same boring cookie cutter subject lines. For example…
Save 50% on xyz product!
25% off of everything!
Free shipping from now until [insert random date]
To write effective subject lines, you need to provide some extra value to your customer that no other retailer can provide.
Here’s a few ideas to spicing up subject lines:
Add an imminent deadline to the promotion.
Subject Line: 20% off? Expires in 3, 2, 1…
Make it easy for your customer to understand what they’re getting out of their email.
As a male, it is one of my biggest challenges finding gifts for my female friends and family members, making this headline very effective for a male audience:
A little bit of humor can be extremely effective for getting people to click through.
Cabela’s Subject Line: We’re Practically Giving Money Away
|Holiday Email Tip #2: When writing effective email subject lines and headlines, stay away from generic headlines like “35% off from now until Christmas!” Instead add humor, an imminent deadline, or create emails that target a very specific audience in mind, rather than batch and blast.|
Step 4: High Quality Design Causes Click Rates to Soar
Designing high quality emails is not easy, but luckily for us, there are some common tactics, tips, and strategies that non-designers can employ to create some very high quality emails that keep customers engaged.
1) Start your emails using a powerful image, refined headline, and strong CTA.
The combination of these three parts of your opening image is what makes or breaks click through rates, so making sure all three are as refined as possible is essential.
Here are some examples:
This email opts for very large text and a stronger headline to draw customers in. It follows up with a simple CTA.
These next few emails focus on the imagery.
What makes them effective is that all three images show desires. They are images of items, objects, and products that their customers can purchase.
People love cuteness. Just going to put that out there…
2) If you’re going to use long copy, make sure to do it after the image, headline and CTA.
The short copy will draw your customers in; the long copy will engage them further.
If you’re wondering about promotions and how to implement those into this email format, just keep reading…
|Holiday Email Tip #3: Begin your email with a strong headline, a powerful and meaningful background image that shows off your product, and finish with a very clear and obvious CTA.|
Step 5: How to Effectively Include Promotions in your Emails
Implementing promotions in the above design method is very simple and there are two main ways to do so.
1) Incorporate the promotion in your headline.
Be very careful when incorporating the promotion into your headline you don’t clutter the image. What makes the short copy so powerful is that there isn’t a lot of text.
Here’s a couple examples that blends the two concepts perfectly:
The second option to adding promotions into your headlines is…
2) Put the promotion after the opening image
The one warning about this method is nothing tends to stand out. Instead, what you end up seeing is simply a ton of promotions. If that’s your desired goal, then go for it.
On a side note, promotions are very important part of holiday sales, but they are also very expected and don’t set you apart from your competitors. Perhaps try throwing some twists into the mix…
Free monograms, or free additional bundled products are also very effective holiday bonuses.
Step 6: Guides and Recommendations
Sending emails with catchy headlines and some of your promotions is just one form of a great holiday email you can send.
A second, and very common, type of holiday email is a gift guide or product recommendation email.
Take a look at a few examples:
Step 7: Cart Recovery and Browse Abandonment
Perhaps one of the most massively underutilized strategies for standing-out as a retailer during the holidays is a massive push for cart and browse abandonment emails.
Cart abandonment emails are emails sent to customers after they place items in their cart, but do not proceed to checkout.
Similarly, browse abandonment emails are sent to customers after they look at a certain item on your store but do not place it in their shopping cart.
Common cart abandonment emails include some arrangement of the words “we miss you” and a coupon. Here are a few examples:
Browse abandonment data is best to capture on Cyber Monday. After then, you can target your customers with highly targeted browse abandonment “sneak peaks” at sales.
|Last Minute Opportunity #4: Most retailers don’t fully utilize the capabilities of cart abandonment emails during the holidays. Make sure you have the systems in place to send highly effective cart abandonment emails.|
Step 8: Time’s Running Out!
As the holiday shopping season draws to an end, the procrastinators will finally begin to emerge from their holes. Effectively targeting last minute shoppers is a skill that is by no means trivial.
Last minute emails are one of the most common and popular emails that are sent to customers.
Let’s look at some emails that break through the clutter:
Some of the best last-minute emails are ones that give your customers a firm and definitive deadline to make a purchase. Here’s a couple examples:
Notice the use of the CTA in both these emails is prominent and clearly urges the customer to look for items.
Here’s a couple other variations of the deadline email:
Simple Last Minute Gifts
A second last minute email that works well is the simple last minute gift idea. These emails often include a quick little gift your customer can order and ship as a gift easily.
To craft one of these emails, simply pick a small, simple-to-purchase product from your catalog and build an email around it.
Subject Line: Procrastinated? These Ready-to-Send Gift Cards Are For You
|Last Minute Opportunity #5: Targeting procrastinators is an incredibly important part of your holiday email marketing campaign. Utilize the above two last minute emails to capture procrastinators and turn them into evangelists for your business.|
Step 9: The Holidays and Beyond
Once the holidays hit, there’s no reason to stop your holiday email marketing campaign.
Stay preemptive and preeminent in the minds of your customers by sending them season’s greetings emails.
These emails help you engage and show more interest in your customers so that you’re not just another company trying to make a quick buck.
Why let the holidays stop the sales?
After the holiday season ends, don’t be afraid to follow up with a post-holiday email campaign.
This is especially useful if you have holiday specific products in your catalog that you want to sell quickly.
Step 10: Sit Back and Let Your Email Campaigns Do the Talking
This is one of the most exhausting times of the year for any online marketer. Above are a few simple tips anyone can use to create massive results, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
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