Kevin George is Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing custom email design and coding companies, and specializes in crafting professional email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion, and free responsive HTML email templates in addition to providing email automation, campaign management, and data integration & migration services. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and eats and breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on his blog.
Winning over your customers with appealing Holiday emails can be a daunting task. This article shares tips to make it easier.
You are in a mad rush like all your competitors. Everyone wants a slice of the lucrative holiday season which contributes to over 20% of the retail spending in North America. The importance of this season can be gauged from the following statistics:
- Over $ 1 trillion spend
- Over 15% of this through the e-commerce channel
- Per Capita spend of around 1000-1100 USD during this season
- Spend breakup is 50% on gifts, 25% on decorative items, and the remaining on food and other goodies.
All the organizations are chalking out excellent holiday email marketing campaigns, right from:
- Identifying Performance Metrics
- Finalizing Holiday Calendar and associated plans
- Mapping the team
- Segmenting customer base
- Email scrubbing
- Finalizing email copy
- Working upon email coding & design
- Finalizing ESP : delivery strategies
While these strategies are important, the devil is in the details. We will now examine several key tactical decision points that could make or break the Holiday campaign.
1. Work on crafting engaging subject lines
Your subject line is the first thing that the user notices in the inbox. Create short and engaging subject lines that align with the festivities. Add an element of suspense and pique the subscriber’s curiosity so that they open the email. You can use phrases like limited stock, offer ends soon, and last chance to create a sense of urgency.
Add emojis in the subject lines for the human touch. Use first name personalization to increase open rates and draw the subscriber’s attention in the crowded inbox.
Your subscribers receive too many Holiday-related emails. They have probably read the cliched puns too many times. So, draft a unique subject line that goes beyond the traditional spooktacular, trick or treat, and similar words.
2. Use emojis
There is no doubt that emojis have found their way in most of our personal communication. You will always be in a dilemma whether to use emojis or not. As in the case with celebrities, you need to first gauge whether emojis fit your product or brand. They will be of course, more appropriate for youthful, trendy, fun based offerings, and customers and on the other hand detrimental for serious, critical products and mature audiences.
It is well known that personalized emails have a 6X factor of conversion Emojis, provided they fit in, are convenient, diverse and eye-catching and are significant factors in bolstering the email open rates.
You can use them in both the subject as well as the email copy itself.
Take a look at this example:
Of course, you would need to rigorously test for responsiveness and A/B split to check both look and feel and the audience response. Overuse of emojis can be counterproductive as well.
3. Use videos
If one picture can encompass a thousand words, a video can encapsulate hundreds of pictures. 83% of you and other marketers agree that videos are growing to be a very important tool in email marketing this holiday season. It has become even more popular because of TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.
Videos can be used:
- As wonderful add-on content for your customers
- As dramatic efficient dissemination of information compared to standard email copy and code
- To make launches and company news more effective
- To impart a more personalized experience
- To move the customers through their journey
- For improved SEO
It is however of paramount importance that videos are smartly used, some useful tips are:
- High quality
- Optimal duration of 2-3 minutes
- Leveraging video series for story-telling and imparting longer messages
- Having a clear CTA
- Using relevant ESPs and email clients
- Thorough Testing
4. Use questions
Questions are a great way to stand out, jog curiosity and entice the reader to open your email from a clutter of Holiday emails, especially if the question is pertinent to the customer segment and gives a hint of “What’s in it for me?”.
5. Splash different colors
Holiday season ensures a dazzling overdose of colors at times. Hence, you need to smartly balance the usage of colors. Here are some useful tips:
- Subtly blend your brand and product design with the specific holiday
- When in doubt, keep it stylish, yet simple
- Draw reader’s attention to key messages and CTA: leverage your color and design accordingly
- Emails are not a substitute for your website and hence, need not have a myriad of colors and complex design
- Be consistent throughout the season
6. Incorporate interactivity, gamification, and latest design trends
Make your Holiday emails more engaging by incorporating interactive features. For example: You can add countdown, hover effect, flip and scratch effect, menu, and accordion in your Holiday emails to increase subscriber engagement. In addition, you can even make the email experience fun for the readers through gamification.
If you have a large subscriber base using Gmail, you can even send AMP emails for the Holiday season — provided your ESP supports it. Just like AMP makes websites easy to access on mobile devices, it makes emails emulate mailable microsites. The user can take action from the email itself. So, it eliminates the need to go to the landing page.
As a result, it increases the likelihood of conversions. Whether you are an ecommerce email marketer or from the travel industry, AMP can be immensely beneficial. You can use it in cart abandonment emails and let the users checkout from the email. The same tactic can also be used so that users can book tickets from the email. You only need to make sure that you meet all the prerequisites needed to send AMP emails.
You can follow the latest design trends like bold typography and gradients in the Holiday emails. People resonate more with such designs these days.
7. Make emails accessible
Accessibility is an important aspect to be considered for Holiday emails. You must try to reach the maximum subscribers and that’s possible only by creating accessible emails. So, what should you keep in mind to create such emails? Here’s a low-down on all the tips:
- Pick the color contrast in such a way that the important elements stand out. Follow the WCAG guidelines while choosing the color scheme.
- Your email should be easily readable on all devices. So, make sure you choose the right font size, color, and type. Don’t add too fancy fonts that would lead to rendering issues.
- Always add proper fallback in case you are using advanced design elements that might not be compatible with the user’s email clients.
- Animations should be used judiciously. The flashing rate should not be between 2 to 55 Hz as it can deteriorate the condition of photosensitive epilepsy.
- The copy should be short and properly formatted.
- Use semantic tags like <p>, <h2>, <h3> to achieve visual hierarchy.
- Consider the different religious beliefs while sending Holiday emails. Follow an inclusive approach; Hanukkah and Christmas fall around the same dates but are celebrated by different faiths.
- Add suitable alt-text with all visuals to let people using screen readers know what they are about.
- Align the email copy toward the left for easy readability. Dyslexic patients find it difficult to read text aligned otherwise.
8. Focus on getting optimum email deliverability rate
Deliverability is one of the most important facets of Holiday email marketing. You should employ the following best practices to get optimum email deliverability rate:
- Carry out a winback email program before launching the Holiday email campaigns. Try to re-engage the dormant or less active subscribers. If they show no signs of engagement even after those emails, remove them from the list.
- Avoid automatic resending of the emails to non-openers. It can lead to redundant email communications if the open rate is inaccurately recorded because of Apple’s MPP.
- Monitor the email metrics. If there is a sudden dip in the open rate or click-through rate, inbox placement can be an issue.
- Invest in a new subdomain for the Holiday season. It will help in evading the vigilance of ESPs, ISPs, and spam filters.
- In case you have any technical concerns, reach out to an email deliverability expert or take help of an online tool like Mailtrap.
9. Determine the timing, days, and frequency
Here are some considerations, tips, and tricks to ensure effective and efficient email cadence.
1. Mapping holiday-wise plan
You must plan early right from September- October. In fact, you should plan an email strategy according to the specific holidays during this period, considering:
- New Year
You would also have the weekly Black Fridays, Small Business Saturdays, and Cyber Mondays.
2. Days of the week
Mid-week has been typically the most optimal time for marketers to send out their email campaign blasts. Weekends usually have low email usage, and you would avoid Manic Monday and Free Friday periods. This must be smartly positioned with the days of the week of the major holidays mentioned above.
Some trends according to holidays:
- Thanksgiving: email usage drops significantly on the eve of Thanksgiving Day and resumes only after the Cyber Monday of the following week
- Christmas: email usage drops significantly from December 22 all through New Year
- New Year: email usage picks up around January 5
3. Time of the day
The ideal time of the day to blast the holiday email marketing campaign varies product, market, and geography-wise. Generally speaking, you would be better off planning for early morning to pre-lunch on the ideal days of the week- Tuesday through Thursday.
Mobile users of course have a different pattern. Their usage peaks in the early morning and late night, as well as during weekends. Smart demographic and usage segmentation insights will help you plan the timing. Alternatively, taking a contrarian approach, you could plan the detailed schedule inversely with what has been suggested here, it is important to get some useful insights through A/B split testing.
Lastly, the frequency of your campaign during this very busy, cluttered, and lucrative season is critical as well. You would need to strike a delicate balance of consistency, familiarity, and the risk of getting branded as spam. A/B split testing helps immensely, and you could have different frequencies for different campaigns and customer segments.
Frequency of 2-3 times a week seems ideal for most businesses however it should not be very different from the usual frequency. Too little, and you could slip out of mindshare, too high and you could aggrieve your mailing list and customers and compel them to mark you as Spam and unsubscribe.
Consider pausing the automated workflows or modifying the segmentation criteria so that your customers do not receive too many emails.
These smart tactics coupled with a robust and dynamic holiday email marketing strategy should reap immense benefits for you. However, the proof is in the pudding and it is hence very important to continuously monitor the Performance Metrics (PM) of your holiday email marketing campaigns.
This includes rates of open, click-through, bounce, unsubscribe, conversion, and forwarding; spam complaints, sharing rate and similar metrics for mobile devices and tablets reporting.
Considering the limited duration of this lucrative holiday period, you would need to rigorously monitor these Performance Metrics. In case of less than adequate performance, the campaign tactics should be quickly fine-tuned depending on customer segment, tested, and re-launched.
Your final objectives would be to:
- Continuously moving the customers and prospects to the next favorable stages of buying
- Keeping customers and prospects always engaged
- Delivering a special level of personalization to VIP and top customers
- Improving CTA outcomes and lead times
- Minimizing churn and helping retention
- Incentivizing referrals
- Proactively testing new campaigns
- Protecting your brand
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