Nov 08 2014

Email Marketing Guide for the 2014 Holiday Season

AnnexCore

The holiday season is almost here and this is the best time to plan for high profits through effective email marketing newsletters and promotions. If you’re not convinced about the importance of email marketing yet, here are some facts to consider:

  • During the holiday season in 2013, about 16% of all the eCommerce purchases were prompted by email marketing.
  • On Black Friday 2013, almost 40% of the purchases made were done through mobile devices and at least one quarter of people surveyed in U.S. said they check out at least one online store every Black Friday.
  • On Cyber Monday 2013, eCommerce made history with online sales rising by 18%. Online sales are also expected to rise during the holiday season in the next few years. Therefore, small businesses should ensure that email is used more effectively this year.

As you prepare for this holiday season, you should look for ways to make your emails stand out from all the other emails in your subscribers inbox. That’s why we’ve created this email marketing guide to give you the most important tips and ideas for this holiday season.

General Email Guidelines

Before we delve into specific email marketing ideas for the holiday season, it’s important for you to know some of the email marketing principles and best practices that apply to virtually all campaigns and newsletters.

1. Understand the Current Challenges of Email Marketing

Even though email marketing is still ranked as the best online marketing method in terms of return on investment because of its personal touch and high conversion rate, small business owners need to be aware of these challenges:

  • Your subscribers are receiving an increasingly high number of emails every day resulting in a cluttered inbox
  • More people are now checking their emails on mobile devices like phones and tablets
  • A survey showed that more than 80% of people use the same address for official and personal mails
  • According to a study, over 50% of the people said they have a junk email address they use for newsletters which they rarely check

Therefore, your marketing emails need to be well-planned in order to reach your target audience and lead to conversions.

2. Use Creative Eye-catching Subject Lines

When subscribers view their email inbox, your email must catch their attention for it to be opened. Only emails that are opened will be read and only emails that are read can be acted upon. Due to the large number of emails received by most subscribers, they end up not opening and reading all of them. They scan the list to see the one that jumps at them. So how to do you get them to open your mails?

Let your readers know what they will enjoy or benefit from by reading your email. Your subscribers will most likely open an email if it has a subject line like:

“Enjoy a Special 50 percent holiday discount offer form [Your Company]”

instead of a subject line like:

“ABC Company Newsletter”

You should try to personalize your email subject lines where possible. Putting the recipient’s name and your company name usually produces better results. For instance, the subject in the first example could be:

“Jane, enjoy a special 50 discount offer this holiday from [Your Company]”

3. Segment Your Email Lists to Increase Relevance

Most of the people on your list subscribed because they felt you will have something relevant to what they need. So you should work at increasing the relevance of your newsletter to your audience. One effective way to do this is through segmentation. You should separate your main subscriber list into smaller groups based on their actions, interests, purchases, and other criterias. Research has shown that companies with multiple targeted lists have higher click through rates than those who have a non segmented list.

Holiday Marketing Tips and Ideas

Here are some of the most vital email marketing tips and ideas that will produce better conversions for you in this forthcoming holiday season.

1. Assess and Measure the Effectiveness of Your Previous Email Campaigns

Start by finding out the type of subject lines that have produced high click through rates. Then look at the tone of your email copy. Do you have better results with a casual, promotional, laid back, conversational or informative style? Based of this data, identify the behavior of your subscribers.

2. Provide Promotional Discounts

Most of your competitors use this tactic and so should you. Offer a significant discount on some of your products or services. Make the percentage as high as you can. This can bring you a significant amount of traffic to your website  so if  you’re providing a discount at your online store, make sure you scale up your website server so it can handle the traffic. If the infrastructure isn’t set up for it, the high traffic can cause a server overload and network congestion ultimately taking your website down, which can have an adverse effect on your business.

3. Offer Holiday Coupons

You can use coupons as welcome gifts in your first email to a new subscriber. Welcome emails that contain coupons usually double the click through rate compared with those without any coupons.

4. Provide Updates for Major Events

A survey by Wanderful Media revealed that over 80 percent of shoppers said that they wanted to receive updates about special Black Friday sales. So you should ensure that you offer special email updates and coupons for shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. In fact, you should schedule an aggressive email marketing campaign starting mid November.

5. Get Prepared for Spam Related Issues

Several companies have had their email marketing campaigns truncated due to issues with spam filters and complaints and issues with domains. If possible, prepare a new IP address as a safety measure. Also, ensure that you use a double opt-in procedure and ask all subscribers to add your address to their white lists.

6. Sending Your Emails At the Best Times

During the last quarter of the year, studies have revealed that, emails sent on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) record the highest open and click-through-rates. In addition, emails that are sent very late at night or very early in the morning recorded better customer engagement.

Mistakes to Avoid in the Holiday Season

Finally, here are some of the email marketing mistakes that can ruin your marketing goals; avoid them.

1. Making it Hard for Your Subscribers to Recognize You.

Your readers will open your email faster if they know who you are. Familiarity improves your click through rates. So ensure that you use an official company email address (email@companyname.com) in the From address field instead of a free email service like Yahoo or Gmail (companyname@gmail.com).

2. Using Hard selling Phrases in Your Subject Lines

During the holiday season, several businesses will try to promote their sales with overt selling subject lines and promotional offers. However, you should try to make your business stand out by sending some more informative newsletters as well. For instance you can use subject lines like:

The list: “7 Special Gift Ideas for [Insert Someone Relevant to Your Product/Service]”

The question: “Bill, are you looking for the best gift for [Insert Someone Relevant to Your Product/Service]?”

News: “Announcing Our Yearly Black Friday [Sale/Promo/Discount Offer]”

3. Not Paying Attention to Mobile Readers

According to the Experian Marketing Services survey, half or more of all the marketing emails for the holiday season will be viewed on mobile devices. So you should ensure that you take care of your mobile readers by:

  • Ensuring that the content of the email can be read without the need to zoom in
  • Putting images that can be viewed easily on phones and tablets
  • Checking all the links and making sure that they are easy to click and they lead to pages that can be viewed with ease on a mobile device

4. Forgetting to Put a Call to Action

It is vital to have a call to action in your email. Don’t place it at the end of a lengthy newsletter. Instead, let it be placed in several places throughout the message. Make sure your readers know the next step to take after reading your email. For instance, you can ask them to visit your online store, register for an upcoming event, redeem a special offer or connect with you on social media.

Conclusion

These are some of the most important tips and ideas on holiday email marketing. The holiday season is around the corner so you need to make sure you have a proper plan in place. This guide will be most useful to you if you review it a few times and take action today. As always, feel free to contact us if you need any help with your email marketing efforts for this 2014 holiday season.

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