Holiday 2013 (a record short shopping season) is just around the corner, so now is the time for online and multichannel retailers to begin putting email marketing strategies in place to ensure there will be reason to celebrate the season.
The second half of the year is full of opportunities. Depending on your business, you can capitalize on a number of holidays, including Back-to-School, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, last days to ship before Christmas; Christmas Eve and Day and New Year’s Eve and Day. So what should you be doing with your email marketing plan now to be poised to maximize holiday sales in the months ahead?
Get Ready to Recover Abandoned Carts
According to Listrak’s Shopping Cart Abandonment Index, the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 75%. Although we historically see a slightly lower rate between Black Friday and Christmas when visitors are more motivated to complete purchases, the recovered sales and increased revenue from a shopping cart abandonment program with targeted emails during the holiday season is huge based on increased shopping volume.
As an interesting aside, Listrak analytics show that Sunday is the day of the week with the lowest abandonment rate year-round, so consider sending emails on Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Warm Up Your Audience Before the Big Event
In September and October, begin to send re-engagement and win-back emails that get your name in front of subscribers who are non-purchasers and those who have previously purchased but haven’t engaged with your brand recently. The reason for this is twofold. First, having a positive sender reputation is imperative to getting your holiday emails into inboxes, and continuing to send to unengaged subscribers will damage your reputation. Secondly – especially for those subscribers who purchase holiday gifts from your site but do not purchase otherwise throughout the year – re-engagement emails get you top-of-mind so subscribers anticipate and are more likely to respond to your upcoming holiday emails.
Consider nailing that initial purchase or luring the inactive past customer back with an incentive. What would it take? A percentage off? Free gift or shipping? Take time now to figure out what motivates your subscribers – which brings us to our next recommendation…
Figure Out What’s Hot and What’s Not
September is a great time to implement some A/B testing so you can make your holiday messages as effective as possible. Find out what works best for your particular audience in terms of frequency, subject lines, images, offers and more and then incorporate those findings into the development of your holiday email campaigns. Be sure to only test one element at a time in order to get the most accurate results.
If your emails are not already optimized for mobile devices, don’t waste another minute and risk jeopardizing key holiday sales opportunities. Our analytics from hundreds of online merchants shows that on Cyber Monday, for example, most shoppers are surfing the net from work on a desktop or laptop, then after 5 p.m., continuing their shopping sprees on iPads. Make sure they can easily read and respond to your emails no matter what device they open them on.
Realize that Persistence Pays Off
Other times of the year it might be best to email subscribers only once a day – or maybe even once a week – but days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and last shipping days are different. During these days, customers are motivated to shop, eager to take advantage of limited time offers and anticipating an onslaught of emails all day long.
These are the few days a year when it’s okay – and even expected – for you to email subscribers with multiple reminders of limited time sales and shipping offers throughout the day. On these shopping holidays, sending three emails versus one can increase your email revenue return by as much as a third. To save money and time, use email templates you can easily repurpose throughout these days with minor tweaks to subject lines, messages and images.
Especially in a calendar year that offers the least number of shopping days possible, it’s critical to have a strategic plan in place to maximize your email marketing campaigns at every opportunity. And no matter how many emails you deem to be appropriate for your subscribers, don’t forget to follow-up on all purchases with confirmations, thank yous and offers that will keep customers engaged and buying well into the New Year.
Ross Kramer is the CEO of Listrak.