Web Marketing Today

15 Last Minute Holiday Email Marketing Tips

It’s nearly Halloween. It’s not too late to get started on holiday email campaigns, but there’s no time to waste. Thanksgiving comes late this year, pushing Cyber Monday all the way back to December 2. The usual holiday rush will feel even more rushed.

Follow these tips for your holiday email campaigns and you’ll be celebrating in no time.

1. Start as Early as Possible

Not to alarm the last-minute marketers, but the holiday promotions party has already started. The National Retail Federation says 40 percent of shoppers began picking gifts out before Halloween.

The upside of this is you’ve got all of November to warm up for the big month. Consider pre-Black Friday sales for every Friday in November. And make them good: You will be training your subscribers to either pay attention to you if your offers are strong, or to ignore you if they’re weak.

2. Don’t Be Shy

Last year the average online retailer mailed 5.3 emails between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to Listrak’s 2012 Holiday Email Look Book. Experian Marketing Services Strategic Accounts team tracked the email activity of 40 brands from September 9, 2012 through January 5, 2013, finding a predictable but dramatic increase in email volume during this period.

3. Don’t Miss Out on Free Shipping Day

Last year’s Free Shipping Day accounted for the biggest boost in year over year sales, according to ComScore — a whopping 76 percent more sales than in 2011. This trend is likely to continue this year on Free Shipping Day, Wednesday, December 18. Don’t miss it.

4. ‘Tis the Season to Re-engage

Do you have a re-engagement campaign — for lapsed subscribers — on the back burner? The holidays are an ideal time to roll it out.

5. Send a Holiday Gift Guide

Everybody’s busy, so make it easy for them. Holiday gift guides are an ideal way to do this, and often end up being an online retailer’s best-performing campaign of the season. Experian reports their clients received “48 percent higher transaction rates for gift guide emails when compared to other promotional mailings.”

Borrow a valuable tip from Experian’s study of holiday gift guides and include the word “Best” in the subject line promoting your holiday gift guide.

Experian studied subject lines of those gift guides and found adding the word “Best” to the subject line boosted opens and clicks by a factor of four or more.

Experian studied subject lines of those gift guides and found adding the word “Best” to the subject line boosted opens and clicks by a factor of four or more.

6. Offer a Free Gift

‘Tis the season of giving, after all. It can also be the season of clearing out your warehouse.

7. Entice Recipients with a Little Something for Themselves

Fifty percent of consumers did at least some “self-gifting” over the 2012 holidays — and the gifts were good. Self-gifters spent an average of $139.92 according to ExactTarget’s Email Marketing Holiday Calendar infographic.

The National Retail Federation expects self-gifters — and everyone else — to spend a little less this year. It is estimating the average 2013 self-gifting spend to be $129.62.

8. Add Mobile Support

Forty-eight percent of emails are now read on mobile devices. Internet Retailer reports, “In March 2013, 52 percent of time spent with online retail was on a desktop, 34 percent a smartphone and 14 percent a tablet.”

Have you placed an order on your site with an iPad yet? Or with your smart phone? Have every single person on your marketing team do that today to make sure the process runs smoothly.

9. Assist Procrastinators

The Internet is the salvation of last minute holiday shoppers, and gift cards are often the top choice. Make sure your gift cards are prominently showcased on your home page, and have a series of last-minute shopper emails offering gift cards all lined up for the last days before Christmas.

10. Leverage Social Media

With all those emails filling up people’s inboxes, the only way to cut through the noise may be to engage on social media. Make sure your email marketing and your social media efforts are well synchronized.

11. Optimize your Website for Holiday Shoppers

Consider “gifts for” sections to guide shoppers to find what they want fast. Other twists on this include sorting products by price and by offering a bestsellers list, which is similar to the holiday gift guide I mentioned before. This similarity is a good thing. Once you’ve organized a best-sellers list, a products-by-price list, and a “gifts for” set of lists, you’ve got your holiday gift guide.

12. Be Crystal Clear About Shipping Dates

As the days grow closer to the 25th, shipping dates become the decision maker for online shoppers. Don’t make shoppers hunt for your shipping rates — they know last-minute shipping is expensive. And, as before, keep presenting those gift cards.

13. Flash Sales Work

Online shoppers expect them, and respond. Plan your flash sales carefully to keep sales momentum going. By the way, a flash sale to email inactive buyers just might work.

This 2012 flash sale email generated a 51 percent increase in traffic, a 50 percent increase in conversion rate and a 236 percent increase in revenue over the same period in 2011.

This 2012 flash sale email generated a 51 percent increase in traffic, a 50 percent increase in conversion rate, and a 236 percent increase in revenue over the same period in 2011.

14. Have a ‘Didn’t Get What You Wanted?’ Promotion Ready to Send

January is a big month for online retail sales. Your shipping and customer service team may be exhausted from the holiday sales, January sales can be well worth the extra work.

15. Optimize Transactional Emails

This time of year it’s a good bet your customers are shopping for more than one thing. Tweak your transactional emails to look better, help customers more effectively, and sell more. Even small changes can make a big difference with transactional emails. Where is the best place to start? Optimize subject lines, make them easy to scan, and don’t hide the follow up offers.

Prepare Now with 1 Tip per Day

Does this seem like an awfully long list to tackle? Don’t panic. If you address just one item on this list every day, by mid-November your sales machine will be in dramatically better shape. And you’ll still have two more full weeks to improve before Black Friday.

Pamella Neely
Pamella Neely
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