While Black Friday and Cyber Monday typically mark the start of the holidays, a successful email marketing plan starts long before then. To get ready for the 2014 holiday season, 6S Marketing has developed a handy email marketing guide, complete with a weekly schedule to keep you on track for the busiest email season of the year.
With this guide, your holiday email marketing program will help your business thrive through the season.
Pre-Holiday Planning – 8 Weeks to Go
Do a little fall cleaning: segment your list, purge inactive subscribers, or better yet, create a re-activation campaign to engage inactive customers. Wondering which groups to segment your list into? We suggest interests, loyalty, buying behaviour, past purchases, and geography.
Week 1: Create Your Plan (Nov 2-8)
With high level goals in place, start planning your product offering. Review last year’s performance, as well as current sales trends, to determine the right product offerings to promote during the holiday season. Are you looking to focus on a best-selling product, or do you want to take the opportunity to amplify your newest offerings?
From here, build out your schedule of email deployments to have a clear path of where you’re going.
Next, determine the assets you will need to fulfill your holiday schedule. Build the strategy for your email templates and landing pages with a coherent look and feel that speak to the holiday season. Moreover, ensure you have the expertise you need to build your assets.
This will give you an idea as to how much time to set aside for each tactic as you move through your 8-week program.
Week 2: Production (Nov 9-15)
With your first campaign in sight, week 2 is where you get into high gear and work with your production team to start building out the assets for your initial email deployments.
One of the great advantages of planning ahead is that you have time to test and tweak your emails for optimum success. Once drafts are ready, run them through rigorous testing across email clients to ensure the templates render correctly in the major platforms (Gmail, Outlook, mobile devices, etc.). Any faulty rendering could cost you potential sales.
Lastly, work with your Analytics team to ensure all email deployments are ready to be properly tracked from email open, to landing page, to conversion.
Week 3: All Systems Go (Nov 16-22)
It’s time to launch your first campaign. Break your audience into the holiday season with a special sale or a complete holiday gift guide.
Most importantly, with each email you send, testing is key. Prior to launching a campaign, send it to a test segment of your list to determine the initial response. In particular, we recommend A/B testing the subject line, format (e.g. length, images), or offer to see if your deal is effective in getting your customers’ attention. We suggest A/B testing to a 5% segment of your targeted list for each variation. Remember: test one thing at a time, test often, and track your results.
Week 4: Special Offers (Nov 23-29)
One of the essential pieces missing from many email marketing campaigns we see is the opportunity to provide added value to subscribers. Make these loyal customers feel special through targeted offers exclusive to the list. Whether this is free shipping, extra discounts, or added bonuses, go above and beyond to show the value of being part of your email list.
Also, be sure to send promotional emails to reach out again before Black Friday (Nov 28th). Thanks to deep discounts from retailers, Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, officially kicking off the holiday shopping season. Whether you go the traditional discount route or try alternative promotions, be prepared as the competition for shoppers’ attention will be fierce.
Week 5: Cyber Monday (Nov 30-Dec 6)
Don’t forget about Cyber Monday (Nov 30th), geared towards online sales and shoppers. Last year Cyber Monday had more total sales than Black Friday!
This is a great time to liquidate old stock at unbeatable prices, or put a one-time discount on some of your hotter selling items.
With email competition at an all-time high, make sure to develop a strong promotion with email assets to match. Make sure customers cut through inbox clutter and latch onto your offer with strong subject lines and focused content. Lastly, don’t forget, testing is vital to success.
Week 6: Deadlines (Dec 7-13)
Between work, holiday events, and other commitments, people can lose track of time during the holiday season. Week 6 is a great time to remind customers that time is running out through targeted messaging around shipping deadlines.
Week 7: Last Minute Deals and Gift Ideas (Dec 14-20)
There are plenty of procrastinators out there. Try targeting them with time-sensitive subject lines: “last chance,” “order by x date for delivery by December 24,” or “offer ends in x days.”
Week 8: E-Gift Cards (Dec 21-24)
With mere days before Christmas, e-gift card sales can be your secret weapon to boost last minute sales. E-gift cards have been well-branded as “the perfect last-minute gift,” and deservingly so. Deliver targeted messaging that speaks to the stress last minute shoppers can feel when it’s coming down to the wire for holiday shopping.
Some interesting statistics
- On Cyber Monday 2013, online sales totaled $1.735 billion USD (source: comScore)
- During the 2013 holidays, 51% of email opens were on mobile devices — 18% growth from the prior year (source: Vertical Response)
Ask the experts
If your business needs help getting ready for a very merry, very email-heavy holiday season in the coming weeks, get in touch with our email experts and start optimizing your campaigns today.