Is your brand ready for the holiday season madness? eMarketer estimates that overall retail sales grew by 3.5% last year during the core holiday season months of November and December, and eCommerce purchasing has grown between 13-16% year over year in the past five years. The National Retail Federation predicts similar results this year that would follow this upward trend. They forecast non-store purchases to grow to $117 billion with the average internet user spending just under $700 this holiday season online.
A similar report done by Custora found that email drove 17.7% of all shopping transactions during the holiday season achieving the rank of third highest marketing channel to attract consumer purchasing.
Netta Kivilis, head of marketing at Custora, describes how to be successful this holiday season: “The key to winning this season, at least as far as online shopping goes, is using email marketing effectively. Last year no other marketing channel brought in more sales than email with almost a quarter of all sales directly coming from email campaigns during the days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.”
Netta, we couldn’t agree more.
The question becomes, do you have an email marketing strategy strong enough to attract customers to your brand and then convert them into paying customers? Follow this list of M.E.R.R.Y. tips to create a rewarding and lucrative holiday email marketing strategy that will do just that.
M – Be Mobile
Mobile commerce (aka Mcommerce) is changing the landscape of advertising spend, forcing brands to reconsider marketing budget allocation in the digital realm. More shoppers are looking to their smartphones and tablets to make purchases on the go or away from their desk.
Mobile devices are connecting in-store and online purchasing more each year. The true power for marketing departments comes when combining the two forces not as opposing factors, but as a multi-touch marketing crusade. Mobile eCommerce provider Branding Brand recently reported that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, smartphone visits to its retailer clients’ sites rose 51%, orders 58% and revenue 43% year over year.
As your customers become increasingly mobile, so should your brand – and so should the responsiveness of your email marketing initiatives. Test your emails on multiple devices to be sure your customers are viewing the holiday message you intend for them to see. The fact is, 67% of emails are opened on mobile devices. If your email is not mobile responsive, you are losing readers and missing out on potential paying customers.
E – Be Efficient
There are a vast number of marketing channels you have to consider each day. Managing the right mixture of marketing options and executing your efforts efficiently can leave you with a huge headache. Every brand has a unique customer demographic to target with just the right message at just the right time. That’s most likely why according to Ascend2, 63% of companies successful in marketing automation plan to increase their marketing automation budget, and 82% of brands have adopted some sort of email marketing platform technology – once implemented, this tech increases efficiency at very impressive rates.
Email marketing automation can powerfully increase efficiencies of your holiday campaign. Automation is there from the time you develop subject lines and layouts, to when you tackle send-time strategies that drive engagement, to finally A/B testing and tracking successful reader responses email analytics.
R – Be Reactive
Listrak recently recorded that the average consumer abandons their shopping cart before making a purchase 81% of the time. Less than one out of every five times an online shopper makes it to the checkout do they actually convert into a customer! Although there are many reasons why customers abandon their shopping carts, the fact of the matter is…that’s a lot of revenue left on the table.
According to Business Insider Intelligence, approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, and about 63% of that is potentially recoverable by savvy online retailers. Reactivate online accounts that have abandoned their shopping carts with precise, highly targeted email remarketing.
What happens when a customer searches your website looking to price compare? Do you have a plan in place to reactivate and revitalize these customers? You know what they are interested in purchasing. Now is the time to send your well-designed email (with perhaps a tempting discount or shipping offer) to the cart abandoner to remind him or her what they liked about your products.
Which brings us to the next point: relevance.
R – Be Relevant
By using email marketing to attract holiday customers, you have the unique opportunity to craft the message in a way that is hyper-relevant to the needs and desires of the holiday shopper. Based on Epsilon’s Holiday Shopping Survey, 86% of internet users plan on starting their holiday shopping before December even begins.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have seen a 12% increase in sales year over year, and Cyber Monday sales have increased by $100 million each year since 2005. Your customers are willing and ready to read your holiday shopping emails because, for this small window of time, they are highly interested and are expecting to receive offers they can use immediately.
How will you craft your email message to reach holiday shoppers? There’s no one message that will work for every brand. You know your customers best. It’s up to you to decide whether your holiday shoppers will relate more to topics like new product availabilities or if they are more interested in a “clearance sale” or other discount offers.
Y – Be Yourself
No matter the time of year or marketing channel you use, your brand identity should be consistent. Remember to tell the brand story that your loyal followers have come to know. Personalizing your marketing efforts to loyal brand advocates can encourage upsell opportunities and even referrals.
Your customers need to relate to your message to make a long-term connection with your brand. Aaron Orendorf, Content Strategist from iconiContent, recently wrote that “the number one mistake most email marketers make is writing like a business. Not writing like a real human to other real humans is killing your open and click-through rates. Keep it simple and keep it natural.” And personalization is not just important to Orendorf. According to a study done by eTail, the percentage of US retailers who are increasing the level of personalization to help humanize national brands is on the rise.
John Bonini, Growth Director at Litmus writes, “Personalization is about so much more than a [first_name]. It’s about understanding what drives a person’s decision making process, where they are in that process, and placing all of it within the context of their specific challenges.” Decide what your customer’s biggest challenges are this holiday season and find a way to help your online shoppers overcome them.
With the right email marketing strategy, you can reach more potential customers and convert them into digital shoppers, but you need to start soon. With 29% of shoppers starting their holiday shopping before Halloween, it’s time to create a strong marketing strategy that will take you through Black Friday and into a very M.E.R.R.Y. new year.
About the Author
Alex Navarro comes to Distribion with a background in developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns. His passion is creating personalized marketing strategies and watching them come to life. Alex studied advertising and marketing at Pepperdine University and has enjoyed working in the field ever since. He also loves meeting new people – connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.