Holiday Email Tips

8 Ways to Optimize Your Holiday Email Campaigns


RJMetrics found that November and December drive 30% more E-Commerce revenue than other months. Coincidence? Absolutely not. November and December encapsulate more holidays than any other months combined. This generates 50-100% more revenue from Black Friday to Christmas than any other shopping days throughout the year.

Since email is the preferred channel for customers to interact with your brand, it’s critical to optimize your email efforts this holiday season. In this blog, we’ll explore 8 ways to improve your holiday campaigns and overall email strategy to increase engagement, conversions and your bottom line before the year comes to a close.

Let your audience self-segment.

You’ve probably heard the marketing saying, “It’s all about reaching the right person, with the right message, at the right time.” That sounds all well and good but it begs the question, how? Since us marketers aren’t in the business of mind reading, list segmentation tactics work wonders to achieve sending the right (read: relevant) messaging across the board.

Lyris found that 39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue.

With the proper analytics and reporting in place, you can segment your list by simple things like gender, all the way down to more granular characteristics like weather patterns, subscriber level reporting, the device they are using to read the email and so much more!

Another powerful way to segment your list can be by geolocation. Knowing where your contacts live can be seriously powerful information. Plus, finding out your subscriber’s location is as easy as adding a zip code to your purchase or opt in forms.

Vamoose, a bus service that travels in between New York and the Washington D.C. area, sent a localized email based on geography reminding users in the area to get their holiday travel booked before it’s too late!

Vamoose Thanksgiving Reminder

Another way to leverage geographic location is to use localization in subject lines. For example, Target made good use of this tactic when they tested localization in promotional emails. They did this by identifying which Target stores were close to their recipient’s listed address. The email sent to them featured the name of the subscriber’s local store in the subject line, as well as that store’s telephone number and store-specific links. This has shown to increase opens, which in turn will trickle down to improve all other email metrics like CTR.

Need more ideas on how to slice and dice your list? Check out 8 Ways to Segment Your Email List to Maximize ROI.

Put a safety net in place.

Unsubscribes happen, especially during the holidays as companies world-wide are ramping up their emails sends. While you can’t save every customer who is thinking about leaving your list, you can greatly reduce the number of people who do this holiday season by integrating an email preference center into your unsubscribe process.

For those unfamiliar with this concept, an email preference center is a landing page the subscriber arrives at after they hit the unsubscribe button. The page allows them to take a variety of actions: update their email address, change the frequency of the mailings, and even opt out for good.

Do you have multiple email lists? Tons of different products? During the holiday season when you’re hitting the email sends hard, let your users tell you when and what they want to hear about through your preference center.

Amazon did a great job of letting readers choose what future mailings would be the most relevant to them.

Amazon email lists

By leveraging this strategy, you can deliver hyper-customized campaigns and even stop unsubscribes from happening. You might even boost your open and clicks rates. Win-win.

Purge inactive readers.

It’s about quality, not quantity when it comes to your email list. Return Path reports that on average, 15-25% of all valid email addresses are discarded each year as people move to a different internet service provider (ISP), change jobs or otherwise acquire a new address. That’s why you should be proactive and purge inactive users (people who have not opened or clicked in 5 months) from your list.

Sidekick took a very proactive approach to making sure their engagement did not drop due to inactive email addresses for the holiday season. Check out their witty holiday email where they give (pun intended) readers the option to reengage.

Sidekick purging subscribers

Another good reason to drop the dead weight of inactive subscribers is that internet service providers (ISPs) are becoming more reliant on engagement metrics for detecting SPAM. By unsubscribing dormant members and giving them a way back through a re-engagement email, you’ll have better opens, clicks and in turn, deliverability rates in Q4.

Target cart abandoners through email.

The average shopping cart abandonment rate is approximately 67%. Plus, 23% percent of potential online buyers purposely abandon their shopping carts to collect coupons that sellers send to try and close the sale, according to Bizrate Insights. This means you better have a cart abandonment email trigger in place, and have a lucrative incentive to draw them back in.

Puma mastered this tactic in their cart abandonment email below. Plus, they offered a great incentive: free shipping! With 47% of consumers saying free shipping was one of the most important factors during the holiday season, they really hit the nail on the head.

Puma cart abandonment tactic

According to SaleCycle, nearly half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and over a third of clicks lead to purchases back on site so it’s well worth your time to segment and target by these criteria.

Think mobile first.

76% of Black Friday emails and 63% of Cyber Monday emails were opened on a mobile device in 2015 according to Movable Ink. Plus, 56% of searches during the holiday season were conducted on a mobile device. If your emails aren’t mobile-friendly, those email conversions you rely on in Q4 will disappear.

Groupon Goods is on top of their holiday game this year and already sent a campaign with Black Friday previews that looked fantastic on my phone. Their revving up for their holiday sales by offering free returns, free shipping over purchases of $34.99 and great discounts.

Groupon Goods mobile ad

To get your emails looking great for your readers on-the-go, you will want to integrate responsive design into your email development efforts. Responsive design relies on media queries to make your email mobile-friendly. These media queries can slim your email down to a single column design, hide text on mobile so it doesn’t get too cluttered, scale your images to fit different-sized screens and much more. The thing is, sometimes you just don’t have the time to code emails that look perfect in every inbox.

November and December are right around the corner. Get access to a library of mobile-friendly templates, 100% free of charge, before you kick off your holiday promotions. All you have to do is sign up for our free community membership and you’ll get access to templates, whitepapers and more!

Give your transactional email the attention it deserves.

Transactional email, while not always as sexy as marketing email, is still an extremely important component in your mailing strategy and it deserves your attention. Transactional emails get 4-8x more opens and clicks than bulk mailings plus, transactional emails can be part of the first impression a new prospect/buyer has of your brand this holiday season, so you need to make it count.

One component that makes transactional emails so successful is by how personalized they are. Since this type of email is triggered by a certain action an individual took, it darn well better be speaking to that individual! Leveraging merge tags to pull in their first name is the first step towards personalization. However, if you really want to take the relevancy of the email to the next level, leverage dynamic content to personalize these transactional emails. According to Experian, personalized emails were shown to lift transaction rates and revenue six times higher than non-personalized emails.

Nordstrom’s email below does an incredible job at personalizing the email. Every element of the email is tailored to the individual.

Nordstrom Personal Email Receipt

Plus, this transactional email is mobile-friendly! Kudos, Nordstrom.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a little extra.

Speaking of transactional emails, another way to fully optimize your email is to up-sell, cross-sell and re-sell in them! Transactional emails are considered the most important by email recipients and they can boost revenue by 33% from promoting other products in the email.

There’s nothing wrong with promoting your products or services in a transactional email, just make sure that the pertinent information takes center stage. The rule of thumb is that a transactional email should be 80% informational and 20% promotional.

GoDaddy accomplishes this seamlessly in their transactional email below.

GoDaddy Transactional email

If you know what someone has purchased in the past, you can use that information to send emails catered to their interest in the future. This will lead to more purchases and a longer lifetime value. This is important as you don’t want that holiday buyer to only come around once a year, instead you want to turn them into a recurring buyer!

Create a sense of urgency.

When optimizing your email campaign, urgency is a powerful psychological motivator. Deadlines compel your customers to take the next step.

Marketing and branding expert Susan Genulius recommends including offers that are time sensitive. Use words that convey a specific time frame or deadline throughout your copy such as “One-day Sale” or “Only Available to the first 20 buyers.”

Since there already is a bit of a deadline around the holiday season (i.e. you only have until December 24th to buy a present) adding an additional deadline around a holiday offer can pack that extra punch.

Birchbox holiday deadline

BIRCHBOX did a great job of creating compelling copy and images that encourages their reader to pull the trigger on their BIRCHBOX order.

One last step before you put the wrapping paper on!

Now that you have this checklist on how to prepare your email campaigns for the holidays you’re ready to send, right? Well, not quite. Even if your campaign sends are perfectly segmented and your holiday offers resonate this season, it won’t matter if your email shows up looking like a tangled mess of holiday lights in the inbox. Your readers won’t trust your product, or brand, if you send an email with broken links and images or text too small to decipher on their mobile device. That’s why you need to test every campaign you send this season across the most popular inboxes and devices.

To save you time, money and your sanity, don’t try to manually test your email in hundreds of clients and devices. Instead, try the most cost-effective and quickest way to test your email. Get access to unlimited email, image and spam testing, free for 7 days, so you can send with absolute confidence.

Author: Alex Ilhan

Hailing all the way from England, Alex brings his email development expertise along with an endless stream of cups of tea and British cynicism. Follow him on Twitter: @omgitsonlyalex.

Author: Alex Ilhan

Hailing all the way from England, Alex brings his email development expertise along with an endless stream of cups of tea and British cynicism. Follow him on Twitter: @omgitsonlyalex.

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