Which US retailer 'cleaned up' last holidays and how can you do the same this year?
Yes, a holiday season post in August! But for most retailers this is the most important time of year and an effective email program can be the difference between ending on a high or with a hangover. So, using EDS analyst, we looked at last year's holiday results for 7 of the largest multi-channel US retailers to see who had a successful period and offer some actionable insight in to why.
The graph shows percentage change of send volume over the final quarter. The annotations are taken directly from publicly available financial statements on Oct-Dec 2012 sales results. Those retailers who significantly increased their send volume in the run up to the holiday season out-performed those that didn't. Best Buy and Wal-Mart in particular really ramped up their volumes. Interestingly, Best Buy (despite facing bankruptcy) mailed three times more than usual and 'cleaned up' in the holiday season. By contrast, Toys R Us, who usually enjoy a successful holiday season because they sell children's toys, did not increase their email volume and their 'total sales decreased'. It's also interesting to note the open rates for these campaigns for the same period, below.
While not as conclusive as the send volumes, it does show that Best Buy's open rates dramatically decreased over their successful holiday period, while Toys R Us' open rates improved on the back of a poor sales performance.
So if you use open rates as a measure of performance, you might end up optimizing the wrong strategies for your email program and miss out on revenue, something we discuss in detail in this post http://www.alchemyworx.com/emailworx/2013/strategy/are-high-open-rates-holding-you-back/. In fact, the optimum send frequency for email marketers to get the most from their program is one-less than too many.
A few tips on how to get your email program ready for a bumper holiday season
Getting everything in place so you can effectively increase your email volume takes resource and preparation but there is plenty of time to get ready for this year's holiday season. Use this simple 5-point checklist to see if you are on track
1. Plan your campaign early:
Think about what strategies you will use to increase your email frequency over the holiday season - promoting additional campaigns such as gift-finder tools, a daily offer calendar or countdown to last delivery dates are all ways to send more with purpose.
2. Make sure you have enough resource:
You could increase capacity by redeploying in-house resource to email in this period, increasing your headcount, hiring a freelancer for a few months or outsourcing to an agency. Whichever you choose, don't leave it to the last minute.
3. Make sure your templates are fresh and distinct:
Positioning your additional mailings as separate propositions with different email templates will help your subscribers understand that you've got lots of different content to offer them, it's not just more of the same.
4. Create offers with mass appeal:
Don't find relevant groups for offers, find relevant offers for everyone - and ones that can be used to suggest a sense of urgency, such as 4 days of deals and countdown offers. This will allow you to send extra mailings while maintaining relevance.
5. Check with your ESP:
Find out if you have any caps on email send volume or if there are any conditions in your contract limiting your send. If you'd like any advice on how to optimize your email campaign for a successful holiday season then give us a shout or visit our blog for tips and advice.