For many retailers, the period running up to Christmas and the holiday season is the most commercially critical time of the business year. Email has a big part to play in this, so here are 7 tips to feed into your seasonal campaign planning.
Plan to send - and build - more emails
In the run-up to the holiday season, we're all in e-commerce mode. Every year the stats show huge spikes in emails sent - and emails clicked on - around this time. People have a greater tolerance for increased frequencies of emails, so you don't need to stick to your regular sending frequency. Instead, plan to build interest and excitement as the days tick down - this may well mean more ideas and more creative, so plan your resource accordingly too.
Map out your whole messaging strategy and customer journey
If you're going to send email daily rather than weekly just before the holidays, say, you need a plan for your whole output. Well before time, think through your whole customer journey and the story you want to develop. Think of a messaging framework that will help you organise and unify your messages. Adapting a theme like 'Naughty or Nice', 'Advent Calendars' or 'Countdown to the holidays' may not be original, but it does give subscribers a clear sense of where you're heading. Make sure you include service and transactional messages too, complete with suitably festive creative and tone of voice, if appropriate.
Use segmentation wisely
As you think about each interaction from the point of view of your subscribers, think of how you will justify the higher frequency and whether this will vary for different groups of subscribers and how that will affect your messaging. Increasing your send frequency relies on your emails delivering value to subscribers, planning your segmentation as a means of delivering additional value will ensure you maximise ROI.
Tackle tradition head on
When it comes to Christmas themes in particular, one person's boring cliché is another person's heart-warming tradition. You need to decide where you as a brand stand on this, and commit to your positioning. Subscribers to a traditional brand's emails are likely to expect a classic, nostalgic approach, whereas a younger, more modern brand may be able to take a more subversive, tongue-in-cheek approach. Some businesses may want to look past the Christmas theme altogether and talk about winter sales or the more international concept of a 'holiday season'. Whatever you decide, being cynical and disrespectful about Christmas is a definite no-no.
Make the seasonal theme central to your message, not just an add-on
If you do opt for a festive strategy, make sure it informs every aspect of your campaign, and doesn't just feel like a contrived element that you've simply bolted on to your usual messaging approach. Embrace the season wholeheartedly, with benefits, incentives, offers and creative that support your agreed approach. Again, thinking ahead makes all the difference here - it'll prevent you abruptly shifting messages or look and feel when you suddenly run out of ideas.
Anticipate buyer behaviour over the holidays
Buying behaviour over the festive season has changed in the digital age. People expect to be able to buy later and later, so make sure you're clear about the last delivery day for gifts to arrive in time. (And for those who miss it, don't forget to cross-sell vouchers and giftcards.) Retailers have to deal with huge volumes of returns on December 26th - how about pre-empting that with some email tips about how to avoid buying unwanted gifts in the first place? And look to promote sales of accessories and peripherals, which always spike once the 'wanted' gifts have been unwrapped.
Work your subject lines
If you're planning on discounting goods as part of your festive ecommerce strategy, use your subject lines to maximise the effect. You can use your subject lines to prime recipients with a reminder of the full prices well in advance, so that once you start to discount they appreciate the full value of the price drop. Repeat big-ticket deals and top offers again and again in your subject lines, especially over weekends too, when lots of us are doing our online gift shopping.
Find out more
For more tips and advice on planning and executing your seasonal strategy, check out our blog post, Festive foul-up or seasonal success - which way are you heading?