Have Yourself a Merry Email Christmas
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” —Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
It sounds a bit bleak but it actually has a significant correlation with your email program over the seasonal period. Here’s my quick guide to getting the most out of your future seasonal campaigns and what we should learn from our past.
The Ghost of Email Christmas Past:
Knowing where others succeeded—or failed—in the previous holiday season will help identify possible problems that can impact your seasonal performance.
Our recent report analyses data from our Data Cloud, collected from October—December 2017, to identify trends in inbox placement and performance to empower marketers to develop new tactics to protect their program and increase holiday ROI.
What we know (at a glance):
- Volume increases dramatically
- Inbox rates typically remain stable
- Subscribers start tuning out.
- Subscribers start getting email fatigue and frustrated
So what does that mean? Complaints are a major indicator of subscriber dissatisfaction and a leading driver of declining inbox placement rates. Complaint rates over 0.2 percent will begin to cause deliverability issues for the sender.
The Ghost of Email Christmas Present:
The pressure is on to use your data in a more intuitive way, boost your audience reach and increase campaign frequency to the right segments at the right time on the right device.
Inbox placement issues can escalate rapidly and be quite challenging to address. These can have a major impact and damage your brand, impact ROI and lead to a drain on time and efforts for the sender. The best method to counter this is to partner with a business that can help monitor and maintain high inbox placement and sender reputation, this will enable you to:
- Track inbox placement
- Monitor sender reputation
- Identify and isolate problems
- Determine key contributors
- Adjust and test if necessary
Two key issues surrounding the holiday season are list hygiene and subscriber response, these should be front of mind when monitoring campaign success. Best practices are the same all year round, but the stakes go up at holiday time, the senders care more, the receivers have higher volumes however customers are more easily annoyed.
Subscriber List Hygiene —Validate your subscriber list, remove unknown users, bounce monitoring & processing and the monitoring & removal of complaints.
Subscriber Response—See how members are interacting with your email program in real time, who reads the message, who deletes it, who marks as Spam, who forwards to a friend, where is the email opened and what time of day… to name a few.
The Ghost of Email Christmas Future:
It’s crucial that we learn from the past! Successful email senders do not operate in a vacuum, they review competitors both domestic and internationally for inspiration, they refuse to get left behind, they experiment with new ways to wow subscribers, they provide value and educate at every possible opportunity and have started considering the multi-channel experience.
Some opportunities for 2018 are:
- Focus on compelling subject lines and stand out, but be careful not to be too “off brand”
- Consider the ”What’s in it for me?” factor from the members perspective
- Test subject lines and optimize the reading experience with personalization, time-sensitive offer, free shipping etc.
- Include targeted content
- Humour can be a strong engagement anchor at this time of year (brand permitting)
- Apply a seasonal theme to create emotion and familiarity
- It’s all about timing at this time of year (see Black Friday read rates below), optimize your campaign execution timings, the moment emails are sent out after the event, they cease to be relevant, as shown by the big fall in response rates
- Make gifting easy with expert advice or support
- Leverage off the love of pets, that’s very popular at this time of year and a great opportunity to inspire your pet loving members
- Use exclusivity to stand out from your competitors
- Offer a more unique and tailored experience to subscribers, create a compelling offer
- Include interactivity and gamification to engage with your subscribers and make them keep coming back for more
- Offer last minute deals and bargains with shipping prior to the gift giving season
- Use countdown timers to create a sense of urgency and excitement
To “Wrap” up:
It’s the busiest time of year for us all but just take a step back and ask yourself…”Have we taken adequate learnings from past campaigns to ensure that we are maximizing the potential to send the best campaign possible to our valued subscribers.”
Understand if your subscribers are on the “Naughty” or “Nice” list, send mail that your subscribers want, create a compelling offer and a cohesive experience and test!
Now have yourselves a merry and prosperous holiday season!
If you would like to learn more, check out our recent webinar—Have Yourself a Merry Q4.
About Dominic Yates
Dominic is an Email Strategist out of the Return Path Sydney office. He has over 12 years experience in Email Marketing. Prior to Return Path worked at Woolworths for three years managing campaign execution and strategy for the loyalty program.