Email marketing is a critical component of your business’s holiday promotional strategy. According to a recent report by MailCharts, in the last quarter of 2015, email marketing drove 20 percent of the season’s $89 billion in online sales.
But there’s a lot of noise. In 2015, fourth-quarter email marketing volume increased 23 percent from what it was in 2014, and 2016 is projected to rise by a similar percentage. So as we head into the holidays, it’s important to examine your email marketing plans closely.
Here are a few tips to improve the performance of your campaigns:
For promotions, use percentages off.
Take a page from the big guys. MailCharts analyzed the email programs of the largest 1,000 U.S. web merchants and discovered that offering consumers a percentage discount is the most widely used holiday promotional strategy. But price point matters. When an item costs less than $100, campaigns tend to offer percentages off rather than absolute ones — seemingly tapping into consumer psychology around what sort of discount seems like the best deal. For products over $100, absolute discounts (like $20 off) are what companies lean toward.
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Put those promotions in the subject line.
Of the 1,000 businesses analyzed in the MailCharts report, 59 percent of their end-of-year email marketing promotions included the deal in the subject line. And they do it quick, mentioning the specific promotion in the first 14 characters.
Cut down your subject line length.
Speaking of subject lines, keep them short. This is especially important because two-thirds of people now read their email on a smartphone or tablet. Most email clients display around the first 45 characters of a subject line on mobile devices, so a good rule of thumb is to keep your subject line under that number.
Be strategic about your campaign send dates.
As you might expect, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the two days with the heaviest email marketing volume, which can make it difficult for your campaigns to get noticed. To stand out, send “sneak peek” email about your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions a week or so beforehand. That could pique your customers’ interest ahead of time, making them more likely to open your campaigns on those biggie shopping days.
You might also leverage underutilized holiday dates for email campaigns — like Free Shipping Day, which is December 16. Millennials in particular tend to respond well to promotions for free shipping, so it’s worth doing a send on this if they’re a demographic you’d like to target.
Be strategic about the time of day you send email.
The specific time of day you send your campaigns matters, too. Hubspot found that 11 a.m. on the East Coast has the highest clickthrough rate. But each business’s peak open rates can be different. Look to the data in your email marketing software to analyze which times of day (and days of the week) your email has performed the best historically. Then time your holiday sends accordingly.
Promote gift cards.
The National Retail Federation reports that gift cards are still the most requested holiday gift. So if you’ve got them, promote them via email. (It’s easy to order custom gift cards for your business through Square.) Remember that last-minute shoppers are often on the hunt for something quick, so make sure to time your campaign to hit those procrastinators.
Segment your lists.
If you’re not segmenting your lists, you’re missing out on a huge strategic opportunity to target your campaigns towards the people they’ll resonate with the most — like your repeat customers. According to Statista, 86 percent of consumers would like to receive promotional email from businesses they’ve previously shopped at. Square Marketing automatically segments your contact lists into loyal, casual, or lapsed customers, so you can easily send an email to just those people.