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The Definitive Guide To Holiday Email Campaign Management

The Holiday season begins from Halloween in October and lasts all the way to the New Year and a few weeks beyond. This is a very important period for marketers across industries whether B2C or B2B. US and Canadian consumers typically spend between 1000-1100 USD during this season. Over half of this spend is on gifts, one fourth on decorative items and the remaining on food and other goodies. The key trends of consumer buying behavior during holidays are:

  1. E-commerce and online purchases from aggregators and company websites will continue to dominate, while there will be reluctance and slowness in physically visiting stores. 2020 is expected to see a never-before cluttering and blitz of consumer omni-channel marketing
  2. Loyalty rules: For many categories of products, almost 2/3rd of their consumers will continue buying from them out of loyalty. This translates into huge up-sell and cross sell opportunities. Also, the importance of referrals and word of mouth cannot be stressed enough.
  3. Consumers will continue to download, browse choices, make purchasing decisions, and conclude their transactions through Apps

Considering the above trends, there will be an unprecedented digital clutter and a boom of malware, phishing, and other cyber-attacks through email. Over 90% of attacks originate through email; while most are targeted at the marketers themselves, customers are wary of and reluctant to open emails which can expose their personal or credit card/ bank account information

It is hence obvious that Holiday Email Campaign Management is of paramount importance during this crucial period and smart campaigns would make the marketers: 

  1. Stand out from the digital clutter and entice customers to open, absorb and click on the CTA; responsive campaigns will leverage the customer’s mobile and app preferences as well
  2. Plan and do the pilot testing early, fine tune the campaigns, and move ahead full blast
  3. Continuously monitor, and modify to make these resounding successes

KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR A SUCCESSFUL HOLIDAY EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS

All these strategic and tactical parameters play a vital role in email campaign management and are important at different stages of campaign management, which we will explore in the following sections.

PRE-PLANNING PHASE

It’s all in the planning. Successful campaigns are 80 % planning and 20% execution and fine-tuning. Let’s begin with pre-planning which includes:

1. Setting campaign objectives

These must be clearly spelled out and metrics identified. All marketers would typically define the following objectives for different customer segments during the holidays:

  • Getting more sales through holiday offers and discounts
  • Acquiring new customers and commencing relationship building
  • Cross-selling, upselling to existing customers
  • Increasing engagement with existing customers 
  • Reviving former customers

2. Mapping out a plan – holiday by holiday

The holiday season continues for around 2 months. It is important for email campaign managers to carefully plan an email strategy basis the specific holidays during this period. You primarily need to consider:

  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Christmas
  • New Year

You must plan tactical strategies based on the customer segment, and corresponding message, frequency, and timing mix on the basis of the Holiday Calendar. This will, of course, depend on the industry segments, products, state-wise presence, positioning, and other variables.

3. Getting together the right mix of talent

In the pre-planning phase itself, it is important to define the responsibilities and get the right resources onboard as you might need extra help for Holiday Email Campaigns. Here are some positions you must fill:

Depending on your email marketing strategy, you should debate and answer the following considerations: 

  • Do we need specialists for all the above roles, or can your current resources handle multiple responsibilities?
  • Roles in house vs outsourced. For Outsourced partner considerations: Experience, adept in similar industries and so on and so forth

PLANNING PHASE

Now that the pre-planning phase is done, and we have defined the objectives, calendar, and the team needed, we shall now begin the campaign planning:

1. Prioritizing List cleaning 

It is super critical to carry out list cleaning before the holidays. There are many smart steps to have a good, clean list and the most important one is capturing relevant website visitors through mailing list opt-ins, subscriptions, and using exit-intent popups. However, it is highly recommended to carry out email scrubbing every few months to ensure accurate customer email lists and improve the open and click-through rates and reduce bounce rate. Some smart ways for this are:

  1. Analyze bounced rates and fix errors
  2. Re-engage with inactive customers 
  3. Dedupe/ duplicity email check
  4. Remove inactive customers

2. Segmenting the cleaned up list

Mailchimp’s finding shows that segmented campaigns get close to 49% more clicks and 23% more open rates than non-segmented campaigns. Once the customer email list is cleaned up and updated, segmentation can be easily done by slicing and dicing on the basis of factors like:

  • Demographics
  • Email engagement
  • Website behavior
  • Position in the sales funnel
  • Past purchases
  • Amount spent on your website round the year or during the holidays

You can leverage the data from the CRM to segment subscribers and create targeted, personalized emails for them. Moreover, you need to pay special attention to and have an extra level of personalization with customers who are in the highest stratum, have exhibited High Value and/ or volume of past transactions, and who are strong on referrals. These are the high-value customers who contributed the maximum to the seller’s revenues

3. Following deliverability best practices

You may create the best of holiday campaigns but what if they don’t reach your target audience? Deliverability can prove to be the key to successful holiday email marketing. So, before we look at email creation, it is worthwhile to reiterate the fundamental aspect of email marketing- No matter what, the message must reach my customer mailbox. 

While reviewing your email lists and segmenting your subscribers will boost deliverability, there are other practices too which will  prove useful. Some of them are:

  • Do NOT make sudden changes to email sending pattern
  • Personalize your emails
  • Create mobile-friendly emails

So the email must circumvent the barriers of automated spam filters and low customer attention span and get opened, read through, catch attention, and propel the customer towards the Call to Action. So now, let’s get to creating the email.

EXECUTION PHASE

1. Creating a beautiful, pixel-perfect Email – Copy, Design, and Coding

To begin with, let us examine the type of emails which need to be created in a very eye-catching manner especially in the holiday season:

  • Promotional Emails: Limited period, last minute and early bird offers. Creating time bound urgency
  • Transactional Emails: Welcome email formats, product ordering forms, subscriptions, cart abandonment, rewards and returns
  • Relational Emails: Newsletters, catalogues, gifts, product teasers & comparatives, membership, freebies, service camps, quizzes, and games
  • Recommendation emails – Upsell and cross-sell
  • Strong Referral programmes and incentives
  • Re-engagement Emails for former customers

Let’s now start with the email copy… 

EMAIL COPY

The content of your email is of paramount importance. Once your subscriber receives the email in their mailbox, the email should immediately galvanize the customer to open, read through, assimilate the takeaways, and propel them towards the Call to Action. Here are some dos and don’ts for effective and efficient Email copy :

EMAIL DESIGN AND CODING

While the email content is very important, it is all in vain if your email design is not attractive enough or the subscriber sees it garbled on their handheld device. As a result, they either forget about it or worse, mark your email as spam or add it to their junk. Here are some key aspects to be considered for efficient email design and coding that will grab the interest of your subscribers, make them read, assimilate, get wowed and further propel them towards the Call to Action:

2. The Actual Email Campaign Execution

Now that we have an accurate, cleaned up and well-segmented customer list, personalized powerful marketing messages with holiday themes, and clear CTA, the next step is to set up the email and click send. Here are some important considerations before you hit send:

  1. Leverage key learnings from past campaigns
  2. Choosing between manual and automated campaign
  3. For the automated campaign, set up the complex workflows accurately – triggers, follow-ups, reminders with day/ week, and time wise frequency. Cart abandonment triggers matter even more during the holidays 
  4. Test the triggers
  5. Test for deliverability

CAMPAIGN ANALYSIS AND OPTIMIZATION PHASE

It is very important to continuously monitor the Performance Metrics (PM) of your holiday email marketing campaigns.  

This includes open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, unsubscribe rate, conversion rate, forwarding rate, spam complaints, sharing rate, and similar metrics for mobile devices and tablets reporting. 

Leadership teams are most interested in:

  • Overall KPIs of revenues, customer satisfaction Indexes, cost, response time, customer adoption, churn 
  • Slicing, dicing, and drilling down the KPIs by products, campaigns, geographies, customer demographics
  • Comparing trends of these KPIs with historical data
  • ‘What if’ analysis

Considering the limited and lucrative holiday period, these dashboards and measures need to be monitored and analyzed at a very high frequency. The campaign dynamics should be quickly fine-tuned depending on the customer segment, and the campaign needs to be spruced-up. Ultimately, we all need to be:

  1. Continuously moving the customers and prospects to the next favorable stages of buying
  2. Keeping customers and prospects always engaged
  3. Delivering a special level of personalization to VIP and top customers
  4. Improving CTA outcomes and lead times
  5. Minimizing churn and helping retention
  6. Incentivizing referrals
  7. Proactively testing new campaigns
  8. Providing insights into what works and what doesn’t, including the send time
  9. Balancing consistency with smart customization across channels

WHAT AFTER THE HOLIDAYS?

It is also worthwhile to mention that there is a significant market for products and services helping in lifestyle/ fitness/ detoxification/ getting back to work, which will immediately take off after the holiday season is concluded in early January. We can apply the same guide with some tweaks to the after-holiday Email Campaign Management and have a great start to the New Year!

TAKEAWAYS

This holiday season, fix your Measures, Map the season, segment the Market, customize and beef up the Message, closely Monitor and timely Modify the Campaign. That’s the trick to successful holiday email marketing.

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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