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11 Secrets to Effective Holiday Email Planning During COVID-19

It is a difficult time, indeed, for everyone across the world. Online shopping was obviously quite popular already, but with the pandemic situation, it has become even more important to get the customers to switch to online stores rather than brick-and-mortar stores. Many of the physical stores are either shutting down or allowing limited in-person shopping. Owing to this trend, we must be prepared to get our online operations in place to impart a smooth shopping experience to the customers. 

With the holiday season just around the corner, you must revamp your marketing strategy to address the changing buying patterns. This applies to your email marketing as well. So, let’s try to understand what you can do to engage your email subscribers during this holiday season in the backdrop of COVID-19.

1. Plan well in advance with backup strategy

Usually, we recommend having a thoughtfully created plan at least 8 weeks prior to the Holidays. However, considering the uncertainty around the global crisis, it is imperative to have a backup plan to support the strategy and another backup plan to support the former backup plan. This will ensure that your marketing strategy does not go in vain even if it fails to work like you have expected it to. Do not take too much time in making a decision. Be agile and stay prepared for any exigencies.   

2. Don’t forget the empathetic tone

In the quest for generating more sales and higher profitability, you must not get too salesy. Keep the empathetic tone alive in all your email communications. That’s the most important advice to abide by, during this pandemic situation. Show your customers that you care for them. 

3. Communicate with your subscribers

As your subscribers would be looking forward to hearing from you, you must communicate with them how you are approaching the winter holidays this year. Make the most of your email automation workflows and send out relevant emails that are aligned with their activities. You can take this opportunity to re-engage the dormant subscribers and get them to purchase from you again. Maintain a humanized tone in all your automated communications as well, so that your customers are more likely to convert.  

4. Focus on ecommerce operations

As your customers are more likely to prefer staying at home and ordering online, focus on your ecommerce operations. Prepare your website for desktop and mobile as well as the mobile app for the heavy traffic that you might encounter after you send out that promotional email announcing Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale. Try to emulate an ideal shopping experience for your customers. Update all your promotion terms and conditions according to your holiday offers and expiration dates.

Your product files should be updated so that there are no mistakes while sending automated product recommendations. Evaluate how your product recommendation algorithms are working and modify them if need be. Also, assess your cart and browse abandonment triggers whether they are sending out the right automated emails or not. When you are planning for Holiday season, keep the coupon pools restocked for peak days while ensuring the right expiration date. A good idea would be to have a checklist of all these points handy so that nothing gets missed out amidst the workload during the busy season. 

5. Keep a “SORRY” email ready

Despite all these preparations, it might happen that something goes wrong and leaves your customers frustrated. To combat such issues, you must have an apology email in place. Furthermore, have your backup promotions and coupon codes prepared and uploaded on the ecommerce platform. Be prepared for the shipping challenges that you might have to encounter because of the crisis. Inform the subscribers about any delay in order delivery so that it does not spoil the fun for them during the Holidays. Formulate a contingency plan and be wary of the possible supply chain choke points that would arise. In the worst-case scenario, be prepared for sudden bouts of cases. 

6. Work on the incentives

Before the holiday season, run a mock pre-holiday sale and test how the customers are responding to different types of offers and discounts. You can have a VIP-only sale for the email subscribers that offers free express shipping and exclusive discounts. Also, talk about free gift wrapping that the customer would be looking for during the Holiday season. You ought to offer a huge incentive for the most lucrative quarter of the year if you want to be ahead in the competition. 

7. Render a consistent experience across all your channels

Whether it is your SMS marketing, social media channels, emails, website, mobile apps, or push notifications, make sure that your communications stay consistent on all these platforms. It will help to enhance brand recall and reinforce the message more powerfully. 

8. Offer contactless delivery and highlight it in your emails

Inform your customers that you strictly follow the protocols of social distancing and offer contactless delivery for all your products. Your emails must highlight these points and assure the customers of a safe experience without any risk of contracting the virus. 

9. Keep an eye on your marketing expenses

Undoubtedly, the Holiday season is the most lucrative time of the year that can bring maximum conversions for your business. However, you must not forget to keep a check on your budget (including your email marketing budget) and cut it down, wherever needed. Work on growing your business, but make sure that it does not burn a hole in your pocket. Maintain a clean email list so that you don’t end up spending any additional money on dormant leads or invalid email addresses. 

10. Don’t capitalize on fear 

Irrespective of the business you have, you must not capitalize on the fear of the people during the Holidays. Try to uplift other people and spread joy during these trying times. Donate for a noble cause or invite people to join your generous initiative through the emails. That will not only build your brand credibility but also make people remember you and buy from you in the future. It is a great way to boost customer loyalty. 

11. Monitor the market vibes

While the traditional Holiday season would be all about having colorful emails that reflect festive vibes, emails in Holidays 2020 will be more of testing the waters and then sending out the most appropriate message. For the US, it is the time of their biggest election and that might affect the economy of the nation. So, if you are catering to subscribers in that geolocation, you must bear in mind the repercussions it might have. 

Wrapping Up

The Holiday season during COVID-19 will be a lot about effective communication about all the modifications in your operations and policy updates. In addition to all the tips shared above, you must not forget the basics like looking out for your customers and employees, having live chat on your website and prompt resolution of the customer’s concerns, an extension of the return policies, and reminding the customers about the safety guidelines you follow. All these approaches will surely help you drive conversions in the holidays and drive business growth.  

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Disha Bhatt (Dave) works as a Senior content writer at Email Uplers. She is a dentist, who has found her calling in words & technical subjects. She loves to pen down travelogues and romantic short stories in her free time.

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