Capture Mind and Market Share this Holiday Season: Send Emails that Break Through

As many email marketers know, the holiday season starts in August – and in the true holiday spirit, it can get pretty nasty out there with crowded inboxes, aggressive spam filtering, volume caps set by ISPs and subscribers looking for the best sale.

Those visions of sugar plums and high response rates that drive purchases and boost sales are not off base – our 3rd Annual Holiday Survey confirms what you already know: holiday email works. Roughly half of the respondents (49.1%) in our survey took advantage of several email offers during the holiday season.

Just how big of a challenge is it to break through the holiday clutter? A recent blog posting by Chad White at the Email Experience Council lists the Top 20 Retail Email Days. The most popular day of the year (June 2006-07) was the day after Christmas (53.1% of retailers sent email), followed by 14 days before Christmas, 10 days and 7 days (49.0%, 45.9% and 44.9% respectively). In fact, 12 of the top 20 days to send email are all related to Christmas, which explains why consumers’ inboxes are stuffed to the max.

Hmmm. Seems like all email marketers have the same idea – send more holiday email! So how can you keep your messages from getting lost in the avalanche of offers that subscribers receive? Our Holiday Survey sheds some light. The biggest driver of whether or not respondents chose to open and read emails was if they found “prior value” with the email program (their decision was based on the fact that a previous email proved useful and relevant to them). During the inbox onslaught, your messages will stand out from the pack and remain top of mind for holiday shoppers when you consider the following:

  • “Unstick” your cadence. While some marketers embrace the mantra that “more is always better” when it comes to sending email, consider what your subscribers want and listen to them. More emails often result in an increase in sales that month, but also affect list quality due to churn and burn. Instead of flooding subscribers’ inboxes with a one-size-fits-all approach to your messaging, customize the frequency based on when subscribers are most receptive to your offers. This may depend on their relationship with your brand, their lifestyle, various demographic data or trends in buying behavior.
  • Create experiences. Instead of just sending one-off promotions and discount offers, break through by inviting your subscribers to experience an Email Series or campaign that includes engaging content and information they can really use this holiday season. An Email Series might include: “10 time-saving tips for decking your halls for the holidays,” “Have a green Christmas with these 15 earth-friendly ideas,” “7 must-have gadgets for the techies on your list” or “Style survival guide: 12 ways to look your best for holiday parties.” A mixture of content and promotions keeps subscribers informed and engaged. They’ll not only take the time to read your emails, they’ll look forward to and anticipate them.
  • Respect your relationships. Ask before you send anything beyond what was outlined in your original permission policy. With the email flying fast and furiously into subscribers’ inboxes this holiday season, take care that you’re delivering what you promised when you promised it; otherwise your subscribers may report your email as spam.

While the holidays are often a time of excess, don’t let your email program become one more thing that your subscribers feel compelled to get rid of – or worse, report as spam to their ISP.

Want more holiday email marketing ideas to chew on during the dog days of summer? Attend our Holiday Planning Webinar on Tuesday, August 28th at 3:00 PM EST.

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