Trick or Treat! Halloween Candy and Email Best Practices Are Sweet

As an American living in the UK for almost three years, I feel I have earned the right to lament over a few things. The weather, certainly. Tube strikes, occasionally. The political and economic climate, most definitely. However, what I miss the most is candy: Halloween candy to be exact. Every year when the end of October comes around, I yearn for the sweet, sticky flavours of my youth.

And while the British seem to be jumping on the Halloween bandwagon in ever increasing numbers, I still can’t find some of the treats I love the most. So what does this have to do with email? Recently, while in a sugar-fixated frenzy, it struck me that Halloween candy can provide the perfect metaphor for the myriad of email best practices a marketer has to choose from. Indulge me if you will.

Candy Corn and Welcome Messages: Candy corn is a Halloween staple. Honestly, it should be an all-year-round staple. The triangular, stripy exterior conceals a sweet, crumbly texture that can’t be beat. It’s a Halloween classic, and if you’re giving candy to trick-or-treaters on 31st October, this needs to be in your stash. Like candy corn, welcome messages are an email marketing classic. They are a basic best practice and the first communication your email subscribers should be receiving once they’ve signed up for your program.

If you don’t send one today, then it’s time to start. Emarketer’s analysis of a recent Experian study showed that sending out a welcome message not only generated more opens and clicks, but sending out a real-time welcome message generated over five times more revenue. Even better, sending out a real-time welcome message with a promotional offer generated almost nine times more revenue. This is one sweet treat that every email marketer needs to send to their subscribers.

Hershey’s Miniatures & Segmentation: You can’t go wrong with chocolate and this mixed bag of goodness has something everyone likes. If you don’t want milk chocolate, you’ve got the Krackel, the dark chocolate bar and, of course, Mr. Goodbar with peanuts. They key here is variety and respecting the golden rule of “to each their own.” I can’t think of a better metaphor for email segmentation. Email marketers who use segmentation are creating relevancy within their programs, one of the primary drivers of response rates. If the email is interesting and relevant to the subscriber, they are more likely to open, click and make a purchase. Don’t send the same email to everyone on the file. Use the data you have to create segments based on demographics, location, website activity, purchase behaviour and the subscriber’s unique position in the email lifecycle. Give your subscribers what they want: a variety of options and choices based on what’s most relevant (and delicious) to them.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Integration: Their strap-line is “two great tastes that taste great together” and the combination of chocolate and peanut butter doesn’t disappoint. Plus, the black, orange and yellow packaging is perfect for Halloween. From an email marketing perspective, it’s hard to think of a better combination than email and social media. These two channels were made for each other, and integrating email and social initiatives can provide sweet ROI (in the form of increased reach, revenue, organic list growth and new brand ambassadors) for many marketers.

Tootsie Rolls and Frequency: Does anyone remember these? I’m not sure if they’re even still around. Their chocolaty chewiness was a cross between taffy, caramel and fudge and definitely an acquired taste. Once you started in on one, you were committed to finishing it. Even if they weren’t aesthetically pleasing (the long brown tube kind of looked like, well…you know), it was hard not to feel satisfied when you were finished. Tootsie Rolls make me think of a more advanced best practice that doesn’t necessarily work for every marketer: allowing subscribers to select (and pause) the frequency of the messages they’re receiving.

This one is particularly well suited for publishers and any marketer sending almost daily messages. I’ve seen a number of marketers allowing subscribers to pause their subscriptions for a self-selected timeframe to coincide with a holiday, for example, when the subscriber will be away from their inbox. Other marketers are allowing subscribers to receive a weekly digest summarising the best articles of the week, rather than receiving daily updates. An increasing number of marketers are allowing subscribers to “opt-down” in frequency from daily to weekly, or weekly to monthly. This is often featured as an option during the unsubscribe process and can be successful in keeping someone on the file who would have otherwise left. Regardless of the method, letting subscribers choose their preferred frequency (and recognising that those preferences will change) creates a satisfying experience for both the subscriber and the marketer.

With Halloween fast approaching (and the Christmas season not far behind it) consider implementing a handful of these best practice treats. Once you start, you’re sure to find that one is never enough.

Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on the DMA (UK) blog.

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