If the holidays are an important time for your small business, there’s a good chance holiday planning is already in the back of your mind.
While you may not have all your plans finalized, or even started at this point, you know that the next couple months are going to go fast and the season will be here before you know it.
When it comes to your holiday marketing, no tool will offer more opportunities to increase sales this season than email marketing.
According to marketing analytics company, Custora, email marketing was the number one driver of holiday sales in 2015, resulting in 20 percent of online sales.
Whether you’re gearing up for the big shopping days at the start of the holiday season — like Black Friday (November 25), Small Business Saturday (November 26), or Cyber Monday (November 28) — or looking to drive sales into the New Year, the right email marketing plan can make a world of difference.
Here are 6 tips to keep in mind as you prepare for the holiday season.
1. Get targeted
Consumers receive a lot of emails during the busy holiday months. This is especially true during the weeks leading up to big shopping days at the end of November.
Last year, Constant Contact customers sent 1.3 billion emails in the week leading up to Cyber Monday.
One of the best ways to stand out in a crowded inbox is to personalize the messages you send out. Rather than sending the same offer or information to your entire email list, look for opportunities to target your emails to the different groups of people on your email list.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Exclusive offer to new subscribers: Create a special offer for new subscribers who joined your list since last holiday season. Let them know how you can help them during the holidays and include details about any of the special services you offer during these busy months.
- Special discount based on click-through activity: Use your click-through reports to see who is clicking on a particular link in a recent email. For example, if you recently sent an email announcing a new line of products and saw a lot of people clicking through to your website, you can target those people with a follow-up email with a special holiday offer on those items.
- Event invitation for VIPs: Reward your most loyal customers this holiday season by giving them early access to an upcoming sale or event.
Want another reason to target your emails? A recent analysis of Constant Contact customer emails found that emails sent to 35 contacts or less received an average open rate of 55 percent, compared to a 14 percent open rate for emails sent to lists of 7,500 or more.
2. Focus on mobile
53 percent of consumers who shopped online last holiday season did so on a smartphone or tablet. Combine this with the fact that more than half of all emails are now opened on a mobile device, and it’s clear that mobile needs to be at the center of your holiday marketing plans.
One of the best ways to get your holiday emails mobile-ready is to choose a mobile responsive email template.
In addition to the template you choose, make sure you’re keeping your message as focused as possible this holiday season. The most effective holiday emails will include your branding, 1-3 images, less than 20 lines of text, and one strong action for readers to take.
3. Add a coupon
Coupons are a proven way to increase revenue and improve engagement in the emails you send out. A 2014 Experian report found that emails that include coupons see a lift in unique opens, unique clicks, and revenue generated per email.
If you’re a Constant Contact customer, you can easily add a coupon to any email you send out and track how many people claimed and redeemed your coupon, either in-store or online.
4. Invest in your subject line
Your subject line is one of the most important lines of your entire email. It’s the first thing people see when your email lands in their inbox, and for a lot of people it will have the biggest impact on whether they click to open.
For fashion retailer, No Rest for Bridget, investing time in choosing the right subject line has given more opens when promoting specials during the holidays and throughout the year.
Online manager, Kolbie Richardson explains:
“We test out different subject lines to see what gets us the best results. It’s crazy, just little tweaks like that can definitely deliver different results, so we’re constantly experimenting with different things. We’ve found that ambiguous subject lines work well. Our last email subject line was ‘Say Yes To This Dress!’ Things like that pique curiosity and work well because people want to click to see what we’re talking about.”
5. Incorporate social media
Bringing your email marketing and social media marketing together is proven to help boost business results throughout the year.
In fact, small businesses that use multiple channels, like social media, in conjunction with email report: more customer engagement (73 percent), more new customers (57 percent), more website traffic (54 percent), more revenue (40 percent), and more referrals (39 percent).
Bringing your email and social media marketing together can have an even bigger impact during the holiday season.
Take a social network like Pinterest for example. 38 million Pinterest users have saved holiday pins. The number of holiday pins on Pinterest increased 50 percent from 2013 to 2014.
If you’re on Pinterest, you can use emails to drive traffic to your boards with gift ideas for the holiday season. If you have an e-commerce business, make sure to set up the Pinterest “Buy Button” so that people can shop online.
6. Automate your messages
As things get busy during the holiday season, it’s easy to let marketing tasks get pushed off to the side. One of the best ways to avoid this setback is to create automated emails to send to your list.
With a tool like Constant Contact’s Autoresponder feature, you can create a series of automated emails that will be sent to a select group of subscribers over a scheduled period of time.
- Create a series for big shopping days: Set up a series of emails reminding people to shop small on shopping days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. Include a special offer that can be redeemed in-store or online and follow up with an email letting people know what you have going on through the rest of the year.
- Send deadline reminders: Remind people of important dates and deadlines throughout the holiday season. This can be effective when promoting limited-time offers or letting people know about shipping deadlines for online orders.
- Send daily or weekly offers: Keep customers coming back to their inbox by promoting a series of daily or weekly offers throughout the holiday season. This is a great way to expose all of the different products and services your business has to offer during the holiday season.
Put your holiday email marketing strategy into action
While you may not be ready to start designing emails or writing subject lines, you should start thinking about how email will fit into your holiday marketing plans.
For more holiday marketing inspiration, check out 28 Ideas for Your Holiday Email Marketing.