The 2015 and 2016 holiday season will make or break the entire year for an eCommerce store. That’s why we’re going to help you blow this year out of the water with our latest guide – holiday email tips for eCommerce.
So how are we going to do this?
By sending better email. And more of it, too.
If you aren’t making money with email, or don’t have an email tool already place to send trigger or behavioral emails, try Remarkety for 30 days.
You’ll see up to a 30% growth in sales.
Alright, enough about us.
If you haven’t started thinking about your eCommerce email marketing plan this holiday season, our total and complete guide has you covered.
Considering there are about 12 holidays from the end of September through mid-January, you’ve got a lot of things to consider.
There are send times, subject lines, email segmentation, targeting strategies, etc.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So let’s get to it, before you give up and decide to try direct mail instead.
Here’s What We’ll Cover
– 2015 & 2016 Holiday Dates
– Capturing Visitor Email Addresses
– Creating a Welcome Series
– When to Send Emails (And How Many to Send)
– Newsletter Blasts VS Targeted Campaigns
– Creating Rewards and Incentives
– Email Designs & Subject Lines
Let’s start with dates for this 2015 and 2016 holiday season.
Yom Kippur 2015
Tuesday, September 22 – Wednesday, September 23
Saturday, October 31
Thursday, November 26
Black Friday 2015
Friday, November 27
Monday, November 30, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015 – Monday, December 14, 2015
Christmas Eve 2015
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Christmas Day 2015
Friday, December 25, 2015
New Year’s Eve 2015
Thursday, December 31, 2015
New Year’s Day 2016
Friday, January 1, 2016
MLK Day 2016
Monday, January 18
Take a look at the number of unique visitors your website gets in a day.
Then take a look at your number of orders.
Big difference, right?
That’s because the majority of your visitors will never buy.
All isn’t lost.
If you serve your first-time visitors a popup asking for their email address, you can turn these anonymous visits into a prospect.
We use SumoMe, but there are a whole bunch extremely similar tools for free.
You can choose the placement of the popup on the page, what rules trigger when it should appear and more.
If your popup offers an incentive, like a coupon in exchange for an email address, expect a higher conversion rate.
Once you’re capturing all these emails, what are you going to do with them?
Send out emails, of course.
We recommend every online shop send out a series of welcome emails or new user registration follow ups.
Members, also known as prospects, are users who have signed up for a newsletter or created an account on a website, but never made a purchase.
You’ve spent the money acquiring this potential customer, now it’s time to get them to purchase.
There are a few different ways to target them.
You can target members/prospects who have never placed an order or never spent more than $0.
This is super easy with a tool like Remarkety.
The segmention for this email should be extremely straight forward.
Pick how many days after a user registered that will trigger this email.
Since we want to target the members or prospects that haven’t placed an order, we make sure the number of a customer’s orders is equal to zero.
When designing the email, consider including a coupon for their first purchase or some other incentive like Tradlands.
Tradlands not only offers a coupon, but a story about their brand.
This creates an emotional connection.
The Moosejaw welcome email is heavy on the text, but the language is silly and fun.
Even the legal jargon at the bottom is enjoyable to read.
Keep in mind that it’s the holidays and that there are a lot of brands vying for shopper attention.
How are you going to stand out?
It could be an emotional connection.
It could be a super funny and approachable brand voice.
It could be just awesome coupons or incentives.
Consider including free returns for first time buyers. This minimizes the hurdle when purchasing products from a new brand.
While Tradlands buries the coupon at the bottom of the email, consider the Jet approach.
You can’t miss the coupon for your first order – mostly because of that purple.
The holidays can throw everything out of whack, but here are the best days for sending emails based on purchase rate.
Heads up – purchase rate is the same thing as conversion rate.
Then there are hours of the day that drive the most purchases.
The timing of email is critical because sending an email in the middle of the night won’t net you much of anything.
Now, speaking of timing, do yourself a favor and take a look at your customer list.
How many customers haven’t purchased since the holidays last year?
I reckon there are quite a few.
Create an order follow up campaign targeted at those folks.
Then, create a followup that goes out a couple of days later. And a couple of days after that.
Win them back.
Following up on the follow ups will increase your chances of a customer taking action.
Remember all those holiday dates we listed?
Don’t forget about what days your emails are being sent.
If you’re sending an email on Christmas day, you’re not going to see a lot of action.
On Cyber Monday, however, you’re probably going to get a lot of opens, clicks and orders.
In fact, send out a few emails on Cyber Monday.
One in the morning, one around lunch time and another in the evening.
If you want to get really sophisticated, exclude customers who placed an order the same day.
The mission has already been accomplished with those customers.
So how many emails is too many?
Your competitors are going to send 80% more email from now until January.
Make sure you’ve got a good sale, promotion or announcement in every email.
If customers keep engaging with your emails, then you’re less likely to end up in the spam folder.
People are conditioned to spend gobs of money between September and January.
Newsletter blasts announcing store-wide sales and incentives probably won’t hurt.
Here’s the deal, targeted campaigns are going to be more effective.
eCommerce newsletter blasts will have a 2.6% click rate on average.
Targeted eCommerce email campaigns have a 30% click rate on average.
Look at this email from Charles Tyrwhitt.
Using a little intelligence in their emails, they remind the customer that they’ve only bought dress shirts.
Then they inform the customer there are complementary products – sport shirts – the customer might like.
Sure, it can sometimes be a little more work to create these targeted campaigns then sending out a blast.
Then again, making more money is worth it.
There are four types of campaigns you should absolutely be sending this holiday season.
We’ve already talked about three of them.
- New User Registration Emails
- Inactive Customer Follow Ups
- Order Follow Ups
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
Obviously, the abandoned cart recovery email is a no-brainer.
Customers price check and they leave items in their cart – make sure they purchase from you before they buy from a competitor.
Keep reading about abandoned cart campaigns and the four automated campaigns you should be sending.
When it comes to rewards or incentives, you could always send out a coupon.
And yes, coupons work really well.
While coupons are pretty close to a surefire way to improve customer retention or increase purchase frequency, they aren’t the only option.
Free shipping and free returns make shopping online amazingly convenient.
If you don’t want to offer coupons to your entire customer base, reward your loyal shoppers or your VIPs.
Segment customers who have placed more than a certain number of orders or spent more than a certain amount of money.
After you do that, send them a VIP email like Bezar.
This will make customers feel important.
Another option is to create an order follow up that delivers a coupon or freebie based on a previous order.
Rewarding customers for buying certain products, like BabyFirst, should lead to future orders.
This email serves two purposes.
First, it thanks the customer for their business. Then it gives the customer a free gift (after spending $20).
There are still alternatives.
If coupons and incentives are still a concern for the image of your brand, consider a feedback request campaign.
We wrote about how effective feedback emails are for Raw Dog Hawaii.
A feedback campaign shows you care about your customer and that their feedback matters.
Here are other ways to grow sales without coupons.
I know this is going to sound crazy.
Email design doesn’t matter.
Email metrics indicate that email design is far less critical to driving orders than a personalized and targeted email campaign.
In other words, emails based on customer behavior are more important than the actual email design.
The success of a campaign hinges on the call-to-action, the time an email is sent and the subject line.
Nonetheless, every store wants a pretty email that’s “on-brand.”
If you’re selling items that photograph well, like clothing, fashion accessories, home goods or food, emphasize them!
Make the images stand out and link them to your website.
People don’t like to read, but they like looking at pictures.
Be careful about overdoing it, though.
This is supposed to be an email, not a webpage.
The example above from Macy’s is way too busy.
Simplify your email. Make it as simple as possible so customers don’t get distracted.
Even if your shop doesn’t have the most beautiful pictures, it’s important to show off your wares – especially in abandoned cart campaigns or email campaigns where you’re leveraging product recommendations.
Pander to the procrastinators.
Many emails highlight when an order needs to be placed for delivery by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Thing is, before someone looks at all those pretty pictures and sees you’re amazing incentives, they will see your subject line.
Does the subject line stir interest, curiosity or excitement?
Around the holidays, stores will go all #FOMO and “Last Chance” on you.
They are going to make you feel like you’re missing out on something or that if you don’t “act fast” all opportunities to save money will be lost.
You know that isn’t necessarily true, but this strategy does work.
Do a search for ‘cyber Monday’ or ‘black friday’ in your email inbox.
See what other companies did last year and use them to help you create your own.
Then, double-check our article about how to avoid the spam filter.
Our advice? Be straight forward.
If you’re offering a coupon, running a last minute sale or want to reward a shopper, make it known in the subject line.
Throw an emoji in there while you’re at it – people love the snowman.
The Whole Kit and Caboodle
It’s the most important time of the year for your eCommerce business so spend time thinking about how your emails can compliment your other marketing campaigns.
If you’re not already sending abandoned carts, new user registration emails and inactive customer follow ups, set those up now.
For everyone else, it’s time to get smarter with better segmentation, better subject lines, better customer incentives and turning those one-time customers into repeat and loyal customers.
We’d love to help. If you still haven’t tried Remarkety free for 30-days, now’s the time.
For any and all other questions drop us a line.
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FOMO Photo Credit: TheSilverPen.com