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Is Your Email Marketing Holiday Ready?

Online Marketing

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday are just days away, and the intense weeks of holiday shopping and spending still to come, makes email marketing a must. Our customer email data shows that email send volume increased by 10% from October to November, 2011 – not surprising, considering the major opportunity!

So how can you make your holiday offers and emails stand out in the crowded inbox this holiday season? Follow these quick and easy tips to send emails that get clicked, not deleted, this holiday season.

1. Add Value

Sometimes it’s a challenge to know what to offer. You can start by reviewing previously sent campaigns and see which offers led to the highest sales. For emails, you can see which sent emails had the highest open rates, clickthrough rates and conversions. This holiday season, the majority of retailers will offer free shipping and a percentage or dollar amount off a purchase.

Here are a few more easy ways to add value for holiday shoppers:

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  • Consider offering free or expedited shipping to help out your last-minute shoppers (there are plenty!).
  • Share a coupon redeemable online or in-store. (If you use VerticalResponse to create your emails, you can create a coupon using VR Social.)
  • Offer a first-time customer or refer-a-friend discount for existing customers.
  • Add an expiration date to your offer to create a sense of urgency.

2. Give Your Message Some Holiday Flair

A well-designed email goes a long way! Here are some quick tips to keep your emails looking sharp:

  • Balance text with images. Whether you go by the “80/20” rule (80% text and 20% images) or the “70/30” rule, include some eye-catching images that represent your products or services to draw your readers in.
  • Keep it short and simple. The holidays are high-volume email times and readers only have a few seconds to scan your email. Make it count! Clear offers and calls-to-action are key for good clickthrough and conversion rates.
  • Check the appearance of your email on mobile devices. About 40% of emails are now read on a mobile device according to a recent infographic by Marketing Tech Blog.
  • Include pre-header text. The pre-header text shows up right after your subject line and is a great opportunity to pull the reader in with additional key information about your offer.
  • Remember to include holiday imagery as appropriate.

Here’s a nicely designed Black Friday email from one of our VR Plus customers, Shades Shutters and Blinds:

Is Your Email Marketing Holiday Ready? image Screen Shot 2012 11 20 at 10.07.47 AM

3. Make It Shareable

Increase the chance of your holiday emails or promotions to be seen by more eyes with these easy tips:

  • Include links that allow the recipient to share your email on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Add a “Forward to a Friend” link to encourage email sharing.
  • Include links to your company’s social media pages, and tell your subscribers about social media exclusive offers to encourage new followers.

4. Check It Twice

When looking over your email, here are some things to ask yourself:

  • Is the “from address” recognizable to the recipient? (Company name is usually best. The reader may not recognize the name, “Dave” for example, even if he is the CEO!)
  • Does the subject line clearly reflect the content in the body of the email? Need help writing those holiday email subject lines? We’ve got a Holiday Subject Line Express tool that can create 18+ holiday-related subject lines in less than 30 seconds. That’s faster than a six-year-old can eat a candy cane!
  • Do the images link to relevant web pages on your company website?
  • Is the promo code or offer easy to find?
  • Are there clear instructions for redeeming offers?
  • Are there clear calls-to-action? (Buttons are a great way to make your calls-to-action stand out. You can create free buttons with our Web Button Generator.)
  • Did you include expiration dates and/or disclaimers?

There’s nothing worse than noticing a typo or broken link after an email has already gone out. Here are some tips to avoid getting coal in your email stocking:

  • Have one or more people (other than the email creator) review the email. Have proof-readers click each link to ensure it works and examine the subject line, headers, and body of the email closely for typos or other errors.
  • Send a test email to multiple email browsers, such as Yahoo!, Outlook and Yahoo. Each email provider can render email code slightly differently. By looking at the test email in more than one browser, you ensure the consistency of your email and can correct any errors.

Keep in mind, while it is natural to increase email sending over the holidays, it’s also important not to overwhelm your subscribers. Too much deviation from the norm can lead to higher unsubscribe rates. Monitor your email open and unsubscribe rates after each email, and consider sharp drops in opens or rises in unsubscribes to be an indication of over-sending.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Happy holiday sending!

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