The holiday season is officially in full swing and it’s projected to be a big one. (Average spending per person is expected to reach $805!!!)

Holiday Email Deliverability

Have you started your holiday email campaigns yet? I know I’ve started scouring marketing emails in my own personal inbox – ones I’d previously been ignoring and deleting all year – in search of the perfect gifts for all my loved ones (and maybe something nice for myself!). So…

If you haven’t started your holiday marketing campaigns yet, now is the time to start planning. The earlier you start the planning process the more time you have to get it just right. Here’s a checklist to help you get started:

Do Your Homework

Look to the past and study holiday history.

There are tons of resources online with statistics from holiday seasons gone by. What did marketers do in 2014? What worked? Why did it work? Let’s take a look at some things to remember:

  • Consumers spent the most on Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving), Super Saturday (the last Saturday before Christmas), and the day after Christmas.
  • Cyber Monday (the first Monday after Thanksgiving) was the 2014 holiday season’s biggest online shopping day, generating more than $2 billion in desktop sales.
  • Email was the second largest driver of online traffic and sales (after search engines).
  • Analyzing combined desktop and mobile sales for the 2014 holiday season, IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark report showed an increase of 13.9 percent over 2013’s e-commerce sales results. Other IBM numbers showed:
    • The average order value (AOV) from desktop e-commerce sales occurring between November 1 and December 31 was $125.12, an increase of 19 percent over mobile’s AOV at $104.82.
    • Mobile sales accounted for 22.6 percent of all online sales for the 2014 season,up 27.2 percent over 2013.

Let’s look inward at your own history.

  • What days proved to be your highest traffic days?
  • Which campaigns were most effective?
  • Why were they effective? Because the right email was in the right inbox at the right time?
  • Did you plan a longer campaign that built up to a big sale?
  • Did you have enticing calls-to-action?

What about your mistakes? What campaigns fell flat and why? Let’s take the good from the bad and learn from our mistakes.

Now look to the future! What are the trends?

  • Mobile is unstoppable. We’ve known this for a long time but last year’s mobile numbers were outstanding and this year’s will be bigger.
  • We’ve said it before: Deliverability is personal. This won’t stop being true during the holiday season.

Apply What You’ve Learned

We’ve learned a lot! How do we take what we’ve learned and apply it to our holiday marketing campaigns while keeping deliverability in mind?

Both the highest consumer traffic and the greatest deliverability issues are reported during the holiday season. This is not a coincidence. Increased marketing email volume inevitably increases your complaint rate, especially if you’re not mindful of your audience. Your reputation is affected negatively and your emails are filtered and blocked more often.

Best Bet: Personalize

What can you do about this? Personalize! What does your data tell you about a recipient? What sort of campaigns are they most responsive to? Where are they in their customer life cycle? Have they engaged recently or is this potentially old data?

Schedule, and start early

You might also consider sending several emails leading up to a sale or event or even an automated drip campaign. Get your recipients involved early on with engaging content that will excite them and tell a story. Use calls-to-action in the preliminary emails of your campaign to develop and nurture a relationship with each customer. This will increase engagement metrics – the top metric ISPs weigh when filtering email.

Design for mobile

Now that you’ve got a schedule, let’s talk about email design. This year more than ever, your customers will be opening your emails on mobile devices, especially smart phones. Your emails should be optimized for mobile viewing. You simply can’t afford to neglect mobile responsive design in 2015. If a recipient can’t easily open an email and view it on their mobile device, or if it simply was not meant to be viewed on a smaller device screen, they will swipe it away and you will lose an opportunity to make a connection with that individual. Maybe forever.

For more tips and tricks on how to design your emails for mobile, check out our free on-demand webinar: Responsive Design: 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Landing Pages and Emails.

Test it!

Now test it again! This is why it’s so important to start planning early. The research and creative stages of a successful campaign are long and arduous. You want to give yourself plenty of time to test every aspect of your campaign. You want to be sure your email will render correctly on all kinds of devices but you also want to know which version of an email is most effective. A/B testing your campaign is a great way to find the most powerful version of it before the big day.

This will be the biggest holiday season yet. Start planning now and don’t let it creep up on you. Consumers are looking for the right place to spend their money. Make it easy for them to find you. Build up a relationship with each customer so when Cyber Monday rolls around, your email is not only expected but desired.

To help get you started take a look at our eBook, The ABC’s of A/B Testing, to learn the best practices for optimizing your landing pages and emails for better conversions.