mouse christmas trees

I have something to tell you – I don’t like shopping. In fact, the thought of a shopping expedition fills me with dread. So when the holiday season swings around, I become a walking cliché – the guy who sets out at the last minute, and pays way too much for things that nobody would ever want.

I tell you this because we’ve entered that window of holidays and festivals across the world that are critical to many marketers. In the US, the National Retail Federation estimates that $602 billion in sales will take place during November and December. In the UK, The Guardian estimates that £5 billion will be spent online alone in December – lots of opportunity, right?

In short, this time of year represents a potentially lucrative period for businesses. As a marketer, you probably feel like you need to make the most of it.

But today, I’d like to speak as Ray, The Terrible Shopper Guy – a guy who, like many thousands of others, wishes that holiday shopping could be a little easier, and that holiday email marketing could be much, much better. I would like to propose 3 questions that all email marketers should be able to answer/address before they market to anyone (especially people like me!) around the holidays.

Here goes:

1. Have you already secured my trust?

If you are anything like me, when you glance at your inbox, you will filter or deprioritize emails from brands/companies you don’t know. This small, natural reaction demonstrates how trust is critical in that first interaction with any marketing communication.

How can email marketers build trust?

  • Make sure I know when I am opting-in, and be clear about what I am opting-in to.
  • Provide easy-to-reach mechanisms for opting-in and down.
  • Be consistent in terms of frequency, triggers, and experience once opt-in has been secured.

2. Is your offer relevant to me, based on my behavior or profile?

Personalization of our online experiences has been evolving for some years, and we now expect seemingly serendipitous moments during all of our online activity – “Why yes, I was shopping for a new scarf!”

Whether it’s a retargeting ad, or a highly targeted email we receive after visiting specific product pages, we want our experiences to acknowledge who we are and what we have done. This has set the bar high for email marketing, so we expect a lot of precision in the offers we receive.

If I am a long-time customer, I want that to be recognized in every email’s tone, content, and offer. I want my behavior and the information I provided to make the communications I receive relevant and timely. If I’m going to give marketers my data, I want customization in return.

3. Will you deliver exceptional, continuous experiences for me across channels?

The modern, digitally empowered consumer is channel agnostic: we don’t think in terms of ‘channels’ the way marketers do. When I visit a website and sign up for a newsletter and then follow the company on Twitter, I expect all of this to be accounted for when I interact with that company online. For example, I don’t want to be asked to sign up for a newsletter that I already subscribe to, or to be asked for my information a second time.

So what do you think? If you’re an email marketer, can you answer “yes” to all of these questions? If you’re a consumer, would you add any questions of your own? Share them in the comments below.

To read more about the new rules of email marketing, download our Definitive Guide to Engaging Email Marketing.