5 Ways to a Merry Holiday Email Experience

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Email marketers saw a 32% sales lift on Thanksgiving Day 2012.
Email marketers saw a 32% sales lift on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

Christmas Blast 2012 sounds like a big office party, but it's really a description of how top retailers behaved in the email channel last holiday season. Best Buy sent 1.265 billion emails last December, more than three times the 403 million it dispatched the year before, according to eDataSource. Each person on its list received some 39 emails that month. Walmart customers got 19 each and JCPenney's 15—more than double what those two sent in +2011.

So when Listrak sent us an early Christmas present on a 90-degree day in September in the form of its “Holiday Email Campaign Look Book,” it didn't seem too early to begin prepping. Here are some tips from Listrak and other email elfs we invited to chime in.

1. Email a gift guide in November.  Listrak finds that clients that offer gift guides early in the season continue to reap benefits as December 25 nears. The company suggests placing gift categories in top-of-email navigation links, as well as in the  body copy. Also included should be links to online magazines, style guides, and gift services.

2. Make Thanksgiving Day the first big online event. Jim Davidson, manager of marketing research at Bronto, thinks Thanksgiving should be its own event. “With ComScore tracking a 32% increase in sales and our own numbers showing email traffic increasing 5% on Thanksgiving Day 2012,” he says,”developing a Thanksgiving Day promotion independent of Black Friday could give you a sales boost.”

3. Best Buy was an aberration; don't be a big blaster. Most retailers have come around to the understanding that less is more in the inbox come holiday time, according to Quinn Jalli, SVP of Epsilon's Strategic Initiatives Group. “Everybody shifts from sending three emails a week before the holidays to seven a week when the holidays come around, but that just puts marketers in the spam folder sooner and costs them opportunities,” Jalli says. “Retailers have learned their lessons on this." He adds that many retailers are concerned about deliverability as it relates to email frequency.

4. If you don't have an abandoned cart program, start one. “Some 45% of shoppers use carts as a place to store gift ideas for later,” says Katrina Conn, VP of marketing services at StrongView.  “It's vital that you have an abandoned cart program to remind those shoppers to return to purchase.”

5. Run a Christmas contest. Three percent to 4% of recipients of contest offers actually place orders from the registration confirmation email, according to Listrak. “Even better,” notes the Look Book, “we've seen up to 80% of the new subscribers acquired through a sweepstakes place an order within six months.”

Merry emailing!

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