Three proven methods to boost holiday revenue through e-mail

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E-mail doesn't always need a coupon, but it does need to be relevant to get opened and get a response from subscribers. Return Path's annual Holiday Consumer Survey shows that the fastest growing factor driving consumer response to e-mail is prior value in the e-mail itself.

So your brand and subject line still matter, but what really drives a response is relevancy. The e-mail itself must help the subscriber be smarter, richer and more beautiful. Fortunately, retailers have more relevancy tools at their disposal than they think.

Here's three fast and simple ways to boost response this holiday season, without relying on discounts or doubling your e-mail frequency.

Make your e-mail promotions relevant. Don't just tell subscribers what is on sale. Tell them how your merchandise will make them a hero for giving it! It only takes a little bit of information to turn a commonplace promotion into a relevant guide for shoppers.

In addition to that great product shot, include three ideas for giving the perfect gift, two additional items to complement the first or three ways to identify the best color choices for each person on their list. Downloadable gift guides help shoppers spend more on your site and navigate to offers they may not find on their own.

Time your e-mails to the season's shopping habits. No longer a one-time day of higher online sales on the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend, the "Cyber Monday" phenomenon repeats every week in November and December.

Consumers buy online late at night on weekends, during the workweek and in the early evening after office hours. Scour last year's data to see if Saturday morning, Sunday evening, Monday morning or Wednesday early evening are good times to catch buyers online. Use a subject line that highlights the appeal, "Stay an hour late tonight and get your shopping done fast."

Take advantage of key purchase and re-purchase behaviors. Subscribers give marketers all kinds of clues to when they are in market to buy. Follow these clues to trigger relevant promotions strategically.

Send a pre-shipping ride along offer after the initial order confirmation (or include this in the order confirmation e-mail itself), so that customers can add items to their purchase. Send a post-purchase thank you message with a treat yourself offer. The NRF reports that most consumers spend more on themselves during the holiday season than on friends.

Send a re-touch for all those who did not open or click to your promotions all week using a breakthrough subject line on Fridays. Send a cross-promo between brands for those who visit the Web site but do not purchase. Let's brainstorm on how to make these and other holiday response techniques work for your program now.

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