Q&A: Daniel Schotland, VP of client services, Experian CheetahMail

Daniel Schotland, VP of client services at Experian CheetahMail, discusses best practices for holiday email marketing.

Q: What are retailers doing to prepare their email programs for the holiday season?

A: They are taking a look at what type of offers performed well last year and mirroring those campaigns that had the largest reach. ‘Percentage off’ offers are increasing. They made up 27% of all holiday emails last year. This year we are already seeing them at 32%, and we expect that trend to continue. ‘Family and friends’ types of messages were really big last year, and we expect to see more of these viral types of programs again. Also, we have seen more flash sales with a sense of urgency. Generally speaking, the transaction rate from this kind of email is two times that of other kinds of messages.

Q: According to CheetahMail, email volumes increased 20% year-over-year last year, and you expect to see similar increases again this year. What can marketers do to get noticed in overwhelmed inboxes?

A: It is all about making a creative and consistent message. Short subject lines that are to the point work well. We want to make sure that the emails are opened and engaged with. Personalizing subject lines not just with names, but based on popular search keywords works well. These do change on a regular basis, so marketers should be looking at this throughout the season, as well as changing subject lines on the fly.

Q: What should marketers avoid?

A: Marketers should avoid the status quo. What has worked in the past is not guaranteed to work this year. Not that you shouldn’t look to the past to get ideas, but marketers have to be smart and creative about using what they have done in the past in new ways. Marketers also need to be very careful with inactives. They need to test reducing frequency of mailing to this list if they are not performing well. 

Q: How can marketers use the busy holiday season to build their lists for future marketing?

A: Ensure virality. The typical tools of social share are very important, but marketers should also add social shares at the product level with the ability to like a particular product that is in the email. Also provide offers that are likely to be shared, so that they get passed along. With all of these, a user should be driven back to a landing page that has an opportunity [for them] to opt in. Also refer-a-friend campaigns should include an opportunity to opt in.

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