5 Tips for Effective Holiday Email Marketing

By Hannah Eisenberg - November 25, 2014

The Holiday Season Prep Sheet for the (1)Yesterday, we talked about how overwhelming the pre-holiday shopping season can be for any marketer.

Now, let's tackle some realistic lessons learned from last year's holiday season and sharpen your most effective online marketing tool: the email.

According to the Experian Holiday Email Study of the 2013 season, companies send on average 24% more emails per week during holiday season. While the number of emails send per week averaged at 14.5 emails, one company sent out a grand total of 203 emails during the study!

Today, more than ever, marketers are struggling to stand out in the increasing stream of emails that flood consumers inboxes this time of the year.

Here are 5 tips how to get your recipient to open and click:

1) Send Your Emails At The Right Time

Each person is bombarded with more than 13000 promotional messages a day! That is 12.7 messages per minute!

By sending your emails in the late afternoon / evening you catch your customers when they come home from work and are ready to get the shopping done. Last year, emails send between 8pm and midnight achieved on average a revenue of $1.53 per email whereas emails send between 8am and noon only averaged to $0.74 spending per email.

Also consider sending emails on the weekends versus during the weekday can significantly increase your open and click rate since people have more time to sit down and look at their emails.

2) Talk about the right topic at the right time

ExperianHolidayEmailThemesWhile November was the time to talk mainly about gifts and less about sales, daily deals and other special offers, December's topics shift to more last-minute shopping.

As the holidays draw nearer, retailers use a simple psychological trick to close the deal: the fear of missing out! Shipping deadlines and daily deals are now front and center, dominating 52% of the holiday email subject lines.

Flash sales, friends and family and gift cards also become increasingly important in December.

3) Keep it Short & Simple

Most emails send had between 5-10 words (59.3%) and in the subject line between 40 to 60 characters.

The emails with the shortest subject line (less than 5 words) achieved the highest open rate with 15.93%.

Most retailers let their customers know what's inside: 18.6% of all email messages included the phrase "Percent Off". While this did not significantly change the open or click rate, it achieved a jump in revenue per email, leading to a 53.3% increase in spending per email.

4) Offer Gift Cards

Many gift givers shy away from buying gift cards because they are not personal enough or show a lack of willingness to find the right present. No need to fear!

According to a National Retail Federation survey, a clear majority of shoppers (62%) prefers gift cards over anything else. On average, people who buy gift cards for the holidays will spend $172 this year, according to a different NRF survey.

5) Offer completely free shipping

Of more than 2400 emails studied, the emails who offered free shipping without an additional qualifier performed whopping 72% better than those who did not. Interesting is also, that there was no significant difference in engagement between emails offering free shipping with a qualifier (e.g., Free shipping over $100) and those who did not offer free shipping at all.

Surprisingly, the money spend when offered free shipping far exceeded the spending without completely free shipping.

More bonus tips to boost engagement and get the most out of your email marketing this holiday season:

  • Segment your database based on your buyer personas. All of your customers are not the same, don't treat them the same.
  • Personalize your email messages as much as you can (think Amazon email)
  • Never buy email lists, a bought list will never ever perform as well as one that you earned.
  • Manage bounced emails to protect your sender reputation and keep your other emails delivered
  • Be helpful. While the holiday season is all about discounts, shopping and the best deals, delight your customers with holiday themed quality content (e.g., a guide to gift wrapping with gorgeous free printable gift tags)

What has worked for you in 2013? What are you planning this year around?

We would love to hear from you what worked and what did not last year and what you are planning on doing this year. Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you.
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