Ready or not, the holidays are fast approaching. And that means it’s time for email marketers to start planning one of their biggest email campaigns of the year.
To help you prepare for all the holiday craziness ahead, the Uplers team asked a group of seasoned messaging experts and industry insiders to share their thoughts on Holiday email marketing tips and trends for 2020.
Check out their tips on vacation email trends below and get inspired to approach your business vacation campaign in style.
The 8 best holiday email marketing tips of 2020
1. Start planning long before you think you should.
Planning well in advance is very helpful, giving you plenty of time to make sure your email really stands out.
“Start your holiday email marketing strategy and planning early,” advises Christopher Donald, president of operations and managing partner at InboxArmy. “Create planning, creation, production and deployment schedules to better execute your campaigns. Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what to do.”
2. Focus on the customer, not an aggressive sales program.
Marketers send out more emails than usual during the holiday season, but it’s important to remember that there’s a real person on the other end of your email communication. The holidays are a busy and hectic time for everyone (not just marketers!) And they probably won’t appreciate having their inbox flooded with high-selling emails. Respect their time and take a helpful, customer-centric approach.
Kara Trivunovic, VP / GM Client Services, Global Industry Evangelist at Epsilon, thinks you should know what the subscriber expects from you during the holidays rather than driving your sales agenda.
It’s the holiday season, after all, so you can’t just write some sales-focused text and call it a day. Tap into your followers’ emotions and focus on how you can help them spread joy through the freebies they can buy from you. Even a simple holiday greeting can go a long way in building the confidence of your customers.
For example, take a look at this email from Kennebunk-based yoga and barre studio Daily sweat, which expresses its gratitude to consumers and wishes the recipients a happy and safe holiday season:
3. Interactivity and withdrawal go hand in hand.
Visual and interactive elements such as GIFs, cinemagraphs and gamification will add interest and style to your holiday posts this year.
Interactivity in emails is an engagement tactic that will help grab attention and generate excitement this holiday season, according to Jaymin Bhuptani, director of Uplers.
Innovate in content using a drop-down menu, accordion, slider, flip effect, or maybe gamification in your email. However, with limited email client compatibility, it’s critical that you provide back-up assistance, says Lauren Gentile, Creative Vice President, Digital Solutions at Epsilon. And yes, test, test and test some more before you send the emails.
4. Segment and rule.
Segment your lists making sure the content appeals to the recipient is essential throughout the year, but it becomes even more important during the holidays when emotions run high.
If you keep track of information like what your subscribers are looking for on your website and what they have purchased from you, segmentation won’t seem like a Herculean task. The better you know your subscribers’ preferences, the better you’ll be able to segment them and send targeted emails while on vacation, which will ultimately lead to better, more qualified conversions.
“Data is obviously critical all year round, but when it comes to the holiday season, focusing your efforts on key customer groups could be more fruitful and a better use of resources,” says Tink Taylor, Founder and President of Dotmailer.
5. Be personal.
According to Shanon Strahl, Senior Digital Marketing Leader at Shaw + Scott, customization will play a central role in the success of your email campaign this holiday season.
Dynamic content created based on the tastes and needs of the subscribers is sure to create a good impression of your brand in the mind of the subscriber and generate a better ROI for you.
Personalize your offers and promotions based on the behavioral data you have, or if you don’t have it, ask them what they like or what they would like to see in your vacation emails.
Update the content of your triggered emails. What if someone signs up to receive your emails during the holiday season? You wouldn’t want to send them your usual welcome template, would you? Don’t let your new subscriber miss the holiday fever and holiday specials.
6. Take the reactive path (this is no longer just an “option”!).
Imagine a subscriber opens your email on a smartphone or iPad and sees a broken design. This is definitely not the user experience you want to deliver, especially not during the peak holiday season! What if the subscriber unsubscribes?
Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy Officer at ReturnPath, believes that since 46% of emails are now opened on mobile devices, there is no choice but to create a responsive design. If you’ve never designed a responsive email before and don’t have a developer on hand, these tips can help you make it streamlined and simple:
- Single column layout
- Minimalist design
- User-friendly navigation and CTA buttons
- Compact images with appropriate alt text
7. Be realistic with real-time content.
The use of real-time content is on the rise, fueled by robust technology to support its integration into emails. “Real-time content can allow your emails to reflect inventory changes, among other benefits, which is a major concern for holiday shopping,” says Ryan Phelan, vice president, Marketing Insights at Adestra. . “Having more control over the message means we can make email a more realistic experience instead of the instant experience it is now.”
Adding a dynamic countdown timer is a great way to create urgency in emails, and there’s no better time to use them than a vacation. Use a timer to promote your sales, shipping times, etc.
Take a look at this countdown in Joybird’s E-mail. Doesn’t that create an emergency?
8. Break the limits of email and get social.
Your followers are looking for freebies for loved ones (and maybe even them too!). But as any vacation shopper knows, you need to look for the perfect gift. Give your followers multiple ways to connect and stay in touch, reminding them of your product at every stage of the buying season.
“Combine social media and email marketing and you are a winner! However, don’t hijack any trending hashtags without prior planning and solid results analysis,” advises Sam Hurley, founder of OPTIM-EYEZ.
For example, this holiday theme Harpoon Brewery the email includes its social buttons, so that subscribers can connect with them on the platform of their choice.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in November 2017 and has been updated for completeness.