Never is a mailbox fuller than during the holidays. Offline, this means receiving countless cards and catalogues daily. In the digital world, the trend is represented by e-mails…from every retailer and brand you've ever subscribed to in your life.
Some of these messages are particularly effective at achieving two common marketing objectives: engaging consumers with holiday shopping on the brain, and inciting an immediate response. What separates these messages from the ones you'll be deleting on the spot? Social media, seasonal themes, and relevant sponsorships.
Mailings With Social Style
One of the crowning achievements of digital media in 2010 was the introduction of the Facebook "Like" button that, earlier this year, replaced the former "Become a Fan" option on personal and branded Facebook pages. It was one thing to launch this on Facebook itself, and quite another when the social network expanded it to the rest of the Web. Since then, thousands of brand marketers have added the feature to their sites, banner ads, and even e-mail messages.
Some brands, such as children's shoe retailer Stride Rite, are using the "Like" button to increase traffic to a Facebook page and drum up some holiday business online. In a recent e-mail promotion sent using the subject line, "'Like' us for a VIP fan only offer," the company spread the word about its first "Facebook VIP Event," whereby consumers receive a 25 percent discount code after joining the Stride Rite community on Facebook. A potent combination of social media, discount shopping, and holiday flavor make this e-mail campaign – and its corresponding Facebook page – a treat for those with children in their lives.
If you're a boot manufacturer there's no better season in which to launch an e-mail campaign. Then again, if all of your competitors are thinking the same you're likely to have a hard time standing out. One solution is to partner with a popular e-mail digest that delivers a unique voice and a loyal audience of fans.
Sorel did just this with its DailyCandy dedicated e-mail (read purchased ad product) this week. The newsletter's signature wit channels the chilly season ("Try as you might, a belted Snuggie and pair of heels does not an outfit make"), while product imagery, a link to the Sorel site, and a link to an online endorsement in the form of DailyCandy's Editors' Style Guide add brand information and credibility. Social media links allow e-mail recipients to repost the branded content to Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon – a great way to get it in front of family and friends if you're angling for a pair of boots this Christmas.
Sponsored Holiday Gift Guides
They're the cornerstone of online holiday shopping, and with good reason; online gift guides don't just help consumers navigate the stores, but they help brands get their offerings front and center as well. One way in which to do that is with an e-mail sponsorship that increases interest in your product by putting it next to relevant gifts.
Since November, parenting site Babble has been promoting selected products from its online gift guide and making the e-mails available to advertisers for sponsorship. In one mailing, the site suggested a personalized baby quilt featuring a photograph of the child and the message was sponsored by Canon printers. Other advertisers have included Target and Huggies, which promoted their maternity wear and diaper donation program, respectively, alongside Babble's picks for top toys. Such partnerships benefit content provider and advertiser alike as they endeavor to lead the consumer through a natural purchasing process that leapfrogs from product to product.
In a blizzard of holiday advertising it can be difficult to garner attention and remain visible to online shoppers. E-mail campaigns and sponsorships can help digital marketers clear a trail to consumers' front doorsteps and emphasize their value and relevance at this time of year.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
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