How to avoid post-holiday carnage.
We all know what the holidays mean for email marketers. Late nights, big revenue, and insane frequency. Is it even possible to send 27 emails in 11 days? Big retailers will find out this holiday season, rest assured. When the majority of your revenue comes in eight weeks, all rules get thrown out the window to ensure it's a successful season. And this spills over to the digital channel. Here are five tips to ensure success on the email front and prevent your program from becoming post-holiday carnage left for dead.
1. Manage expectations. This goes to both internal teams and your subscribers. To me this is crucial. Any CMO should know the long-term impact versus short-term gain when ramping up email frequency. Educated decisions are always better than blind ones and this impacts many loyal and valuable customers too. If they know they will get an email a day with an exclusive offer, they may stay on the list. What about the same offer 10 days in a row like many retailers send? Kick off your holiday season with an email that outlines the schedule and benefits. Even better, give them the choice to opt down, meaning they can just get a weekly or monthly email or even pause their subscription if they have no intent on making a holiday purchase from your brand. In most circumstances, this is much better than an unsubscribe.
2. Have awesome subject lines. This is an email bread-and-butter type of tactic, yet most of us write subject lines in the 11th hour. If I ran email for a big box chain or department store that depends on a huge Q4, I would have been using the first nine months of the year as an idea proving ground. Guess what moves the needle? Subject lines, so I hope most retailers have a proven list of dozens of possible subject lines to use based on offer and response metrics.
3. Acquire subscribers. While I know email often isn't included in the offline media huddle, social media will get a big push and email will likely be ignored. Again. However, email will be driving 2011 and 2012 holiday sales. So make the effort to build for the future and acquire email addresses by including tags in print ads, in-store efforts, and of course, social media. Want to find a low-hanging fruit? Use Foursquare to drive your in-store customers to email (you can find out how to do this here).
4. Don't just include social; be social. Buttons won't drive sales or build engagement. Let email subscribers see what people are chatting about on Facebook or Twitter or view product videos that fans have created. Give them a taste and demonstrate the value of becoming an email subscriber on these other channels too.
5. Develop killer multi-platform creative. Good creative can (but certainly not always) balance out weak or repeated offers or get the unengaged browsing. This holiday season should find mall dwellers walking around with their phones looking at their inbox offers. A clunky email that doesn't render well on smartphones may prevent potential customers from redeeming that offer while they are within feet of your store! That doesn't sound like a good conversion tactic, right? How can any digital marketer with brick-and-mortar locations not have mobile-optimized emails? Or if you want to control operational issues and consumer behavior (like mobile coupon redemption), ensure the mobile version guides them to this desired action (like the email below from restaurant chain FATZ).
What would you add to the list? Will email influence your consumer behavior this holiday season?
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Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.
Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.
Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.
He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.
Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.
Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.
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