Seattle may have seen some snow flurries last week, but the calendar tells us that summer is fast approaching. That means it's time to start soaking up some inspiration for sunny-day email campaigns.
Here are our top five tips for 2011 summer success:
1. Get subscribers into your stores by leveraging cross-channel strategies. Social networking use has boomed over the past year across all age demographics. Take advantage of this growth with an extra push toward community building, especially by using social network connections to invite subscribers to shop in-store and attend brand events. When the weather's nice, people are more likely to go out for social shopping days or to gather friends to attend special happenings, and cross-channel marketing increases the likelihood that your invites will go viral.
2. Stay sensitive to subscribers' summer budgets. While some recent reports have celebrated increased consumer spending, joblessness rates are still up and gas prices are on the rise. It's likely that this will be another summer in which subscribers look for ways to enjoy the season on a budget. Keep an eye on consumer spending habits and test your campaigns to determine the best type of messaging for your particular audience. Value-conscious subscribers may respond best to "staycation" spins on your services and products, or to fun tips for local activities. A strong example is REI's summer 2010 geocaching email, which didn't need to specifically mention "savings" or "budgeting" to highlight how a one-time gadget purchase could offer tons of fun without spendy travel.
3. Make a place for your brand in your subscribers' summer stories. Use copy to call out the relevance of your products and services to specific summer activities, or offer non-sales messaging with packing tips, treat recipes, activity recommendations, etc. Some strong 2010 examples includes Lucy's message about its clothes' travel-friendliness, this Barneys email calling out the suitability of its jeans to "blokes'" summer bike rides, and The Container Store's late-summer back-to-school "quick tips." The key is to figure out what's on subscribers' minds this time of year and plan how your brand can fit seamlessly into it.
4. Make a place for your subscribers' summer stories in your email program. As scores of our friends' Facebook albums will attest, people love sharing their summer exploits with people around them; why not create a venue for that sharing in your brand's email program? Consider inviting subscribers to share stories about their best summer moments through your social channels, and then highlight the best ones in your email. Think about running photo contests showcasing subscriber use of your products and then featuring favorites on your Facebook page or in your email.
5. Take time to get inspired! The best part of planning summer campaigns is the fun opportunity to loosen up your creative -- take risks with color, layout, images and copy. Before you get into the thick of campaign planning, make sure your creative team has time to get their summer groove on and gather some fresh ideas. Pull out the vacation photos or swimsuits, pour some glasses of iced tea, turn up the heat to get that balmy-evening feel, and don't forget to take a look at last year's summer campaigns to see what you loved and what you could build on. A quick search through our inbox yielded this sweetness from UncommonGoods and this fun splash of color from Piperlime, and we remember lots of other good stuff from last year, too.
Most importantly, if you have fun with your email this summer, so will your subscribers. We're looking forward to seeing color and creativity arriving in our inboxes over the upcoming months!