What's Your Post-Holiday Email Plan?

by , Dec 19, 2013, 9:23 AM
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During this holiday season, you've likely acquired a boatload of new customers, with their own Web browsing and purchase behavior. Now what?

A post-holiday plan can help you organize what you've learned from the 2013 holiday season and guide your efforts for your 2014 program. It will be as unique as your company and your email program, but it should probably include at least the following three elements:

1. Holiday data analysis. Answer the questions below that fit your program:

  • What did you test, and what did you learn that can be applied going forward?
  • Which holiday offers drove the best results (conversions, revenue, etc.), and which ones didn't work as expected?
  • Which product types sold best via email?
  • How well did email drive traffic to your physical locations?
  • How did smartphones, tablets and desktops compare on conversion, average order value or other KPIs?
  • How did different traffic sources, such as email, social media or SEO/SEM, compare?
  • How effective were Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions compared with other days?
  • Did customers respond to holiday remarketing programs (e.g., cart and browse abandonment) differently from your regular remarketing campaigns?
  • What were your best acquisition sources?

2. Learning from customer behavior. The holiday season is a treasure trove of customer behavior, from browsing to buying. This data can help you flesh out customer profiles or personas to better understand who's buying what and to segment and target better in 2014. Behavior you might leverage in 2014 includes:

  • Which device type did individuals use to purchase?
  • Which offer types lead to individual conversions?
  • Did they respond to cross-sell offers or expedited shipping promotions?
  • Are they they mainly once-a-year gift purchasers, or loyal year-round customers?
  • Can you infer certain demographic types or interests based on email or site behavior?
  • Are they gift card purchasers?

3. Follow-up campaigns. Below are some suggestions for capitalizing on everything you've learned to keep your new customers coming back and to generate more revenue from your regular shoppers:

Onboarding: Many of your new email subscribers came onboard by browsing or buying on your site. Slot them for special messaging in your welcome/onboarding program and include information that educates them on your brand, culture and value propositions and explains the benefits of providing preference data for more relevant emails.

Cross-sell/upsell programs: These are standard programs, but your new customers might not be the end users for the products they purchased. If you can establish that the purchase was a gift (either through a "This is a gift" checkmark in the purchase process or in a follow-up survey), consider a cross-sell/upsell program tied to other gift holidays, such as Valentine's Day or the recipient's birthday.

Loyalty/premium program reminders: Invite new buyers to sign up for your loyalty or reward program using emails that dynamically populate what shipping costs they could have saved or rewards points earned had they joined at purchase.

Track in-store buyers: Can you identify subscribers who only buy in your stores but not online? Consider segmenting them to primarily receive store promotional emails.

Post-purchase education programs: Send emails with tips and advice for specific products, in order to increase buyers' satisfaction and to cross-sell/upsell related products.

Go social: Invite your customers to share their stories and photos on your Facebook pages, post on their Pinterest boards, tag on Instagram or use other social media channels.

Gift cards: Identify gift card buyers, then target those customers with promotions tied to gift holidays including Valentine's Day and Mother's/Father's Day.

Track preferred promos:  If you track promotions by subject line or offer (e.g., free shipping versus discounts), use click and purchase data to identify which offers are more likely to motivate an individual subscriber to buy. Then add that data to the subscriber's profile, and market appropriately.

Getting Started: Just Do It

I know this looks like a lot of work to toss in your lap just as you were gearing up for the final holiday crunch, but don't let the list intimidate you. Not every suggestion will apply to your company or email program, and you likely will have data points or strategies that I didn't list here.

If so, I would enjoy hearing what you're planning for your own post-holiday planning. Leave me a comment below.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

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