Three percent of top retailers have already begun their holiday email marketing campaigns, a number that will tick up several more points before July is over. Whether you believe such early starts are effective or not, July is definitely the time to start planning your holiday campaigns.
In a few days we'll be releasing our 4th annual Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season. But the most important step in planning your holiday email campaigns is reviewing what happened last year. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Where did we run into time crunches in our production process? Are there production changes that would make things run more smoothly? How can our ESP or agency help?
2. Which of our email campaigns generated the highest conversions? Try to determine the cause of the outperformance. Were there any specific offers (percent discount, dollar discount, free shipping, tiered offers, etc.) associated with those? What were the subject lines? On what days were they sent? What time or time of day (morning, afternoon, night) were they sent?
3. Which campaigns generated the lowest conversions? Try to determine the cause of the underperformance.
4. Which segmentation and dynamic content tactics were the most successful?
5. Which campaigns were forwarded and shared the most? What about those campaigns made them so viral?
6. Which campaigns generated the highest unsubscribe rates? The highest spam complaints? Why was that?
7. Did we change our cadence or the number of emails we sent per week? If so, did it impact our complaint rates or the raw number of complaints we generated per 7-day period? Did we encounter deliverability filtering or blocking as a result?
8. Did we change our audience size or scope (i.e., mailing more inactives)? If so, did that impact our deliverability rates or success in reaching the inbox?
9. Did we have to send any apology emails? What did we apologize about? Have steps been taken to fix the problems?
10. How well were our email campaigns coordinated with our social and mobile campaigns? Were we able to quickly incorporate learnings from our social and mobile channels into our email messaging? How can we improve our cross-channel integration?
11. Were we able to capitalize on the increase in traffic to our website, social media pages and other touchpoints to grow our email subscriber base? How can we improve email capture rates?
12. What tests have we conducted this year? What did we learn? How can we apply those learnings to our holiday campaigns?
Reviewing last year's holiday email performance is a great way to prepare for the upcoming season. And doing it now gives you plenty of time to address the new challenges and opportunities you'll be facing this year, such as the need for email designs that are more mobile- and tablet-friendly, and for better cross-channel integration.