Holiday Retail Email Ideas: Somethings Old, Somethings New

Now that September is here, you're probably deep into planning your holiday marketing program. In the spirit of "the season to shop," here are some old and familiar ideas, along with some new ones, to help retailers get the most out of their email marketing efforts.

1. Grow Your Database

Be ready to attract more new holiday customers to your email program.



  • Highlight your promotional email program in your transactional email messages.
  • Add an email opt-in form on your Facebook brand Page.
  • Tweak your opt-in wording to welcome holiday visitors: "Get exclusive holiday deals and offers via email," for example.
  • Be sure every Web page has an email opt-in form or link.

In stores or other physical locations:

  • Use QR codes in catalogs, print materials and signage directing shoppers to register/opt-in to special promotions.
  • Promote texting (SMS) to email opt-in on point-of-sale (POS) signage.
  • Offer to email consumers purchase receipts, and highlight your promotional email program in the receipt messages.(See my earlier column "Where Transactional Messages Fall Short"
  • Set up in-store PCs or tablet computers at store POS or kiosks to allow shoppers to add their names and email addresses to your database.



2. Increase Conversions and Revenue

Use your data to add fresh takes on standard holiday messages.

  • Target and segment subscribers based on engagement levels and whether they've purchased in previous holiday seasons.
  • Incorporate behavioral and preference data into dynamic emails, with content blocks that reflect past purchases, browsing or interests.
  • Target inactive customers with new angles: more aggressive offers, surveys or a different cadence (more or fewer emails, different mailing dates, etc.).
  • Create a "Treat Yourself" December birthday mailing that recognizes the challenges of having or shopping for birthdays on or near December holidays.
  • Create a wish-list program and a campaign to show recipients how to create and send them.
  • Incorporate cart- and browse-abandonment emails.
  • Add geo-targeting to promote events and help shoppers find your nearest store locations.

3. Remove the Friction

Make it easy for browsers and buyers to do business with you.

  • Offer social registration, allowing shoppers to log in to your site via a social network instead of filling out your registration forms.
  • Optimize design templates so emails render well across all devices, but especially smart phones and touch-screen interfaces.
  • Modify your welcome message(s) and/or devote an email message to important shopping information, such as shipping deadlines, return and exchange policies and customer contact information.
  • Include in each message a continually updated chart of shipping options and deadlines.
  • Do the math for your subscribers. For discounted products, display dollar and percent off, original price and new price.
  • Include tips such as gift or buying advice, links to coupon or rebate pages, best time to shop in stores, etc.

4. Integrate Social, Mobile and Email

Social network logos at the bottom of your email aren't enough. Give shoppers shareworthy content and an easy sharing process.  

  • Choose one offer in a multi-offer message that would inspire most people to share it, and make that the focus of your email.
  • Make sharing part of your offer. Turn it into an event to encourage social shopping.
  • Promote email content in your social networks.
  • Add a check-in incentive such as free gift wrapping on location-based services such as Foursquare, and promote it via email.

I've left one crucial strategy off the list: Retain and extend your relationships with your new customers. I'll cover that in a future Email Insider column 

Until next time, take it up a notch!

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