By now, the ever-earlier holiday selling season is already in full swing. According to Chad White’s recently released 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season study, last year, 60% of major retailers mentioned the holiday season at least once in their promotional emails before the end of October -- and you can assume that even more retailers are getting a head start this year.
While much of the planning for these crucial final weeks of 2012 took place months ago, there’s still time to implement easy wins that can make your end-of-the-year push that much more successful. Think of these ideas as a last-minute shopping trip for your holiday email marketing program:
Use countdown clocks to make special sales more compelling. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Day After Christmas -- the holiday season is all about one-day-only blowouts. There’s also “Last Sleigh Day” -- the last day to order gifts online in time for shipping by Christmas Eve. Heighten the urgency to take advantage of these special events by embedding streaming countdown timers into emails showing the final hours, minutes, and seconds to take advantage of your sales ticking away. Check out how retailers like Nordstrom and Gumps have used this simple technique to move more consumers to “buy now.”
Embed maps in email to drive in-store sales. Don’t just add a small store locator button to the bottom of your emails and wait and pray for people to click on it, launch a browser, enter their data, click submit, etc. Multichannel marketers like Steve Madden and Chico’s are cutting to the chase and embedding live maps directly into emails showing recipients their closest store locations based on when and where they open the email. Remember, not everyone will be making their offline purchases at stores closest to their homes -- they might want to shop near their offices during lunch breaks, or anywhere else they may happen to be. Showing real-time location information (as opposed to showing location information based on pre-send home zip code data) will make your “visit a store near you” call-to-action much more relevant and appealing.
Show dwindling inventory counts. Marketers in many categories thrive off showcasing scarce inventory -- travel and entertainment marketers for sure, but also retailers with hot items that may be available in limited quantities. These marketers should highlight that there are “X many items available at Y price” in their emails just as they already do on their websites. ShopNBC has used this tactic to showcase hyper-timely deals that are “On Air Now” for one hour only. The same approach can be applied to selling airline seats, concert tickets, etc.
Leverage social proof to close the deal. Few things are as powerful as third-party endorsements from real-life customers. Cutting-edge brands like American Eagle Outfitters and Bonobos are tapping into their greatest assets -- their own customers -- to make email campaigns stand out in the inbox. They aren’t just slapping little blue birds and Facebook icons to the bottom of their templates; they’re actually streaming the social conversation going on about their products on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into emails. Follow their lead to achieve true email-social integration.
There is enough time left to make this year’s holiday selling season as good as it can be. Give yourself the gift of an innovative holiday email program and get more customers to buy their gifts from you.