It's not too late to inject a little innovation into your holiday email-marketing planning, even if you feel as if Cranberry Red Thursday (Thanksgiving in the U.S.) is hovering over your shoulder already.
My list below suggests six holiday revenue or engagement strategies that you can either launch or update in the weeks that remain before the blitz begins.
1.Strategy: Look for ways to close the smartphone conversion gap by making your emails easier for shoppers to view and act on, coordinating email and mobile messaging.
Launch: If a full redesign isn't in the cards, make your emails more mobile-friendly: raise the font size, reduce the column width to avoid side-scrolling, and trim copy to place the most important content at the top of the message. Delete all but the most essential copy.
Update: Use email to encourage customers to download, install and use your mobile app. Also, use email to persuade users to accept mobile and Web push notifications.
2. Strategy: Move beyond the one-day extravaganza to differentiate your emails from all the other Black Friday emails in subscribers' inboxes.
Launch: Create a unique promotion and content approach for each of the five shopping days bracketing Black Friday, from "Cranberry Red Thursday" to Black Friday to Cyber Monday.
Update: Focus on Cranberry Red Thursday, which became a retail shopping day in 2014. If your stores will open on Thanksgiving, consider special promotions and shopper information about store hours, locations and special offers to increase awareness and drive traffic.
3. Strategy:Dedicate at least one email a week to "white space" content that informs and educates.
Launch: Kick off your holiday shopping season with an email guide covering essential information: free or expedited shipping deadlines, store locations, special hours, gift lists, return policies, payment options, customer service contacts and anything else that would help shoppers buy successfully.
Update: Create email buyers’ guides for specialty gift purchases where rookie shoppers could use some virtual assistance -- like sporting goods, electronics, jewelry, housewares or clothing. Alert shoppers about impending deadlines, changes in store hours and other late-season initiatives.
4. Strategy:Promote gift card purchases and redemption promotions in remarketing programs and email content.
Launch: Develop a broad-based promotion plan that suggests gift-card purchases to browse abandoners. Dedicate several emails to buying, giving and redeeming gift cards online and in stores. Add gift-card information to every holiday email.
Update: Close out the shopping season with an email listing gift ideas and policies/procedures for redeeming gift cards.
5. Strategy:Add abandoned-cart and browse-abandonment reminder emails to bring casual or comparison shoppers back to your website.
Launch: This might be an ambitious undertaking in the waning days of Q3 or the quietest days of Q4, but given the potential revenue at stake, it's at least worth exploring.
Do what you need to do to get a basic abandoned-cart email program up, tested and running before the shopping season swings into high gear. Address the reasons why shoppers break off transactions, such as technical problems or shipping-fee objections. Link to the transaction page, and include exact product descriptions and photos.
Update: Increase the number of email reminders from one to a series. Move from batched messages to an hour or less from cart abandonment for the first message.
Shoppers often use carts as virtual shopping lists. So, make your carts persistent if you can but remind shoppers in abandonment emails about the hazards of waiting too long (out-of-stock merchandise, expiring promotions, etc.).
6. Strategy:Add or buff up transactional emails to increase trust, reduce doubt, engage new shoppers and bring them back after the holidays.
Launch: Add at least one new transactional email, especially a "fulcrum" message: an email that's pivotal in driving revenue, engagement or actions. Consider an enhanced welcome message or onboarding program or a companion to a purchase, such as a shipping notification.
Update: Add an opt-in invitation to every transactional message to convert new shoppers to subscribers. Move from batched message sending to near-real time.
Which of these has the potential to move the needle on your holiday email program?
Until next time, take it up a notch!