Master Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns

According to Scott Heimes, CMO SendGrid Brand Strategy, the holiday season, for brands both online and offline, is off and running as a high-risk, high-reward period, and standing out from the competition may be the difference between financial success and failure for the year, says the report.



That means getting a lot of messages out to a lot of recipients, fast and often. However, doing so, especially over email, risks overwhelming and annoying potential customers. The report, however, has compiled tips, tricks, and learnings from 2016's holiday season that should help refine your emails, says Heimes.

  • Look to the prior year  Year to year, holiday marketing campaigns should be distinct, but each campaign should take into account what has worked before. Look into where customers are coming from when they clicked a link and what time of day they did so. Those are elements that can help inform a winning holiday email strategy.
  • Don't flood consumers with your emails  Avoid annoying your recipients and maintain a good reputation by moderating your email cadence during the holiday season. Ask your recipients, before and during the holidays, whether they'd prefer to opt in or out of holiday-related emails.
  • Don't worry over personalization (too much)  For email marketing, the typical mantra is "personalization, personalization, personalization." Though that approach is valid for the vast majority of the year, it takes a backseat during the holiday season.
  • According to SendGrid data, says the report, the unique open rate for personalized emails during the holiday season is 15%, compared with 17% for un-personalized emails. The most important element in holiday emails is the value that the message provides to the consumer.
  • Avoid emoticons and symbols in the subject line  Emoticons are a popular medium to connect with consumers, but they don't belong in the subject line of your marketing emails, says the report. In fact, according to the study, using emoticons in the subject line could drop engagement by up to 5%. Moreover, symbols increase the likelihood your message will be sent to the spam folder.
  • Less is more  In 2016, the most popular email subject lines were only seven words long. The study found that shorter subject lines, even down to two words, tend to correlate with higher engagement.
  • Separate your streams  If your organization is running an email campaign this holiday season, then it'll be running both transactional and marketing. Construct the two with separate IP addresses and domains, says the report, in order to prevent any cross-contamination if issues arise in your transactional or marketing emails.
  • Drop the deadweight  Cleaning your email lists may sound counterintuitive during such a high-traffic period, but sending email to unresponsive recipients risks filtering your messages into spam folders. If enough such signals are sent, your messages could be filtered, blocked, or blacklisted by an ISP, says the report.
  • 'Black Friday' gets the black mark  The consumer encounter the terms "Black Friday," "Super Saturday," or "Cyber Monday" too many times during the holiday season, says the report, and finds that subject lines mentioning a shopping holiday, such as Black Friday, tended to perform worse than those that do not. Avoiding these terms in your emails helps your message stand out from the noise.

Concluding, the report says that email marketing and email delivery are both an art and a science, especially during high-traffic periods. Don't be afraid to experiment (and test!) with your email program during the holiday season. Keep your messages brief and straight to the point, and measure email engagement.


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