It Pays to Pay Attention to Your Holiday Email Marketing

by Drew Barton

Fifty- to 100-percent more ecommerce revenue is pulled in between Black Friday and Christmas, compared to shopping days throughout the rest of the year, according to RJMetrics.

Email marketing may not be flashy or technologically impressive compared to other internet features, but when used correctly, it can accomplish more than nearly any other online marketing technique.

More people than ever are buying their gifts online, and the most powerful tool for reaching these customers is email. Not only is an email address a direct line of communication with a potential customer, it’s also “instant” compared to physical “snail mail.” With the holiday shopping season starting earlier and earlier each passing year, companies are planning their email marketing campaigns sooner to take advantage of it.

Here are some tips for building an effective email marketing strategy.

Cultivate a strong, qualified list

This should be a year-round goal. When it comes to email marketing, it’s truly quality over quantity. Whether you have a couple hundred or several thousand subscriber emails on your email list, the most important thing is that there are engaged, motivated customers behind those addresses.

That’s why it’s crucial to fill your email list with high-quality subscribers who have willingly opted in to receive your communications. Anyone who consents to share an email address with your company is essentially inviting you to use it. Since the odds of converting an email subscriber into a customer are far greater than someone who simply stumbles upon your company website, you should definitely be putting those email addresses to use.

Keep an eye on your metrics.

One of the best things about email marketing is that you can see what people do with the emails when you send them. You can see who opened your email (and who didn’t), what links they clicked on within the email, and how many times they opened the email, among other things.

These metrics are incredibly important for refining a seasonal email campaign. With metrics, you can do some A/B testing, or see how changing different aspects of your email impacts the metrics. For example, if your initial open rate is low, some email newsletter software will allow you to experiment with different catchy subject lines to see if they improve your open rates; or you can see if sending a biweekly email gets you more results than sending one monthly.

By monitoring your metrics over the course of your holiday email marketing campaign, you can evaluate what is doing well and what is not, and then course correct based on those observations.

Never miss out on an opportunity to offer an enticing deal.

These days, big sale announcements and coupon code offerings make up a significant chunk of ecommerce email marketing messages. Why? Because they work. Everyone loves a good discount, which is why online retailers dole them out so frequently.

Sales, coupons, customer loyalty programs, and other “deals” influence consumer purchasing decisions, raise average order totals, discourage shopping cart abandonment, and promote customer loyalty that results in repeat business. One of the most effective ways to disseminate these deals is through email marketing.

Set up marketing automation to hone in on specific segments.

You can automate some of your marketing tasks and ultimately provide a tailored experience to your customers based on their demographics or behavior. By setting up marketing automation for your email campaigns, you can send product recommendations, abandoned cart notifications, or even win back inactive subscribers with engaging content or enticing coupon codes. With the flurry of holiday sales activity, automation can help streamline your seasonal email marketing campaigns.

If you’re not doing much with your business’ email marketing strategy, now is the time to change that. Whether you’re trying to galvanize online sales or boost year-end engagement, email marketing can help you hit this holiday shopping season out of the ball park.


Drew Barton is the former webmaster for CNN.com and the founder and president of Southern Web, an award-winning digital agency specializing in web development and digital marketing solutions. He is the author of The Buyer’s Guide to Websites: What You Need to Know to Get the Website of Your Dreams. For more information, please visit, southernweb.com.

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