Komal Helyer
Komal Helyer 17 December 2019

3 Ways to Perfect Your Email Marketing for Christmas

Despite enduring difficult times over the past few years, retailers have been buoyed by better than expected Black Friday sales. But brands must take different approaches to their Christmas marketing strategies to ensure their festive campaigns are successful and resonate in the right way with customers. With this in mind, we have looked at how retailers can best use email marketing to boost sales this Christmas.

This year, the Black Friday retail sales event fared a lot better than expected, with transactions up 16.5% compared with last year. Subsequent to such positive retail news – which has been few and far between for quite some time - brands will be keen to double down their efforts and continue to make the most of the upcoming festive period.

Consumers were clearly compelled to shop this November; partly thanks to some well executed campaigns designed to drive sales by creating a sense of excitement and urgency. These tactics included countdown timers, surprise flash sales, and mystery gifts – among many others.

But whilst these selling tactics are helpful for cutting through the noise during events like Black Friday, shoppers who are feeling festive and on the hunt for the perfect gift still require marketing messages that show greater attention to detail. With this in mind, we have looked at three things brands need to do to perfect their email marketing for Christmas, boost sales and drive long-term loyalty.

Keep emails helpful

As anyone who has ever bought gifts can tell you, Christmas shopping can be stressful. Whether you’re struggling to decide what to get someone or just trying desperately to find the time to shop; Christmas can be overwhelming. As such, many of us (45%) are even using working hours to get our shopping done, according to the findings of our latest research.

During busy periods such as these, brands have an opportunity to be especially helpful through channels such as email marketing. For retailers of all sizes, email can be an incredibly powerful tool. Every message that ends up in the customer’s inbox should deliver real value and make the shopping experience as straightforward as possible as a result. Brands can provide consumers with useful information like stock updates, guaranteed delivery cut-off dates and real-time popularity to streamline the shopping process.

Our research revealed that one in two people interact with marketing emails during the working day, suggesting that during the day is an optimal time to reach out to consumers who may be browsing. However, they are far more likely to interact with content they perceive to be useful and beneficial to them when shopping.

Understanding behaviour

Every customer is different, which means that the messages you send them should be different too. It may be tempting to just broadcast messages to a customer segment at a specific time in the day to get a message across, but this isn’t the best way to engage customers who already receive thousands of brand messages in a given day. This is not to say that brands should just address consumers by name; in fact, we found that only 8% of consumers said that they are likely to engage with online retailers that address them by their first name in their brand marketing

By leveraging behavioural insights, brands can tailor content to each customer’s specific needs. Granular insights can reveal deeper understandings about the behaviour of recipients and how they interact with different messages.

If a customer’s purchase history shows them to be a thirty-something female but searches for men’s watches suddenly start appearing in their browse history in the first couple of weeks of December, it’s highly likely that the person is shopping for a gift. In this instance, brands could use this insight to tailor messages designed to help the customer; delivering information such as the most popular items in this category.

These consumers may also be more reliant on social proof when selecting what gifts to buy. For instance, a customer gift shopping for an item they know little about is more likely to be swayed to purchase from one retailer over another if their email marketing makes use of social proof tactics, such as customer ratings and reviews, whilst the other leaves the customer in the dark about what other purchasers say.

Granular insights can even explore important factors such as where individual recipients click within an email, on which devices they tend to open an email and where in the world these interactions are happening. The beauty of these analytic insights mean marketers can see what’s working and what isn’t and trial new ways of generating engagement.

Be mindful of mindset  

Although often discussed to a lesser extent, context and mindset are key considerations when creating email campaigns. Whilst we know consumers are interacting with marketing messages during the working day, it’s important to note that office shoppers don’t want personal and professional messages to mix – preferring to be contacted by brands through personal communication channels only. This is a key consideration when preparing databases for campaign execution.

In addition, our research found that younger consumers are more open to things like subscription boxes such as those offered by brands including Glossybox and Bookishly’s ‘Classic of the Month Club’. Just under half of this age group (43%) claimed they would be purchasing more of these over the next 12 months compared to just 16% of customers over the age of 55.

As such, content aimed at pushing subscription box offers should be tailored with a younger demographic in mind, whose mindsets and lifestyles are different to those of the older generation who prefer clarity, convenience and ease of experience. To drive sales with these consumers, the simpler deal-led communications that let a customer know when and where items are available is the best way to cut through.

Marketers have a real opportunity to use customer insights creatively. Data doesn’t necessarily provide all the answers, but it does provide an opportunity to try, test and validate creative ideas for driving sales – especially during key shopping periods. By combining creativity with data and insight, marketers can help to make sure that they spread cheer to both their customers and their bottom lines.

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