Marketers are facing a significant uphill battle this season; the days are getting longer and prices are getting higher, so every communication needs to count, especially when that messaging is hitting a saturated inbox.
Over the last two years, more and more shoppers bought in early November for a variety of reasons, including inventory and supply chain issues. This year looks to be no different, but the main thing motivating people to buy now instead of later is inflation; Retail Dive reports that 46% of holiday shoppers are starting to shop even earlier to avoid price hikes.
An integrated omnichannel strategy is key to getting into the consideration set, and the inbox is one of the most important components that can spell success or failure this year. So how can your email campaigns ensure that your brand is front and center when consumers start shopping?
Your holiday email strategy requires advanced testing, smart segmentation, and a variety of promotional offers
Before you solidify your promotional calendar for November and December, you should be testing different email formats now so you can learn what motivates your customers so you have the right campaigns in place during peak periods when inboxes are being bombarded.
In an ideal world, you’ve been running tests through August and September, but there’s still time to get some learnings through the end of October. But once November hits, the time for testing is over; you should be taking those learnings into your actual campaigns and leveraging your new best practices to maximize performance.
Part of that testing process means running different campaigns against different audience segments. You need to prioritize high-intent audiences who are more likely to actually make a purchase or use your service and figure out what campaigns, messaging, creative, and promotions will move the needle for those cohorts.
Open up your segments to include more contact in your sends; that will help you develop more granular segments based on purchase history or customer lifetime value.
Because the shopping season is getting longer, you’ll need to plan for several different promotions to maintain interest throughout the holidays. Remember: variety is critical; you don’t want to just grab attention, but keep it, especially as people are spending more time doing research as part of the consideration process.
Your holiday email campaigns need to be integrated with other channels, relevant, and mobile-friendly
You need to make sure you’re not hammering people who have already made a purchase early as you move further into the season. You should know if they purchased no matter what channel they used to get to the conversion point. Then you can leverage tactics like exclusion targeting across channels to deliver relevant messaging to the right audiences at the right time.
Because sales events are pivotal during holidays, especially given the current state of the economy, put them front and center. You want the customer experience to be as seamless as possible, so your offers need to be consistent across channels; they should share the same name, promo code, and dates, so you don’t say one thing on social and another at the inbox.
Your messaging, value proposition, and promotional offers need to be consistent across all touchpoints.
Don’t lose customers because of unforced errors. According to Adobe’s holiday predictions, mobile shopping is expected to grow by 20% for the 2022 season, so you need to take a mobile-first approach to email design. Failure to do so leads to a bad user experience that could result in failure to purchase, even if your messaging and promotional offers are perfectly calibrated.
That same logic applies to your website. If your emails are on point but they direct people to a site that isn’t built to convert or mobile friendly, you’ll lose conversions you should win. Work with your web team to make sure your site is performance-ready by optimizing for page speed, minimizing plugins, focusing on active campaigns, and deactivating old tags.
Consumers choose brands that offer competitive deals, in-store options, and positioning that aligns with their values
Savvy consumers know that holiday discounts and sales this year are likely to be weaker than in the past because of the state of the economy, but months of pent-up demand and forced austerity have left people very motivated to find the best deals possible.
That’s where the unique position of the inbox comes into focus. Even people who have opted into getting messages from your brand are going to be turned off by emails that read as spammy or a bait-and-switch. If you’re using a promotional offer as the hook to draw people in, make sure it’s actually worth their while. They have given you permission to enter their inbox; now it’s up to you to live up to that privilege and make the most of the opportunity.
People also want more options around how to shop; this is the first time in years that brick-and-mortar stores are fully operational. Expect customers to gravitate to in-person options. If you have physical store locations, make sure to highlight any exclusive in-store promotions, BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) or BOPUC (buy online, pick up curbside) options, or even local delivery if that’s available in certain areas.
Outside of shopping earlier and shopping in-store, Salesforce reports that 88% percent of consumers now expect brands and retailers to clearly state their values with 64% saying they’ll stop doing business with a company if corporate values don’t align with their own.
This doesn’t have to be a death sentence if your brand or business hasn’t aligned on a mission statement to share with your customers.
Instead, think of it as the reason for the season and share the good you’ve been doing over the past year. You don’t need a full mission statement to take the opportunity to share your values and show your customers that your brand is aligned with what they care about, whether that’s sustainable product options or local community outreach.
In the end, it’s all about connection; the inbox is the most direct route to your customers and a crucial part of your November/December strategy. There’s still time to make the most of that access.