Merry Christmas! Yes, just in case it’s crept up on you, Christmas is only 50 days away. Email traffic typically increases upwards of 20% in the festive run up so now’s the time to get organised. Many of the Christmas season to-do’s centre around an amplification of your normal email marketing activities. There are some specifics, but with a generally elevated level of email traffic all round, all of your good email marketing practices become just that little bit more important.
Cyber weekend is coming
Apparently around 30% of us will leave Christmas shopping until the last 10 days. For the rest of us ‘Christmas creep’ can start as early as mid-October, certainly after the ‘cyber’ weekend (Black Friday and Cyber Monday – this year on 27th and 30th November respectively). It’s no longer a US phenomenon. Even in the UK, a recent survey indicated that 83% of shoppers are aware of the Cyber weekend with an over 25% increase in online purchases over that short period. Last year, email sends through the Sign-Up.to platform peaked at 3 times the seasonal average over the Cyber weekend, so if you’re planning to join the 2015 rush, make sure you and your email service provider are sufficiently geared up for the increase.
Get your timing right
Regarding timing, for marketers, studies indicate that ‘Christmas’ references are most effective in November, progressively tailing off throughout December, so a good place to start is to review your campaigns for the same period last year. This can tell you a lot about how your last year’s festive campaigns were received and any additional capacity and resources that you might need. With more email traffic out there, the timing of your campaigns can have an important effect, so as well as checking your campaign statistics, check your website analytics too.
Set the expectation
Next, if you are planning a temporary but significant increase in your email output, it might be worthwhile letting your subscribers know in advance. After all (hopefully) at the point of subscription you’ve set an expectation in terms of the frequency of your communication, so it’s only polite to notify of any changes to that anticipation. A nice touch could be to add a preferences campaign with the option to temporarily opt-out of any additional festive communications. Your loyal subscribers will appreciate this (they probably won’t take up the offer) and it shows a respect to those who are just getting to know you.
To be or not to be -festive?
To Christmas brand or not? Perhaps not surprisingly psychologists indicate an enhanced reception to the colours of red, green and gold over the festive period, but remember others will be doing the same so be prepared to work a little harder than usual to stand out. It can be worthwhile to temporarily ‘festive-up’ regular automated messages like your welcome campaigns. Although marketing savvy people generally recognise that these as being automated it shows that you’re business is active and responsive as human beings too.
10, 9, 8. 7 etc
Bearing in mind the third of us who leave Christmas shopping to the last minute, effectively dealing with urgency can be a beneficial strategy. Creating a countdown sequence, synchronised between your email campaigns and your website helps to add immediacy and manage expectations for aspects like responsiveness and delivery. Use your intelligence. You can also use geo-location profiling to assist with indicating free delivery areas or the most local collection points, and supplementing your usual online fulfilment with a ‘call us’ option will be welcome for those who want the reassurance of a speedy human response.
Target your best prospects
Another approach that relies on ‘audiences’, that is the profiling dimensions that help you precision target your campaigns, is to use engagement profiling to deliver your urgent campaigns first, or perhaps exclusively, to the most loyal of your subscribers. With increased traffic and competition if you need to focus then this is where you’ll most likely pick up the best and most rapid returns. Also look at any behavioural targeting intelligence that you have to hand. Recent frequent browsers of your website, owners of abandoned baskets and last-year’s festive purchases are also a good focal point. Marketing automation, integration of your various data sources and using the intelligence in your subscriber profiles will be the tools you need here.
Check the weather forecast – really!
For online retailers, Boxing Day (even Christmas day) is a big opportunity – check the weather forecast too. The rainy Boxing Day 2014 saw £519,000 spent online in the UK every minute, with an estimated online spend of £750 million, around 20% higher than the previous year. The redemption of vouchers plays a significant part in these transactions so not only are they an attractive pre-Christmas offer they can represent a quick profit turnaround.
After the party
As Christmas approaches beware of the onset of festive-fatigue – not everyone finds the Christmas build up exciting and prepare for those who put it off for as long as possible. Around 3% of online UK shoppers left their purchases to the last few minutes, with 14% of these still wanting same day delivery! so a final handy trick is to use a simple marketing automation offer customers the option to schedule a Boxing Day reminder instead.
There are lots of other festive considerations – from the sensible, like to use your profile information to bear in mind that not everyone celebrates, or even likes Christmas, to the whacky, like increasing the size of your mobile call to action buttons to account for seasonally fat fingers and blurry eyesight over the festive period. Hmmm?
Whatever your preparations and plans, let me be the first to wish you a very merry Christmas! Have a good one