Following our consumer shopping research and the trends we’re seeing from consumers, we’ve outlined some practical tips and advice for email marketers on the run up to the festive season. 

Leveraging knowledge from the industry and your own organisation, you will be able to make 2011 the best festive period yet.

Lessons from Christmas past

To get the most from this year’s programmes, reviewing all aspects of last year’s activity will stand you in good stead for a more successful year.

  • Look at all aspects of your online and email strategy to see what worked and didn’t work last year, make the negatives into this year’s success; incorporate learning’s into this year’s strategy and tactics.
  • How were customers behaving on your website this time last year? And how were they interacting with your email programmes?
  • Which promotional offers worked the best, which product lines performed better than others?
  • Are you aware of what online strategies/programmes your competitors are implementing?

Strategy for Christmas present

  • Key dates: Ensure you’re aware and fully utilise the key dates for your business and for your customers – plan out your messaging and email strategy in a calendar
  • Testing: Send variations of your emails to different customer groups/demographics to test results. Are you achieving cut through in busy Christmas inboxes? Try to be creative and watch out for overuse of spammy words
  • Creative: Look at refreshing the content, design and messaging of your regular newsletter and promotional templates. Don’t forget your transactional email templates too, they’re going to be used a lot during the festive shopping season! Try to be creative and fresh to achieve stand out in the inbox – be careful with HTML coding and image/text ratio.
  • Segmentation & Targeting: Leverage your customer data to produce the highest response rates, using data driven content in email campaigns. Who are your customers buying for – themselves, family, friends? Use this behavioural data collected in behavioural link categories to target recipients more specifically
  • Automation: Utilise your email marketing software tools to plan and link campaigns, to become fully automated in responding to all possible recipient behaviours – deliver targeted product recommendations, shape the timings of your campaigns and leverage abandoned shopping cart data to implement re-marketing messaging and targeting.
  • Deliverability: Over 90% of emails sent are spam and ISP’s block millions of emails every day – ensure you know which ISPs you need to be aware of from your list, and keep up-to-date with any changes they’ve made. Using a delivery tool can help you monitor your deliverability and keep on top of any issues

Ideas for Christmas future

Christmas 2011 will be over before you know it, and it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for both the year ahead and fourth quarter next year – taking lessons learned over these next few months.

  • Reporting:  Measure everything! Using professional email marketing software will allow you to analyse a full set of campaign results post-Christmas. Tracking and analysing your open rates, click rates, open to click ratios, conversion and deliverability rates against your sales figures will enable you to present a positive set of ROI reports back to the business.
  • Multiple Devices:   With the huge growth in the smartphone and tablet market, and consumers using multiple devices for accessing the internet, it’s important that all areas of your communications are geared up for this shift in technology. Ensure you’ve got your mobile audience in mind when looking at creative, design and messaging.
  • Social Media:   Integrating social media fully into your marketing mix will become continually important, with Facebook alone accounting for more than 53% of internet visits so far in 2011 (Hitwise). Include a sign up link in all your external communications – emails, email signatures, offline marketing material to continually build your following AND make sure your email contains something worth sharing and ensure that each content area is linked separately, to maximise your social sharing response rates