Others may be making the most of the last rays of summer, but for marketers the festive season is already in full swing.
Months of pre-planning go into the emails that hit inboxes come December – and with overall email volume increasing by 25% during the festive season, it’s clear that marketers have to work harder than ever to engage customers.
So what can brands do to break through this year’s explosion of Christmas inbox clutter?
Creative Christmas content
Today’s competition is fierce, and consumers are time-crunched. A recent study of Apple users in the US found that the majority will spare just three seconds to view an email at the best of times, and consumers’ email exhaustion on this side of the pond is just as prevalent.
Rule number one is that content needs to be creative and engaging enough to draw the reader in. Bombarding the consumer with commercial offers will only leave them feeling like a cash cow.
But thinking outside the box and taking a more inspirational, content-led approach opens the doors for a deeper, more genuine relationship between brand and customer, driving loyalty and ultimately more sales. Customers want to get to know the personality behind your business.
Making a good first impression
It may come as no surprise that one in three recipients decide to open an email based on subject line alone. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it count with a juicy – but relevant – subject line.
Tools such as animation and interactivity will help you get creative in the way you communicate about your business this festive season – and will tempt those all-important click-throughs.
Making a good second impression
Every time they interact with your email programme, your customers give you hugely valuable insights into their likes, dislikes, interests and passions.
Fastidious planning is key to ensuring campaigns go off without a hitch
Once you’ve drawn them in once, this presents the opportunity to engage with them again and again in an increasingly personalised and relevant way.
You can create a trigger programme that retargets email subscribers with follow-up emails when they click on specific links in an email, or gather interest data as a way of targeting content in regular newsletters – to make sure your brand is offering the most appropriate messages from start to finish.
Making the most of browse and click retargeting at a time of increased shopping behaviour can prove a powerful lever to maximise opportunities based on customer intent.
Making the most of mobile
In today’s ‘mobile-first’ world, consumers expect to be able to do everything on their smartphone, and that includes their Christmas shopping. Over 40% of eCommerce sales were made on mobile last Christmas and this figure will only get higher as technology evolves.
In the battle for consumers’ attention, then, there is spend to be won by the brands that go that extra mile to ensure the design of their email communications are tailored for the thumb-user.
This could include using sticky banners to help reintroduce a message to consumers, carousels to show the breadth of products or including a “hamburger” button to view collapsible content.
And it’s critical that marketing materials are as appealing on smartphones as they are on desktop. Channel-optimised creative, tailored offers or snappier editorial will keep customers interested through every stage of the shopper journey.
Making a list and checking it twice
Fastidious planning is key to ensuring campaigns go off without a hitch – and it becomes more important than ever as we approach the most important time of the retail calendar.
It comes in two stages. First, marketers should use feedback from 2015 campaigns to inform this year’s festive strategy, focusing not just on what worked well but what went badly too. What drove the least opens, click-throughs and conversions – and why?
Strategy then needs to be tested again and again in the months ahead to help push creative and technical executions, and highlight any potential teething problems.
With the plans in place and the kinks ironed out well before emails hit inboxes, there’s no reason for brands not to produce a Christmas marketing miracle.