It’s approaching that time of year again, shops are filled with Christmas gifts, streets are lined with twinkling lights and everyone and everywhere has festive menus and offers to shout about. I’m sure that I’m not the only one dreading fighting through the swarms of Christmas shoppers. It seems to be a recurring experience that I find the perfect present for my partner only to find that the last one in stock was picked up by what only can be described as a Christmas maniac in front of me…
Then came online shopping, a blessing for many who just cannot face the madness of shopping centres in the lead up to Christmas or the sales after. Just like physical stores, eCommerce sites can take a considerable amount of their annual earnings if they prepare for the important peaks and troughs that happen every year around the festive season. UK non-food retailers achieve on average 30% of their sales in the last quarter of each year (Office of National Statistics).
Festive eCommerce important dates for the diary
Many dates in the retail calendar are mirrored in eCommerce with some exceptions and variations. American shopping “events” associated with Thanksgiving have been promoted by the global online giants Amazon and eBay and consequently have been adopted in the UK introducing sale days called Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year UK Retailers saw online payment processing was in high demand when it came to Cyber Monday, Amazon UK reported its busiest ever day, with 47 items being ordered from the online retailer every second – totalling over 4.1 million sales across the entire day whilst the Financial Times reported that Tesco Direct saw a 79 per cent sales boost. (CommerceGate)
As early as 21st November, Amazon have preview emails of black Friday arriving in inboxes and ensuring they are mobile responsive. (Amazon – images from Author’s email inbox)
Christmas Eve used to be a day where fewer sales were expected but an eCommerce site does not sleep, not even on Christmas day. Trends suggest that online sales on both these days are increasing, particularly on Boxing day and Christmas day itself with an influx of users wanting to spend the the Christmas money or e-vouchers they have received.(Daily Mail) To take advantage of this and get ahead of the competition, it’s worth considering starting your “January Sales” as early as Christmas Eve!
With more people than ever making the wise transition to online shopping to get through the list of gifts for loved ones, eCommerce sites must have a sale and communication strategy in place to take advantage of this and let their customers know.
Email is one of the most successful methods for generating sales or leads to eCommerce retailer’s websites. Furthermore, it allows for the use of segmentation and dynamic content to be implemented far more easily than other marketing approaches which are especially useful in the festive season.
Here are our top 10 tips for your festive email marketing strategy:
1. Never stop capturing data!
Use call-to-action pop ups on your website to encourage more people to sign up to your mailing list. Advertising incentives such being the first to hear about new promotions work well here.
Toys R Us use a pop up to encourage their mailing list. Incentives include being entered into a monthly draw. (Toys R Us)
2. Subject lines are more essential than ever!
Carefully consider the subject line for your emails. It has to be catchy and intriguing enough for users to want to open your email amongst the bombardment of other christmas related emails they receive into their inbox.
3. Continue to improve your customers brand experience!
Be sure to consider the types of emails you can send to build your customer’s experience with your brand. Automated emails such as shopping cart abandonment require integration with your online store data but have proved successful in recovering lost sales and in some cases increasing total spend. (econsultancy)
4. Join in with the festive fun!
You may want to consider including a christmas theme in your emails such as a countdown to the big day or a competition.
The American home improvement company Lowes have created a clean and fresh design with a 12 days of Christmas feature. (Pintrest)
5. Don’t miss a trick!
Use order confirmation emails as more than just a receipt, tell the customer you value their business as well as giving them ideas for other items they may like.
6. Work to a Schedule!
Creating and sticking to a schedule is essential. Ideally, this should be built around the frequency of your emails being sent and the important dates in the eCommerce diary. Do not fall into the trap that sending more and more generic emails means more sales – quality targeting over quantity rings very true here.
Understandably retailers do send more emails at christmas, but this can lead to significant numbers of unsubscribers if it is not what the recipients want (econsultancy blog).
7. Segmentation is key!
As always, segmenting your data and sending relevant emails is essential and will increase your customer engagement leading to better response rates and more conversions.
8. Make it dynamic!
Similarly, dynamic content allows for personalised email content by changing or adding extra or alternative HTML sections dependent on the recipient’s interests, demographics, past behaviour or preferences. For example if you know they have children, why not include a section on Christmas toy deals.
9. Don’t get caught up in the past!
There is no escaping the increase in use of mobile devices. Make sure (and test) that your email is mobile responsive to achieve maximum click throughs and response. Mobile landing pages are also important if you are to include a link to your website within the email.
Two examples of mobile landing pages. John Lewis uses text based drop down menus throughout the site for navigation whereas H&M uses more visuals and imagery in blocks or alongside the labels as main navigation with a drop down menu located in the top left hand corner. (John Lewis and H&M)
10. Timing is key!
Experian research suggests that the best time for sending emails is on a wednesday morning, but you know your subscribers best – look at the reporting for previous emails and the times sent to establish what time and day proved most successful in terms of engagement and conversions.
We know how stressful Christmas can be for both marketers and shoppers, and it doesn’t help that before you know it Christmas is over and the New year is upon us. Therefore, it is essential to get your festive strategies in place as soon as possible and make sure that all aspects are covered. With more and more eCommerce companies using more advanced levels of email marketing, we hope that these ten tips will provide you with some additional guidance to make sure you stand out from your competitors and don’t miss a trick. If you want to find out more about how we can assist you with your email marketing efforts then get in touch by speaking to one of our email experts.