How to Craft a Very Merry Sending Strategy

Chris Kolbenschlag, Director of Deliverability

The pressure to create effective, profit-boosting email campaigns for the holiday season is starting to build. But don’t let that pressure lead you to blow it with your loyal customers or become a target for ISPs on the lookout for “spammy” retailers. Instead, focus on creating compelling campaigns and intelligently segmenting email lists not just to drive holiday sales, but to help build loyal customers for the coming year.

To preserve your sending reputation and make the most of your creative new campaigns, here are a few things to consider as you plan your holiday lineup:

Beware Dusty Emails

You know you have to suppress inactive emails during the year, so why blast the whole list at the holidays? Any revenue bump will be offset by the number of people who hit unsubscribe. The ISPs will also record a jump in unopened email and consider putting your emails into the spam folder. A better approach: Segment the list to find shoppers who only buy at the holidays. They might be inactive the rest of the year, but they have a pattern of purchasing from you in the 4th quarter. Build them into your list for the holiday season or send them separate, targeted offers.

Spike the Punch, Not the Volume

You so want your message front and center in the inbox that it can be tempting to crank up the number of emails you send out. This can be a red flag to ISPs. And if you are on a weekly schedule and suddenly send messages five days a week, you also risk chasing off loyal subscribers. We hear from companies who say, “But I got $5,000 more in revenue.’’ But how many subscribers did you lose? Was that $5,000 worth it in the end?

Avoid the Perils of a Bad Subject Line

Words matter. Many consumers have their email account set to initially suppress images. You could have the most inviting product picture or engaging graphics, but it won’t matter if customers don’t open the message. Engage the services of a talented copywriter, and consider A/B testing your subject lines to find the best performer.

Craft That Marketing Pitch With Care

If you are going to restrict the number of emails you send, you must put more thought into them. Plan your campaigns in advance and focus on what motivates consumers at different points in the holiday selling cycle. For example, tiny discounts on Black Friday will likely get lost and deleted amidst the bigger discounts, while fast, free shipping might drive sales late in December.

It’s OK to Be a Grinch

Once a company has successfully built an email list, they tend to believe they need to use it heavily – whether at the holidays or year round. Step back and think about your products and how they fit in with consumer preferences during the holiday season. If you sell blinds, don’t send discount offers to people who just bought from you. Those customers are now likely busy buying sweaters and toys. Instead, plan a post-holiday “spruce up the house” promotion on cleaning products. If you sell running shoes, consider pitching running-related stocking stuffers.

Don’t get caught up in the “more is better” approach to holiday ecommerce marketing. Be careful and deliberate in your planning, and create your calendar, design your promotions and choose your recipients in a way that will end your year on a high note and give you a great start to 2016.

For more holiday planning tips and inspiration, visit Bronto’s Holiday Resource Center.