Holiday Email Marketing: A How-To Guide

The holiday shopping season is traditionally a huge revenue driver for retailers, but that’s especially true this year, as many businesses are looking to make up for time lost due to the events of the last several months. Whether your store offers only in-person shopping or you’ve turned to supplement revenue with eCommerce options, holiday email marketing is a surefire way to help boost traffic — and your bottom line.

Leverage Segmentation

Simply put, personalizing your email messages goes a lot further than generic content. Segmenting your customers into groups helps you better understand how to tailor your approach and increases the chances of conversion. Think about email list subscribers who haven’t yet made a purchase and how your emails to them would differ from regular customers you know are loyal to your store. If your store has multiple locations, you can break your email subscriber list into segments based on customer location and use that to your advantage too.

Take Advantage of Automation

Many email marketing tools offer scheduling and automation options that are easy to set up. If you offer online shopping options, you can connect these tools to actions taken on your site (like abandoned shopping carts) or trigger emails based on engagement with certain pages. You’ll also be able to see data about the emails that indicate how well your automation efforts are working — such as open rates or unsubscribes. For new subscribers, automated welcome emails can offer an introduction to your store and its holiday deals or special hours of operation.

Use Smart Scheduling

It’s never too early to start sending holiday shopping emails, but don’t wait until the last possible minute to get started. There’s a fine balance; too many emails too soon can cause content fatigue, but not enough means you won’t have time to make an impact on customers that helps you close the sale. If your store is running a special sale or featuring new products, send out notice a few days in advance to build excitement. Remember, though, not to inundate customers with too many emails, especially if your store doesn’t traditionally send many throughout the year — “spamming” recipients can lead to unsubscribes.

Start With the Subject Line

Just as important as timing and frequency is content quality, starting with the subject lines. Use words that grab the attention of customers off the bat. Think about phrases that include “promotion” or “discount,” speak to a sense of urgency (“limited time”) or reference specific holidays or events. You can also trigger emotions by showing customer appreciation by thanking email recipients or strategically placing words like “gratitude.” Also, use email marketing software tools to personalize those subject lines; research shows that these emails have a 26% better chance of being opened.

Get Creative With Content

Now that you’ve done the behind-the-scenes work of getting customers to open your email in the first place, make sure you deliver content that helps them take the next step in their purchase journey. Consider these ideas.

  • Holiday gift guides: Take high-quality photos of product groupings in your brick-and-mortar display cases and add them to your emails. It will also make it quicker and easier for them to make a purchase in-store.
  • Pop culture reference: There are a handful of holiday-related phrases and songs that everyone knows. Tie these into your email content copy in fun and creative ways to connect with your customers.
  • Last-minute deals: Despite all the planning and preparation you do to boost holiday season sales, there are still shoppers out there that wait until the last possible moment to pick up a gift. Send out discounts that let them save even when they’re in a rush.
  • Post-holiday follow-ups: Just because the holidays are over, doesn’t mean people stop shopping. Gift cards and returns mean customers are still on the hunt, so keep the emails going well into January.

Track Your Efforts

If you’re using email software, it will be easy to watch the analytics that will let you know how well your emails are doing. Beyond that, you can use anecdotal information like sales numbers or product popularity. Don’t underestimate the power of striking up a conversation with in-store customers about whether they read emails and what kind of discounts they’d like to receive in their inbox.

While interesting and creative merchandising displays are always a holiday staple, good mail marketing is a great way to boost holiday shopping sales and bring traffic to your brick-and-mortar retail store during a time when you need it the most.