In 2017, consumers spent more than $108 billion online in just two months — November and December according to Adobe Digital Insights. This marked a nearly 15-percent increase over the 2016 holiday season — and we’re on track to having even more growth in 2018.
Getting ready to take advantage of this important 61-day stretch is about more than just having your product ready to ship. You also need to make sure your email subscriber list is in tip-top shape to capture the most attention in the inbox — and revenue for your products.
Related: 5 steps to prep your marketing for the holidays
5 steps to get your email subscriber list ready for holiday sales
These five steps will help get you ready to market your products to your customers to increase holiday sales.
Re-engage your subscribers.
Email regularly before the holiday season.
Ask to be whitelisted.
Add segmentation to your list.
Make a plan for the holiday season.
Let’s take a look at each of these email subscriber list marketing strategies in detail.
Related: 6 holiday email campaign tactics to compete in crowded inboxes
1. Re-engage your subscribers
The first step in getting your email list ready for the holiday season is to run a re-engagement campaign. A re-engagement campaign targets your email subscribers who have not been opening your recent messages.
A good re-engagement campaign can go beyond re-capturing the interest of those inactive subscribers; it can also help you maintain your inbox placement rates for your emails.
If your overall engagement (that is, open rates and click-through rates) drop significantly, your carefully crafted emails could be considered low-quality, moving you to the dreaded spam folder.)
Related: Beginner’s email marketing guide for small businesses
What does a re-engagement campaign look like?
First, you’ll need to create a segment or group of subscribers who haven’t opened your last 10 to 12 emails. Your email service provider, like GoDaddy Email Marketing, will have tools that allow you to identify and create this segment. If you’re already a high-volume sender (sending several emails a week), you might want to use a time-frame rather than a number of emails. Sixty days is typically a good benchmark.
Next, you’ll send that group of subscribers a special series of emails to ask if they still want to hear from you.
These messages should be short and to the point.
You can use humor to encourage open rates if it works with your brand. Remember, your subject line is very important for these messages. They can’t click to stay on the list if the subject line doesn’t get them to even open the email.
Related: Using customer segments to build lasting relationships
Here are some sample subject lines:
- Long time, no see!
- Is this goodbye?
- We miss you
- Was it something we said?
- Do you still want updates from us?
The content of these messages should be straight-forward with a single call-to-action: Click here to keep getting our messages.
Communicate the benefits of staying on the list, whether that’s access to exclusive sales, notifications about new products, or never missing an episode of a podcast or blog post.
Send at least three re-engagement messages to this segment of the list, removing anyone who did click to stay on the list from the segment.
After sending those three emails — if they never clicked to stay on the list, remove them. This might be painful if you’re focused on list size, but a smaller list size actually helps with your engagement and deliverability.
Related: 8 costly call-to-action mistakes
2. Email your subscriber list regularly before the holiday season
Now that you’ve gone through the steps of re-engaging your email list, it’s time to focus on keeping them engaged. The best way to do this is to email them on a regular basis — at least once a month, and not more often than twice a week (unless that’s what they signed up for).
Emailing on a regular basis helps maintain your brand credibility as well as trains the ISPs that you’re a safe sender.
If you need ideas on what to send to your list regularly, be sure to check out this list of email newsletter ideas you can use right now.
3. Ask to be whitelisted (or ask for a reply!)
Another way to get your subscriber list ready for holiday sales is to ask your subscribers to whitelist your email address or add you to their address book.
Another way to get whitelisted is to have them reply to an email from you. Most ISPs will automatically add an email address to the address book when you’ve sent them an email. By simply asking a question — like “What is the biggest problem you’re facing” or “Which is your favorite style” and asking for a reply (instead of a click), you can improve your deliverability, strengthen your relationship with your subscribers, and get some customer feedback all at the same time.
4. Add segmentation if possible
Targeted emails perform better than generic batch-and-blast messages sent to your entire subscriber list. According to a study done by Lyris, 39 percent of businesses that segmented their list experienced higher open rates, 28 percent experienced lower unsubscribes, and 24 percent experienced higher sales.
If you sell a range of products for a variety of interests, organize your subscribers into niche areas based on those interests.
You might also want to organize them into geographic areas (especially useful if you’re going to have shipping deadlines). You may also want to segment into people who have purchased and those who have not.
5. Make a plan for the holiday season
Making a plan for your holiday emails benefits both you and your subscriber list. You’ll be less stressed about meeting your deadlines, and your list will get well put-together emails with plenty of time to make their shopping deadlines.
Things to include in your plan:
One of the biggest challenges around the holidays is shipping deadlines. If your deadlines are too early in the season, you might miss some of those impulse buyers. On the other hand, if they’re too late, then you run the risk of a shipping delay ruining the customer’s holidays.
Related: Tips and tricks that make shipping easy for small eCommerce businesses
Sales and special offers
While most people are always bargain hunting, holiday shopping brings out the hunters in all of us. By planning your sales, you can encourage customers to purchase earlier in the holiday season — reducing your stress in processing orders and reaching your goals, and their stress in making sure that their gifts arrive on time.
Related: How to use discounts and coupons to increase eCommerce sales
Some of the most important dates in your holiday planning are the last chance to arrive for the holidays. You’ll need to factor in production time and shipping time for all of your shipping methods.
Over the holiday season, you’ll also send more emails to your subscriber list. Having a strong strategy in place for what goes into those messages and when you’re going to send them helps keep your list healthy through this holiday season and into the coming year.
Related: 5 things you must do now to prepare for the holiday shopping season
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