Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and yes he makes a list and checks it twice. But no, he is not the only one making and checking lists. Retailers all over the map will be making, checking and re-checking their email marketing lists over and over again as they prepare for what they hope is a very profitable holiday shopping season.
For six years running, Responsys - a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions, has released its annual Retail Email Guide For the Holiday Season. This year Responsys Research Director Chad White, in his 56-page detailed guide, discusses some of the hot email trends this year that retailers need to be aware of and they are:
- Thanksgiving has replaced Black Friday as the unofficial kick-off of the holiday shopping season. Thanks to more retailers opening their stores on Thanksgiving Day and the growing impact of mobile commerce, as well as "showrooming," sales and marketing efforts have increased rapidly over the past couple of years. "We expect Thanksgiving to remain among the top 5 email marketing days of the year again this year," says White
- Express shipping went mainstream on "Last Sleigh Day,"which is the new end of the holiday season. Retailers dramatically increased their messaging around express delivery last year, with many retailers offering free or discounted express delivery options. Their efforts were concentrated on Dec. 21-a "Last Sleigh Day" for Christmas delivery-when 74% of retailers sent at least one promotional email to their subscribers.
White however cautions "retailers' willingness to push express shipping may have been influenced by higher-than-usual inventory levels, in which case "Last Sleigh Day" may not be as prominent this year if inventory positions are kept more in check. And perhaps even more important, this year Christmas is on a Tuesday, which stretches out the delivery time for express delivery, making it less effective and less appealing.
- Mobile will be more important this year, but especially on days when consumers are on the move. White suggests retailers may want to pay special attention to being mobile-friendly on days that consumers are more likely to be away from home, including:Free shipping is now the norm for the holiday season. Fifty-five percent of major online retailers offered free shipping all holiday season long.
- The day before Thanksgiving, which is the busiest travel day of the year
- Thanksgiving Day, when most consumers are with family with a smartphone in their purse or on the couch watching TV with a tablet on their laps, or out shopping with their smartphone in hand
- Black Friday, when many consumers are out shopping at brick-and-mortar stores
- Christmas Day, when consumers are flush with gift card cash and shop online because stores are closed
And speaking of mobile, having a mobile strategy that is integrated across all channels, including email, is vital to success this holiday season. I wrote all about the dearth of mobile integration earlier this month: Bah Humbug - Lack Of Mobile Integration Means Not So Happy Holidays For Brand.
A History Lesson
White also recommends that retailers take a look back at last year's email marketing campaigns along the lines of the "those that forget history are doomed to repeat it" kind of mantra.
He suggests retailers ask themselves some tough questions about the previous year's email marketing campaign including:
- Where did we run into time crunches in our production process?
- Are there production changes that would make things run more smoothly?
- Which of our email campaigns generated the highest/lowest conversions?
- Were there any specific offers (percent discount, dollar discount, free shipping, tiered offers, etc.) or calls-to-action associated with those?
- Which segmentation and dynamic content tactics were the most successful?
Ok all you retail marketers out there, what are you doing to prep for this holiday season?
Have you made all your lists and checked them twice?
What learnings from last year will you apply to this year?