email marketing best practices

Image source: Yoel Ben-Avraham via Flickr

Marketers are beginning to prepare email campaigns for the all-important holiday shopping season.

“While it may be difficult to turn our attention away from summer vacations, now is the perfect time to start planning for the holiday season,” states the Q2 2016 Email Benchmark Report from Experian Marketing Services. By analyzing last year’s holiday successes and current marketing trends, the white paper identified five key strategies to incorporate into holiday email marketing campaigns.

Data quality. Improve the quality of the data obtained at the point of sale. Subscribers often are highly engaged with the brand when they initially provide their information. To ensure data quality, invest in real-time email validation technology, train store associates for data collection and have customers verify data in real time.

Social media. Targeting email subscribers based on their interest in social media can boost email engagement. For example, welcome emails sent to subscribers who engaged via Facebook had an 11 percent higher click-to-open rate than other welcome emails from the same brand.

Content. Creative content can add a sense of urgency during the holidays. During the 2015 holiday season, some brands used countdown clocks. Marketing campaigns that included a dynamic countdown clock had a 41 percent higher click-to-open rate and more than double the transaction rate of other holiday mailings from the same brands.

Personalization. Including a subscriber’s name in the subject line can boost the performance of promotional mailings. Based on data from April 2015 to March 2016, brands that included personalized subject lines experienced 27 percent higher unique click rates, 11 percent higher click-to-open rates and more than double the transaction rate compared with other promotional mailings. Including a subscriber’s name in the subject line can boost the performance of promotional mailings

Retention. A retention strategy can help keep holiday-season customers throughout the rest of the year. Brands that sent “thank you for your purchase” mailings saw twice the open and click rates, as well as five times the transaction rate, compared with promotional mailings. Additionally, promotional campaigns that included “our way of saying thanks” experienced two and a half times the transaction rate of other promotional mailings.

Holiday Email Marketing Trends to Watch

The IBM Marketing Cloud’s 2016 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark study finds that in the retail and ecommerce sector the average open rate dropped 18.8 percent during the holiday season. The average click-through rate fell 28.6 percent during the holiday season, roughly from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. For non-holiday emails, the average open rate was 20.9 percent and average click-through rate was 3.6 percent. For holiday season emails, the open rate was 17.6 percent and the click-through rate was 2.8 percent. The click-to-open rate remained about the same.

Other sectors also saw a drop in click-through and open rates during the season, although it trend was most pronounced in retail and ecommerce sector.

Some retailers’ failed to deliver personalized content and offers, according to researchers. In addition, marketers send more email messages during the holidays. That causes lower open and click-through rates but more opens and clicks overall in what’s called the “frequency math effect.”

The study also compares open, click through, list churn and mobile metrics across a range of industries and geographic regions, helping marketers gauge their performance against their peers.

Bottom Line: Email remains an indispensable marketing strategy, especially during the critical holiday shopping season. By incorporating best practices into their email marketing preparations now, marketers can set the foundation for a profitable holiday shopping season.