Email marketing automation for Christmas: 7 essential wish list items

wishlistWith 4 potential weeks left of the Christmas Holiday and New Year selling window, it’s all about maximising your returns from this short time left.

This is where email marketing automation can come into its own, helping you to engage with customers around the clock, in a highly personalised 1-2-1 way, regardless of your available resource.

Here then are my 7 essential wish list items for your email marketing automation strategy for the Christmas holiday period.

1. Critical dates:

Date-driven events are crucial throughout the holiday season. Key dates in December and January offer marketers lucrative opportunities to fire out automated, date-triggered email campaigns to drive more online sales.

The key dates that marketers should ensure are part of their email marketing automation mix include (but are not exclusive to):

  • Friday 13 December for USA
  • Saturday 14 December for Western Europe (excluding France, Greece,Poland)
  • Wednesday 18 December – Second Class UK
  • Friday 20 December – First Class UK
  • Monday 23 December – Special Delivery Guaranteed UK

These hard deadlines for those buying online gifts for delivery  give you an opportunity to lead your email marketing automation campaigns with compelling offers and messages focused on these dates.

blackcountryI particularly like this example from BlackCountry, the online retailer that sells outdoor recreation gear.

Rather than simply stating the delivery dates and hoping that recipients will take note, they draw a strike through the dates that have already been missed, hammering at the message that deadlines are looming (and passing!)

2. Fear of loss:

Why do delivery date emails work?

Because fear of loss is psychologically powerful. On the Neuro Science Marketing blog, Roger Dooley recently wrote that ‘framing the alternative to buying as a loss will likely outperform any other approaches’.

This is why we’re so familiar with marketing slogans like ‘ends soon’, ‘last week to save’ and ‘buy NOW’, because they work.

shopperschoiceThe email to the left is a nice example of the retail site Shoppers Choice playing on the notion of fear of loss.

They tell their recipients to order their ‘gifts now to ensure delivery by Christmas Eve’. If a recipient doesn’t act right away then they won’t get that perfect gift to give to their loved one in time for the big day.

3. What about once last postage dates have all passed?

amazonThere’s still an opportunity to be had! Take a leaf out of Amazon’s book and lead with a gift card that can be printed out or emailed for those last minute shoppers.

In addition to these last chance for delivery dates, marketers ought to give consideration to key dates post-Christmas too like Boxing day, which we recently wrote about here, and in January when sales are traditionally announced.

4. How many days of Christmas?

12 daysEach day for 12 days consider offering some value in the form of a special discount or deal. Consider using email marketing automation so that each recipient, depending on their actions, receives 12 offers that are personally relevant to them.

5. Transactional emails:

Transactional emails are emails automatically sent to a recipient when an action (or transaction) is performed. For example, a follow up email, a confirmation email, a forgotten password email or a notification email.

Transactional emails are a key component of any successful marketing automation strategy and they play such an important role because research has shown that their open rates can be up to three times higher than any other marketing emails.

Therefore, there are potentially many powerful opportunities for marketers to leverage when it comes to transactional emails to cross-sell, upsell, recommend purchases, and drive engagement and brand advocacy.

6. Post-Purchase:

amazon.comIt costs on average 8-10 times more to acquire new customers than to sell additional products to ones you already have.

Christmas is a great time to ramp up post-purchase email marketing automation driving cross-sell and upsell.

Amazon are masters of suggesting items by email to users based on their most recent purchases. They also sneakily tell recipients regularly what other people have been buying to go with a purchase that we once made, because they know that “Keeping up with the Joneses” is more than just an idiom for many.

7. Win them back:

Abandoned basket and abandoned browse session recovery emails are a powerful  example of just how email marketing automation can be harnessed. Econsultancy recently reported that 73% of shopping carts are ‘left to become idle’.

Instead of regarding these abandonments as lost sales, marketers should consider setting up an automated sales recovery email to re-target these potential customers and give them a nudge.

Anthony Wilkey, who sits on the DMA’s Email Marketing Council and its Benchmarking Hub says that ‘by understanding what they want, when they leave, and how they browse – retailers can extend and replicate the personal touch that their customers get in-store, to their online shopping experience, helping to nurture and grow brand loyalty’.

He adds that ‘linking stock levels to marketing campaigns is a clever trick’ advising marketers to ‘remind your customers of an item they had previously looked at online and alert them to the limited number left’. This communication becomes all the more valuable purchasejourneycovercutoutwhen marketers are responding to customers’ needs in real-time, based on and triggered by an action or behaviour.

For more on email marketing automation for abandoned baskets and browse sessions, download dotMailer’s Guide to Email Marketing Through the Purchase Journey.