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How to Stand Out in the Inbox During Seasonal Events

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freshrelevanceWhile working at his previous email marketing business, Mike recognized the challenge of data aggregation in the e-commerce space, launching Fresh Relevance in 2013 with co-founders, Eddy Swindell and Pete Austin, to solve this data-need and optimize the customer journey.

What do Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl, Mother’s Day and Black Friday have in common? They’re all massive marketing opportunities for brands. What else do they have in common? There’s such an abundance of promotions around them that they’ve become oversaturated, resulting in many hesitation-less actions of “delete” when an email isn’t captivating enough.

Marketing 101 tells you to capitalize on seasonal events for promotions. However, just like any good thing, there can be too much of it! Sales events can become a recipe for clutter and brands ineffectively stepping over each other — closing the door on significant engagement and revenue opportunities as consumers become frustrated with repetitive, frequent communications.

Read More: Data: Over Half of Consumers Ignore Retailer Emails Because of Inbox Overload

When done right, however, timely events offer a significant opportunity, allowing marketers to flex their creative muscles around a streamlined theme while simultaneously achieving their sales goals. Let’s take a look at key email marketing best practices to stand out in a crowded inbox: 

Understand when Customers are Buying for Others

Predictive marketing and personalized product recommendations are proven techniques to increase customer engagement and sales. During seasonal events, however, leaving the targeting to an AI-based automated system isn’t sufficient, because the system would only start to respond long after the event has passed. Tailor campaigns to receptive audiences and keep in mind that consumers might be gift shopping for others. It can also be effective to ask your subscribers — in the run-up to a big shopping event — what kinds of products they are interested in.

Add Seasonal Content to your Triggered Emails

Triggered emails, such as cart abandonment and post-purchase messages, are one of your most powerful revenue drivers. However, they are not a case of “set and forget,” but need to be constantly reviewed and optimized to remain as effective as possible. Why not make them more relevant around seasonal events by adding related imagery and offers to the headers and footers? Also, adjust the logic and timing of your shopping recovery emails. For instance, time to purchase is compressed during big shopping days such as Cyber Week, so you’ll likely want to trigger your abandonment emails more quickly than usual.

Read More: Study: Study: Holiday Marketing Emails Generate, on Average, Higher Conversions Than Business-As-Usual Emails

Combine Online, Offline and Social Data

The wisdom of the crowd can be a powerful tool to direct shoppers to your most popular items. User-generated content on social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest is a great source of insights into which of your products excite shoppers the most. Combine this information with data from your e-commerce site and POS to understand which items your customers are buying or actively considering. Use these insights to inspire your subscribers with tailored offers around the event and real-time social media content in your emails.

Keep Email Volume Consistent

Consistency in email sends generally results in a more favorable inbox placement by the ISPs. If you usually send a million emails twice per week and suddenly start sending 5 million messages every day in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, chances are the sudden increase in volume may set off alarms. Ramp email volumes up slowly in the weeks leading up to the seasonal event and consider spreading messages across several days instead of a high volume on a single day.

Rethink Subject Lines 

Test subject lines and don’t assume that the same subject, or call to action, will work for every recipient. Offering a discount in the subject line is a popular tactic as it increases open rates. But open rates aren’t necessarily correlated with higher revenue. Identify what you’re trying to achieve, and make sure you optimize for that metric, not just open or click-through rate.

Read More: Breaking Down the Best & Worst of Subject Lines

Drive In-Store Footfall

Those shoppers who buy from you online and in-store are your most valuable customers and have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who use only one channel. So use email marketing around sales events as a launchpad to get your target audiences in stores and have a good time — a key consideration for building repeat, loyal customers.

Here are two creative campaigns stemming from the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Not everyone was among the upper echelon and got an invite to Windsor Castle like Oprah or the Beckhams. Retailers Kurt Geiger and Karen Millen took this sentiment to heart and issued their own “save the dates,” inviting shoppers to celebrate the Royal Wedding in style at their locations, offering entertainment-based perks such as free ice cream, complimentary manicures, free-style advice, goody bags and even a resident DJ. This type of experiential retail works especially well among millennials — the generation most intrigued by occasional physical experiences.

There are endless considerations for breaking through the clutter of seasonal events, and even more factors to think about when it comes to using marketing emails to effectively convert window shoppers into buyers. At the end of the day, following proven best practices and giving campaigns a creative twist goes a long way for making that sale.

Read More: Email Marketing Statistics 2018: Nearly 1 Billion Emails Analyzed to See the Most Important Trends and Metrics for Ecommerce Marketers Before Black Friday

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