Greg Walthour

CO-CEO, Intero Digital

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO of Intero Digital, is a pioneer to the digital marketing space. He began his career as a commercial real estate broker and in 1996 took on the challenge of getting this website to rank higher in search engines. Greg has over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and enjoys camping, ATVing, traveling, and coaching football. Greg also has a passion for photography.

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Are Your Email Marketing Campaigns Ready for the Holidays?

Are Your Email Marketing Campaigns Ready for the Holidays?

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO • Intero Digital • June 24, 2022

It’s official: The holiday season is upon us. By December, the holiday hustle is in full swing. Are you sweating yet?

As marketers, we can’t escape the winter holiday season — it is arguably the most important time of year for strategizing.

So let the holiday email marketing plans commence!

Enhance Your Email Campaign, Holiday Style

There’s no shortage of articles talking about digital marketing planning for the holidays. Today, we’ll keep it simple and discuss holistic email approaches for the holiday season.

Here are the five things you should consider for successful holiday email marketing campaigns:

1. Define your goal.

Quick: What are the critical success metrics to gauge your email marketing campaigns’ performance this holiday?

Did you hesitate?

As we all know, debatable metrics like “sales” often fail to offer a clear and doable strategy to optimize your campaigns. A better answer is “revenue per emails sent,” and an even better way, if you can get there, is “gross profit per thousand emails sent.” These kinds of metrics provide a more straightforward method to rate the success of your promotions.

Of course, you can have a plethora of metrics for every campaign. Your Black Friday campaign might be focused on sales, while an after-purchase thank-you campaign might be concentrated on refer-a-friend. But the most crucial factor is to choose just one metric that forms the basis for optimizing your campaigns. While tempting, given all the available data, multiple metrics will muddy the program. Choose one and set your holiday email campaign tracking accordingly.

2. Review past success.

One of the most consequential things you can do to plan for a successful holiday marketing campaign is to take a peek back at campaigns you’ve run in the past. Look at the data and glean insight into what worked and what didn’t. Do a comprehensive audit verifying the following key factors:

  • Offer type: Which offers made the most engagement and, ultimately, sales? Consider whether an incentive, a discount, a free shipping offer, etc., generated the desired results. By following the metric-setting above, you can factor in the total cost of the offer to get the correct metric (e.g., gross profit per email delivered).
  • Creative: Which email designs worked best? This is a broad category, so you’ll need to break it down. Single product compared to multiple products as opposed to no products? Making an offer versus no offer? Inserting an image versus placing no image? Static versus video? There are various ways to split and score email creativity.
  • Holiday timing: How did the timing of the email affect your blasts? When were your metrics achieved? Example analysis might center around pre-Black Friday, the day of, or post-Black Friday when you’re in a less chaotic period.

Focusing on these three deliberate elements will set your holiday email marketing strategy up for maximum success and allow you and your team to focus on tactical optimization opportunities.

3. Test at least one new approach.

Recreating schemes that worked effectively for you is excellent, but make sure you remember that the sky’s the limit! Avoid the plateaus and ruts by testing at least one new approach you might not have considered before.

For example:

  • Offer a holiday gift guide instead of an introductory product presentation.
  • Sync your email blasts with the timing of your social remarketing.
  • Give your customer a gift when they refer a friend.
  • A/B-test different approaches.
  • Customize your blasts to fit multiple personas.
  • Customize your blasts based on past buying behavior.

Test at least one new idea every season to continually recharge your holiday email campaigns. And who knows? Maybe you’ll stumble upon a tactic that was even more effective than the original!

4. Develop a testing strategy.

The value of optimizing your holiday email campaign starts at the planning level instead of the tactical level. Still, you will eventually do well if you split-test the many tactical elements of an email campaign, such as:

  • Subject lines.
  • Degrees of personalization.
  • Offer types.
  • Calls to action.
  • Design.
  • Day and time.
  • Frequency and sequencing.

Rather than obsess about endlessly trying everything, you need to consider the return you’ll get on your testing efforts.

First, you’ll need to set up a testing architecture to guide your testing program. Arguably, the process is as important as the elements you’re testing. Three things to keep in mind for effective testing:

  • Stick to the plan. Avoid random, off-the-cuff testing, which is not part of the plan.
  • Stick to what’s significant. Ensure the tests yield statistically significant differences. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  • Stick to what you can readily implement. Make sure you can quickly integrate the test results into your holiday email program. It will require an agile team, but rapid optimization based on data can maximize your holiday conversions.

5. Leverage the power of AI.

The email industry is quickly transforming with the application of artificial intelligence, which gives an email marketer superhuman power. With artificial intelligence, you don’t need to guess what type of offers might work best, what creative will convert, or what time of day you should send. Consider testing an AI vendor with a sample of your holiday email campaign around the following areas:

  • Segmentation: AI allows you to micro-segment, going beyond traditional demos and geo-breakouts. Now, you can drill down to language and emotion within the copy at the recipient level. Dell used AI marketing provider Persado to segment its holiday emails by language, leading to a 50% increase in email CTR and a 46% average increase in email conversations.
  • Email timing: AI data can also tell you the ideal time for each customer to open and engage with your email. Setting up and deploying these “rules” will maximize your open rates and, ultimately, your conversions.
  • Subject lines: You already know that a powerful subject line is critical. These copy snippets determine whether your holiday email is opened or sent to the trash bin. AI is capable of not only analyzing effective subject lines, but also creating them.

Effective business email marketing during the holidays is a must. Whether you have a new or already-established plan, using these key strategies will help garner more positive results from your holiday email marketing campaign.

But if you need help, you know where to find us!

Greg Walthour

CO-CEO, Intero Digital

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO of Intero Digital, is a pioneer to the digital marketing space. He began his career as a commercial real estate broker and in 1996 took on the challenge of getting this website to rank higher in search engines. Greg has over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and enjoys camping, ATVing, traveling, and coaching football. Greg also has a passion for photography.

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