In Toronto, it still feels like summer, which means … you might have just enough time to plan your email marketing campaign for the holidays.

We have a few tips for you to optimize your emails for the holidays so you can take full advantage of the shopping frenzy.

1) Increase the Frequency of the Emails

In the holiday season starting in late November for North Americans, the competition gets fierce for attention and email is no different. Shoppers are overloaded with emails and it shows in the decreased open and click through rates. The average open rate is 17.6% during the holidays as compared to 20.9% the rest of the year. That 3.3% differences equates to an 18.8% lower open rate.

All is not lost. All you need to do is increase the number of emails you send out during the holidays. A report by IBM calculated that if you increase the number of emails you send in the holidays by even 100%, you will recover the lost number of open rates.

2) Personalize Emails

Emails should be personalized no matter what season, but in the holiday season it becomes even more important to stand out from the crowd. A surprising 22% of marketers are not personalizing their email campaigns, even though they could expect on average a 14% lift in sales.

Emails lacking personalization may explain why there is a slightly lower click-to-open rate during the holidays (14% as compared to 14.8% in non-holiday seasons), despite the higher purchase rates. For some strong tips on personalization that go beyond a name see this take on it from Emma O’Niell.

3) Include Strong Offers and Calls to Action

One of the reasons the click-to-open rate is not that much lower during the holidays may be due to the strong promotional offers and calls to action. This is one of those cases when it’s a good idea to stay the course.

However, one of the ways to make your offers even stronger is to differentiate them from your competitors. Can you make a promise that no one else can? Your wearable will keep the customer exercising longer. Or can you improve the service during the holidays by smoothing the customer experience? Notify customers of the last day they can order and still receive the gift on time.

4) Take Full Advantage of Transactional Emails

Transactional emails are a great vehicle for upselling or cross selling, because they generate about 2x the open rate as non-transactional emails. If you are selling a photo book, you could also include in the email receipt promotions for personalized home decor or cards or other recommendations for similar items.

Vidyard’s email campaign from last year certainly set the bar high for personalization. The video marketing and sales company created a personalized video for email recipients with their name inserted throughout the video. Customers could also arrange for video to be personalized for their friends or other contacts, making it sharable content.

This is by no means a complete list of how to improve your email marketing campaigns for the upcoming season. The key difference between the holiday time and the rest of year is the fierce competition for attention. How was your holiday email campaign last year? Was there anything you could do to improve on it?


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