Ready or not, the holidays are just around the corner. And that means it’s time for email marketers to plan one of their biggest email campaigns of the year.
To prepare you for the vacation madness ahead, the Uplers team asked a group of seasoned email professionals and industry insiders to share their insights on vacation email marketing tips and trends for 2020.
Read our advice on vacation email trends below and get inspiration to tackle your company’s vacation campaign in style.
The top 8 tips for email marketing on vacation 2020
1. Plan before you think you should.
Planning ahead is a long way to go so that you have plenty of time to make sure your email really gets noticed.
“Get started early on with your vacation email marketing strategy and planning,” advises Christopher Donald, President Operations & Managing Partner at InboxArmy. “Set up planning, creative, production, and delivery calendars to better run your campaigns. Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what to do.”
2. Focus on the customer, not an aggressive sales agenda.
Marketers send more emails than usual during the holiday season. However, be aware that there is a real person on the other end of your email communications. The holidays are a busy, hectic time for everyone (not just marketers!) And they probably won’t appreciate having their inboxes flooded with hard-selling emails. Respect your time and be helpful and customer-oriented.
Kara Trivunovic, VP / GM Client Services, Global Industry Evangelist at Epsilon, believes that instead of moving your sales agenda forward, you need to figure out what the subscriber wants you to do over the vacation.
It’s the holiday season, after all, so you can’t just write down a sales-focused copy and label it a day. Harness your subscribers’ emotions and focus the copy on how you can help them spread joy through the gifts they can buy from you. Even a simple holiday greeting can go a long way in building trust with your customers.
For example, check out this email from Kennebunk-based yoga and barre studio The Daily Sweat, thanking consumers and wishing recipients a happy and safe holiday season:
3. Interactivity and fallback go hand in hand.
Visual, interactive elements such as GIFs, cinemagraphs and gamification add interest and flair to your holiday news this year.
According to Jaymin Bhuptani, director of Uplers, interactivity in email is an engagement tactic that helps raise awareness and create excitement this holiday season.
Innovative content with the help of a dropdown menu, an accordion, a slider, a flip effect or a gamification in your email. However, if you have limited email client compatibility, it is important that you provide fallback support, says Lauren Gentile, VP Creative, Digital Solutions at Epsilon. And yes, test, test, and test some more before sending the emails.
4. Segment and rule.
Segmenting your lists to ensure the content engages the recipient is essential year round. However, this becomes even more important during the holidays when emotions are high.
If you’ve been tracking information like what your subscribers are looking for on your website and what they’ve bought from you, segmentation doesn’t seem like a Herculean task. The better you know your subscribers’ preferences, the better you’ll be able to segment them and send targeted emails during the holidays, which ultimately leads to better, more qualified conversions.
“Of course, data is of the essence all year round, but when it comes to the holiday season, it could be more fruitful to focus on key customer groups and make better use of resources,” said Tink Taylor, founder and president of Dotmailer.
5. Get personal.
According to Shanon Strahl, Senior Digital Marketing Leader at Shaw + Scott, personalization will be critical to the success of your email campaign this holiday season.
Dynamic content created based on subscribers ‘likes and needs will make a good impression of your brand on subscribers’ minds and generate better ROI for you as well.
Adapt your offers and offers to the available behavioral data. If you don’t have one, ask them what they like or what they would like to see in your vacation emails.
Update the content of your triggered emails. What if someone signs up to get your emails during the holiday season? You don’t want to send them your regular greeting template, do you? Don’t let your new subscribers miss the vacation bug and vacation-specific promotions.
6. Take the response route (this is no longer just an option!).
Imagine a subscriber opens your email on a smartphone or iPad and sees a broken design. This is certainly not the user experience you want, especially during the main holiday season! What if the subscriber unsubscribes?
Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy Officer at ReturnPath, believes there is no other option but to create a beautiful design, as 46% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. If you’ve never designed a responsive email before and don’t have a developer available, these tips can help you keep it streamlined and simple:
- Single column layout
- Minimalistic design
- User-friendly navigation and CTA buttons
- Compact images with correct alternative text
7. Get real with real-time content.
The use of real-time content is increasing, aided by the robust technology that supports integration with email. “With real-time content, your email can reflect changes in inventory, among other things, which is important for vacation shopping,” said Ryan Phelan, vice president of Marketing Insights at Adestra. “When we have more control over the message, we can make emails more realistic than we are now.”
Adding a dynamic countdown timer is a great way to make emails urgent, and there’s no better time to use it than the holidays. Use a timer to promote your sales, shipping deadlines, etc.
Check out this countdown timer in Joybird’s email. Doesn’t it make urgency?
8. Break the boundaries of email and go social.
Your subscribers are looking for gifts for loved ones (and maybe even for themselves!). But as any vacation shopper knows, you need to shop around for the perfect gift. Offer your subscribers multiple ways to connect and stay in touch, and remind them of your product at every stage of the shopping season.
“Combine social media with email marketing and you are a winner! Don’t hijack trending hashtags without thorough planning and analysis of results” advises Sam Hurley, founder of OPTIM-EYEZ.
For example, this vacation-themed email from Harpoon Brewery includes the social buttons so subscribers can connect to them on the platform of their choice.
Ultimately, you want to add value and a sense of empathy to email subscribers this holiday season for a lasting effect year round. Happy Holidays from all of us here at HubSpot.
Editor’s note: This post was first published in November 2017 and has been updated for completeness.