Beginners Guide to Holiday Email Marketing – Think Post-Holiday!
Using Email to create returning customers for the days and months after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday is as important as driving the new traffic to your business during this competitive season! As a result, I am declaring a new shopping “Festivus” for the rest of us. To top it all off, it’s a holiday that lasts all year.
Everyone is so focused on driving the most sales out of new one-time buyers over a long weekend that they forget about the aftermath. As marketers, we focus a lot of extra effort on breaking through the clutter to pick up market share, and a lot of our friends in the retail world pick the most competitive time of year to do so. Not hard at all! In other news, I hate sarcasm.
The effort is often focused on pulling in new customers with BOGO 150% off bargains for the first three customers who get in line, visit your website or knock over other shoppers in a mad rush for the deals of the season. Yes, I understand that it is more about the upsell/crossell opportunities. Let’s get traffic in the door/to our site for the big deals and then increase that average order value per black Friday/Cyber Monday/whateverday shopper. Well, the upsell and crossell opportunity is more than just four days long.
Post-Holiday Email Marketing – Turning First Time Gift Purchasers and Receivers into Loyal Customers
Let’s think about what we do with all these newly acquired customers. Many of those shoppers are once and done. So maybe you are thinking “They are low value Benn! Get off your soapbox!”
In your mind, the purchaser may be low value, but what about the recipient of that gift? How do we turn that indirect consumer into a returning customer or brand advocate? On the flip side, are we trying to foster a relationship with the purchaser? How do we get more from those individuals to purchase again? They are only low value if your treat them that way. Give them a free door-buster and kick them to the curb? If it doesn’t make a good dating tactic, it probably makes a poor marketing tactic. It is a lot harder to find a new gal, then to foster an existing relationship.
At this point you may think it is a little late to implement a strategy. Maybe it is to a point, but I am sure you have been collecting data on the customers who purchased your items. And I am sure you are collecting data for the remainder of the holiday shopping season. What data could I possibly use for last minute post- holiday marketing tactics? Well, the list is massive – and a bit much to cover in one article – so I will focus on one of the best relationship tools in marketing: email!
Categorizing Holiday Customers – Online and Offline
Obviously, you can segment your holiday shoppers in a very granular fashion if you planned to do so before the holiday season and set up the necessary framework and fancy database. For example, you may have one segment that includes email subscribers who are two time buyers of non-sale holiday sweaters and another group of email subscribers who only buy on-sale products during major holiday promotions. An advanced system would allow you to develop two unique outreach strategies to those customers.
In reality, many do not have this type of data. This post is for those looking for some last minute ideas to take advantage of new holiday customers and possible revenue potential. The more data the better in most cases, but you don’t always need that to make in impact!
For the purpose of this article I am going to break customers down into the following groups:
- Holiday Gift Purchasers and Givers
- Receivers, Returners, Exchangers
Holiday Gift Purchasers and Givers
We probably have the most data on this group of individuals.
Brick and Mortar: Have you ever bought something in a store? Wild guess on my part, but I am guessing 100% of those reading this article have.
All joking aside, we have all experienced standing at the checkout when they ask “Would you like to provide a phone number?” or “would you like to give us your email for promotions?” It’s time to take advantage of that info!
E-commerce: E-commerce interactions are similar to human interaction in that we are often asked to set up accounts, provide emails and give phone numbers during the checkout process.
So how do we use this information? For the purpose of this article I am going to assume that you have some type of email marketing program. If you have an ecommerce presence and you don’t use email marketing, then you are possibly missing an opportunity and should check out this email marketing page. It doesn’t take much to get started.
What is cool about email is that you have several opportunities to touch customers after they purchase without being “spammy.” A lot of my examples below are probably already sent automatically by your email marketing system, but you may not be using those messages to its full potential. For new emails that you collected online and offline (if they agreed legally to allow you to email them) here is an example of a life cycle for a gift purchaser that I would implement to keep the relationship going:
Thanks for Registering: Dude! They just gave you an email and they just checked the box for “yes, you can send me promotional emails and confirmations.” Send a quick note saying thanks, and link to an article that talks about your business and everything else you offer. Videos about the company are always a great idea. You may also want to offer a small promotion such as free shipping or a discount. Set an expiration date and give them a reason to come back.
Order Confirmation Email: This can easily change your life as an email marketer if you utilize it effectively. For one, customers expect and welcome this type of communication. It is timely, relevant and personalized. Last time I checked, those three items were kind of a big deal in marketing. Take your confirmation emails a step further! A simple add-on could be a “customers also bought” section. Give them the option to add to a current order. You would be surprised how many people jump back in and buy again. Measure the open rate of these emails compared to standard promotions. Don’t miss the opportunity.
Order Shipment Email: It is another opportunity to promote your business and can be treated similarly to the order confirmation. However, I would make this a bit different. Try a callout to follow your brand on Twitter or an invite to share with friends on Facebook. Get them engaged and add some personality. Don’t always try to push products. Think about building a relationship. Relationships make more money.
Request A Review Email:This takes us into post-holiday, and it starts to lead us into the gift receiver section. Two parts to keep in mind for this:
- Email Timing: Wait to send this email until after the holidays for obvious reasons. You want to make sure you give customers a break, and you also want to give them a chance to use or give your product to someone else. Some systems enable you to trigger an email at a specific time after your company receives notification of arrival. That is a good starting point to gauge the timing of your email. Regardless, make sure it is sent after the holidays this time of year.
- The Pitch: Ask what they thought of your product and perhaps offer a promotion like 20% off your next purchase. Even better, offer something that is related to the product. So if they bought an iPhone, offer a free case. Also give them the option to send the review request and offer to the gift recipient, which takes me the second group of post-holiday Customers.
Holiday Gift Receivers
This is a bit tricky as far as collecting information, but we do have some opportunities to get these individuals more engaged. It is worth the effort because they are obviously a better fit for your products.
- Request a review email: To expand on my last point from the purchaser segment, giving them the option to forward the review request to the recipient will give you an opportunity to collect that email. The offer of a discount for a review, or better yet the offer that is tailored to the product purchased, will ring more true to the gift receiver and can get your relationship off on the right track.
- Returners and exchangers: Get a better understanding of how these prospective customers are interacting with your brand when they return or exchange items they received as gifts. This could be a return online or at a physical location. Ask for an email or send them to an online survey and promote a discount if they complete it. Just because they return an item, doesn’t mean they won’t buy something else.
In closing, here are three more pointers for Post-holiday Email Marketing.
Make an effort: It is not too late to try to engage the new customers you acquired during the Thanksgiving holiday and days leading up to the new year. Like I said, many of you already send standard shopping processing emails, you just need to take advantage of the increase open rate and add more value. It is a best practice year round, but can be extra effective this time of year.
Think about last year: If you have a database of purchasers from last year who may have not been active all year, it may be worth segmenting and crafting an email just for those individuals. They may be customers that you segment out all year because it is not worth the email cost, but we are creatures of habit. I don’t wear silly red hats all year, but I do every Christmas.
Remember the season: We often get caught up in revenue generation and forget that customers are more than just bank accounts. It is your first impression with the new emails you are acquiring, and scheduling a simple “Happy Holidays” email can do wonders long term. It can make your new customers feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It is also just a nice, human thing to do. Just don’t forget to link it to your website just in case they want to purchase something 🙂