Boost holiday email marketing success, part two

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Last week, Sarah Ezrin, senior director-strategic services at Experian CheetahMail explained why the holiday season can be a boon for b-to-b marketers: It's the perfect time to engage with customers and make a more personal connection. This week, Ezrin provides seven tips to help you make the most out of the rest of this year.
  1. Watch your frequency. Last week, Ezrin suggested, there is an overall uptick in the number of emails going out during the holiday season, increasing message frequency to your most active customers. By increasing messaging, you can help boost the chance of those customers making a purchase and help increase company and brand awareness.
  2. Make offers more visible by including them in subject lines. Mailings with percent-off or free shipping offers in the subject line perform better during the holidays, according to Experian CheetahMail research, with one caveat, Ezrin said. “If you always offer free shipping, it's not effective to have it in the subject line. But during the holidays, when so many companies have special offers, it's going to boost your open and click-through rates,” she said.
  3. Don't outdo yourself. Nothing ticks off a customer more than seeing a better offer a week after purchasing something. For this reason, b-to-b marketers may want to consider tiered offers during the holiday season. “This helps you address different segments without giving one customer an obviously better deal,” she said. This might mean giving 10% off for one spending threshold and 20% off for another, which will encourage higher spending across the board. If you can't do this, make sure your messaging is honest, she said. Don't send out an offer that says, "Best prices of the season,' unless that's actually the case. “You don't want to create a disgruntled customer,” Ezrin said.
  4. Get personal. The holidays are an emotional time for most and, because of this, Ezrin said, personalization performs better during this period. “Now's the time to test messages from the agent or agents that manage your relationships with the customers such as salespeople or resellers,” she said. This extends to offers, especially if you sell something that can be marketed using a replenishment message. “You'd want to add it right below whatever standard offer you're sending out,” she said.
  5. Be cautious with religious mentions or images. While some retailers aren't shy about putting a decidedly nonsecular spin on messaging, b-to-b marketers should be more cautious, Ezrin said, to avoid offending or alienating people. “Retailers have more fun with [religious holidays], but I hesitate to use it in b-to-b. A better option is to say, "We're celebrating the holiday season and we'd like to extend good wishes to you.' ”
  6. Review last year's campaign. Despite the lull between Christmas and New Year's, there are some businesses that do well with emails sent during this period, Ezrin said, suggesting marketers look at last year's website and sales metrics to help better inform this year's strategy. “You need to look at your traffic and see when people engaged with you,” she said. One time to avoid, however: The first week of January, when people are playing catch-up after being out of the office, she said.
  7. Don't forget to thank your customers. One of the most effective holiday strategies is also the easiest to deploy, Ezrin said: the thank you. “One of the campaigns we see perform really well is the "Thank you for your business,' ” she said. “It's a no-brainer for b-to-b.” These types of messages—which can be simple, personalized emails that contain a few links along with genuine appreciation—typically perform two to three times higher than regular bulk email campaigns, she said. People like to know that they matter, and a simple thank you is a nice way to show them just that. “It's a great way to wrap up the year,” Ezrin said.
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