Every November, email marketers roll up their sleeves to get ready for the busiest promotional stretch of the year, starting with the explosion on Black Friday. Many marketers, though, don’t pay as much attention to the days following the holiday season – after all, why keep up an email campaign after the shopping rush is over? The answer lies in realizing that the post-holiday letdown can be a fantastic opportunity for customer retention, if not for sales.
What’s the benefit of email campaigns after the holidays?
The days right after Christmas are the busiest ones for gift returns, and email is a great way to stay in your customers’ minds. It’s a perfect time to send out tips and how-to’s to make the exchange process easier, or to engage customers by encouraging them to share photos of what they swapped (which can also provide valuable insights for future marketing). You can also email your customers special offers on accessories or services for gifts they’ve already purchased – for instance, games for a new console or a leather care kit for a new pair of boots. By keeping customers in the loop this way, you’re letting them know that they’re more than just a factor in your holiday revenue. Plus, after being bombarded with high-pressure sales emails for nearly two months, many consumers will welcome a change in pace from promotion to useful information.
What are the key components to a successful email?
To make a big impact, post-holiday emails can require some strategic tailoring. Here are a few important basics:
Stay focused. Limit every email to one primary call to action. This not only makes your readers’ decisions easier, but also helps you keep the content streamlined toward a specific purpose.
Create a fantastic subject line. As the first part of your email that readers see in their overflowing inbox (and sometimes the only part), your subject line needs to spark their interest and clearly tell them what they can expect from the message (particularly if it contains attachments or special offers). At the same time, though, being too cute or salesy can actually turn readers off, as can an offer that sounds too good to be true. To make the challenge of writing a compelling subject line easier, keep a few tips in mind:
- Keep it short and punchy (50 words or less).
- Avoid using all caps, special symbols, and words like “free,” “reminder,” or “percent off.”
- Use numbers with discretion. They can get a better response, but can also look sales-like.
- Try asking a question, and answering it with your preview text.
- Remember to test different subject lines to see what works and what doesn’t.
Don’t forget who’s reading. Viewers open your emails with certain expectations, so make sure you provide the information they want as quickly and easily as possible. If you’re creating a promotional email, for instance, be brief and actionable (about 200 words) to capture readers’ short attention spans. You should also focus on the benefits of your offer (i.e., how it will make their lives easier), and use clear headers so that readers will still get the important highlights even if they skim. If you’re writing for an intellectual audience, on the other hand, your email content can be longer and more in-depth, because those viewers will more likely expect and enjoy the extra reading.
Add a personal touch. Using first names in a subject line can be risky, but getting personal in the body of an email – as if you’re addressing your readers face-to-face – can actually inspire trust and familiarity in your brand. Plus, it can help you develop a more natural email voice. Try writing in the second person (“you”), and use customized greetings rather than automated ones. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either; it shows a genuine interest in your reader and might just tell you more about them. Finally, make sure your actual name or business name appears as your “From” address, so that readers know right off the bat that they’re dealing with a real person.
The holiday shopping may be over, but that doesn’t mean email marketing will be any less effective. With carefully targeted content, in fact, post-holiday emails can be a valuable tool to build new relationships for the coming year.