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How to use email marketing to increase sales this holiday season

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Nov. 12, 2014
The holiday season is upon us. And if you are planning to entice shoppers into your online or bricks-and-mortar store via email, you need to make sure your email marketing campaigns stand out from the hundreds of other holiday email offers.

The holiday season is upon us. And if you are planning to entice shoppers into your online or bricks-and-mortar store via email, you need to make sure your email marketing campaigns stand out from the hundreds of other holiday email offers.

So what can businesses and marketers do to make sure their emails will be opened and clicked on before Christmas day? Dozens of email marketing experts share 11 can't-miss tips for making your email marketing deliver for the holidays.

1. Try different subject lines — and be creative. "Do A/B testing of subject lines right up until the very end of the season," says Alyssa Nahatis, the director of Deliverability for Adobe Campaign. "There is always time to make it better."

For example, "test subject lines that include [the customer's] name," says Ben Meyer, email campaign manager, Cleverbridge, a global ecommerce provider.

"The more individualized an email is, the more likely consumers will respond to it," says Christopher S. Penn, vice president, Marketing Technology, SHIFT Communications.

"I recommend that brands try to be as specific as possible with subject lines, to grab the target audience's attention," says Steve Warren, vice president & general manager, Teradata Interactive, a provider of data-driven marketing solutions. "For example, try: Top Electronics for the Men on Your List; 10 Toys Kids Want under the Tree; Gift Ideas for Animal Lovers; or Gifts Under $25 They Won't Return."

Also, "use words like new, free, sale, now, holiday and save in your subject lines," suggests Connie Sung Moyle, head of Public Relations at VerticalResponse, an email marketing provider. "VerticalResponse recently analyzed 10,000 email campaigns sent over the holidays in 2013, and these words generated the highest open rates."

2. But go easy on using Cyber Monday. "We found including the words Cyber Monday in the subject line of an email sent on Cyber Monday 2013 actually decreased open rates," says Christopher Lester, vice president of sales, Emma, which provides email marketing services. That's because people "are bombarded with Cyber Monday messages." Instead, "get creative [with your subject lines, to] stand out from the crowd."

One last thing to keep in mind: "according to an email marketing benchmark report from eMarketer published in 2013, shorter subject lines had higher open rates, but longer ones had higher click[through] rates," notes Meyer.

3. Put the most important information in the first two sentences of your email. "Many ISPs and email providers display a line or two of text after the subject line," referred to as the "preheader," says Ramesh Bulusu, CEO of MyUS.com, a packaging consolidation service. "So [inserting] a call to action, attention-grabbing copy or teaser into the valuable preheader space is a great way to keep your subject lines short but still emphasize special offers, create urgency and, most importantly, encourage recipients to open your email."

 

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