Are you sitting down? Yes, Christmas will be here in just 40 days! While retailers eagerly await for the dollars to start rolling in, they should be wary of overseas competitors getting in early for their slice of the pie.
Tim Beverage from Responsys kindly got in touch with us to share his advice for retailers in the upcoming festive season. He reminds us that the deadline that is looming for online Christmas sales. Tim advises Aussie retailers to get their campaigns launched ASAP by next week as there will be a significant proportion of sales occurring online with USA sales for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Aussie retailers don’t want to miss out on the action!
Tim shared with us his eight golden rules for a successful 2012 festive season and they are:
- Target through web browser activity, not preferences – Shoppers are looking for presents for others so email should be targeted based on what people are browsing for.
- Spruce up email subject lines with special characters: Tests show special character images (e.g like the snowflake character in our post) can lift revenue per click by 25%. We came across a few handy websites to search for symbols if you’re interested Fsymbols.com and W3Schools.com.
- Make converting friction-free: A rule of thumb is four clicks from opening email to purchase. Make it easy for your customers to buy what the need quickly and easily.
- Mobile is a no-brainer: With the increasing popularity of mobile SMS messages, it’s a must for marketers to include in their campaigns this festive season.
- Test, test, test: An advantage to starting early is you can test and revise marketing campaigns. Check out Responsys Winner Selection Tool if you need help to automate cross-channel testing to optimise campaigns.
- Time is of the essence: Give your customers friendly reminders such as ‘12 Days left until Christmas’ and ‘Last day for free delivery’, Tim suggests this can help lift conversion rates. Aussie retailers can also get an edge over US competitors by offering fast and guaranteed delivery and could also consider extending return policies to encourage shoppers.
- Get a coordinated content plan in shape: Keep communications fresh and exciting to engage with your customers. Some brands send an email per day, so try to offer a range of great promotions and discounts to entice your customers.
- Responsive design is key: We discussed the importance of this in our recent article Are Your Mobile Campaigns Really Mobile Friendly? Tim also advises marketers to make sure campaigns are designed with mobile in mind and suggests that as a general rule of thumb, a responsive design can result in an uplift in response rates between 2-5%.
We also asked Tim a few further questions on behalf of our Marketing.com.au readers about how retailers can further optimise their communications online this Christmas season.
Tim, do you have any advice on how often, what time of day or which day of the week you feel works best for emailing customers particularly at Christmas time when there is usually such an overload?
While time of day, or day of week do have some impact in terms of response rates, there are other factors which are vastly more important. Particularly with the increasing number of messages read on mobile, marketers should focus more on developing a consistent and concise content strategy. If you’re delivering highly targeted emails which are in-line with the customer’s actions and interests it won’t matter what day or time you send them. By engaging your audience, you will gain their trust and build a relationship to ensure a healthier program moving forward.
Are there any specific tips on how to word an effective subject line that can cut through the email clutter this Christmas season?
While there are some established subject-line best practices such as keeping the subject line to 50 characters, keeping the most appealing point to within the first 5 words and adding personalisation etc. Each retailer is different so the key is to continually test to establish what works with your audience. Our research shows that including characters in the subject line can lift revenue per click by up to 25%, meaning a Santa, a snowflake or Christmas bauble could be enough to increase conversion rates. Every email is different, so marketers need to run tests of their subject lines by playing around with different words and characters to see what it most effective.
Do you have any tips for how to tailor a campaign approach on social media versus email this festive season?
Marketers need to ensure they have continuity across all platforms for their festive campaigns. So, if a marketer is running a specific promotion, this should be communicated to customers through email and social platforms. On social especially, marketers need to make sure they show a human side to their brand and their voice is a true reflection of their value and offering. Having a well-planned content calendar goes without saying. To keep your online community active, reward them by using tactics such as regular promotions, gifts or competitions. Savvy brands will also use their customer’s social media data and preferences to target their audience through email.
Thanks Tim for taking the time to share these great tips and advice.
Tim Beveridge – Director of Insights and Planning, Asia Pacific, Responsys
Tim is a skilled and experienced online marketer with 15 years’ experience.
Tim specialises in holistic digital marketing, marketing innovation, cross-channel lifecycle marketing and social media strategy. He is a founding member of the Social Media Club Melbourne – the local arm of Social Media Club – the global organisation focussed on developing skills and abilities of marketers in social media.
Tim is an innovative and creative professional who is driven by data and the opportunity it brings marketers. Throughout his career Tim has received numerous industry awards. He also designed and ran the AFA Digital Strategy course in Melbourne for several years.
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