‘Tis the season—to have your inbox filled with all manner of merry marketing messages. If you’re a business, you’ll probably be one of the 83% of retailers sending holiday or winter-themed emails. It can be a challenge to stand out, but you need to because holiday emails tend to have better engagement.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to increase open rates and entice customers to come see you this season. Since we get to work closely with some of the best email marketers around, we get to see what works. Here are a few tips that you can use right away that should help your messages get through.
Write engaging subject lines
Subject lines are arguably the most important part of any email. If you don’t convince the receiver to open the email, they are never going to see your clever content and they’ll miss your special holiday offerings. Crafting subject lines is a bit of an art, but you don’t have to be Don Draper to come up with an effective one. (For the record, a good open rate is around 25%).
- Keep it short. If a subject line is too long, it’ll get cut off on mobile devices, which is where about 77% of emails are read. Make sure you stay under 50 characters. Subject lines with 3 or 4 words get the best response.
- Be creative, but honest. A good subject line should be clever and interesting, but don’t disappoint your reader. If you’ve promised the ‘most amazing offer ever’ and it’s actually pretty dull, it’s like getting a lump of coal in your stocking.
- Try some emojis. Emojis, used sparingly, can have a shockingly positive effect on your email efforts. In fact, adding them to subject lines can boost open rates by as much as 45%. There are a number of eye-catching emojis that are made for the holidays.
- Beware of spam triggers. Certain words like ‘free’ and ‘savings’ can send your email right to the spam folder. Check out Hubspot’s great list to see what words and phrases will put you on the naughty list.
Create eye-catching headers
Once you’ve got your customer’s attention, you have to keep it. If customers open up your email and t hey’re met with a boring header, they’ll probably be disappointed and stop reading. You want your headers to be bold, on brand and related to the content of the email.
- Use images correctly. Images should appear at the top of your email. Stick to one because multiple images can sometimes trigger spam filters.
- Take good pics. Emails aren’t brochures, but you never want to use ugly or low-resolution images. If photography is something you struggle with, consider using stock images. Unsplash is full of royalty-free (AKA free) images. You can use an app like Canva to overlay images with text and fun holiday graphics.
- Reinforce your brand. It can be tempting to use trendy new fonts and whatever the meme du jour is for an image, but it’s better to stick with your brand guidelines. Your brand is one of your most valuable assets and being consistent builds brand awareness.
Compose emails people want to read
Your holiday emails have two main jobs. First, you should be connecting with your customers on a social level. It’s the holiday season, we are all in it, and it’s a chance to show your human side. Second, you’re announcing an offer or event that will grow your business and, hopefully, delight your customers. Keep these goals in mind when you’re writing.
- Offer something compelling. If you want people to be excited about an offer, it has to be exciting, especially during the holidays. The same goes for events. Think about what would interest you and balance it with what makes business sense.
- Be brief, but not too brief. People are busy, so they don’t want to have to read a War & Peace length email. But you also have to explain your offer without sounding curt or choppy. Emails between 50-125 words get the best response.
- Keep your tone on brand. A consistent brand voice will develop trust in your brand. Essentially you don’t want your email to sound much different than how the rest of your brand does. For example, if you’re a fun family joint, a stiff, an overly formal email will feel weird.
Personalize your content
In a perfect world, all of your emails would appeal to every single person. Since that’s not the case, you have two basic options: you can create more generic content that will appeal to a larger group or you can run multiple emails targeted to specific audiences (e.g., new customers, women over 30, lunch customers, etc.). The latter takes more work, but it is often more effective. In fact, marketers have noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns.
- Segment your email list. The first step to personalizing emails is to divide your list. You can start by thinking about your customers and their interests and obvious categories like male and female or sort by zip codes. Ultimately, there are a bunch of ways to do this.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you have the time to create totally unique content for each of your customer segments, go for it. However, it’ll make your life a lot easier if you reuse content as much as possible. Start with the subject line first and then change elements in the email as needed.
- Say your customer’s name. If you have the capability to use a customer’s name in the greeting, definitely do so. The open rate for emails with a personalized message is about 18.8%, as compared to 13.1% without any personalization. Better email marketing software will allow you to do this by accessing your contact list.
Don’t forget to be festive
It’s a special time of year and just about everyone you encounter is going to be celebrating something. And most of them will be stressed out while they do it. If your emails are fun and uplifting, customers will respond to them.