The holiday season is in full swing. Are your email marketing efforts ready? If not, here are a few tips to get them in shape.

1. Segment your lists

Not all customers are equal. The way to get subscribers to open, click, and convert is to give them the appropriate messaging that will encourage a sale, and that messaging isn’t the same for everyone on your mailing or email list! A few tried-and-true email segments we’ve seen work for retailers revolve around purchase frequency and proximity to their last purchase date. They include:

  • Never purchased (customers who signed up for your communications but never bought anything, so make sure this deal is extra sweet),
  • 30/60/90 days since their last purchase,
  • “Anniversary” purchase (it’s been a year since we heard from you!), and
  • Haven’t bought in a while – a customer who had regular purchase history but suddenly stopped (consider including a short survey with an incentive so you can find out why).

Of course, the value of your list segmentation is directly related to the value of the data you collect to achieve those segments. That’s why collecting as much demographic and psychographic information about your customers as possible is essential. You can create custom content that speaks to them based on interests, location, and wants/needs. The more personalized the content, the higher the conversion rate!

2. Hook ’em above the fold

Your emails need to have a hook. There’s a reason people still remember Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” 20 years later (and it’s not because it was a lyrical masterpiece). Craft innovative subject lines that make the subscriber want to open the email – that’s the first barrier long before they consider making a purchase. In our internal tests with email marketing, we’ve found that generic subject lines (i.e., “Your Thanksgiving discount is here!”) get opened more frequently than specific subject lines (“Save 20% now through Thanksgiving!”). However, don’t take our word for it – make sure you A/B test weeks before your holiday season to see how your list responds.

When it comes to email design, it’s also important to structure your emails well and put the essential details at the beginning or ‘above the fold.’ This refers to the area your subscriber can see before scrolling down. If the critical part of the message is buried below, many customers might not even see it and won’t take advantage of it. When it’s front and center, you know that whoever opens your mail will see their offer.

3. Time it out

Timing plays a vital role in getting your message across. Research shows that there are certain times of the day when emails are better received. Open rates are generally higher in the early morning during all days of the week. Consumer promotion emails are best sent between 7-10 p.m. Holiday-themed promotional materials, on the other hand, have a higher open rate when sent between 5-7 p.m. Test out your database for yourself and analyze how your subscribers are responding and time your emails around what works the best.