The Top 10 Email & CRM Tips You Need to Know for the 2020 Holiday Season

September 28, 2020

2020 has been a year unlike any other. Amidst a global pandemic, consumer behavior is changing in unforeseen ways, and businesses are struggling to keep pace. With the holiday season looming, the stakes have never been higher and the environment never more unpredictable. 

 Given this, our teams have been hard at work preparing brands for what will likely be the most digitally focused shopping season we’ve ever seen. The possible shift of Amazon Prime Day to October, coupled with stress around product scarcity and delivery delays, will be significant motivating factors for consumers to start their holiday shopping research and purchasing much earlier this year. Marketers will need to adapt and innovate their 2020 holiday strategies in response to these seismic changes.

We’re happy to get you started with the top ten tips for email and CRM ahead of our upcoming cyber holiday insights that will be shared later in Q4. Many of these tips, particularly around messaging and testing strategies, are applicable to channels across digital!

 1. Prepare Now

Before you dive into planning, start by reviewing the past couple years’ holiday performance history and identify what worked and what didn’t in terms of top subject lines, CTAs, and promotions.

Also, ensure to perform a competitive analysis to uncover what others in your space are doing and understand what you’re up against for the season ahead.

2. Test, Test, Test!

Make sure you’re confident with your strategy by testing beforehand. Pre-testing email and CRM strategies will allow you to know what works pre-holiday. Here are a few solid ones to get you started:

·       Identify optimal audience segments for testing (i.e. deal hunters, people who buy online only, AOV, prospects, loyalty by tier, last year’s holiday gift buyers, etc.).

·       Test new promotions before rolling out more widely.

·       Test subject lines, timing, creative, # of products, dynamic recommendations, promo types ($ off vs % off, buy more save more, gift with purchase).

3. Refine Strategies with Data and Segmentation

Marketers with data at the center of their strategy achieve greater ROI. Generally, these sampling data points will serve as great indicators for segmentation: Gender, birthday, anniversary of sign-up, acquisition source, AOV, propensity to buy, most recent purchase, purchase history over time, customer LTV, personal and product interests, proximity to stores, etc.

4. Increase the Cadence of Communication 

Customers have a higher tolerance for email outreach during the holiday shopping period and they expect to regularly get offers from preferred brands and retailers.  Now is the time to increase your cadence of communications, but also employ smart segmentation so you maximize outreach to the right customers.

5. Mind the Timing of Your Offers

Who doesn’t love a good sale? This holiday season, the increased focus on digital will put even more importance on the offers landing in your customers’ inboxes. Think outside of the box, get creative, and make sure you’re incentivizing online shopping with unique email and mobile-only discounts. Much of the time, customers will weigh whether it’s best to buy earlier at a lower discount or wait and risk an item selling out. Here are some strategies we recommend:

·       Stagger sales. There are numerous promotional events in Q4 (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Green Monday, Super Saturday, etc.). Don’t present your best offers too soon. 

·       Consider limiting pre-holiday offers to customers with items in cart or on a wish list, but discount strategically.

·       Keep it simple during major shopping dates – customers are hunting for deals, and Cyber Week is the time to present easy-to-understand offers. The deal and the conditions should be understood in 3 seconds.  Examples include Get X% off entire order, Flash Sales, etc.

·       Leverage lesser holidays in between big holiday pushes to differentiate content (Diwali, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve).

·       Diversify offers – examples include Mystery Offers (today’s special deal is…), Early Bird Savings, Buy now and we’ll donate X%, Buy today and get a gift card with purchase of $100 or more.

·       Leverage Flash Sales to engage frequent shoppers and motivate them to buy again.

·       President’s/CEO Holiday Card.  Let customers know you appreciate their business. Send a “holiday card” message from the President or CEO to express gratitude. Think “Thanks for shopping with us…in appreciation of your business, take X% off your next purchase.”

6. Reward & Inspire Loyalty

Reward your most loyal customers with extra holiday perks like special offers, double points, free samples, gifts with purchase or other benefits to make them feel special and appreciated. Also, VIP perks like early access and exclusive offers further reward loyalty and incentivize buying.

Sephora is a brand that does a great job of creating special offers and a community feel for their “Beauty Insider” rewards customers. 

7. Go All In With Content

Holiday shopping is overwhelming. Make it easier for customers to find what they need by providing recommendations. The National Retail Federations reports that over 50% of holiday shoppers buy items recommended by retailers. For many brands, a great place to start is with a Holiday Gift Guide, which can be specialized to fit your audience (Gifts Under $X, Gifts for Teens, Gifts for Mom, etc.). These lists can also be further customized with different themes like last minute gift ideas, “What’s New,” and popular and trending items. Goop has a plethora of different gift guides that appeal to different audiences.Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Here are a few more content tips to think over:

·       Promote gift certificates as an “easy” gift idea.

·       Use Collaborative Filtering recommendations (Customers who bought this also bought that…)

·       Acknowledge 2020 “new normal” & pandemic times:

o   “Treat yourself this year” promos

o   Emotional appeals (If you can’t be there in person…)

·       Charitable Appeals: People associate the holidays with a time of giving. Incorporating this giving spirit into your marketing can be a positive way to encourage your customers to give back alongside making a purchase. Walmart’s #WellWishes campaign is a great example of this. The campaign urged everyone to donate $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network with every purchase, while the hashtag was used for sending well wishes to children in need. 

·       Consider incorporating some non-sales content to increase engagement and interest. Examples include Spotify Holiday Songs Playlists, Ideas for Holiday Getaways, Party-Planning, holiday menu ideas and recipes, etc.

·       Leverage User Generated Content – hand pick social media images/quotes that show how existing customers are using the product/service.

·       Thematic holiday checklists can help consumers plan, prepare and shop for events like holiday parties, trips, etc.

8.  Make Cart Abandonment Work!

Abandoned Cart emails are one of the most effective retargeting strategies. Make sure to refresh creative to provide a holiday feel and incorporate space for sitewide offers. Also keep in mind that loaded carts are the new wishlist; people deliberately leave items in cart in hopes of scoring a discount. Try to meet them halfway by offering a smaller discount a few weeks before launching a larger sitewide sale.

And don’t forget about “window shoppers” who can be great to retarget as well, although they may not have the same level of intent as cart abandoner. Messaging these warm prospects can be effective, provided messaging is handled with care to avoid a feeling of invasiveness.

9. Sense of Urgency 

Customers don’t like to feel like they’re missing out, so leveraging FOMO messages and tactics can help to build a sense of urgency. This can look like:

·       Countdown clocks

·       Low inventory alerts

·       Daily/hourly exclusive deals and reminders

·       Use “power words” in subject lines (ex: Exclusivity: Select, VIP, Secret, Exclusive, Limited. Urgency: Today, Limited, Soon. Excitement: Introducing, Latest, New, Win, etc.) 

10. Personalize & Automate

And finally, don’t forget about the power of personalization. Personalizing messages to increase relevancy to your customer in subject lines, content and product recommendations increases engagement and conversion. Make things easier for your team by automating as much of this messaging as possible. Behavior-based trigger messages should combine automation and personalization. Here are a couple more examples of this:

·       Find secondary opportunities to cross-promote (Abandon cart message could also promote a storewide discount. Incorporate some product recommendations to shipping notifications, etc.)

·       Use Win-Back messaging to reengage people who haven’t bought since last holiday season

Looking ahead, continue to market to buyers post-purchase with a drip campaign to thank customers and encourage post-holiday buying. It’s likely it will pay off! A National Retail Federation survey found that two-thirds of holiday shoppers planned to continue browsing and buying in the week after December 25th.

We hope you found these tips useful! Stay tuned for more upcoming Holiday-centric content from FP!

And Michael McVeigh
Follow ForwardPMX

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