A Great Holiday Email Strategy Starts with Better Segmentation

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

We recently shared some tips on holiday segmentation strategies for a blog post for our partners at Magento: 
If you’re wondering where to begin in planning your Holiday 2014 email strategy, a great place to start is Holiday 2013. How much did you make in the email channel last season? How much did you make per week? Per day? How many emails did you send to make that number?
This historical information will really help you maximize the subscribers you already have. Next, look at where you’re getting the highest conversions. Triggered campaigns, although they may only account for a fraction of your overall emails sent, historically convert at a higher rate than broadcast emails, so make sure your cart abandonment and browse and abandon campaigns, transactional emails and back-in-stock alerts are all in tip-top shape.
Now, take a look at revenue earned in 2013 from segmented vs. un-segmented email. Clearly segmented emails outperform blasts to your entire list, so sharpen your segmentation strategy for the holiday season. Keep in mind the unique dynamics of your customers during Holiday. We recommend segmenting them into three key groups and targeting them differently:
1) Holiday buyers
2) Active buyers and
3) 60+ day subscribers

2013 Holiday Buyers


This group of subscribers purchased last year between Halloween and New Year’s Eve, but have not been active since. Clearly, the strategy for this segment is to win them back.
While leading with a deep discount or great offer may seem like the obvious thing to do, the good news is that it’s not always necessary. In this campaign, for example, Robert Graham simply reminds subscribers why the brand is different and why the subscriber should come back:
The Grommet, on the other hand, takes a different, creative approach by offering a mystery discount and noting holiday savings specifically:
In addition, you may want to target the sub segment of this group that purchased gift cards during Holiday 2013 and remind them about this great, convenient option.

Active 2014 Buyers


The holiday season is a perfect time to recognize active buyers for their loyalty. Remember, even your best buyers can become distracted by a busy inbox this time of year, so now is the time to make sure you express your gratitude for their business and give them a reason to keep coming back.
Pinup Girl does a great job of this—and sees a significant return—with its loyalty campaign: 
Fortunately, often no discounting is needed for this group.
And here’s a bonus idea: While active buyers may be purchasing for themselves throughout the year (even during the holiday season), they may not automatically think of your brand to purchase for others.Naturopathica creatively—and effectively—addressed this situation last year with a social campaign that asked loyal customers to share what they would give as gifts and why, and then used the testimonials in a daily email campaign:

60+ Day Subscribers Not Yet Converted


The next important segment to focus on in your holiday planning is subscribers you’ve acquired in the past 60 days who have not made a first purchase. As inboxes begin filling up, it is crucial to get this group’s attention with creative subject lines, and more importantly, with subject lines that inspire them to click.
Of our three segments, this is the one you may need to offer heavy discounting to as well as create urgency. This recent email from Swellfeatures several elements that increase your chances of spurring a first purchase:
With the increased site traffic the holiday season brings, it’s a perfect time to acquire new subscribers, but don’t forget that, with strategic segmentation, your current list can be maximized to boost your revenue this holiday season.
And finally, it’s not too soon to start integrating holiday themes into your emails. At just 35 days, it’s once again a short season, and you can rest assured that other retailers will be working hard to make the most of every day, too.
Be creative, like Pick Your Plum, who recently kicked off the season with this clever promotion:
Or, take a cue from Papyrus, who is rewarding shoppers for starting early:

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How Top Retailers are Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Emails in My Inbox

Monday, November 24, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

Listrak’s Ross Kramer shared his findings in an article for Internet Retailer posted on November 20, 2014: 
Surprisingly few major retailers are emphasizing Thanksgiving in their marketing email the week before Turkey Day. Apparently, most merchants few Thanksgiving as just the first day in the crucial Thanksgiving-Black Friday-Cyber Monday retail trifecta, says Listrak CEO Ross Kramer.
The short holiday season is in full swing for retailers, who are attempting to ease shoppers’ stress and get sales started with gift guides and enticing promotions. So how are retailers (other than the obvious purveyors of food and holiday decor) taking time in the middle of the madness to acknowledge Thanksgiving?
With Nov. 27 just a week away, we have seen very few Thanksgiving-themed emails, however, a few from Internet Retailer Top 1000 merchants have caught my attention: 
A handful of top retailers are hopping on the shipping promises bandwagon early, which is a great way to create urgency, secure the first sale of the season, and open the door for more opportunities to engage. I’m not sure if Gap, No. 19 in the IR Top 500, is marketing to folks who exchange holiday gifts on Thanksgiving Day or to those who just want to look their best at the table with this promotion:
But most likely the latter, based on an email earlier in the month with the subject line “we’re thankful for…these 10 pieces” that featured this Thanksgiving survival guide:
The purpose of Pier 1 Imports’ shipping promotion for the shopper who wants to spruce up the Thanksgiving table is a little more obvious:
And Burt’s Bees Baby takes an altogether different approach with the subject line “Bee creative this Thanksgiving with ideas from our Pinterest Board!” and this email that is not at all product-focused, but does subtly promote a sale:
J. Crew positions the week of Thanksgiving as the official kick-off to the holiday season, offering “dos & don’ts to get you through this superfestive-yet-sometime-stressful season,” including a 30% sale with urgent promo code:
With a limited number of days to promote holiday gift-giving, I’m not surprised to see many retailers treating Thanksgiving as little more than the first day in the crucial Thanksgiving-Black Friday-Cyber Monday retail trifecta. But whether officially acknowledging Thanksgiving or not, emails from wise retailers all have something in common this time of the season: They are all working hard to engage subscribers and get them browsing and buying, so retailers can collect as much data as possible to optimize their predictive analytics and present each shopper with the most relevant, personalized product recommendations in subsequent holiday campaigns.
And with that tall order before them, what retail email marketers are surely thankful for this hectic holiday season is automated solutions.
Listrak provides e-mail marketing services to 61 of the Internet Retailer Top 1000 web merchants.

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Make Your Customers Feel Special

Thursday, November 20, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

70% of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated? Nothing makes customers feel more special than an exclusive offer.

Retailers use Email Exclusive offers in a number of ways:
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Opening messages that offer an email exclusive offer makes customers feel good about sharing their email address - and customers that feel good about a brand are simply more likely to buy.

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The Gift of Guidance

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

Holiday Gift Guides are a perfect way of making the shopping journey easy for your customers. Anything you can do to present gift ideas in an organized and simple-to-shop way is great. I’m seeing an array of  gift guides in emails this holiday season, and while those that segment products by gender and price point are helpful, a few that have gone a step further have caught my eye and made some retailers truly stand out from the rest:
Listrak client The Grommet started off the season early with this email that arrived before Halloween with the subject line Get inspired for the gift-giving season with The Grommet Gift Page:
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The “Give Differently” theme is a wonderful way to introduce the unique way product offerings are organized. The Grommet then followed up with this email featuring popular products:
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The 10 recommended gifts in this long, scrolling email from Sephora were nice, but it was the personalized header that really caught my attention:
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And this creative email from Brit + Co, does a good job of trying to live up to its subject line, It’s Here: The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide:
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…and was followed up by an equally amusing White Elephant Gift Guide that features products that absurd, unexpected and even delightful, just as the copy promises:
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Being amused is good enough for me now, since I have not yet begun shopping, but the Gift Guides that I know I will truly appreciate once I do begin frantically searching is those that present with me products based on what I’m looking for online and have purchased before.
Have you seen any interesting Gift Guides yet this season? 

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Happy Birthday to Me: Gifts in My Inbox

Monday, November 17, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

Listrak CEO Ross Kramer recently shared with Multichannel Merchant the many ways that retailers helped him to celebrate his birthday. The article appeared November 17, 2014: 
While broadcast campaigns produce the lion’s share of email marketing revenue for retailers, triggered campaigns – like birthday messages – produce the highest ROI. Having just celebrated a November birthday, I noted some trends that popular merchants are implementing to help subscribers celebrate their birthdays.
Timing
Nearly half of all the birthday messages I received arrived in my inbox on the first of the month, and about a quarter arrived on my actual birthday. While the first of the month makes sense, because offers are typically good for the subscriber’s birth month, it is a little less personal than receiving a message on the exact day. Sundance Catalog creatively addressed this with a message that works beautifully for all birthdays -except those that fall on the first:
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Offers
Half of the birthday offers I received were 20% off my next purchase, and most were good for both online and in store for those retailers with brick-and-mortar locations. Those that were more generous percentage-wise required a minimum purchase, like these from Kenneth Cole and Trina Turk:
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It was interesting to see that a few merchants offered a free gift with purchase instead, which we find is a quite effective and seemingly generous promotion that actually doesn’t have to cost the retailer much:
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It was also interesting to see that while 7 For All Mankind offered the standard 20% off, they also took the opportunity to ask for a gift in return, so to speak, by requesting that I Instagram a photo of myself celebrating in their jeans:
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Personalization

Nearly none of the birthday emails I received featured products, and therefore did not offer much opportunity for personalization. A few retailers did attempt to personalize by gender, however, but actually got it wrong because they evidently based their segmentation on something other than my name, like my email address or browse behavior:
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It’s hard to tell whether or not this email from Brooklyn Industries, a retailer of apparel for both men and women, is personalized based on gender, but it definitely caught my eye because of its creative design:
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Making it about me

In addition to being mostly void of product, I noticed that most of my birthday emails were in fact very subtle in terms of branding in general:
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While this may seem like a missed opportunity, I believe it’s actually a very intelligent move on the part of merchants to take this unique, once a year opportunity to make it totally about the subscriber, which is refreshing and surely helps to strengthen brand loyalty.
A tip for you
If you embark on investing time and resources into building a birthday campaign email, you might want to take the opportunity to add one more triggered message to your cadre of highly engaging, triggered campaigns – a half birthday campaign. This unexpected message serves to communicate on a personal level with the recipient and celebrates that she’s halfway to a birthday. In my experience this campaign performs about half as well as the birthday campaign, however, it will deliver lots more revenue and engagement than the broadcast campaign you would otherwise be sending the recipient on that day.

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How the holidays have crept into my inbox

Tuesday, November 04, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

Faced with another short season, retailers are challenged by the need to promote the holidays early, while at the same time recognizing fall themes. I’ve been taking a look at the emails from some top retailers and have observed a few different approaches:
Keeping them separated
I received one email from Lands’ End promoting Halloween. It was on Halloween Day and promoted nothing else:
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Interestingly, this followed an email sent less than a week before, on October 25, which debuted the retailer’s Christmas Shop sandwiched between an Outerwear Guide and Fall Sale promotion:
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Warming up
Other retailers attempt to get shoppers in the spirit of the season very early with un-seasonal Black Friday events. Lowe’s, for one, seemed to have jumped the gun when they sent an email on March 13 with the subject line, “Heads Up, Everyone! Spring Black Friday Sale Starts Today!” that had no reference to the event in the email itself. The same subject line then appeared with the correct email on May 1, announcing the illogical “Spring Black Friday Sale” that was taking place for two weekends, and proceeded to promote the event in seven subsequent emails:  
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Lowe’s puzzled me once again, when on October 16 they sent this email with the subject line, “Save on Floors and Holiday Décor” that begins by referencing flooring installed by Thanksgiving and ends by promoting “Haunted Living” but includes no other holiday mention:
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Similarly, on August 2, Victoria’s Secret encouraged me to “Shop like it’s Black Friday. August 8th is PINK Friday!” and then promoted the event in two subsequent emails - the day before and day of:
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Fast foward to October 29, when the lingerie retailer quietly ushered in the holiday season with this email bearing the subject line, “Shhh. A Very Sexy holiday starts now”:
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And then, in what appeared to be an attempt to acknowledge Halloween but continue the holiday theme, sent this October 31 email with the vaguely Halloween-ish but very clunky subject line, “Our treat: Free shipping with clothing & shoes ($25 min)”:
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Subtly slipping it in
Other retailers have been slowly but surely sneaking holiday themes into their emails, but have not yet committed to a holiday subject line or exclusive holiday content.
Gap, for example, included this in the middle of emails sent October 6, 13 and 21 that featured an array of other, non-holiday promotions:
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Then, besides a few emails referencing seasonal hiring, did not mention the holidays again until November 3, when they introduced the holiday gift giving theme with an email with the unlikely subject line “how we stripe”:
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On November 2, H&M also slipped in its first holiday mention as the secondary part of the subject line, “Last day for free shipping + Classic home decorations for the upcoming holiday season,” for an email that actually focuses exclusively on holiday décor. I don’t know about you, but for me this email actually also “slipped in” the fact that this fashion retailer even sells home goods:
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Jumping right in
And finally, other retailers have unabashedly kicked off the season. On October 31 – Halloween of all days - Forever 21 sent this email with the celebrity-charged subject line “Iggy Azalea & Nick Young Unwrap Holiday Style”:
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Then on November 2, followed up with this email, which seemed to say that the season is in full swing:  
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And finally, Walmart introduced “Holiday essentials at unbeatable prices” on November 1:  image
 …and has maintained the holiday theme in every email since.
What interesting ways has the holiday season crept into your inbox?

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