Nov 18, 2015

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Email Marketing Tips

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Here at MailChimp, all we want for the holidays is for you to send beautiful, powerful, and effective marketing emails.  With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time for some helpful tips from our deliverability team. The TL;DR version goes like so:

Opens and clicks decrease during the holidays

Don’t fret when these numbers drop off. Focus on your unsubscribes instead.

Respect your most engaged customers

Longtime customers probably want to know about new products, not old ones. Send them email based on what they really want.

Think of inactive customers in a new way

These folks might just be waiting for the perfect time to shop. For many, the holiday season is that time.

Promote your best offers

Subject lines are important. Take the opportunity to be clear about any coupons, sales, shipping promotions, or other big offers.

Send more email

It’s more important than ever to maintain a presence in inboxes during the holidays. Think of it like raising your voice to be heard in a crowded room.

Keep your list clean

With engagement lower around the holidays, you need to avoid bounces and spam reports. Send only to people who know you and are expecting your content.

Below, we take a deeper dive into each tip, including more examples and charts from our data science team. If you wanna go really deep, here are 100 more holiday marketing tips we created with our friends at Facebook, Google, Shopify, Twitter, and WooCommerce. Also be sure to check out our brand new Black Friday webinar.

Opens and clicks decrease during the holidays

Based on MailChimp user data, we know that open and click rates tend to decline around the holidays. People are getting a lot of email and it’s hard for them to pay attention to all of it. And that’s OK! Because we also know that unsubscribe rates stay about the same during that same period of time. You should always take unsubscribes and abuse complaints seriously, no matter the season. But if you’re seeing an increase in unsubscribes from your list around this time of year, take note. It could mean the campaigns you’re sending aren’t relevant to the most engaged subscribers.

Holiday Unsubscribe Rates 2015

Respect your most engaged customers…

Subscribers won’t engage if your emails are boring, annoying, or irrelevant. Someone who just bought 3 pairs of sneakers from your online shop probably doesn’t need another message trying to sell them more sneakers. Longtime customers probably want to know about new products, not old ones.

The holidays are a great time to use MailChimp’s powerful data features to get to know your subscribers and send email based on what they really want. We’ve also got a bunch of great integrations to make it easy. And our powerful marketing automation features are another great way to get the right messages in front of the right people.

…but don’t rule out inactives

On the deliverability team, we’re usually all about pruning inactive subscribers. But before you start cleaning your list willy-nilly, take a look at the numbers. Our chief data scientist John Foreman recently shared this interesting stat with me: “Roughly a quarter of the email addresses MailChimp users market to who purchased last week hadn’t opened or clicked a campaign in the last 6 months.” In other words, just because someone doesn’t interact with your campaign very often doesn’t mean they don’t care. They might just be waiting for the perfect time to act. And for many, the holiday season is that time.

Promote your best offers

We all know how bonkers the mall gets this time of year, but remember that your subscribers’ inboxes are super packed, too. I mean, check out our sending volume projections for this year:

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That’s why subject lines are so important—they’re a determining factor in whether or not a reader will engage. Take the opportunity to be clear about any coupons, sales, shipping promotions, or other big offers. To see how different wording might impact open rates, our redesigned A/B Testing tool makes it easier than ever to try out different combinations (plus a variety of from names, send times, and content) before you hit send. (Emojis can add some sparkle, too. ✨⛄️✨)

Send more email

This might seem counterintuitive, but hear me out. During the holidays, when even the most engaged subscribers’ attentions are divided, it’s hard for marketing email to stand out. What this also means is that it’s more important than ever to maintain a presence in inboxes. It’s the equivalent of raising your voice to be heard in a crowded room. You don’t want to overwhelm them, but upping your sends can help keep your store and products in shoppers’ minds. Your brick-and-mortar stores should see an increase in sales, too. As shoppers browse IRL, they’re likely to recall a promotion you’ve reminded them of from their inbox. Just be sure to ask for permission before increasing your holiday sending.

Check your list twice (and keep checking it!)

Last but certainly not least, you should insist on quality-checking any new list imports. With engagement already low around the holidays, the last thing you need on your list is an address that’ll bounce or a subscriber that will report your campaign as spam. Never use a purchased list, one found in an old filing cabinet, one from last year, or one borrowed from another sender. Instead, send to people who know who you are and who are expecting this content from you. Smart list management is the key to a successful holiday marketing strategy, letting you send more email that’s valuable to both you and your subscribers. And who knows? With the right preparation, you could very well have your best Black Friday ever!