2020 Holiday Email Marketing Starts Early

With the fluid retail environment surrounding Covid-19, protocols and expectations change daily. According to Coresight Research, a consulting firm, 23 percent of U.S. consumers plan to start 2020 holiday shopping earlier than in prior years. Ecommerce merchants should plan holiday email marketing now.

Early Marketing

Consider:

  • Moving up last year’s email marketing schedule by two to three weeks.
  • Emphasizing potential product scarcity. The pandemic has conditioned shoppers to the possibility of items being unavailable.
  • Offering short-lived email promotions to encourage orders and avoid shipping delays.

This holiday season will presumably see a decrease in travel, holiday parties, and in-person buying. Online shopping will likely increase. Product availability could be limited, and shipping could be slower.

  • Clearly explain offer and shipping deadlines. In every holiday-marketing email, provide order-by dates to guarantee arrival before the holidays.
  • Create triggered emails to alert shoppers about product availability when inventory runs low. Most email marketing platforms offer trigger-based notifications that tie to product views on your site.
  • Compose and save last-minute email offers now in case shipping delays dictate a shift in deployment dates.
Create triggered emails to alert shoppers about product availability when inventory runs low. This example is from Zulily, which sells clothing and home goods online.

Create triggered emails to alert shoppers about product availability when inventory runs low. This example is from Zulily, which sells clothing and home goods online.

Confirm Deliverability

Many consumers have changed or otherwise left jobs during the pandemic. Email addresses have likely changed, too. Cleaning your email list could be more important than ever this holiday season. Options include (i) email verification services to ensure addresses are active and deliverable, and (ii) email change-of-address firms to locate new addresses from undeliverables.

Email providers — Gmail, Yahoo, many more — frequently change deliverability algorithms that determine whether a marketing message lands in a subscriber’s main inbox versus spam. Those algorithms are typically a combination of a domain and IP reputation as well as subscribers’ interactions with a brand’s emails. Positive engagement, such as frequent opens and clicks, will lead to better inbox placement.

A sudden algorithm change by, say, Gmail could be catastrophic to a retailer if it causes all messages to be filtered to the spam or junk folder.

To help ensure deliverability:

  • Monitor open and click rates by subscribers’ domain, such as mary@gmail.com or bob@yahoo.com. This will quickly surface drop-offs from Gmail or Yahoo or any other domain.
  • Maintain a consistent sending volume and schedule. Abrupt changes in volume or frequency can cause domains to block or filter your email temporarily.
  • Check your sending IP and domain reputation weekly on Sender Score from Return Path.
  • Monitor blacklists to avoid an accidentally listing. Even the most reputable email senders occasionally get listed on blacklists and must act to be removed.
  • Remove or segregate non-responsive email addresses.

Creative Offers

The demand for certain products has changed due to the pandemic. This year’s holiday gift-giving will likely be different from 2019. Create product or gift suggestions that solve the problem of remote, distant giving. This can be as simple as personalized gift-wrapping or custom gift baskets.

Remember that most email opens are on smartphones. Increasingly, purchases are on a phone, too. Make email content easy to click from the mobile device, to land directly on pages deep in the purchase funnel.