While you might be thinking to yourself, “it’s way too soon to be thinking about the holidays”- 60% of consumers start shopping for Christmas gifts before December. As a business operating in the middle of a pandemic, it’s pivotal to understand how COVID-19 has changed e-commerce and the economy, and how this can affect your holiday marketing strategy.  

The pandemic has changed buyer behaviors, disrupted shipping times, delayed restocks, limited product availability, shifted seasonal trends, and forced businesses to move online to maintain revenue. That means it’s more important than ever to plan and launch your holiday marketing strategy early. As the holidays approach, crafting a strong email marketing strategy starts now.

Why You Should Be Using Email Marketing

91% of consumers open their email on a daily basis, making email marketing an essential tool for any business’s marketing strategy. Sending the right email to the right person at the right time can connect your brand with your target audience to turn prospects into leads and leads into customers. Effective email marketing campaigns build trust and authority while providing unique value to the viewer to nurture and guide them through each stage of the buyer’s journey and turn them into loyal, long-term customers. 

Planning Ahead For The Holidays

The good thing about prepping for the holidays early is that if you haven’t already taken advantage of email marketing, you can start now. There’s just enough time to start gathering the data that can help you optimize your campaigns for the holiday season.

Conducting a Competitive Analysis

The best way to get started is to conduct a competitive analysis. This will give you the chance to look at your current competition and any potential competitors within your market, determining  their strengths and weaknesses. A clear understanding of your competition will help you craft a strategy that puts you in the best position possible to compete and remain relevant to your target market.

Know Your Audience

Once you understand your competitors, you need to know your audience. This is about more than just knowing who and where they are. Aim to understand your audience in relation to the pandemic and how the current situation has affected them. Ask questions like:

  • Have the buying behaviors of my target market changed? If so, how?
  • Is there a need or demand for my products or services right now?
  • Is my audience spending less or more on my type of products or services right now?
  • Is it appropriate to be marketing my products or services at a time like this? 
  • If we cannot actively market our products or services, what can we do to reach our target market?

Asking the right questions can help your marketing in general remain effective, while accurately gathering information to make your email marketing efforts successful.

Changes in The Buyer’s Market

Each business has been uniquely impacted by the pandemic. As a business owner, be honest with how these changes have affected your business. Have your customers stopped purchasing? Have you been unable to restock seasonal items that are in demand right now? Have your shipping times been delayed? Has customer service been delayed due to layoffs? Will your business experience lasting effects as a result of the pandemic?

Assessing how your business has been impacted by the pandemic can help you craft an email marketing strategy that’s realistic. For example, there’s lingering uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last and how long businesses will need to operate in new ways to maintain revenue. If your business’s brick and mortar stores can’t operate at max capacity and the majority of your sales will need to come from ecommerce, you’ll want to craft a holiday strategy around that while providing value to your customers.

Outline Your Strategy

Don’t go into your strategy blind, especially if you’re new to email marketing. Instead, have a clear idea of what your email campaigns will focus on each month and what types of emails you will be sending. 

Determine which holidays are important to your customers and craft your email campaigns leading up to the holidays to reach the right audience at the right time, with the right message, for the right holiday. For example, test the type of content and messaging that’s most successful for abandoned cart emails early. Perfecting this type of email now can help improve conversions and maximize revenue during the holiday season.

Most importantly, decide which emails are important for your automated email sequence, a series of emails that are trigger-based or sent on pre-set time intervals. Having an idea of what you’ll need to set up beforehand can help you send subscribers exactly what they want, when they want it. When creating an email series, here are the types of emails to consider:

  • Welcome email sequence: The very first automated email you should send any subscriber to thank them for signing up.
  • Onboarding email sequence: Email received shortly after the welcome email. For this email, ditch the hard sell. Instead, use this email sequence to showcase the value of your brand, provide resources or information that help the subscriber get the most out of their new relationship with your brand, provide customer service contact information, and link to social media profiles.
  • Abandoned cart email sequence: A follow-up email sent to a subscriber who has added items to their cart and proceeded through a portion of the checkout without purchasing.
  • Upsell email sequence: It’s always cheaper to market to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. This email sequence should identify people who have made a recent purchase and are likely to make another purchase or upgrade. The sequence should highlight promotional content or offers that clearly show the value of the additional purchase and are in the interest of the customer. 
  • Transactional email sequence: The best way to build transparency, authority and trust is with this email sequence. Use your transactional email sequence to confirm the purchase, provide the buyer with a receipt, and follow up with emails that list tracking numbers when created, confirm the item has shipped, communicate unexpected delays in delivery, and confirm delivery.

Once you’ve determined which email sequences are important for success, your email marketing strategy will start to organically come together and give you a better understanding of how and when to trigger each email sequence appropriately.

When To Send Holiday Emails

Ideally, most businesses begin to focus on the holiday season in October and send out their curated content in November. If your business has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, you may want to adjust the timing of your holiday emails to give your business the flexibility it needs to ensure all products are delivered and readily available.

Regardless of your business’s situation, make sure you are marketing with a sense of urgency and transparency. If you’re experiencing shipping delays or items are almost out of stock and will not be restocked, notify your subscribers. Prepping for the holidays now can help you reap the benefits of email marketing in the long run. Email marketing takes time, trial and error to perfect, but it’s never too late to be part of the game! If you’re still unsure of how to get started with email marketing for your business, ask the Grow With Studio team how we can help.