Smart strategies for campaigns during an unprecedented holiday season

13 Nov 2020 9:48 AM | Jennifer Cannon (Administrator)

As the initial days of the pandemic played out, many brands emailed subscribers with words of encouragement and support, offering solidarity. Many smart email marketers, however, included vital pieces of information — specifically how the subscribers could engage with their brands across their web experience.

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday rush, let’s take a look at how email marketing can help brands — large and small — connect with consumers while mitigating the challenges of this past year. A Rakuten study found over 70% of holiday shoppers do not plan to decrease spend on 2020 holiday shopping (compared to 2019), according to the report. Your team can still have a successful holiday season — and end 2020 on a high note.

It’s not surprising that with global stay-at-home orders, varying quarantine protocols, and city-wide lockdowns that millions of people turned to digital channels for social support and connections in addition to more of their own consumer needs than ever. And as people everywhere became increasingly relegated to their homes, businesses have suffered unfathomable losses. Many brick-and-mortar businesses and small businesses were forced to close or limit hours and make significant changes to their locations in order to open their doors to the public.

Numerous, inconsistent regulations — amid serious health concerns — have millions of consumers turning to digital channels to purchase holiday gifts this year, and data suggests that email became more popular than it has in years.

A recent Mailchimp study on coronavirus marketing trends indicates that email engagement metrics increased significantly in 2020; click and open rates were higher in March and April than they were throughout all of 2019.

The March rise in open rates was three points (16%) over February, but as uncertainty and instability grew through March and April, email marketers maintained strong year-over-year open rates, with a nearly four-point rise for both months from 2019 to 2020 — an increase of over 20%.

Alignment and flexibility. Your holiday strategy is likely well underway, but if there is one thing we should all take away from 2020, it’s that flexibility and success go hand-in-hand will be key to your email and e-commerce efforts in the coming weeks.

Connect with your counterparts in other digital marketing roles to conceive methods of aligning your overall messaging, offers, ad spend, and email marketing efforts to deliver a consistent experience to the customer. Any data that you can collect and leverage to improve your email and ad segmentation should be shared with all platform managers to catch consumers’ attention across their web experience.

Remind your subscribers of your offerings for delivering gifts to loved ones far away this season. With many families and friends planning to stay apart this holiday season, one should anticipate that online shopping and shipping gifts directly to the recipient will become a more common practice this season. If you represent a small business trying to maintain the support of your community, let your customers know about your different shipping options. If shipping is new to your business, send out an announcement to proudly let them know that you can help them deliver your locally-purchased gifts to friends and family wherever they may be,

Incentivize customers to purchase online. To minimize foot traffic and maintain a healthy, safe work environment, test offers with a segment of your most loyal customers with an appropriate shipping offer to encourage them to make their purchase online this year. This will be an effective method to reach customers who may otherwise forgo shopping with your brand completely because they want to avoid entering a store during the busy season.

While we all adjust to our “new normal,” life is still moving on. Communication with your customers is critical, and in these crazy times, your emails might be just the distraction they are looking for. And, with the right calls-to-action, messaging and sentiment, your brand’s email program could be a saving grace for your business in 2020.

A personal note to the Women of Email community: I hope all of you are staying healthy and busy! It goes without saying, but 2020 was a year that no one asked for. Shortly after my initial post, I unexpectedly went on early maternity leave — ten weeks early! Our son is thriving and we are all doing well. I apologize for my unaddressed absence and look forward to continuing to serve as your editor-in-chief.


  • 16 Nov 2020 2:46 AM | Anonymous member
    Thank you for this piece. Hoping the holiday wave helps brick & mortar business that have recently adapted to e-commerce...and congratulations!
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