Sending promotional emails is the most effective marketing approach in terms of ROI, so no doubt they’ll play a big part in your overall sales strategy.
But, in order to maximize click-through rates and ultimately, sales, you must be savvy when it comes to seasonality. Seasonal email marketing will help you grab people’s attention when you need it the most.
Tap into existing conversations and the ongoing consumer cycle. Pop up in their inbox with some hyper-relevant content, or a targeted seasonal offer.
Follow our expert advice on gearing your marketing emails towards various seasonal festivals and holidays.
Catchy email copy & typography
Make your copy overtly seasonal and punchy. You want the reader to immediately feel like they are participating in an inside joke, story, or that they’ve got the latest seasonal scoop.
It’s pretty easy to make a seasonal bridge between anything using some clever storytelling in your emails, so don’t give up, even if there is no immediately obvious angle.
Engage the user straight away with a question like ‘want gadgets to get fit this new year?’ or ‘back to school? Check out our must-have essentials’.
Using a rhetorical question instantly turns the focus on the consumer and gets them thinking about their goals and plans. You want your email to come across as helpful — like you are supporting them in reaching their seasonal goals.
It’s also important to keep your text short, sweet, and straight to the point because, on average, people spend just over 11 seconds reading an email (Salesforce).
You may also want to try seasonal humor or puns — but don’t overdo this and make your emails too ‘twee’. It’s a fine line between being funny and obnoxious. Some subscribers may find you presumptuous, so it’s a good idea to always split test more creative emails to ensure you’ve got the tone of voice ‘just right’.
Select the right typography to make your sales emails really ‘sing’. Ensure that you consider email accessibility as well as aesthetics so as not to alienate certain customer groups.
You will usually want to stick to a core group of branded fonts that cascade across your website, social channels, and email.
Unfortunately most trendy fonst are not supported in the majority of email builders. You are usually limited to web safe fonts.
Embrace the holiday theme
If you’re going to be creating a marketing campaign around a particular season or holiday, you may as well go the whole hog and make it explicitly clear – and one way to do this is with the design of the email. If you’re sending a promotion that’s tied into Independence Day, for example, make sure the visuals clearly reflect the holiday – and yes, that means red, white and blue on everything!
Schedule in some seasonal product photoshoots so that you aren’t ever caught unawares, or invest in some high-quality seasonal stock imagery or designs. You can keep recycling seasonal visuals on an annual basis, as long as they still make sense for your brand.
Make sure you maintain the theme across email design, copy, subject line, and key value proposition. For a seasonal email to really work, you have to be consistent.
Don’t be afraid to step outside your brand guidelines for the purposes of an email campaign — you need to have a bit more creative freedom. Brainstorm a few different creative ideas and get the team to feedback on your ideas. Explain how the medium of email marketing works, and the need to be a bit more colloquial.
Offer specific seasonal discounts in your emails
Specific holidays like Christmas and New Year are when e-commerce companies traditionally see a spike in sales, and many stores rely on a huge revenue boost on days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
If this is the case for you, you will need to spend up to six months planning in preparation for the big day. You will want an array of offers and campaigns going out in the weeks leading up to D-Day, and you’ll need to ensure that you’ve got the stock levels and required expertise to hand so that you don’t experience any customer service issues on the day.
Get your email subscribers excited about seasonal shopping by sending them flash sales, discount codes, and personalized vouchers in emails.
Get a handle on what your competitors are offering, and see whether you can do one better. Try to keep your sales as attractive as possible, and theme them around the holidays.
Unique sales strategies like “everything here for one dollar”, or timed sales that are counted down with a stock counter can help improve the ‘virality’ of your offers. You want people to get the urge to share your offers too — so implementing a seasonal referral program is a good idea.
A countdown email series is a great way to boost engagement and encourage people to spend more money with you at this crucial commercial juncture. Plan out a whole series of emails with an increasing level of hype — you may want to up the ante by incrementally revealing more about your sales.
You can also target seasonal shopping cart abandoners with some personalized discount codes to encourage them to spend their money with you.
Rolling out this strategy en masse can help you claw back precious seasonal revenue. Remember how cost-effective remarketing and retargeting can be as opposed to trying to convince new customers to buy ‘cold’.
Make sure a significant portion of your seasonal budget is spent on existing customers.
Get your timings right
Think about your email correspondence timings very carefully. For example, there’s no point sending out a last-minute Christmas shopping email if your consumers won’t get their deliveries before the big day. It’s a good idea to stagger your emails, with a few arriving in people’s inboxes during the lead up to the event.
As well as considering the timings from a logistical point of view, also try to preempt buyer behavior – basically when they will be most likely to open and engage with your messages.
Send emails about new products after payday as this will increase click-through rates; and also schedule them for either early in the morning or later in the evening, when people are most likely to be online. For B2B, you might be able to catch people during their lunch break — but it can be hard to 100% nail down the ideal send time unless you have true insider knowledge of the industry.
When scheduling a whole email sequence, you may want to veer away from always sending stuff out at the same time of the day, as it could make your campaign seem too ‘automated’. It’s a good idea to test out different times of the day to maximize email reach.
Segment your email list
It’s really important that you segment your email lists. You probably have customers from all over the world, but it’s only your American (and possibly Canadian) ones that will be interested in your Thanksgiving dinner must-haves, for instance.
Another reason to divide up your lists for various emails is so that you can target new customers, loyal customers, men, women and specific age groups all differently — this more personalized approach has been proven to get higher click-through rates.
Email list segmentation is a marketing strategy that should also cascade to the rest of your content strategy.
Watch the weather
The weather has a real impact on consumer spending habits so pay close attention to it before you send your marketing emails – especially if you have a clothing business!
For example, if it’s September and all of your wooly jumpers have just arrived, but there’s been a heatwave in the state that’s your main shipping destination, perhaps hold off on the ‘wrap up this winter’ mailout. Always have evergreen or ‘backup’ campaigns ready and waiting in the wings if you have to stall a seasonal send out for longer than expected.
Same goes for any big events or news items — don’t be insensitive when it comes out to sending your marketing emails. You want to be aware and clued up on recent events before you hit send.
Any message that lands in a person’s inbox need to make them feel something. This can be anything from excited, amused, inspired – as long as they are driven to take action. Don’t send out bland, formulaic emails — they will do nothing for your brand, and won’t generate any significant sales uplift. In fact, you’re probably better off appealing to fear and disgust — just anything but boredom.
You can harness the power of FOMO (fear of missing out) with phrases like ‘last chance for Black Friday savings’ and ‘don’t miss out on these winter deals’ to encourage a surge in sales.
Include snaps of other happy customers to make the most of social proof. Direct feedback from other like-minded customers is so much more powerful than the usual sales pitch.
Cute photos of puppies? They work! Appeal to people’s more whimsical side.
Be direct, but not too forceful. You want to stop people in their tracks — but avoid something that’s just pure ‘clickbait’.
Nail that subject line
Your subject line is the most important thing about any marketing email you send, because if it doesn’t grab the user in a matter of seconds, then it won’t get opened. In fact, 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line.
So make sure yours are snappy, engaging and relevant to the season. Sometimes, you will just want to go with something relatively descriptive, so as to not risk confusing the reader.
Also, making email subject lines personalized is another way to boost click rates – just make sure you don’t end up with a merge fields disaster. Some customers may find first name email presumptuous — know your audience.
Make the most of your HTML emails
Harness the aesthetic power of HTML emails with beautiful seasonal imagery to capture the imagination of your potential customers. Ensure all of your images have clickable links to direct the consumer straight to your site.
It’s also essential to have social buttons at the end of every marketing email so the user knows where to find you on other platforms – try something like ‘find more festive ideas over on our Facebook page’ to tie into the time of year. You may even want to pull elements of your social media feeds into your email campaign — a lovely image carousel can help you create a sense of community. This would be an especially great strategy for a niche where gifting will be a big part of your sales figures.
Finally, don’t forget to optimize your emails for all devices – it’s more important than ever, as holiday sales on mobile devices continue to grow.
Optimizing your emails and filling them with inspirational content can be made even easier with a responsive email editor, so don’t be shy with your HTML emails!
Formulate an email sending schedule
With so many celebrations, holidays and events across the world each year, it’s a good idea to plan out which ones you’ll be focussing on, and then create a concrete plan for when each holiday will be targeted and how.
Check the main holidays first and foremost, but don’t forget other big retail events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday (as if you would!). You might also want to jump on relevant awareness days and big events like local marathons and festivals. The idea is to make your emails seem more special, and making them part of special occasions is a great way to do just that.
We have a more in-depth article about holidays and sale days that can be used in email marketing with 38+ email design examples, subject lines, and free templates so you can plan your holiday campaigns on time.
From watching the weather to getting your words just right, an email marketing campaign isn’t something to take on lightly, but follow these top tips for nailing seasonal marketing emails and you’ll be humming ‘‘tis the season to be jolly’ all the way to the bank.
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