Yes, it’s mid-November and your 2021 holiday email marketing program should be in full swing! But you’re entering a make-or-break period for your holiday campaigns. Learn why that is and get 3 tips for simple, low-resource things you can do to increase your sales and revenue during this key timeframe that I call ‘NoD.’
While all of holiday is important, we’re about to enter the most important part of the season – the second half of November and the first week in December (‘NoD’ for short). These three weeks can make or break your holiday.
Last year my key client saw a year-over-year lift of 64% in their total revenue from email marketing. We generated 45% of their total holiday revenue and 40% of total holiday sales in this 3-week period.
Two factors that helped achieve those goals -- average order value (AOV) and revenue-generated-per-email (RPE) were significantly above the season average for NoD.
And yes, Black Friday / Cyber Monday falls within NoD and drove a significant portion of these NoD sales.
So, what can you do to maximize your revenue and sales during NoD? Hopefully you have your email marketing program in place, but here are three simple things you can add to it to drive a few more sales and a bit more revenue during this critical time:
- Strategic Resends
Many organizations do resends; few do them strategically.
So, what makes a resend strategic? Three things:
1. Targeting just those who are most likely to make a purchase, rather than resending to the entire list. In my experience, this is those who clicked on the initial email but did not purchase.
2. Deploying the resend a week to 10 days after the initial send.
3. Not making any changes to the email itself. That’s right. No need to change the subject line, the preheader text, or anything else. Familiarity and Recognition that this is a ‘second chance’ for the recipient to purchase something that was of interest to them is key to success.
It’s a small group. But strategic resends generate almost unbelievable increases in revenue-generated-per-email (RPE) compared to the initial send. And it’s very, very rare to see any unsubscribes or spam complaints, since the content is highly relevant, another benefit over traditional resends to the entire list.
Overall, the strategic resends had an average RPE lift over the initial sends of 1380%; the median lift (median means in the middle of all the results) was 953%. Those are depicted in the right columns on the chart below. Not too shabby.
Some strategic resends did better than others. Resend 13 had the largest RPE lift over the initial send, at 4422%. Just one resend, #11, did less well than its initial send -- losing 33% in RPE. But as you can see from the average and median figures. overall this simple tactic added some ‘icing’ revenue to the revenue from the original send.
- A/B Split Testing
Conventional wisdom is not to do any A/B split testing during key selling seasons. I disagree.
In my experience it’s a good idea to test during these periods as long as you:
- Follow scientific method. Key to scientific method is having a sound hypothesis for why what you are testing will boost performance.
- Test things you can leverage in future holiday email sends. This way you’ll get more mileage from your learnings.
During Holiday 2020 we did an A/B split test with pretty much every initial send. Then we’d incorporate the learnings into later sends with the same template. We even did some testing with our initial Black Friday sends.
The Black Friday template from holiday 2019 had a header with product blocks; the product blocks had a style which was distinct from most of the client’s other email messages. Each block was an image – the “Save up to XX%” and product category copy was part of the image, meaning that with images disabled nothing appeared. This was the control, since it’s what had previously been used.
Our first hypothesis was that making the copy rich text, instead of an image, would boost response because it would be seen even if images were blocked (which they are by default in many email clients). This became Test A; there are samples below. It doesn’t look much different than the control.
Our second hypothesis drove the design of Test B. Here we thought that including an image from the product category, along with the discount and the product category name, would boost response because people would be able to visually understand each category without having to read the category name. We also felt this had a good chance to beat the control because most of the client’s other emails included images of products.
So, which do you think won? Take a minute before you scroll and see the answer.
Were you surprised? We were. We all thought Test B would win. But if we had gone with that and not included Test A, we would have left money on the table. Test B generated a 73% increase in revenue-per-email (RPE) over what the control garnered. Test C only showed a lift of 38% over the control.
There were a total of 5 Black Friday sends, all utilizing this ‘black block’ style. By implementing the Test B rich text for sends 2 to 5, we generated significantly more revenue than we would have with the control version of these blocks.
- Behavior-Based Content Targeting
Behavior-based content targeting sounds difficult, doesn’t it? Not always. Here’s a simple way we leveraged it last holiday to boost performance.
One of our email messages was a multi-category message; each product category had a single block with an image of a sample item from that category.
We had other single-category email messages which included multiple products all from a single category.
Initially, we were sending each of these email messages to the full list. So, this week we might send everyone the category email on Tuesday, then the apparel email on Thursday. Next week everyone might get a drinkware email on Tuesday and an accessories email on Thursday. Results were fine, all the emails were profitable.
Then we decided to test behavioral targeting – here’s how we did it.
The first week we would send the category email to everyone. The next week anyone who had clicked on a link in the multi-category email would receive a single-category email customized based on that behavior.
For instance, if I clicked on an accessories link in the multi-category email, I would receive a customized single-category email full of accessory products. If you had clicked on an apparel link in the same multi-category email, you’d receive a customized single-category apparel email. Anyone who hadn’t clicked on the multi-category email would receive a default email message.
As with the strategic resends, these customized segments were small. But the increased relevance generated some of the highest revenue-per-email numbers we saw over the course of holiday 2020.
Overall, all the customized one-category emails together generated a lift of 587% over the initial multi-category email. On average, the RPE lift provided by the customized single-category emails was 834%; the median lift was 201% (these are the columns at the right below).
Some category-specific emails did better than others. The category A emails generated a lift in RPE of 3529% over the multi-category email, a clear winner. Also at the head of the pack, the category E emails with a 3374% lift in RPE. A few category-specific messages didn’t generate any revenue (Categories C, D, and J).
I know you’re busy. But if you can find the time to test just one of these simple tactics over the next few weeks you could get that little boost of revenue that turns your holiday 2021 from good to great!
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Meet the Author
Jeanne Jennings is a recognized expert in the email marketing industry and a sought-after consultant, speaker, trainer and author specializing in email marketing strategy, tactics, creative direction, and optimization. She helps organizations make their email marketing programs more effective and more profitable.
Jeanne is Founder and Chief Strategist at Email Optimization Shop, a boutique consultancy focused on optimizing bottom-line email marketing performance with strategic testing. She is also General Manager of the Only Influencers community of email marketing professionals, Chair of the annual Email Innovations Summit conference, and an Adjunct Professor in the graduate program at Georgetown University.
Her direct response approach has helped B2B, B2C, government and non-profit clients including AARP, Capital One, Consumer Reports, Hasbro, National Education Association, Network Solutions, New York Times, PayPal, Scholastic, UPS, US General Services Administration (GSA), Verizon, Vocus (now Cision), and the World Bank.
Jeanne is based in Washington, DC, she earned her MBA from Georgetown University (Hoya Saxa!), and she is an avid hockey fan (Let’s Go Caps!).