The holidays bring with them a significant influx of online spending, and you don’t want to miss out. The days from Black Friday to Christmas generate 50–100% more revenue than other shopping days throughout the rest of the year and last year, online holiday sales increased by 3% to $626.1 billion, and that number is expected to only keep growing.

There are several ways for brands to connect with customers to drive sales during this busy time of year, but email marketing has consistently proven to be one of the most effective. In 2014, the main sales driver for marketers was email marketing, which accounted for 27.3% of sales. This same trend continued in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down. Email marketing accounted for a quarter of online sales from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday in 2015.

This post will cover trends for holiday 2016, important dates, and steps for holiday email marketing success.

Trends for 2016

Updates in technology continue to influence how we market to our customers. To keep up, it’s important to review the data, understand shifting trends, and plan your holiday email marketing campaigns accordingly.

To help you out, here are a few expected trends for 2016:

Email marketing reaches consumers where they are

Email marketing is a highly effective method to reach people this holiday season. With 57% of email subscribers spending 10-60 minutes browsing marketing emails during the week, you’re likely to reach people no matter where they are.

On Black Friday, email marketing generated the most sales with 25.1% of the share. Organic search drove 21.1% while CPC (paid search) came in third with 16.6% of sales. Social media was only responsible for a mere 1.6% of sales on Black Friday. Cyber Monday was no different with 1.5% of sales.

Go mobile or go home

This season, brands can’t afford to miss out on mobile.

76% of Black Friday emails and 63% of Cyber Monday emails were opened on a mobile device in 2015 according to Movable Ink.

Furthermore, 56% of searches during the holiday season were conducted on a mobile device. Not to mention, for 6 days holiday traffic from mobile devices actually surpassed that of traffic from desktops. 

If you are looking to engage your subscribers this holiday season, give them the gift of mobile-friendly emails. Remember, Campaign Monitor makes it easy with our new drag-and-drop mobile-friendly email templates.

The early bird gets the best gifts

Alongside the rise of online and mobile shopping comes early shopping. Practical Ecommerce predicts that about 25 percent of shoppers will purchase gifts before Halloween, which means you need to connect with your audience as early as possible.

Did you know that in 2015 Thanksgiving overtook Cyber Monday as the biggest day for visits to retail sites? All the waiting around for the food to cook left consumers with some online shopping time.

Have no fear, we’ve got helpful tips to get your email marketing ready for the holidays.

Smart social commerce is smart for business

Customers can now buy goods via a plethora of channels including social networks including Facebook and Pinterest.

Retailers are also using other growing social media channels like Snapchat to engage customers in holiday promotions.

This holiday season, remember that each marketing outlet serves its purpose to help bring customers the deals they desire.

Free shipping is important to consumers

If you are stumped and can’t seem to find the perfect holiday promotion, look to statistics to help guide you. Nearly 85% of online shoppers wait 5 days for delivery. However, 47% of consumers say free shipping was one of the most important factors during the holiday season.

See the gap you can fill? If email marketing is the most successful method for holiday conversions, and people wait for free shipping deals, you can create a free shipping email promotion, and your customers will love you.

Additionally, offers to buy online and pickup in the store are gaining popularity.

Consumers want quick check-out options

Consumers are requesting quicker checkout methods. As such, mobile and alternate payment methods are growing.

As you prepare your email campaigns, the easier you can make it for buyers to check out, the better off you will be.

Notable dates during the holiday season

Here are this season’s most notable holidays to plan your email campaigns around:

Halloween – Monday, October 31

Veterans Day – Friday, November 11

Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 24

Black Friday – Friday, November 25

Small Business Saturday – Saturday, November 26

Cyber Monday – Monday, November 28

Giving Tuesday –  Tuesday, November 29

Green Monday – Monday, December 12

Free Shipping Day – Friday, December 16

Winter Solstice – Wednesday, December 21

Christmas Eve – Saturday, December 24

Hanukkah begins – Saturday, December 24

Christmas Day- Sunday, December 25

Boxing Day – Monday, December 26

Kwanzaa – Begins Monday, December 26

New Year’s Eve – Saturday, December 31

New Year’s Day – Sunday, January 1

Steps to holiday email marketing success

Now that you know what is trending this holiday season, it’s time to decide how it all fits into your email marketing strategy. Here are some steps to help you create the engaging email marketing campaigns to drive massive revenue and delight your subscribers all season long.

Step 1: Pick your promotions

Each company has success with different types of promotions. The promotions that will be more effective will often depend on what products and services you offer.The holidays you decide to celebrate and promote are largely up to you. You can use past data about open rates to tell you what your customers respond to best.

Step 2: Create a holiday promotion schedule

This holiday season, you want balanced communication. That means keeping in touch with your customers without sending them with too many messages. In order for your holiday email marketing efforts to work, you need to create a detailed holiday promotion schedule.

Sit down and think about how many emails you’ll need to send out to be successful this season. For example, if you want to create an email campaign encouraging people to visit your site on Cyber Monday, think carefully about how many emails you’ll need, as well as when it makes sense to send them.

Step 3: Break down tasks

The holiday season is notoriously busy, so it’s essential to make sure your team is organized. Who will write the copy? Who will segment the lists? These are decisions you need to make now before the season gets too hectic.

Step 4: Decide on success metrics

No email marketing campaign is successful without the measurement of metrics. Before you start sending emails, think about how you’ll measure success. Do you want engagement rates that are higher than average, or will you be happy if your holiday emails see the same rates as emails sent out at other times of year? Our reporting on lists & segments makes it super easy to see how parts of your list are performing so you can make improvements as you go.

Step 5: Execute

All hands on deck! Time to execute. This one is self-explanatory, but it’s an important step that involves good copywriting, seamless design, and thoughtful organization.

To craft perfect emails, these resources can help:

Step 6: Analyze

You’ll need to analyze your performance metrics throughout the season. How do they compare to last year’s holiday season? How did they compare to similar metrics at other times of the year? It’s only through analysis that you’ll be able to understand how you did, and where you can improve and shape your strategy for next year.

Tips for holiday success

  • Send save the date emails for any live events. If you’re holding a live event, send a save the date email before providing formal details. This will ensure that people put the date into their calendars. The holiday season is incredibly busy with many parties and festivities, so send save the dates before calendars get filled.
  • Consider the latest trends. Online and mobile shopping are trends that are here to stay, and they’re worth paying attention to this holiday season. Make sure emails look good on any device, and that people are able to engage with your site from their mobile phones.
  • Make your campaigns cross-platform. You may be focusing on email marketing, but the most effective campaigns are cross-platform. If you’re announcing a sale via email, make sure to share the same information on social media, as well.

Wrap up

There you have it– the holiday marketing trends, dates, and tips that will help you create compelling email campaigns this season.

Using the information in this blog post and your skills as a savvy marketer, you’ll have the power to make it an awesome holiday season with email marketing.

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