The holidays are coming! Did you prepare?
Most (if not all) brands have been busy prepping their holiday marketing campaigns for months. But that doesn’t mean the work stops there. To get the best engagement during the holidays, brands must be reactive, often sending out campaigns in response to real-time events.
For marketers who find themselves having to create engaging messaging on the spot, we’ve created some helpful last-minute tips related to the best timing, formatting, and content of email campaigns. The best part is that these tips require no advance preparation — and they’re based on insights from last year’s most successful campaigns, observed and analyzed by Cheetah Digital’s Analytics Services and Marketing Consulting teams.
Let’s dive in!
Aim for that peak time for your holiday emails
Last year, we saw a trend of late-in-the-day emails getting the most engagement. Our statistical model suggests that campaigns sent between 4:00 p.m. and midnight EST had around 1-3% higher open rates than expected.
What does it mean for you? You don’t have to send all your campaigns in the evening hours, but consider peak engagement times for the messages that you really want to get delivered.
A sense of urgency can work against you
Oft-quoted advice in email campaigns is to use a sense of urgency in the subject to get more clicks. Unfortunately, this advice seems to have been used so much that customers are ignoring these emails altogether: subject lines that stress on urgent actions underperformed by 1.5% in terms of open rate.
What does it mean for you? Urgency still has its place, especially when it comes to approaching expiration dates for coupons or items that actually need timely attention. But for your holiday messages, you should avoid overuse of urgency related expressions as they don’t necessarily help with performance.
Incorporate animation to make things exciting
The holidays are full of lively and spirited times, so it makes sense that customers seem especially receptive to emails that include something a little more eye-catching. Case in point: animation. We found that the use of animation in email content increased click rates by 2.2% but our model found no statistically significant contribution on expected transaction rates.
...the use of animation in email content increased click rates by 2.2%
What does it mean for you? If you’ve used animations in the past, or your messaging platform enables easy addition of animations, go ahead and include them in your email content. We’ve found great success with our innovative, interactive, and easy-to-incorporate CTA options in Cheetah Tap.
Customers go crazy over higher-than-usual discounts
Who doesn’t adore a great discount? Customers love to score a deal but when everyone is vying for attention with discounts during the holidays, how do you show them your deal is best? Offer a higher discount than usual. In our findings, larger discounts contributed to click rates up to 10% higher than suggested by the email’s open rates alone. This also translated to better transaction rates, especially for discount rates of more than 15%.
What does it mean for you? It’s no surprise that discounts result in more sales. If you want to determine which products or categories you should promote with higher percentage discounts, you should identify your more valuable gateway products for longer-term customer value — and Cheetah Digital can help! Our Engagement Data Platform includes built-in analytics capabilites, and our Analytics Services team can assist with in-depth analysis.
Subject line length still varies a lot
Ideal subject line length is a classic debate. But we actually found that when we controlled for audience size and selection, the real impact of the subject line length decreased. We did find evidence that subject lines on each end of the wordiness spectrum — very short or extremely long — had positive results.
What does it mean for you? Don’t be too concerned about using one more or one less word for subject lines; audience selection is the key. Focus less on subject line length and more on who’s receiving your message and how this will serve your broader business strategy.
As we head into the heart of the holiday season, we’ll leave you with one additional tip. The holidays are a great time for customer acquisition, but even after the last present is unwrapped, the work is still not done. Keep an eye on new customers and how they evolve in their customer journey. If you understand which customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and bring more value to your brand, you’ll be able to build a strategy around smarter customer targeting with higher CLV.
How is Cheetah Digital preparing for our customers during their busiest time?
Ceren Karacasu is an Analytics Consultant at Cheetah Digital. Within the Analytics Services team, she focuses on building scalable marketing analytics tools and works on business analyses for clients using statistical & machine learning techniques. She also focuses on proving the economic impact of data-informed marketing on her clients. She has expertise in analytics, strategic data management, problem solving, and client relationship management. She holds a master's degree in Applied Behavioral Economics from Cornell University.