The Christmas email campaigns have been in full swing since November. Fran, one of our email campaign managers, gives us her analysis of the festive emails.
I’ve been berating the early arrival of ‘Christmas’ into our lives for a while now. Not in an Ebenezer Scrooge-esque, bah humbug way but in a ‘this is ludicrously early’ way.
It seems that Halloween is barely over before the Christmas references start creeping into marketing messages. Plus, email – my joie de vivre – has been filling my inbox with uninterestingly designed, completely impersonal content and, most importantly, subject lines that aren’t even a little bit enticing for the festive season. Here are a few of the different areas that demonstrate how people are overthinking the minor details but not engaging the necessary focus – especially when it comes to content.
So, Halloween is over, the fireworks have finished, and now as the days get darker and begin disappearing rapidly without warning, we seem to be propelling ourselves head first into winter. That being said, it would seem that this year it’s beginning to go a little too far, just about everyone and everything has become about Christmas – even the toilet bleach:
Yet, although the decks have been ready for purchase as early as July this year (thanks Selfridge’s), it’s not hard to get confused with the recent mild weather that it might still be September – but alas the shops, the background noise, the lights, and – dare I say it – our email inboxes are a daily reminder that we are getting closer to the big festive day.
Can we honestly say that the world of email is hitting the nail on the head and drawing in those festive consumers? Taking evidence from my own inbox – I think not!
Let’s take a look at two of the key areas that campaigns are still struggling with this year, and a few handy tips for fabulously festive emails that perform.
Most unenticing subject line:
‘Francesca, it’s the season for 25% off 6 bottles of wine’
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love wine. It’s a staple in my fridge so they’ve got my attention. However, ‘season’? Does this rather large high street supermarket chain realise that there are four of them? In my humble opinion, every day (let alone season) should have 25% off 6 bottles of wine.
As an email professional, I highlight this key point for increasing user engagement: your subject line should be the prime area of focus in any campaign, at any time of the year.
As a rule of thumb you shouldn’t use any sales based words such as, ‘offer’, ‘free’, ‘sale’, ‘deals’ or icons like !, ?, £, or % in your subject line, as spam filters are highly likely to pick them up and throw the mail straight into the junk folder (hence I found the above one in my spam folder).
Keep it punchy, make it unique and create intrigue. When writing subject lines, consider the recipient – will it entice them? If there’s any doubt, then you need to rewrite it. Finally, if you’re going for a theme then go all in. The email feels half-hearted when you do it half hearted, and I don’t think you can ever over eggnog the Christmas pudding (sorry – had to).
Here are a few more subject lines that have found their way into my inbox/spam box that are lacking a little bit of get up and go:
‘Shh…Keep this to yourself…’
‘Make Christmas Your Own: Personalised Christmas Story Book £2, Santa Cutlery Holder
Sets, Luxury Santa Sack, LED Candles and More’
‘Alert! 3 For £18 Christmas Gifts [3 Hours Only]’
‘Is your home ready for the holidays?’ (Received the beginning of November… bit early?!)
Content that’s stuck in the dark ages (and also has no tact):
I don’t even think I need to explain why this spa wins the least personalised, most unresponsive template award and – more importantly – most contradictory Christmas theme of any winter themed email I’ve ever read. This seems to be more the sort of email you might expect when detox season kicks off in January.
This brings me to my next point: if you manage to entice a reader to click into your email then you need attractive, interesting and relevant email content that’s going to get them reading, clicking through and opening up again next time. In my opinion, there are three main areas:
Personalisation: whether this is personal details or content based on consumer analysis (see Sophie’s blog the other week for hints and tips).
Short copy: less is always more when it comes to words in emails. Short is good.
Beautiful visuals: images should relate to the copy and be high-quality and eye-catching.
Email marketing is still one of the most successful ways to reach your audience, with evidence showing it’s the number one way to reach millennials.
To be successful you need to make sure your campaigns are carefully considered and relevant. There are so many different and wonderful things you can do with content now, yet I regularly receive emails that are stuck in the dark ages.
A festive email campaign that really caught my eye this year came from Watergate Bay Hotel, a spa hotel in Cornwall. Their festive email campaign had a simple concept, on-point branding, and excellent integration. They used wintery graphics and a snowshaker concept to create a daily competition with cleverly chosen prizes from local or partnership brands that fit with their brand.
The competition runs through the whole of December with a different prize each day and three chances to win. If you’re not successful after ‘shaking’ the snowglobe three times, you receive a discount code to use in their online shop. This is a nice touch that will encourage users to purchase Christmas gifts from their online store.
Sign up is required to enter the competition, a great method for data capture and for driving users back with follow-up emails (particularly as the prizes change every day, maintaining interest). Watergate Bay also reinforce their brand and persona through the choice of graphics and the companies they have partnered with to offer prizes.
The entire effect gives you a sense of what the hotel is about, it’s festive without being cheesy and also places the hotel in their potential customer’s minds at the right time to be considered for their 2016 holiday.
Watergate Bay hotel have nailed the three areas we highlighted earlier: personalisation, short copy and beautiful visuals – plus they continued their theme throughout every element, from the original email to the landing page.
So, when it comes to creating email campaigns – think outside the box. Don’t just stick to the norm or the drab, do something that will get you noticed. All this takes is having the baubles to commit to the theme and be creative!
Top tips for email campaign success
1. Commit to your design. If you’re using a theme – use it, don’t only use a tiny bit of it.
2. Limit content headers/links. That way you shouldn’t have an email that means lots of scrolling – especially on a mobile device.
3. Have clear calls to action.
4. Make sure you’re using a mobile responsive template.
5. Try not to repeat a story/product/event etc, try something new.
6. Use behavioural data – you have access to all of the data you could ever want. Data analysis is key to creating the most engaging content for your audience.
7. Testing – always test different things in your emails. Subject lines. Content copy. Images. CTAs. Design… you should never stop testing. There are always new things to try and with it consumer behavioural data to be analysed.
8. Use beautiful, engaging and relevant images, or create simple and effective infographics.
9. Be personal.
10. Make sure you’re branded correctly, effectively and in a memorable way – no matter what you do.