Holiday Planning:

The Retailer’s Guide to Driving Sales

Shopping—both the ways in which we go about it and the experiences we encounter in the process—has become more complex, competitive, and personal. As a result, ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers have to constantly bear in mind some basic retail principles: be available where your customers want to make their purchase, sell the products they want to buy at a price they’re willing to pay, provide outstanding customer service, and market to them with relevant messages and content they want to consume.

Even with these basic principles, though, retailers still need a strategy and a game plan to stand out, be relevant, and drive success during this busiest shopping time of the year—the holidays.

From Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday last year, more than 165 million Americans shopped either in stores or online, according to the National Retail Federation.

As you prepare your store for the 2019 holiday season, online and physical retailers must optimize your websites, emails, product assortments, promotional offers, and fulfillment options well ahead of the holidays to take advantage of this mad dash to the cash register.

Read on to learn:

What you need to know about the holiday shopping season

  • How to set your goals and measure your performance
  • How buyer personas can help you convert customers
  • How to segment your audience and deliver a personalized experience
  • How to merchandise and promote your products
  • How to optimize your website for the holidays
  • How to use email marketing to drive more sales

What You Need to Know About the Holiday Shopping Season

Ecommerce sales are growing nearly five times faster than in-store sales, according to Digital Commerce 360. What’s more, they’re projected to reach $2.85 billion by 2023, according to Statista.

There’s no doubt that ecommerce will continue to grow and take up bigger pieces of the shopping pie, so it’s smart to invest in your ecommerce businesses and develop relationships with your customers now, ahead of the holidays, if you haven’t already done so.

Why? Because the Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) holiday season impacts nearly all ecommerce businesses.

Even if the holidays aren’t your peak selling season, it’s still one you can’t afford to ignore.

Online holiday sales topped $850 billion in revenue, an increase of 19 percent year over year, according to Practical Ecommerce.

  • Of this $850 billion, $20.5 billion came from BFCM weekend alone, according to TechCrunch.
  • Cyber Monday (November 26, 2018) was the biggest online shopping day in American history, according to MarketWatch.

Beyond the holidays, ecommerce retail sales grew 11 percent in 2018 while the total retail category grew by only 3 percent, according to Statista. Soon enough, we could see online sales overtake purchases made in physical storefronts.

As the holidays approach, retailers need a plan that takes into account all of the ways their customers want to purchase. Eighty percent of people, according to a survey by Deloitte, said they’re likely to complete the majority of their holiday shopping in late November (BFCM weekend), December, and January timeframe, and more than half of those people prefer to shop online.

Read on to learn how you can prepare your online business for the holiday season.

How to Set Your Goals and Measure Your Performance

Every online business needs a marketing plan. To make it a success, start by setting thought goals and metrics—what do you want to achieve and how will you know you’ve done it? Setting your goals and determining how you’ll measure your performance will help you drive your business strategy, improve your performance, and help you focus on the things that matter most to your growth.

Here are four steps you can take to set your goals and metrics for the holiday season:

Define your goal. Determining your number one goal for the holiday season will help you ensure that all of the strategies and tactics you put in place will lead you toward achieving that goal. One common way to do this is to set SMART goals. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Say you want to increase sales from repeat customers during the holidays. Using the SMART method, you could define your goal as, “I want to increase sales from customers who’ve previously made a purchase from me in the last year by 20 percent by December 31, 2019.”

Figure out who will help your success. Once you’ve set your goals, figure out who your partners are that will achieve your goals.  If you’re looking to increase sales from repeat customers during the holidays, at a minimum, you will probably need support from the product team, creative team, and your marketing team. Meet with these teams to discuss your goals, brainstorm ideas to make it happen, and ensure accountability.

Determine your metrics. With your goal in mind, what will it take to achieve it and how will you measure your success? Set metrics for things like your revenue, website conversion rate, average order value, units per transaction, email open rates, email click rates, and email conversion rates.  To increase sales from repeat customers during the holidays, you might want to count how many repeat purchasers and average order value. Ensure the metrics you measure are actionable and allow you to optimize the performance of your marketing campaigns.

Analyze, learn, pivot, optimize, repeat. With your metrics in mind, don’t let December 31st become the end-all be-all for your goals. Monitor your results daily to see how you’re progressing toward your goal and test a new variable to see you can improve your results. You could test things like your subject lines, calls-to-action, product placement in website and email heros, and timing of communication.  With a goal of increasing sales from repeat customers during the holidays, you might want to also see if there are continuing trends in what specific products your repeat customers are buying. Monitoring your data is a continuous process. It’s a great way to see how your results compare to your performance last year and to learn how to improve your business.

Aside from your employees, your customers are the most important people to your business. There’s nothing more important to your success than understanding them and their needs. Read on to learn how to do just that.

Learn more about how Klaviyo can help you achieve your holiday sales goals.

How Buyer Personas Can Help You Convert Customers

Who are your customers? What are their preferences? How can you use this information to market to them effectively and ultimately drive sales?

Buyer personas are an incredibly helpful way to learn more about your customers. Mark Schaefer, a well-known marketing strategy consultant, says three to four buyer personas often account for more than 90 percent of a company’s sales.

With buyer personas in mind, you can tailor your product assortment, promotion, content, and messaging to your audience accordingly.

Here are some common holiday shopper personas with examples on how you might go about engaging them:

The Deal Hunter

Missy waits until the Thanksgiving turkey is put away, but then she hops online or jumps into her car to go looking for holiday deals. A suburbanite who loves to save money, Missy gets a thrill not by how much she spends, but by how much she saves. Her only brand loyalty is to the stores that gave her great holiday deals last year. Otherwise, she’ll shop wherever she can find the best savings.

How to get the deal hunter’s attention

  • Email her promotional emails with the promotion clearly called out in the subject line.
  • Build Facebook custom audiences and target her with your promotions on Facebook or Instagram—the social channels she frequently visits.

 

The Last-minute Shopper

Rob usually misses the free shipping cutoff date for most online retailers, so he relies on expedited or rush shipping options to get his gifts in time. This young and single urbanite is likely making purchases on his phone from the subway or his office. His procrastinator persona is common. Nearly 134 million people plan to shop this last Saturday before Christmas, according to the NRF.

How to get the last-minute shopper’s attention

  • Email him with the sense of urgency called out in the subject line. Here’s an example: “Hurry, 20% off ends tomorrow!” or “Want free shipping? Order by 12/12.”
  • Offer expedited shipping options so he doesn’t make his purchases from a competitor.

 

The VIP

Sarah purchases high value items and she buys them frequently. She’s also left a few positive product reviews on your website. If every customer was like Sarah, you’d be out of inventory or rolling in riches. She’s what you’d call a brand loyalist. This suburbanite is a generous gifter to others, but she also purchases for herself.

How to get the VIP’s attention

  • Give her special treatment to make her feel like a VIP. Offer her early access to a limited edition product or send her a highly personalized thank you note that you either hand write or email.
  • Use her past purchase history to recommend products she’d like for herself or for others.
  • Prompt her to share a discount with a friend who’s not familiar with your brand.

 

The Window Shopper

Barry’s a browser, not a buyer. He often browses your website and he may or may not add items to his cart, but almost always leaves your site before making a purchase. This indecisive urban shopper needs a nudge.

How to get the window shopper’s attention

  • Remind him about what he’s left behind by sending him browse abandonment or abandoned cart emails. Dynamically populate these emails with product images so he remembers the specific items that previously caught his attention.
  • Build Facebook custom audiences and target him with your products on Facebook or Instagram—the social channels he frequently visits.

 

Try to reach your personas with some of these tactics and make them more effective with segmentation and personalization strategies. Read on to learn how to segment your audience and create a personalized experience.

How to Segment Your Audience and Deliver a Personalized Experience

The holidays can present both a unique opportunity and a challenge for ecommerce brands, and two extremely active groups drive those opportunities and challenges—consumers and competitors.

There are few points in the year when you can guarantee your consumers will be spending money and your direct competitors will be marketing to them aggressively, attempting to win their hearts, minds, and dollars.

Due to the relatively short window for holiday shopping, you need your brand to stand out from all the other marketing noise your customers consume during this season to be successful.

The best way your brand can stand out from the crowd: demonstrate you truly understand your customers, their interests, and their preferences. You do this by using your customer data and your own digital channels to create a highly personalized, relevant experience for your audience so that every touchpoint you have with them feels personal and unique to them.

One of the most effective ways you can execute this approach during the holidays (and throughout the entire year) is to use segmentation and personalization techniques.

 

What is Segmentation?

When you segment your audience, you use your customer data to sort your customers into groups with common characteristics that make them likely to be motivated by similar things. That motivation helps to drive conversions and revenue growth.

For example, all of your customers who’ve made a purchase in the last 30 days is an example of a customer segment. Or your customers who’ve ever placed an order from your children’s collection is an example of another segment.

The possibilities with segmentation are endless. While many people commonly confuse segmentation with a goal or a strategy, it’s instead a method to execute your marketing.

Say you’re looking for ways to jumpstart your holiday sales as Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach. You set a goal to drive revenue earlier than you did last year. You decide to support this goal with tactics like offering early access to a sale or launching a new product you know your customers will love. To effectively executive your strategy and tactics, you decide to use segmentation to identify the right people who will be excited by the advance discount or new product during the time you’re trying to achieve your goal.

Since not all of your customers will be motivated by either of these offers, creating an audience segment like this helps you share your new product or discount offer with only with those who will be excited by them. By sharing these offers only with the people you know will be excited by them, you simultaneously build a stronger customer relationship with a message that’s relevant.

 

What is Personalization?

With your marketing, personalization is about using your data to influence your one-to-one communications with your customers. It’s no longer just about using a customer’s name in a communication to infer you know them. It’s about the images and products you feature in your messages, the specific discounts you, and the perks you communicate to excite a group of people.

Brands that create personalized experiences are seeing their revenue increase by six to ten percent—two to three times faster than those that don’t, according to Boston Consulting Group.

For example, say you sell fan-fared athletic clothing with all of the major college football teams on them. You were able to segment your audience based on team they love, now you would personalize your images and products at each customer touch-point to show the right team clothing to the right audience. Doing this allows you to maximize your relationships with your customers and drive sales.

Personalize your customer experience ahead of the holidays.

What kind of data do you use with segmentation and personalization?

You can use two different types of data with your segmentation and personalization techniques: descriptive data and behavioral data.

Descriptive data includes specific details about a customer, including their gender, their location, their household income, or their age.

Behavioral data includes actions a person has taken, including purchases they’ve made, shopping carts they’ve abandoned, or products they’ve browsed.

When it comes to segmentation and personalization, behavioral data is much more important and useful because it’s based explicitly on an action someone has or has not taken. You can then break those actions down further by criteria like:

  • How recently someone has taken an action
  • How frequently someone takes that action
  • The monetary value of their purchases

Behavioral data points like recency, frequency, and monetary value give you the key building blocks for segmentation. For effective segmentation, there are 12 key audiences grouped into four categories.

 

  1. Core Marketing Audience: the people who you should communicate with the most
  2. Winbacks: the people you have the best chance of winning back
  3. Caution: the people you can potentially winback that you need to treat with caution
  4. Avoid: the people you should avoid entirely

Your Core Marketing Audience is the most important of these four categories and it’s comprised of six individual segments, which include your High Rollers, Potential High Pollers, Nearly Theres, Brand Enthusiasts, Potential Enthusiasts, and Waiting for Wows.

Spend the bulk of your time marketing to and planning for your Core Marketing Audience because they’re the most engaged in terms of recency, frequency, and/or monetary value, and represent the most potential revenue for your brand.

Let’s take a look at an example segment, using the same business goal of driving early Black BFCM sales.

Within your Core Marketing Audience, you have your High Rollers or VIPs—truly one of your most important segments. The people in this segment buy from you frequently and they’ve done so recently. As a result, they also have a high monetary value to you.

This audience is also very likely to buy from you no matter what, so you don’t likely need to offer a discount. But because they’re such good customers and could likely refer other customers to you, it’s a good idea to give them a special perk from time to time.

Say you’re planning to launch a new product for the holiday season. Giving the people in this segment early access to the new product is a great strategy. You could even let them share this new product with a friend by sharing a small discount for the new customer as an introductory special.

Let’s build on this example and add in some subtle personalization.

Imagine your soon-to-be-launched product is a cashmere sweater with a high price point—an ideal product to announce to your VIP customers first. Rather than sending the same new product announcement to all of your VIP shoppers, personalize the creative to make the message really resonate with your audience. Showing your customers a picture of the sweater in a color they like, which you know based on their past order history. Send your VIP who frequently buys red clothing items an email with an image of the red cashmere sweater and send an email with a picture of the sweater in blue to the people who tend to buy clothing items in blue.

For more on mapping out your segmentation strategy, try using this segmentation framework.

Segmentation and personalization can seem daunting because the sky is truly the limit with what you can do. Start by asking three simple questions (“Who’s going to be excited by this message?”  “What am I going to say?” “Where will I say it?”) to build an execution plan that will drive results.

When you combine segmentation and personalization together you can create a truly winning, revenue-driving combination. With so many competing marketing messages during this time of the year, there’s no better time to invest in a segmentation and personalization plan.

Need inspiration? See what brands like Apt 2B, Custom Ink, Hylete, Princess Awesome, and Taylor Stitch are doing with segmentation to drive results.

Now that you have your goals, personas, segmentation and personalization techniques in place, it’s time to think about what product assortments and promotions you’ll entice your consumers with to encourage them to purchase. Read on to learn more.

How to Merchandise and Promote Your Products

With so many retailers competing for your customers’ share of wallet, what you offer to your customers is critically important. This is where product merchandising and promotions come in.

“Merchandising is any practice which contributes to the sale of products to a retail consumer,” according to Wikipedia.

In your store or on your website, merchandising refers to the assortment of products available for sale and how they’re displayed to encourage customers to make a purchase.

The holiday shopping season is like the Super Bowl of retail since financial results can sink or swim your year-long efforts. As such, the role of the product merchant is robust and complex, and their responsibilities have evolved over time due to the changing needs of customers. Understanding both historical performance and current trends can help you fine tune your own product assortment and make it attractive to your audience.

It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to make a purchase during the holidays, but competitive incentives help to sweeten the deal. Nine in 10 shoppers said something convinced them to make a purchase that they may have been hesitant about either in-store or online, according to the NRF.

The most common ways to persuade shoppers include:

 

  1. Free shipping (64 percent)
  2. Limited-time sale or promotion (50 percent)
  3. The ability to buy online and pickup in store (33 percent)
  4. A free gift with purchase (25 percent)

 

Free shipping is table stakes now and shoppers expect most brands to offer it. Baymard Institute’s research notes that shipping fees are the top cause of abandoned carts, so if you can’t provide free shipping to everyone, perhaps provide a special offer of free shipping to loyalty program members, those who make purchases over a certain size, or those who order very early.

Beyond free shipping, here are a few ideas you can use to drive sales during the holidays:

 

Bundling

Complementary products sell well together, so they present a good opportunity for a cross-sell. Look at items that typically sell well together and offer them bundled together at a slight value. One way to execute this is to let your customer dynamically build their bundle on your website.

Say you sell jewelry. If you want to sell a set including a necklace, earrings, and a bracelet, create a selection of items in each category that your customers can browse choose from to make their own set. Make it an easy experience by including all the information on one page rather than sending them from product page to product page.

This approach helps you strategically create another sticky opportunity: if a customer doesn’t love one of the items, they may come back in the near future to see what other options you have available.

BKR, a glass water bottle and water balm company, is an example of a company that executed this strategy beautifully last year with their water bottles.

Discounts

With a lot of money being spent by shoppers during the holidays, saving some of it through a promotional discount can be an attractive and popular incentive to offer.

Sixty-five percent of shoppers said they would try a new product if they had a discount for it and 58 percent would abandon their regular brand if the new brand offered a coupon, according to  Inmar.

Need some discounting tips? Here are four to consider:

  • Excess inventory: Offer discounts on products you may have too many of in your inventory.
  • Small and limited: If you discount a best-seller, try to keep the discount fairly small and the quantities limited so you don’t dilute your brand and condition shoppers to expect discounts.
  • Refer a friend: Offer a coupon for the buyer and one for her friend. Since 78 percent of shoppers purchase for themselves while holiday shopping, according to a survey by Deloitte, this can help to encourage multiple purchases. Stationery and accessories brand, Erin Condren, is an example of a company that offers this discount.
  • Tiered discounting: Encourage your shoppers to purchase multiple products within your portfolio at a value. For example, if you sell shirts and know the average order value is $100, offer a tiered discount with an incentive. For example, “Spend $125 and get a $25 gift card toward your next purchase.” This is an excellent way to get a customer to complete a repeat purchase. Bloomingdales is an example of a company that does this well.

Stocking Stuffers

Create a curated collection of small and lower priced items that are either sold together or bundled together.

For beauty retailers, one example of a stocking stuffer could be travel-sized skus or samples of skincare products wrapped festively in holiday packaging.

With stocking stuffers, you can strategically introduce your customers to many of your products at once in small quantities that they’ll soon need to replenish. This encourages a soon-to-be repeat purchase if they like the products.

Magazines like to put together collages of stocking stuffers to help their readers find the perfect gifts at lower price points. Take that same practice and create one for your customers.

Here’s an example of what magazine, House Beautiful, put together for its stocking stuffer guide:

Daily Deals

Offer daily deals and steals on your website to create a sense of urgency and drive frequency.

For fashion retailers, you could offer a limited quantity of popular leggings on one day, an accessories bundle (hat, scarf, gloves) the following day, and holiday pajamas the day after that.

Make sure you’re offering attractive products, though. This isn’t the time to try to get rid of the 10,000 extra chartreuse wool fedora hats you happen to have. If you don’t offer compelling products, your customers may not come back for another daily deal.

Send email reminders to your subscribers to let them know about the daily deals so they don’t miss out. With your email call-to-action (CTA), send them directly to your website where you’ll have special landing pages that feature each deal.

Best Buy, the well-known household electronics merchant, is an example of a company that offers a deal of the day promotion.

Next step? Provide the ideal destination for your consumers to shop from—and make it both easy and festive. Add a bit of decorative holiday tinsel and flair to excite your customers and differentiate the shopping experience from other times of year. Read on to learn how to optimize your website for the holidays.

Website Optimization

When it comes to the holidays, your online destination needs to be ready for showtime. It represents your brand, so how it looks and performs is vital during the busiest shopping time of the year.

Think of your website like a store window. You want your customers to easily come across the right products so they make a purchase.

Optimizing your website won’t only help you increase your conversion rates, but it can also help you to increase your average order value (assuming you’re receiving high quality traffic). These are two key metrics that influence revenue, so it’s no surprise that optimizing your website is very important.

Most customers research products before they make a purchase. The more expensive a product is, the more research they do. Sixty-six percent of shoppers do research for items that are less than $50 and 89 percent do research for items that are over $100, according to Retail Dive, so your website should be research-ready.

Here are some tips to get your website ready for the holidays:

Your homepage

More than 50 percent of online holiday shoppers (58 percent men, 51 percent women) said they made a purchase that was recommended by a retailer, according to the NRF.
Make recommendations by creating a curated holiday gift guide. Feature it on your homepage in the hero spot and then direct the user to a page where they can sort and filter.

Here are two suggestions to organize your holiday guide for maximum appeal:

Thematic personas

Create thematic personas for the person your shoppers are buying gifts for and curate a collection of products suitable for each persona. Thematic personas could include gifts for the cook, the swimmer, the hostess, the golfer, the fashionista, and more.

MPG USA, a lifestyle brand for performance-driven fashion, created several guides for each persona. Here’s an example of the gift guide they created for the running enthusiast.

“Our Holiday Gift Guide campaign allowed us to personally connect to our customers by shining a spotlight on MPG staff members and their unique interests and activities that our customers could relate to. It also provided our customers with a curated shopping experience for easy holiday gifting, in a convenient one-click format directly in the email. This personalized campaign helped us reach our target Q4 sales goal and is a strategy we plan to implement again for the upcoming holiday season.” – Suzanne Harden, VP of Marketing & Brand Sales, MPG USA

 

Gifts by varying price points

Use your knowledge of your customers’ average order value across various categories to help you inch your order value up a little more.

If your average order value for home essentials is $100, create a range of gifts that cost under $150 and include a few higher-priced home items, as well.

Workwear company, hedley & bennett, created a holiday guide by price.

The brand’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jonathan Levine, touted the importance of the guide during and after the holiday.

“It [holiday gift guide] definitely kept our sales going after the Black Friday weekend, too.” – Jonathan Levine, CMO, hedley & bennett

 

Product Category and Product Detail Pages

Take your product pages one step further by adding these elements to them.

Product reviews or testimonials

Collect and showcase product reviews or testimonials to help persuade customers to make a purchase.

Almost every shopper (96 percent) said they read customer reviews before making a purchase, according to the NRF.

Brooklinen, a home goods company, collects reviews and shows them beautifully.

Badges

Knowing that shoppers use retailers’ recommendations when making holiday purchases, badge are useful tools to help establish authority. You can put badges like, “Staff Picks, “Bestseller,” or “Just Arrived” on your product pages to help shoppers more easily find a recommended product quickly.

J.Crew, a fashion and accessories company, is an example of one brand that does this well.

Return policy

Make sure your return policy is visible and clear on your product pages—it’s an area where you don’t want to be vague.

The NRF found that 75 percent of their holiday shoppers looked at a brand’s return policies before making a purchase and 22 percent didn’t make a purchase because of a poor return policy.

Neiman Marcus is an example of a company that clearly showcases its return policy in the traditional footer area, but also on its product detail page.

Categories of Filters

The dropdown options or category groupings you use to organize your product collection on your website help to make it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for. During the holidays, turn your categories or filters into a gift finder.

For example, instead of using “Women” as a category, call it “Gifts for Her.” If you have a selection of small miscellaneous items (candles, blankets, etc.), call them “Gifts for the Home.”

Sephora, a beauty and personal care company, is an example of a company who has a gift finder section and takes it one step further with a gift finder quiz.

Checkout process

On average, seven out of 10 shopping carts are abandoned, according to Klaviyo’s research. One way you can reduce cart abandonment is by optimizing the checkout process so the purchasing experience is fast and simple.

Need some tips on how to do that? Here are a few:

Ask the shopper to fill out as little information as possible in each step. The fewer the steps, the better the click-to-cart conversion rate.

  • Ask for the shopper’s email address early on so you limit the number of steps at checkout
  • On the checkout screen, only show the information they’re buying and what’s required for them to buy:
    • What they’re buying
    • Price
    • Call-to-action with clear next steps to purchase
    • Total cost calculated
    • Shipping options
    • Information about customer service, returns, and terms and conditions links either on the checkout page itself or somewhere else like a header or footer

 

Nuun, a company dedicated to keeping you as hydrated as humanly possible through electrolyte tablets, is an example of a company with a very clear checkout process that minimizes confusion and asks for only the information that’s necessary to complete an order.

Pop-up forms

Pop-up forms are a great way to show your customers any holiday offers you may be running. They also help you stay connected with your customers throughout the rest of the year, too, since you can collect their email address with a simple pop-up form when they come to your website.

HYLETE, an athletic-wear company, is an example of a company that uses pop-up forms to both collect email addresses and showcase an incentive.

Think post-purchase

Once someone has made a purchase on your website, offer them holiday packaging, gift cards, and tags to delight them even more and get them in the holiday spirit.

Williams-Sonoma, a kitchenwares and home furnishings company, is a company that offers gift wrap beyond just the holidays. It’s a nice touch, especially for those who want the convenience and ease of giving a gift.

By adding a few of these suggestions, your website will be better optimized and ready for holiday showtime. Next, learn how to use email marketing to drive shoppers to your website, and keep them engaged during the holidays and throughout the year.

How to Effectively Use Email Marketing to Drive More Sales

Want to drive first-time purchases from new customers? Looking to build stronger relationships with existing customers? Email marketing is one of the best ways you can accomplish those objectives.

With new customers, one of the first impressions you make on them can be with email. Ask them to subscribe to your newsletter, for example. When they subscribe to your list, you have permission to send them information about your brand, your product selection, educational content, promotions, and customer testimonials, for example.

With existing customers, using email is a great way to continue building relationships with them throughout the year. About 80 percent of your store’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers, according to Gartner. But with the average customer seeing a 23 percent increase in the amount of retail-related email they get during the holiday season, it can be hard to stand out in the inbox.

The holidays are such a busy and profitable time, so it’s essential to stand out in your customers’ inboxes. But what if you’re short on time or resources?

Once you’ve mapped out your holiday season goals, your strategy, your key segments, and how you’ll personalize the experience you deliver to them, you can begin to think about great ways to capture your customers’ attention.

Here are some ways email marketing can help your brand cut through the noise:

Automate your emails

Email automations can drive a significant amount of sales and save you time simply by staging them to send when a customer takes a specific action, so they’re really a no-brainer.

Here are some examples of effective automated emails that should be part of your holiday marketing strategy:

Welcome series email

A welcome series can create one of the first impressions your customers have of your brand during the holiday season. Make sure your welcome emails are on-brand and provide value.

Are you using them to ask your customers what types of content they’d like to receive and how often they’d like to hear from you? Great.

You can also use them to provide your customers with educational content as well, such as your wish list feature and your holiday gift guide.

Gorjana, a jewelry brand, sends out visually appealing and engaging welcome series emails. These emails help to set the right expectations of what your brand is all about and can help you stand out during the holiday shopping frenzy.

Need help creating your welcome series?

Abandoned cart emails

When shoppers add items to their carts but then leave your site, use abandoned cart emails to immediately remind them about what they’ve left behind and capture their limited attention during the busy holiday time period.

Abandoned cart emails are easy to set up and they’re profitable. Brands that have average order values (AOVs) between $100-$500 recover about four to five percent of their abandoned carts on average with abandoned cart emails while brands with AOVs less than $50 recover about three percent on average, according to Klaviyo’s research.

Here are two tips to create impactful abandoned cart emails:

  • Dynamically show the products your customers left behind in their carts.
  • Send an abandoned cart email one to three hours after someone’s abandoned a cart. You can send a second email a day or two later to those who still haven’t returned to your site to make a purchase.

Royal Design Studio, a stencil and design company, sends abandoned cart emails that are timely specific with images of what shoppers leave behind.

Need help creating a series of abandoned cart emails?

Thank you email

Shoppers get a lot of emails during the holidays, but a thank you email is a simple courtesy that helps you thank your customer for making a purchase from  you.

In your thank you emails, you can also ask your customers to leave a product review so you can add it to your website. Since most customers look through product reviews before they buy, these reviews can help you gain even more customers during the holidays.

Thank you emails are also a great opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell some of your other products during the holidays.

Shinola, a watch and accessories company, is an example of a company that does thank you emails very well.

Winback emails

Do you have customers who haven’t made a purchase from you in a while? Win them back by sending them engaging content. Since they’ve purchased from you before, you can use winback emails to try to get them to buy again.

With winbacks, you can set up an automated email flow to recommend items that are complementary to ones they’ve previously purchased. You can also show them your holiday and offer gift recommendations.

Custom Ink, a global leader in customized apparel and accessories, does an excellent job at sending winback emails.

Need help creating a series of winback emails?

Aside from the different types of automated emails you can send during the holidays, strategic elements like timing and budget are crucial to getting a holiday shopper’s attention in a sea of retailers and their offers.

Here are three ways to get timing and budget right:

Send time optimization

Smart send time optimization is a great way to help you avoid having your messages get buried in your customers inbox during the holidays. By automatically sending an email at the time your customer is most likely to read it, it’s more likely they’ll open your message.

Predict when your customers will reorder

Use features like predicted date of next order to figure out when your customer is likely to make their next purchase and send timely, relevant communications to them.

That’s how Rareform drives revenue and saves margin. If they see that a customer is likely to buy on a certain date, they don’t send them a coupon around that time frame and instead wait to see if the customer makes a purchase without it.

Combine social media ads with email marketing

Paid advertising during the BFCM timeframe is expensive. Instead, save your dollars and acquire new customers by targeting existing subscribers who haven’t yet purchased with a combination of your paid Facebook ads and email marketing. Dynamically sync your customer segments directly into Facebook Audiences and target them with a coordinated Facebook and email campaign.

For example, Pair of Thieves did this and saw its year-over-year revenue increase by 5x.

Looking for more resources to help you strategically map out when to send your emails so they’re as effective as possible during the holidays? Check out this holiday crash course  and holiday preparedness guide for tips you can use this holiday season.

Wrapping Up (With a Holiday Bow)

For most ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers, the holiday shopping season is most important time of the year for your business. If you fail to properly prepare your brand to capitalize on consumer spending during this period, you’ll miss out on substantial revenue for your business and risk losing customers to competitors.

Your success starts by having a plan. Determine the goals you want to achieve, figure out who your customers are, segment them into relevant groups to create a personalized experience for them, use merchandising and promotion strategies to create compelling offers, optimize your website to create an easy shopping experience, and use marketing automation to create specific and relevant emails that help you acquire and convert your customers—both those who are new to your brand and those who are coming back again.

Use this guide to learn what you need to know about the Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday season to create a plan to success this year and use the tangible recommendations and easy-to-implement tips so you’re prepared for success during this crucial and competitive time.

Learn more about how Klaviyo can help you achieve your holiday sales goals.

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