7 Email Marketing Tips To Stand Out During Peak Season

By: Saima Alibhai

Although this year’s peak season may seem a long way off, it is never too early to start planning your email marketing to make it a success. And since email is one of the best tools to get the word out on the latest offers and keep shoppers engaged, it is no surprise that online retail brands use this channel intensively during peak season.

Retailers sent an average of 50% more messages in Cyber Week 2016 (which starts on Monday before Black Friday and ends with Cyber Monday) than the year before.

So how can you make sure to stand out in your customer’s inbox in this busy time? Here are 7 tips for using email marketing to stand out during the peak season.

1. Grow Your Email List

Shoppers will visit your website more frequently in the days leading to Black Friday to research products and create wish lists. But they will likely hold out for the bargains before making the actual purchase. Leverage this increase in website traffic as an opportunity to grow your email list.

A pop-up message on your site makes it easy for shoppers to subscribe and be the first to learn about your exclusive deals. And don’t forget about a friends and family campaigns, encouraging customers to invite their nearest and dearest to subscribe to your emails in exchange for a gift or discount.

2. Start Early

Since many retailers now begin their promotions earlier and earlier in November, don’t wait until Cyber Week to showcase your promotions. Be sure to entice hesitant customers to shop early and often by adding a sense of urgency around your offers, using phrases such as “today only,” “act fast” and “ending soon” to help motivate them.

While the earlier promotions could decrease the revenue specifically attributed to Black Friday or Cyber Monday, these email marketing campaigns will still add to your overall peak season bottom line.

3. Inspire Your Audience

Don’t send just to send – be sure you have something valuable to share. If you don’t already have a gift centre on your website, consider putting one in place before the peak season kicks into gear. You can use it to host a series of landing pages for email campaigns, such as “25 gifts under £25”, “Gift ideas for him”, bestsellers, or highest rated items.

Also create campaigns targeting procrastinators and shoppers who are struggling to find the right present. Help them out by including order deadlines for ground, expedited and next-day shipping. Promote gift cards, especially e-gift cards, once shipping deadlines have passed.

4. To Discount or not to Discount?

If promotional discounts are part of your commerce toolbox, customers will expect you to offer your biggest sale of the year during Cyber Week. Flash sales and daily deals can be fantastic reasons to send emails frequently without the concern of a big spike in unsubscribes. Another tactic which has been very popular in the last few years is the concept of a tiered discount. You can offer three different tiers, each with a different discount value for a minimum spend. The greater the spend, the greater the discount. 

Peak season is also a great opportunity to thank your subscribers for their loyalty. Consider exclusive email offers that non-subscribers won’t find on your site. Or offer your most engaged customers early access to your promotions. Text messages announcing the exclusive access can increase the sense of urgency.

Keep in mind that you don’t need discounts to make Cyber Week a success. For example, you could bring sold-out customer favourites back in stock for a limited time as a way to pique interest – and sales.  

5. When to Send

No matter what campaigns you choose this season, be sure to mix them up and map them out to cover the span from Halloween to New Year’s. This gives you many opportunities to touch your subscribers with a variety of offers that keep your company top of mind throughout the busy shopping season, without slamming them with too many emails.

If you never send on the weekends, give it a shot during the peak season. People will likely have more time to sort through their inbox, and as a result, they could be more responsive to your messaging. Remail those who opened the first message but failed to convert, as they are already more engaged with you and more likely to respond.

6. Cross-promote in Your Transactional Messages

Transactional emails, such as order and shipping confirmations, are an essential part of any successful ecommerce programme, but we often overlook them as opportunities to generate more revenue. These messages produce high open rates and are sent to all customers, not just email subscribers, so what better place to cross-promote? You can make product recommendations very specific with the help of a recommendation engine or simply feature static products or categories.

You could even spruce them up with a little Christmas cheer and decorate them as you would your store front. But remember that transactional content must be the primary focus of the email, so it’s best to stick to the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the message is transactional content and 20% is promotional.

7. Email Performance

Your subscribers’ inboxes are jam-packed with peak season email marketing, so you can expect them to miss more of your messages than usual. It is not uncommon to see a lower open or click rate. But no matter the email metrics, your ultimate goal should be to maintain a conversion rate that’s in line with your average, if not better.

One way to preserve open rates is to not mention the offer in the subject line. It sounds counterintuitive, but online shoppers have become accustomed to a specific incentive, and if they see a lower discount in their inbox, it gives them less of a reason to open your email.

The peak season comes with many opportunities to touch your customers with a variety of offers and attract your share of Christmas spending. It is important to engage shoppers with relevant, timely and personalised emails in the run up to, during and after peak. And once the shopping frenzy is over, customers will appreciate a nice, non-salesy “goodwill” message from you wishing them a Merry Christmas.


Saima Alibhai, Managing Principal Consultant EMEA, Oracle + Bronto

Read more blog posts from Oracke + Bronto

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