Email remains the favorite way for shoppers to learn about offers from the brands they follow — but with routine promotional emails, triggered messages, re-mailings, e-receipts and transactional messages in play, merchants must prioritize to ensure they don’t overload inboxes.
Old-fashioned email still tops the list of preferred methods for consumers to learn about holiday promotions, according to the 2015 MarketLive/E-Tailing Group Consumer Shopping Survey. Given consumers’ preference, merchants routinely ramp up email messaging during the holidays. In 2014, volume surged from an average of 18 messages per month throughout the third quarter to 28 in December, according to marketing services firm Listrak — and all indications are that merchants will repeat the pattern this year.
But shoppers’ welcoming attitude toward email carries a caveat. More than a third of consumers say they’ll likely discard the majority of emails sent by retailers as volume increases during the holidays, according to Listrak. As it turns out, the willingness to engage is directly related to relevance:
- 20% say they’re willing to accept unlimited emails from brands they follow as long as they’re focused on holiday promotions
- 12% say the emails must be personalized based on past buying and browsing behavior.
- 11% say the emails must make holiday shopping easier.
The action item
Merchants must hold fast to a “less is more” mentality during the holidays and focus on maximizing relevance. That may seem easier said than done; for some merchants, different systems are responsible for different types of email — for examples, e-receipts are triggered differently than routine promotional emails — making it difficult to synch efforts across the organization. Among the goals to aim for:
- Consistently promote holiday resources across all email types. Merchants should tweak email headers and footers to feature prominent links to gift guides, gift cards, and key customer service information such as delivery cutoff deadlines, and deploy them across email services to ensure consistent messaging.
- Within email content, personalize to the fullest extent possible. Depending on the type of email sent, merchants should include relevant promotions, along with finely-tuned content such as usage guidance for the products purchased in transactional emails. And abandoned cart emails should display cart contents; doing so boosts performance 25%.
- Untangle multi-touchpoint mixed messages behind the scenes — not in shoppers’ inboxes. As shoppers increasingly research and buy across multiple screens, merchants should build some critical cross-checks into their business rules. Before sending an abandoned cart email, for example, merchants should find a way to ensure that the shopper didn’t complete the purchase elsewhere.
An apparel manufacturer sent an abandoned cart email picturing the item under consideration, offering $10 off the threshold for free shipping, and highlighting the brand’s purchase guarantee — all solid tactics, except that the email was received 9 hours after an order confirmation message was sent following purchase completion on a different device.
- Be transparent about layering promotions. With shoppers potentially receiving multiple emails from a single merchant within the space of 24 hours, message content should clarify whether offers can be used in combination, and whether certain discounts can invalidate other promotions. Such transparency can help set expectations about pricing in advance.