As the holiday season revs up, retailers are spreading the holiday cheer across more customer touchpoints than ever – from mobile devices to shopping affiliates, social sites and beyond. But in all the flurry, it’s important not to overlook the workhorse of online holiday marketing — email.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, fully 92% of U.S. online adults use email, and 61% use it daily. Daily usage is 41% higher than for social media sites, which less than half of consumers check daily (43%).
And consumers who sign up for information from retailers are willing to receive updates frequently — with more than one in five saying they’d like updates twice a week or more and 39% saying they’d like weekly emails, according to data from the MarketLive 2011 Consumer Shopping Survey.
With the prospect of delivering frequent offers to holiday shoppers’ inboxes in mind, merchants should use this early holiday shopping period to encourage consumers to subscribe to email updates. A few effective tactics:
Promote a significant benefit for subscribers. MarketLive client Gaiam has placed a prominent banner on its home page promoting free shipping for new subscribers on any purchase above a $75 threshold through Dec. 31, in tandem with a welcome offer of 15% off the next purchase. Existing subscribers received notification of the offer as well, with the text positioning the benefit as an exclusive “thank you gift” for being a loyal subscriber.
Promise early notice of peak shopping-day deals. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Free Shipping Day all still to come, merchants can promise email subscribers early access to deals, alerts about special in-store promotions and more. Target has given its email signup link a prominent spot in the global header and decorated it for the holidays, promising shoppers an exclusive sneak peek at Black Friday deals.
In a fun twist, shoppers who sign up can add their name and avatar to the “virtual line” gathering outside a virtual store for Black Friday, and add a personal note about what they’re wishing for.
Tie email to “flash sale”-style discounts on individual items. Emulating “flash sale” sites that offer deep discounts on a single item, many merchants now offer a weekly sale product or web-only featured deal. Now is the time to highlight this opportunity prominently, with text and graphics that remind shoppers they can receive a significant discount on gift items. Hunting and fishing outfitter Bass Pro Shops givess its “Catch of the Week” a a large amount of home page real estate — even after it’s sold out. Shoppers are encouraged to sign up for email alerts to ensure they don’t miss out on the next offer.
Adhere to year-round established best practices. Now is not the time to skimp on clear and comprehensive signup disclosures. On the signup page, clearly state what kinds of deals and information they’ll receive, and feature prominently the privacy reassurance shoppers seek to ensure they won’t receive a deluge of spam. L.L. Bean covers all the bases on its signup page, offering a preview peek at typical emails subscribers receive, as well as a privacy statement at the bottom of the form and the opportunity for subscribers to self-segment so they receive the most relevant messaging.
What are you doing to promote email subscriptions this holiday season? Are you seeing a jump in new signups?