this is not the marketing adviceI get tapped a lot to talk about what Marketers should do during the holidays to ensure their email has the best possible chance of reaching the inbox. If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably already seen dozens of articles advising to optimize email for mobile, focus on measurable behaviors to create segments, etc. As a smart marketer you’ve probably even applied some of these bits of advice, or distilled them for your marketing program. If you haven’t, then start, right now, get out from under that rock and make changes. Seriously.

Don’t Batten Down The Hatches

Contrary to popular belief, the holidays are not necessarily the time to batten down the hatches. Yes, there’s some really fantastic logic that says doing things how you’ve always done them, and applying good knowledge, sage advice and best practices is the way you handle a critical time of the year. Guess what, doing things as you’ve always done them will yield one thing: the same result as the year before. Yeah sure there might be incremental growth because you spent the bulk of the previous year growing your brand share. But at the end of the day, the same approach should yield nearly the same result.

So why would you want to rock the boat during the holidays?

keepcalmDid I say rock the boat? No, I said don’t do the same thing as the year before. Consider this: if you’re a retailer/marketer/b2c-focused anything then the holidays represent more eyeballs, opens, clicks, reads, impressions and website traffic than any other time of the year. Why? You’re incentivizing people to buy things and they’ve been lovingly trained by your competitors to hunt deals across a wide swath of similar purveyors. At what other time of the year do you have that many eager recipients at your disposal? NEVER!

This is the time of the year to test things like pushing mobile apps through emails, and incentivizing the download of the app with a unique discount code. Check out driving traffic to stores through email if you’ve deployed iBeacon technology. Test different delivery times. There are scores of interesting initiatives that can be launched and tested against small segments using the whole of the population as a control group. Yes, I’m just going to throw it out there: run some tests. Take a page out of Facebook’s playbook and experiment with people’s desire by changing how you normally sell your products—change the mechanics of your selling to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Here’s a short list and I’m sure you can think of other tests:

  • Change sending times and deliver email in batches in the evening. So many brands still think the morning is the best sending time: reach the consumer when they’re heading to work, or right before lunch. How many studies point to second screen viewing and the fact that even if you’re sitting with the family at the dinner table, your phone, an email capable device, is in your pocket.
  • Stop sending email all together if you can determine that someone uses a mobile app. Isolate unique segments by device and platform and experiment with message format preferences.
  • Incentivize users to tweet about your brand and reward your most vocal advocates.
  • Advertise your mobile app and incentivize people to download it and start using it. Apps offer more immersive experiences on mobile devices.
  • Remind customers that you have a preference center to bring them back to the site.
  • Do some surveying during this time and offer a unique discount. The more you learn about who is reading your email the more effective you can be over the length of the customer’s lifecycle.
  • Experiment with new templates and message formats. If you’ve used the same template forever and a day, test a new design, something minimal, optimized or maybe you want to go completely sensational and with color. Seeing the same thing over and over leads to desensitization, sometimes you need to shake things up a bit.

Now is the time to put into action all of the great ideas that you see your competitors and other brave brands using. You will never have this many engaged users at one time to measure the efficacy of an experiment or an initiative. Don’t rock the boat; rather change the course of your customer’s journey, the results might be surprising.

More of these non-advice columns to come…


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