Spotlight: Five quick tips for the holiday

© Copyright 2017- Cheetah Digital

It’s hard to envision cozy sweaters and hot cocoa when warm weather is still lingering and everyone is dreaming of the beach. But for marketers, the holiday season is just around the corner.

Holiday campaign planning is probably top of mind for your brand, especially if you’re a retailer. To help you prepare for the upcoming holiday rush, we’ve identified five email and mobile tips to enhance holiday campaigns and help you close out your year-end goals with a bang.

Download the full Q2 2017 Benchmark Report here

1. Pack a punch with personalized promotional mailings

In the 2016 holiday season, 28% of brands included personalized subject lines with the subscriber name as part of promotional email programs. When compared to other promotional mailings from the same brands, personalized emails provided a lift in open, click and transaction rates, as well as revenue per email ($0.10 for personalized emails compared to $0.07 for other promotional mailings).

While personalizing subject lines clearly appears to boost email performance, we do not recommend personalizing every subject line. During last holiday season, personalized promotional mailings made-up between 5% to 25% of the promotional emails sent from the brands using this technique. Brands should test the use of personalized subject lines as part of holiday programs, and decide for themselves what percent of personalized campaigns provide the maximum response. It is also important to remember that personalization does not have to be limited to subscriber names. Geographic location, browsed categories and past purchases can also be used to dynamically segment your mailings and create a personalized experience for your customers.

2. Boost enthusiasm by optimizing your welcome program

Welcome emails are a great first step toward turning a new subscriber’s enthusiasm for your brand into a sustained relationship, and nearly all brands surveyed engage with new subscribers via a welcome email. However, to keep the momentum of this fledging relationship going, brands should expand one-time welcome emails into a comprehensive welcome series. Brands that extend a welcome program to a full series enjoy increased customer engagement throughout the welcome process at a rate that is nearly double the overall promotional email average. That said, an analysis of mailings sent from May 2016 through April 2017 revealed that only 40% of brands currently send a welcome series. If your brand has not yet embraced the welcome series and is looking to increase subscribers’ engagement during the critical holiday selling season, we suggest testing in September or October, and sending second and third welcome emails as part of your welcome program during the peak of the holiday season.

A second key tip for optimizing your welcome program is to send the first welcome email in real time if at all possible. First welcome messages sent via real-time triggers had 10 times higher transaction rates than those sent as bulk messages (transaction rate of 2.5% for real time, and 0.25% for bulk first welcomes).

3. Don’t retire those abandon cart reminders

The age-old saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” rings true when it comes to abandon cart reminders. Emails sent to shoppers who abandon a cart online typically have strong transaction rates. The average transaction rate for the first abandon cart email is 1.0% compared to 0.04% for all promotional mailings. Brands sending just one abandon cart mailing, however, are missing an opportunity for additional revenue from these online shoppers. Expanding a single message abandon cart program to a series of two or three reminders drives value up. The abandon cart revenue for brands sending three abandon cart mailings was 44% higher than that of those sending a single abandon cart email.

4. Trust in the power of friends and family

Mailings with ‘friends and family’ in the subject lines occur throughout the year, although they are most popular during the holiday season. Friends and family mailings had 57% higher transaction rates than other promotional mailings from the same brands during the 2016 holiday season (transaction rate of 0.07% for friends and family compared to 0.05% for other promotional mailings). It begs the question, do customers respond to the sense of belonging to a special group associated with ‘friends and family’, or do the friends and family mailings just have better offers? To answer this, we looked at friends and family mailings from October to December 2016, and compared them to other mailings with the same offers from the same brands. The ‘sweet spot’ for friends and family mailings appears to be offers between 25% to 50% off.

While friends and family emails offering discounts of 25%, 30% or 40% outperformed other comparable promotional mailings, the best friends and family performance was for offers of 50% off. Top performing friends and family emails offered 50% for short time periods (one day only).

It appears that the phrase ‘friends and family’ resonates with customers, and boosts the performance of emails with comparable offers for these ‘sweet spot’ campaigns. Friends and family mailings with offers of 20% did not outperform comparable promotional mailings. For the low-value offers (less than 25%) it may be that the warmth of ‘friends and family’ is not enough to boost conversion.

5. Use existing data to enhance your mobile program

Many customers interact with your program in multiple channels. Mobile messages can complement and expand on email campaign themes, providing highly personalized messages to your customers during the critical holiday season.

Birthday SMS:
Use the personal information you have, such as birthdays and first names, to send SMS messages. Clear deadlines and offers can drive response

Low inventory Push/SMS:
Use the personal information you have, such as birthdays and first names, to send SMS messages. Clear deadlines and offers can drive response

Review Push Notification:
Requesting reviews of recent purchases promotes reengagement

Targeted products SMS:
These can be based on previous browse behavior or actual purchase history


Enhance your email and mobile programs by incorporating these tips for the holiday season and beyond.

  • By using your existing data to create personalized campaigns in both the email and mobile channels, you can create the individual experiences that customers crave.
  • Building on programs you already have, such as welcome and abandon cart series, allows you to optimize results from subscribers while they are most interested in your brand.
  • Including friends and family campaigns with the right offer values can be a positive addition to the overall holiday season.

The season approaches

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