Author: Chris Donald

Chris sent his first email campaign in 1995. He’s worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He’s also a BIG baseball fan, loves a good steak, and is mildly obsessed with zombie movies.

Email Marketing: What’s a Hold Out Group and Why You Should Use Them

What is Holdout Group Testing?

Holdout testing is the process of reviewing your email marketing program to quantify if the campaigns being sent are generating increased engagement/conversions vs not sending anything. Are these campaigns/automation really giving an incremental increase in engagement/conversions/revenue that would otherwise not be realized.

This is like an A/B test, as it has two segments, but one segment receives no emails.  They are excluded from the mailings.  You then measure the purchase/conversion behavior of the two segments to define the level of increased engagement that the segment being emailed has over the segment being excluded.  In most cases (one would hope), the group receiving email will have a higher conversion rate.

More to think about:

There are many costs to factor in after you get the results.  You need to weigh the cost of the email program you are testing.  Cost of the ESP to send the campaigns, cost to design, code, test, and setup/deploy the campaigns, count your manhours.  Use that as part of the cost of doing campaigns.  A small increase in revenue may be outweighed by the costs of that program.

Depending on your list size, type of campaign/automation and mailing frequency, this type of test may take 30-90 days to complete.

Why you should do this?

The main reason for running holdout tests is to understand if you are cannibalizing natural sales that would have happened if no marketing email were sent. For an e-Commerce company that regularly sends discounts and/or offers to its customers, this process enables you to determine if those discounts/offers are in some way cannibalizing the profits of your business. The worst-case scenario for the company would be the segment of customers who did not receive an email end up purchasing your products at the same or higher rate. That essentially means you’re giving away your profit margin when it’s not needed.

Let’s use a Cart Abandonment program as an example:

If you are doing testing, running a cart abandonment program or really any email marketing you should have a holdout group.  A holdout group is a group that does not get that specific type of mailing.  That’s your baseline of “what if we didn’t send them anything?  What is there natural progression through the buyer journey if not prodded by email.

For example: If you run a cart abandonment program, you should first know what your natural cart abandonment return rate is with no program running.  In other words, how many people come back on their own, with no messaging to buy what’s in their cart.  How many come back the first day, the second day, the third and so on.

Once you know your natural return rate you can then measure the true value of a program.  If your natural return (conversion) rate is 5% and when running your program, you see a total of an 11% return rate, then you know the program generated an additional 6% return.  The program didn’t create 15% because you now know your natural return is 6%.  Those percentages will change month-over-month so reviewing your programs regularly is imperative.

Now you can measure true revenue (to a point, as there will always be variables out of your control that will affect results) from that program as well.  If over a 12-month period the natural returns delivered an average of $10,000 per month, and the Program total delivered $22,000 per month, you know the programs value over the baseline natural return.  These numbers will vary over time with some peaks and valleys and will be influenced by sales and holidays, so adjust as needed.

Wrapping this up:

Some companies hold out 10% of subscribers (sometimes using a dynamic segment of subscribers for each test process) as a complete blackout during testing or all year.  If you have a very effective and robust email marketing program, it seems silly to ignore the boost of revenue to that 10% group, so I suggest doing your testing a few months each year but shift the test months each year.  If you are an e-commerce company and do heavy volume/revenue during the holidays, don’t test then, grab all the revenue you can during the holidays.  Test throughout the rest of the year.

It should be noted that if you are going to test or do a holdout group, your segment or list size should be at very least 50,000 subscribers.  Anything less would be statistically irrelevant.  Also, make sure your holdout group matches the sending group.  If you are sending to actives, the hold group should be actives.  Don’t use a random segment process, random tends to be anything but random.  Try to give fair advantage to each group to succeed/fail equally.

Thanks for stopping by our blog and if you’ve found this valuable, please share it on your social channels.


If you need help with this type of testing or any other aspect of your email marketing program, we offer a free 30-minute phone consultation.  No hard sell just a call to see if we might be a fit for your needs.  Contact us here.

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Black Friday Email Inspirations: Amp up Your Email Conversion Rate

According to Finder, 86% Americans are planning to spend their hard-earned cash on pre-Christmas sales like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles Day. Adobe Analytics has predicted that retailers will bring in as much as $7.5 billion on Black Friday in 2019, which is more than 20% increase over 2018.

As the big Friday of 29th November is just around the corner, we are here with awe-inspiring email examples that would help you up the email game this Holiday season.

Subject line: Black Friday Deals on LG Signature Kitchen Packages

The brand has sent an interesting email with perfect imagery to encourage purchases. Although the images are appealing enough, the design seems a bit overwhelming for the recipient. However, the good part is that they have included their offer right at the top of the email.

  2. Bella Ella Boutique, LLC

Subject line: New markdowns up to 70% off

The email begins by creating a sense of urgency in the subscriber’s mind with the statement “16 DAYS UNTIL BLACK FRIDAY”. It will tempt the subscriber to get on the VIP text list by building “fear of missing out”. The hero image is catchy and informs the subscriber about the exciting 70% off. The email also has attractive images to display the dresses on sale. They have used fancy typography to lay emphasis on specific sections of the email. The last section with GIFs is also quite engaging for the reader.

3. Mattress Firm

Subject line: Want a bigger bed AND up to $600 in savings?

With a nice preheader text and view in browser link, the email follows all the best practices of creating an email. Furthermore, it also breaks the monotony by doing away with the column layout. Besides their Black Friday sale- early access, they have also promoted the military offer for Veteran’s Day.


Subject line: Black Friday Preview – Up To $40 OFF DELIVERY @ SaferWholesale – Call Now!

It is a short and sweet email that perfectly syncs with the mood of Black Friday. The black and red color are perfectly used to create that festive aura. It adheres to the best practice of having 80:20 text to image ratio. There are three different CTAs the correctly redirect the reader to the relevant landing page.

Over to you

If you are struggling with a resource crunch and looking for professional email templates for the Holiday season, just share your requirements with us and we would love to help you out.

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Thanksgiving Day Email Inspirations to Boost Your Sales

Thanksgiving Day is one of the most favorite holidays in America. In 2018, 165M+ shopped over the Thanksgiving period of five days. 65% of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers said deals drove them to buy. Moreover, it is predicted that total US retail sales will reach 3.8% to $1.008 trillion. If you want to make the most of the first-ever trillion-dollar holiday season, you should focus on creating better emails that would give you the best results in terms of conversions

That said, let’s have a look at the email inspirations for Thanksgiving Day.

1. Adorable Essentials

Subject line: Spice Pumpkin & Grace Dress 50% Off – Perfect for Thanksgiving!!

The hero image perfectly matches the colors of fall and gives Thanksgiving Day vibes to the email recipient. The offer is highlighted in plain text so that there is no renderability issue and all the recipients are able to know the purpose of the email. It is an important aspect of email accessibility too. The email ends with promoting their reward program and social media icons.

It would have been good to have a preheader and link to view the email online.

2. 41 Olive

Subject line: Make Your Thanksgiving Feast That Much Better!

The email has talked about their offer right in the hero image, along with a clear CTA. The next section showcases the flavors of Fall with distinct CTAs for each product. Also, note how the fonts change in each section. It is a good idea to share the map of the store in the last section followed by the links to Facebook and Twitter social profiles.

3. BannerBuzz

Subject line: Thanksgiving Cheer Comes Early This Year!

It is a perfectly designed email with a “View in Browser” link and contact details mentioned right at the top of the email. They have clearly conveyed their offer and the code to avail it. The CTA is included in the first fold to drive more conversions. They have promoted their individual products in the next section with separate CTAs for each. The theme of the email matches the Thanksgiving season quite well.

4. Rue La La

Subject line: Gather ’round! Thanksgiving Weekend Style is on.

Rue La La sends out a short and sweet email to promote their Thanksgiving Day outfits for different purposes. The GIF is sure to grab the attention of the email subscribers and entice them to make the purchase.

However, it would have been better to have more informative alt-text for this email.

5. Jeni’s Ice Creams

The hero image is enough to tempt the recipient to try out their delicious ice creams but in case it’s not, the supporting copy would do the magic. The email follows all the email marketing as well as design best practices to ensure maximum conversions.

So, are you set to design an awesome Thanksgiving Day email and amp up your sales?

If you need any assistance for your holiday email marketing, let Inbox Army be of help.

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WHY are You Sending that Email? Really, Why?

Whenever you get ready to send an email campaign, do you ever ask yourself, “Why am I sending this email?”

You should ask that key question every single time you plan to send a manual campaign or set up an automated campaign.  “Why” is the most important question!

When I ask people why they send some of their email campaigns, whether newsletters, promo emails, triggered messages or others, the answer I get the most is “Because we’ve always sent these.”

Sorry to be blunt, but that’s not a good answer.

This tells me they have not defined their campaign goal. They might have a general idea – to drive more sales, perhaps – but no real plan to be successful. Just send, repeat, and hope for the best.

Knowing your “Why” will lead you to understand all the reasons you have for sending an email: to announce a sale, offer a discount, promote an event, inform or educate, drive or nurture sales leads, and many more.

Define your “Why” and then clearly define your GOAL for that “Why.”  Without a defined goal, you’ll find it hard to measure success.  Have clear KPIs to track, such as revenue, form fills, whitepaper or other collateral downloads win-back opens or clicks, and more.

Knowing your “Why” helps you decide on the other important Ws:

Who? Who will receive your email?  Who is your target, list, segment?

What? What is the message/content/creative/value for your recipients?

When? When will your send your email? Date, time, action trigger?

Where? Where will your email send people who click? To a sale page, product page, download page? Does the landing page continue the email’s message or content?  Is it branded the same?

Too often I see retail emails promote multiple products but send customers to the homepage or a category page. Your customers expect to go directly to the page for the product they clicked on.

What are your goals?

Once you know your Ws, decide on the goals and KPIs to track. Set up a process to review how close you came to hitting them.  If you are testing different aspects of your email (and you should), ask the same questions above for every touchpoint are you testing:

  • Opens
  • Clicks-to-opens rate
  • Conversions or revenue
  • Landing page conversions (form fills, calls, downloads, etc.)

Include the landing-page review as part of the process.  Many email campaigns succeed by one measure (opens or clicks) but fail in the long run because the landing page didn’t continue with the same message or had too many barriers for a successful journey to the goal.

Do you plan to use coupon codes? Use a unique code for each message. Don’t share that code with other channels.  If you promote a discount code on web, social or email, each channel should have its own code to track conversions and attribution.

Design your campaigns with mobile and your audience.

Over 50% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Ensure they render properly, that links and buttons are “fat-finger friendly.”

If you email to an older audience, consider using larger fonts. Also, avoid light-grey text. It’s difficult to read for those with aging eyesight. Your landing page/site should be mobile friendly as well.

Wrapping up

If you always ask “Why” before sending any email, you will find your planning will change. At the very  least, you’ll know you are planning and targeting properly with clear goals.

Good luck, and may your deliverability be high and your conversions higher!

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12 Effective Email Marketing Tips You Need To Know To Make Your Campaign Successful In 2020

Email marketing is a popular, up-to-date, and influential tool for businesses to engage and reach out to customers effectively. While many may think that social media supersedes email marketing ideas, that is not the case. Email marketing services are still on par with social media and are expected to grow in 2020.

As smartphones and tablets have gained popularity, people are constantly checking their emails on the go, regardless of their profession or field. A survey by Marketo shows that 94% of internet users in the US have active emails, which is a total of 254.7 million users.

Almost all businesses use email marketing ideas nowadays as an effective, fast, and low-cost way to reach out to their customers. The best part is that customers of all age brackets use and check their emails daily. While social media is the new digital marketing phenomenon, email marketing is part of both – the traditional and conventional— communication tools. In fact, today, email marketing ideas are more far-fetched than ever before. ..

In this article, you will find 12 2email marketing tips and tricks that will help you design your campaign and make it successful. Let’s start by learning about email marketing trends.

Email Marketing Trends

An organization is no longer measured by its brand awareness and customer acquisition; rather, it is assessed on its customer engagement and accessibility – according to a report prepared by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Company viability now depends on how the marketers drive customer engagement that eventually impacts the revenue. The study also shows the positive and direct impact that engagements have on the revenue and sales of businesses.

This is where email marketing ideas step in. It is considered to be one of the most efficient and effective ways to engage with customers.

Email graphic on a world map

Email marketing campaign ideas are making big money as they continue to stay relevant. It is a technique that constantly adapts as the technology landscape shifts. For up to a decade, on average, the return on investment for each email has been about $39.40, according to a survey by Campaign Monitor.

In 2010, when social media was becoming popular, there was a speculation that this will be the ‘end of emails’. Nonetheless, there are still 307 billion emails sent out per day as compared to 247 billion in 2010.

In today’s world, emails are all about user-generated content, accessibility responsive interactivity, and automation.

Email Marketing Tips

Email marketing tips are effective and guarantee success. To make your campaign successful, here are some email marketing tips and tricks that will help you gain more customers.

1. Know Your Audience

If you are designing your email campaign idea, then knowing your audience is the most important thing. For any kind of marketing, you need to have a targeted audience so that your audience is interested in what you have to say. The email marketing trick is to target the ones who have subscribed to your content, follow you on your social media, or have searched for your business on a search engine.

Once you have a target audience, determine the kind of information they need to hear from you through emails. Depending upon the nature of your business, ask yourself what the audience has signed up for and what they want to know. Deciding what they want to hear will also require you to categorize them according to their demographics. The more you know about your audience, the more persuasive your email marketing campaign idea will be.

2. Quality Content is the Key

High Quality content is the key

The next effective email marketing tip is to give the users quality content. If you have a defined audience, it will become much easier to generate content that is relevant, helpful, and engaging for the customers. Strong and creative content is the trick to get more clicks and add value to your emails. Some email marketing tips and tricks for high-quality content are:

  • Don’t take your email marketing for granted as it is one of the most efficient tools with high conversion rates.
  • Plan and draft your emails appropriately.
  • Hire professionals to do so.
  • Use graphics, fonts, and images to make it creative.
  • Use engaging content such as visuals to ensure interactivity.

3. Subject Lines

Did you know that 47% of users open an email after reading its subject line? The success of an email marketing campaign idea is highly dependent on the kind of subject lines you use. This is undoubtedly the most crucial part of your campaign success.

Write killer subject lines to attract and engage your audience immediately. A subject line is the first impression of your email, your company, and your campaign – and we all know that first impressions matter and you don’t want to mess it up. If the subject isn’t appealing, your recipient will not open your email and lose it.

Some of the email marketing tricks for attention grabbing subject lines are:

  • Make them short and to the point.
  • Benefit-driven subject lines create a good impact as users are keen to learn what is in it for them.
  • Create an impact with an offer such as ‘Discount’ or ‘50% off’.
  • Use first person narrative and be interactive.
  • Make it clear so that the recipients know at first glance what to expect.
  • Trigger curiosity, fear, urgency, and necessity.

4. Personalized Content

Personalizing content and creating segmented email lists are two other email marketing tips you need to make your campaign successful in 2020. By segmenting the audience, you can create personalized content.

Create high-quality, personalized, direct emails that focus on the demographics, needs, and expectations of your defined audience. Even though such email campaign ideas may take time to get executed, the results will be worth it. The click-through rates of personalized emails are much higher than emails with merely general information.

5. A/B Testing

A/B testing on conversion rates

One of the most effective email marketing tricks is A/B testing. This method is used to experiment with two options and see which one works and gets more clicks. You can hire two designers or content creators and ask them to take two different approaches. Send these emails to two groups with a few recipients (make sure it’s a small percentage).

The result is measured by the number of likes or clicks that each set of emails get. This sort of email campaign idea is to find the right approach for your target audience. You can’t undo the email that has been sent, but you can make sure you don’t send it to more people.

You can also use A/B testing to assess which subject line is catchier and more appealing by measuring the number of opens it got.

6. User Accessibility

When talking about successful email campaign ideas for 2020, user accessibility is a major area to cover. Generating emails with high user accessibility means using smart speakers for voice assistants, reading emails aloud or having visually accessible content. Accessible email designs may cost you more, but it prioritizes the needs of your customers.

You can increase user accessibility in two ways:

  • Accessible content: The content inside your email should be concise and readable. You can do this by using bullet points, shorter sentences, avoiding difficult words, and using active voice.
  • Accessible design: The design of your email should be user-friendly as well. For this, you can use all-image email templates or HTML designs as they are accessible. A simple email marketing tip is to design emails keeping in mind the broader audience. Emails should be visually appealing and appropriate.

7. Interactive Content

Interactivity derives engagement. Advanced email marketing campaigns are all about emails that directly speak to your customers. It is important to have a conversation with the customers or people will start ignoring your email.

In email marketing, it is more important to have higher conversion and click rate than focusing on sending out a huge number of emails. If your recipient is not clicking on your website or interacting with you, there is no use of sending out emails.

Some of the email marketing tips and techniques to keep the reader on your email are:

  • Call-to-Action: Your email must end with a call-to-action, which is a link to your website.
  • Use animated buttons and links to allow customers to visit the webpage or call directly on the customer service helpline.
  • Include surveys, polls, and other user-generated interactive content.
  • Welcome feedback and reviews in emails.

8. Prioritize Active Users

One of the essential email campaign tips is to ensure that your emails go to the right person. In order to do that, you can sort out the ones that are active and give you the most clicks and add them to a separate mailing list. You can use this list to send emails to the users who would actually read them. This also promotes customer loyalty. You can give special offers to the active, loyal members to keep them motivated.

9. Mobile-Friendly

Emails on mobile phones

Effective email campaign tips include having mobile-friendly content and design. Since most users access their emails on their smartphone devices or tablets, make sure your emails are mobile-friendly. This will ensure a higher click rate and more engagement. Here are some email marketing campaign tips for mobile-friendly emails:

  • Use email marketing tools for mobile templates.
  • Use shorter subject lines for mobile emails.
  • Use mobile-friendly sign-up forms.

10. Don’t Spam!

Say no to Spam

The most important email marketing campaign tip is to never spam your recipients. Spamming does not only push your user away but also automatically takes your emails to the junk folder. You can avoid spamming and prioritizing active users by creating mailing lists. Don’t include everyone on your target audience list. The key is to invest your time in reviewing the targeted segments of the audience and filtering the emails accordingly.

If you have new subscribers or customers, adopt a nurturing approach. Don’t spam them with emails; rather, build upon their experience. Create separate mailing lists for all these audience segments so you can tailor the emails accordingly.

11. Automation

The 2020 email campaign tips are all about automation. There are plenty of email marketing tools that a business may use to optimize their email marketing. Inbox Army is an email marketing agency that gives targeted solutions to help engage customers and manage your campaign. Email marketing professionals know how to engage your audience;hence, this is an effective tool to build on your strategy and then execute it. You can link these email marketing tools to your website, and Google Analytics will help gather data about the page visitors.

12. Measure and Monitor

The final email campaign tip is to measure and monitor your success. If you are sending a number of emails but don’t see any positive results, you might want to change your strategy. Implementing an effective email marketing strategy can do wonders to your business sales and growth.

You can measure your success through:

  • Open to send ratio
  • Click to open rate on your call to action

These 12 email marketing tips and techniques can make your campaign successful in 2020. Email marketing goes a long way if it is used in the right way. If you abuse this low-cost, convenient way to reach out to customers and spam them with emails, there is a high chance that your emails will end up in the junk folder. So use your email marketing power wisely!

Share this article and drop a comment to let us know how these tips helped you.

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Halloween Email Inspirations To Blow Your Mind: Not Just Candy & Costumes

The spookiest time of the year is finally here!

According to National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, shoppers will spend $86.27 on an average this Halloween.

It’s time to rejoice in the fright and capture the enchantment of this cherished autumn holiday. And many marketers are making their Halloween email speak for themselves.

Listed here are a few top brand and their Halloween email templates that witch you a happy Halloween!

Brand: Entertainment® Coupons

Entertainment® Coupons has created an interesting GIF that matches the theme of Halloween. The colors and copy are absolutely in sync with the spooky vibes of the day. They have clearly highlighted the purpose of the email, that is, to promote the 30% off and free shipping.

Brand: Pizza Express

A very creative email by Pizza Express. Their email is inviting yet has multiple CTAs for each section. The email also subtly invites the subscriber to join them for the Halloween fun. The theme of the email adds an element of fun.


Brand: Karity

The cosmetic brand Karity has used GIF to showcase the usage of their products during Halloween. The images are appealing enough to tempt the female subscribers to buy the makeup items. There are multiple CTAs that redirect the reader to the relevant landing page.

Brand: Harvester

A personalized halloween email with the use of attractive fonts in the header along with multiple CTAs in the body copy. The content and images are spiced up with the halloween flavor and it’s a catchy and interesting email.

Halloween Email Templates_Harvester

Brand: Mary Kay

An extremely eye-catching email with creative fonts. The witty headline is a catch. With multiple CTAs along with product display, this email immediately open the gates for conversions.


Brand: Williams-Sonoma

An incredible email example for Halloween product showcase. The stunning display of products is enticing as each module displays and describes the product along with a CTA button.


Brand: Hallmark

A very interactive email with fascinating topics for the subscriber. The email is a great way to re-engage customers and generate a festive spirit. The email contains multiple CTA buttons that is a sure way to increase conversions.


Brand: Love Culture

The discount at the beginning is a sure trick for customer engagement. This email by Love Culture creates a sense of urgency to the subscriber to grab their discount offer.


Brand: Yandy

A very witty email by Yandy that’s set in a modular layout showcasing their Halloween costumes. With a dash of humor, the use of product display along with the CTA buttons in the email gives the subscriber a hint of their collection and urges a click.

Halloween-Email-Templates_YandyBrand: Sugarlips

Sugarlips has chosen beautiful images to promote their Halloween outfits. Every section ends with the respective CTA to encourage the purchase.

In all Halloween Emails are catching pace with many marketers and it’s a great way to bring in the holiday fun while engaging your customers. So, be creative, get your spook-tacular side out, and increase leads.

Also, check out these amazing email template samples and have happy holidays!

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10 Email Marketing Tips For The Holidays

10 Tips for Holiday Email Marketing All Through the Season



NOTICE WIN an ALEXA ECHO SHOW: Please add your favorite Holiday email marketing tips in the comments section. Everyone who adds a tip will be entered to win an Echo Show 5. Must be 18 years or older and located in the U.S. If You Share this blog post on Twitter with the hashtag #InboxArmy we’ll give you a 2nd entry. Thanks and Good Luck!

The all-important holiday marketing season is just about to kick off. Are you ready?

Whether your holiday goals and plans are locked down or still a work in progress, check out our list of 10-holiday marketing tips to help you have a more successful season.

Holiday spending predicted to rise in 2019

First up are numbers from holiday/Christmas 2018 and 2019 projections.

Was 2018 a great year for retail, or did it disappoint?

It depends on whom you ask. Although analysts agreed that holiday spending went up in 2018, the percentage increases and dollar values varied widely, thanks to differences in spending categories and time periods.

  • The National Retail Federation, which tracks spending on major holidays and selling seasons, said spending increased 2.9% to a total $707.5 billion.
  • eMarketer reported that 2018 holiday spending grew 5.4%, hitting $998 billion but falling short of its $1 trillion projection. Physical stores still claimed the largest share of spending – $874.4  billion – but e-commerce grew faster (16.7%).
  • Mastercard said spending hit a six-year high 5.1% on sales of $850 billion from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24. Ecommerce recorded a robust 19.1% increase over 2017.

What’s the 2019 outlook?

  • In February 2019, eMarketer predicted holiday sales would grow 3.7% to $1.035 trillion and blamed economic uncertainties for the slower rate of growth.

10 tips for holiday email marketing

You’re probably chasing an ambitious goal to hit this holiday marketing season. These tips can help you close the gap.

You aren’t off the hook If the weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Year aren’t your big money-making season. You still face an uphill battle for inbox attention in the holiday season. Keep reading to find out how to make sure your emails don’t get overlooked in the frenzy.

As you scan the list below, don’t feel as if you must do all of these things to be successful. One or two of these tips might be all you need to help you meet your holiday marketing goals.

Make sure you get mobile right

This goes beyond making sure your emails look and function right on small screens. That’s table stakes these days! The entire shopping experience is moving online, and your emails are the gateway to a good experience.

Optimize not just for the email experience but for web browsing and buying, too. Your emails can highlight alternative payment services such as PayPal or Venmo, Apple Pay/Google Pay or Afterpay.  Consider adding click-to-call to put browsers immediately in touch with your customer support team.

Sync your landing pages with your email messages, search ads, and social media

Customers hate it when they click through from your email but get dropped on a product or category page or – worst of all – your homepage. This can happen if you don’t coordinate work between the email and web teams. At the most basic level, check all links to be sure they go to the landing page tied to your email offer.

While you’re at it, check that your email offers are included – where appropriate – in search ads and social media content to give your offers the widest possible reach.

One last step: Make sure each landing page, especially those linked to search and social media, includes an email opt-in invitation. A lot of non-subscribers and other first-time visitors will find those pages through search and social in the coming months. They might not be ready to buy on their first visit but could be intrigued enough to want to sign up for emails.

Rethink your segmentation plan

Changing how you segment your customer or subscriber database can help you uncover some lucrative groups that your current segmentation model overlooks. Here are two to experiment with now before your holiday traffic ramps up:

  • New non-purchasers:

When you send the same message to everybody every time, you’re overlooking the people who have yet to buy and not rewarding your best customers. Target your newbies (new subscribers, account-holders and the like) with special content to persuade them to make that all-important first purchase.

This contact point is most relevant in your welcome or onboarding program when interest is highest. Include some educational information about your products and an incentive to send them right back to your website to buy.

  • VIPs:

At the other end of the scale are your very best buyers. They’re the ones who buy most often, buy at full price, buy your premium products or rack up the biggest order values. What are you doing to make them feel valued?

Use a Recency-Frequency-Monetary (RFM) model to identify the people at the top of your customer pyramid. Offer some hefty benefits to fend off the competition.

Review your automation and personalization programs

Welcome Friend

A new report by The Relevancy Group found advanced personalization can drive 17% higher revenue and $20 (or more) of additional revenue on every $1 you invest in it. Is that enough incentive to check out what your email platforms offer for automation and personalization?

Now isn’t the time to try launching an all-new abandoned-cart or repurchase program. Instead,  audit the programs you offer now to be sure they work as expected and to find places where you can boost them up to perform better.

Adding just one more email to an abandoned-cart series could help you persuade more people to convert. This has become a crisis point for many retailers because a new study shows abandonment rates now hover around 84%, up from 75% to 77% in recent years.

(Tip: We work with dozens of email marketing and automation platforms, so we probably know what automations and integrations your platform offers. Let us help you track them down!)

Make promotional emails stand out

Even with all the focus on personalization, segmentation, and targeting, we know you’re probably going to rely on promotional emails to get your messages out and bring customers back to your website to buy. There’s plenty you can do to make these messages look special!

  • Optimize your inbox view

    It should show your brand name or name of your email program in the sender name, a quickly understood subject line and preview text that ties in with your subject line. This will help inbox scanners see right away why you’re there. This is essential when other senders start ramping up frequency as the holidays get closer.

  • Add visuals to your subject lines

    Emoji – colorful little icons – have been around long enough to show that they don’t hurt deliverability and can increase engagement. An experiment in the next few weeks to see what effect they have on your opens.

  • Create a theme for your holiday marketing program

Many brands invest heavily in themed templates, logos, artwork and body content. That’s fine, but if you don’t have the time or budget, come up with a snappy strapline or general theme and convey it in your subject lines, message content and calls to action. Carry it through in your social media and web content, too.

Create a discount/incentive strategy

This will help you avoid panic marketing – the frenzy that erupts when someone finds out how far the team is from making a goal and wants to jack up the frequency and discounting. That can blow up your careful planning, cut into your profit margin and burn out your customers.

Take a few moments now to sketch out a plan for discount offers and incentives. This way, you’ll be ready to suggest a rational move like this:

The closer you get to Christmas, the more important expedited shipping becomes. Instead of tossing another 20% discount email into the rushing flood of similar offers, shift to lower qualifications for faster shipping.

Test a repeat-purchase plan

Yes, it’s important to persuade both new and longtime customers to buy this holiday season. But don’t stop there! Create a plan to bring your new customers back again to buy from you after the holidays.

Ideally, they’d come back to buy at full price. But if your goal is to snag a second purchase, try dangling a juicy offer that they could qualify for with a pre-holiday purchase but would be effective after the holiday. If this pans out, you can expand it by aligning incentive sizes with order values or other variables.

Set up a frequency and cadence plan

Just as you should have a discount/incentive plan, you can map out your frequency (how often you send) and cadence (your sending pattern). This helps you manage last-minute panic and “send another email” requests. It also shows you how to pivot should you need to increase frequency unexpectedly.

Plotting out everything  – your frequency and cadence, campaigns, discount/incentive plans and more – puts you in control and assures your team and boss that you’re on top of the situation.

Test everything

Yes, everything. Your templates. Your automations and integrations. Images. Body copy. Calls to action. Subject lines. Offers. Sending times and days. Triggers. If it’s a part of your email program, you can test it.

Testing can be a hard sell because someone’s going to worry that you’re losing sales by not mailing to a holdout group. Sure, you could lose a couple of sales in the short term. But you’ll lose a lot more if you go too far down the wrong path.

Don’t know how to set up or run a test? You have plenty of help, starting with your ESP or email agency, and the email community at large, which offers you advice like this to help you run better tests.

Track everything, and write it all down

Tracking and analyzing results is essential during this high-stress time of year. Watch open and click rates to detect up or down trends in engagement. Measure conversions and order values. Are people buying less from your emails than you expected? The closer you watch what’s happening, the faster you can change course as needed.

The second part of this is to write everything down. Write down your campaign plans, your testing strategy, and findings, your workflow, and calendar, your results for each campaign. Plot trends. It might feel like a chore when you’re in the thick of things in December, but you’ll be grateful for it when planning rolls around again six months later.

We can help!

InboxArmy can help you close the gaps in your holiday campaign strategy and seek out opportunities to get the most from your email marketing program. We’re just a phone call away!

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Is Your Cart Abandonment Program Failing? (Read This Now!)

The abandoned-cart reminder is one of the most successful emails you can send to your customers. But you need to set them up the right way to encourage more shoppers to act on them if you want to get the best results.

First: Why you should try to bring customers back

Consider these statistics:

Cart abandonment happens all the time, especially around holidays when traffic from both first-time shopping and loyal customers increases to your site. Cart abandonment rates range from 58% to 81% overall, although abandonment is higher in some sectors than others.

More than 8 in 10 carts are abandoned on finance, travel and nonprofit websites, while retail and ecommerce cart abandonment is holding steady at around 77%.

Cart-reminder emails can generate some of the best engagement of any triggered or broadcast email you send. Here’s how they stack up:

  • 45% average open rate
  • 21% average click-through rate
  • 7% average conversion rate

They help you recover sales. Some people leave items in carts on purpose and plan to come back later. But, one of the main reasons people abandon carts permanently is because they had problems at checkout. One company estimated that a large ecommerce site could see a 35.3% hike in recovered sales just by redesigning their checkout process.

They give you a competitive advantage. The 2018 Email Marketing Census from the UK Direct Marketing Association shows only 29% of all email marketers send abandonment emails. So, the field is still wide open for marketers who can take that extra step.

How cart reminders can fail

As these statistics show, the decision to send an abandoned-cart reminder is a no-brainer. But just sending an email by itself won’t guarantee that your customers will come back to finish checking out.

This is the point where many marketers shoot themselves in the foot with their reminder emails. How you structure your reminder email is just as important, if not more so, than the decision to set up an abandonment program.

And here’s another key point: You’ll probably need more than one set of rules governing your reminder email’s timing and content to accommodate the different reasons customers come to your site.

Different reminder models, different purposes. While it’s true that sending one reminder email shortly after your customer abandons the site is better than sending none at all, it’s also true that there’s no exact formula for how you should structure your reminders.

The conventional wisdom around reminder emails is that you generally need more than one, that you should send your first email soon after the customer abandons the site and that you should follow up with one or two more emails within 24 to 48 hours after the first reminder email goes out.

Take a look at the series of two cart abandonment emails by ASICS.

That format, which could take as long as three days to a week to deliver all your emails in the abandonment series, works fine in uncomplicated abandonment scenarios.

Now, suppose you’re running a one-day flash sale. That standard three-message email sequence isn’t going to work beyond the first email, assuming you send it out before the sale ends.

In fact, you’ll end up aggravating your customers because they won’t be able to buy their items at the sale price if they return after the sale is over. If you compound that error by including the flash-sale price in the email message instead of the price they’ll encounter when they return, you might as well kiss those customers goodbye forever.

Solution No. 1: Add more rules

Every successful cart-abandonment reminder program is driven by rules that govern when to launch reminder emails and what content to include in them. Here are several popular ones:

  • Send the first email immediately after abandonment. Then, time follow-up emails according to activity, or lack of it, on the first email.
  • Withhold an incentive to encourage returning to the cart until the last email of the series.
  • Vary the incentive according to customer value (higher value to first-time visitors or loyalty-club members).
  • No incentive or lower-value offer for customers who have used an abandoned-cart incentive in the last 30 to 90 days.

Adding rules to your email program can help you create a more flexible program that accounts for abnormalities or anomalies in the abandonment procedure.

Take that flash-sale scenario we mentioned earlier. Let’s say you want to clear out some excess inventory before you head into the fourth-quarter holiday season. Or, you want to get some incremental sales on what normally would be a slow sales day, like a Sunday, and you offer some eye-popping discounts to attract browsing.

Here’s an example by Huckberry in which they have offered a coupon code for free product shipping.

The trade-off for those big discounts is a short shopping window. So, to bring back your abandoners, change up your rules for that campaign to launch your abandonment email sooner, deliver your series in shorter intervals and schedule the last email to go out before the sale ends.

Solution No. 2: Extend redemption time with a post-cart-abandonment program

Use this to retain high-value customers (they buy more often and/or at full price) or customers who rack up higher-priced carts. You can create a rule to trigger this program based on cart value or customer data.

The effect is that you will extend the time your abandonment program runs, giving your customers more time to come back and check. This is especially handy for high-value carts because those customers might need more time to decide whether to go ahead.

Giving them a few extra days to check their finances, talk to a spouse or partner or wait for the next paycheck could mean the difference between a purchase and a lost cause. Your emails continue to arrive at carefully spaced intervals, giving you opportunities to answer questions or head off objections, but you aren’t pestering them constantly.

Use the time to vary your content

That brings up another point about successful emails. It’s not just how you time your messages but what you put in your messages that can bring customers back.

People abandon carts for many reasons, and not just because they wandered away or objected to your shipping fees. Here’s a sample of reasons:

  • They got interrupted and had to break off their sessions.
  • They ran into problems in your checkout process.
  • They need time to think or are shopping your competitors.
  • They’re using their carts like wish lists and will return later to sort through items.

Your email copy should reflect these potential scenarios, too. Adopting a helpful, service-oriented tone and adding links to customer service, FAQs, buying guides or other relevant destinations on your website can overcome objections and add trust.

But you can also use devices like countdown timers to gently prod your customers into acting, especially if their merchandise is part of a flash or limited-time sale. We have used this device in many client abandoned-cart emails, and we always see a measurable uptick in conversions, often when tested against a standard message with no timer.

FARFETCH sends a nice cart abandonment email with a countdown timer that evokes the fear of missing out and entices the user to complete the purchase.

Don’t forget to test!

This is vital, no matter which format you choose to create for your abandonment models. Test everything to see what works for you and your customers! Here’s a quick list:

  • Subject line
  • Number of emails
  • Timing (first email and intervals between emails for a multi-email process)
  • Incentives (what kind of incentive, like a percentage discount, cash discount, free shipping, upgraded shipping and at what point in your series to introduce it)
  • Personalization (name, product info, link to cart, etc.) versus one-size-fits-all

Call on us to help you set up a great program

Whether you want to investigate launching your own abandoned-cart program or need to get better results from your present program, our strategy experts are eager to show you what’s possible.

We’re happy to offer you a free 30-minute consultation call to see whether we’re a good fit to help you recover more sales and revenue by testing the solutions we’ve offered here or whether you might try other tested tactics in our arsenal.

Just call us at 800-ARMY-253 (800-276-9253) or leave a message on our website. We’ve seen the results that well-thought-out abandonment programs can produce, and we’d love to share them with you!

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