The role of email in holiday marketing

This post is contributed by Amy Pepler, Senior Relationship Manager/Account Director at Epsilon. 

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us the holiday shopping season is in full swing.  Holidays present a great opportunity for marketers to engage and connect with consumers – especially via the email channel.  According to eDatasource more than 3,000 Cyber Monday campaigns were detected with read rates in excess of 10%.

But according to a recent AP article, “Now that shoppers are online all the time anyway, the 10-year-old shopping holiday (Cyber Monday) has lost some of its luster as online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday pick up. But enough shoppers have been trained to look for "Cyber Monday" specific sales to ensure the holiday will still mean big bucks for retailers. ”

Our own research has proven that retailers can no longer think about marketing to customers solely as part of campaigns like back-to-school or holiday. With consumers reporting that their holiday shopping is taking place throughout the year, marketing to them with relevance all year round will create positive customer experiences.

How can marketers use strategies employed during the holiday shopping season to create additional opportunities to engage with customers throughout the year?

One effective strategy we’re seeing is brands are leveraging all holidays – retail focused or not – to create moments in which they can engage consumers.  Brands are leveraging these moments even when there’s not a direct correlation to the holiday and the brand.  For example, during Halloween, Dunkin’ Donuts used email to encourage recipients to share and post their favorite pumpkin flavored treats on social with the hashtag #DDPumpkin.  This promotion helped to insert Dunkin Donuts into the Halloween conversation even though they aren’t a traditional Halloween retailer.

So when you use the term holiday during campaign planning, email marketers need to think of the full holiday yearly calendar and beyond.  Whether it’s Thanksgiving, back-to-school or national sweetest day, consumers connect with these communications. Marketers need to seize these opportunities and take advantage of holiday.  And it’s key for marketers to keep front and center that email success extends beyond promotional campaigns. For example, REI ‘hit the top of the peak’ with their #OPTOUTSIDE campaign which garnered over 1.4 million participants, and showcased their brand values.

Holidays allow marketers to create experiences for their customers that will drive long-lasting customer relationships that extend well beyond the holiday season splurge.  Email is the start of a conversation between you and your consumers that creates relevant experiences, drives one-to-one connections and generates revenue for your brand.