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10 Email Marketing Strategies to Build Customer Loyalty This Holiday 2018

Email marketing continues to dominate how businesses connect with their customers. Nearly 105 billion emails are sent each day; this number is expected to reach 246 billion before 2020. With potential customers facing this inbox deluge, crafting an email that stands out becomes a challenge. 

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, the 2017 online holiday retail sales experienced 18.1 percent year-over-year growth, outpacing retail sales growth overall. Cyber Monday 2017 was the biggest e-commerce day in U.S. history. 

Here’s a look at several emails online retailers delivered during last year’s holiday season.

The Year in Review Email - LastPass

Goal: Help your customers reflect on the brand and their interactions with it by highlighting the year's milestones.
Subject line: LastPass 2017 Year in Review

This LastPass year-in-review email uses large, numerical stats and complementary graphics that are easy to scan. This infographic-style content validates the customer's worthwhile purchase, making LastPass’s value to the customer obvious. The infographics can also further motivate customers with low usage to increase their commitment to LastPass to see more benefits. Emails like this one prove to be loads of fun with dynamic user data and automation.

The Walkthrough Email - Lyft

Goal: Give the gift of understanding. Offer a bit of convenience and help customers better understand an aspect of your product. Guide them through an experience letting them go it alone.
Subject line: On-Demand Airport Rides from Lyft

In this example, the folks at Lyft anticipated your holiday travel needs with this simple reminder email. Continue to gradually candle dip your customers in the brands benefits, and if you’re good, you’ll have them advocating to their friends in no time.

The Pleasant Surprise - Elysium

Goal: Win your customers over with the unexpected surprise.
Subject line: Free Expedited Shipping for the Holidays

If you're like me and waited until the last minute to finish your holiday shopping, then this free upgrade to one-day shipping from Elysium is a blessing. Free shipping is the second most crucial factor shoppers consider when purchasing online. Win your customers over with an unexpected surprise.

Keeping in mind that the competition is fierce. Amazon gobbled up 45% and 50% of all online holiday retail sales and offers Prime members shipping perks that include free same-day, one-day, and even 2-hour delivery with Prime Now. 

The Forget-me-not Email- BarkBox

Goal: Show your customers you care by sending them or their furry friend something on that special day. 

Subject line: BarkBox ✅ Birthday BarkBox? ✅

Finding the opportunity to capture unique details about your customers like a birth date is vital. Then, when that special day comes around, be sure to celebrate with them like Bark-Box. This type of email template scales perfectly for leveraging dynamic user data in combination with automation. 

Consider going the extra mile when thinking about discounting and how they’ll be redeemed by your customer. What happens when promotions overlap? Can offers be combined? Look for ways to have evergreen promotions like the birthday surprise email complement an offer you’re planning this holiday season. 

The Gift Guide Email - National Geographic

Goal: Share content that truly resonates with customers.
Subject line: Travel and Adventure Gift Guide – Save 20%
Subject line: Shop our Photography Gift Guide and SAVE 30%

How many times have you completely blanked, second- or even triple-guessed a gift purchase, and then bailed during checkout? It’s probably because the content lacked the power of suggestion. 

Gift guides that don't present themselves as personalized are hardly gift guides at all. We need to do more than just give customers a collection of products we choose to feature and slap the words gift guide on it. Begin by tailoring the content based on what you know about your customers through data collection and segmentation.

Think of some creative ways to communicate who would love your product and why. At minimum offer recommendations based on what other customers with similar interests are buying. What customers are really looking for is a boost in confidence to mentally support their purchase.

Here are two examples from National Geographic that, at a glance, look nearly identical in design but consist of different tailored content.

The Last Chance Email - Harry’s

Goal: Remind customers in a timely manner
Subject line: Free holiday shipping ends in two days

The fear of missing out is a popular strategy, and when used in a transactional email, it can serve as a friendly reminder or a last-ditch effort to boost revenue before a marketing or shipping deadline. Harry’s has added a nice touch to this one by including an animated gif countdown timer.

The Themed Email - Modernica

Goal: Build a conversation with customers based on an email chain.
Subject line: ENDS TONIGHT! Shop Black Friday Deals

A themed collection centered around a common trait like this black-on-black email from Modernica makes it easy to promote shopping holidays like Black Friday. This is most likely one of the final communications in a series of automated emails scheduled during the holiday period. 

The Undecided Email - Moment

Goal: Don’t let a customer’s indecision cause a lost sale
Subject line: Introducing Moment Gift Card

For those customers who are plagued with indecision and a lack of confidence, the gift card option may be the only clear choice. This gift card email from Moment is a perfect example of elegance and simplicity.

The Relatable Storyteller Email - Casper

Goal: Show how your brand fits into the holiday story
Subject Line - Happy Thanksgiving from Casper

Storytellers like Casper do a great job taking the quintessential elements from a holiday like Thanksgiving and making the content relatable to their product. Stereotypical? Maybe. Simple and effective? Absolutely.

The Thanks Giver Email - Artifact Uprising

Goal: Remember to thank your customers for their support
Subject Line - With Gratitude

It’s ok to put the sales megaphone down from time to time during the holidays too. In this example, Artifact Uprising has decided to share a bit of gratitude by sending a heartfelt message for Thanksgiving.


2017 marked a banner year for Shopify merchants during the holiday season, with more than $1 billion in Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales alone. If you’re focused on the right priorities, billions are left to be had. Whether you had a record-breaking holiday season or not, now is the time to make sure you’re ready to have the most profitable season ever.

Priorities for Email Marketers this Holiday Season

Mobile First
A mobile-first approach is now the status quo for any eCommerce design. Spend more time with mobile design in mind.

- People are now opening more emails on mobile devices vs. anywhere else.
- Mobile is now the preferred platform for reading email 2:1 over webmail.
- 52 percent of customers are less likely to engage with a company because of a bad mobile experience.

Automate, Automate, Automate
Having a dialed-in transactional email strategy in place is crucial in supporting your holiday email marketing campaigns. 

- Automated email campaigns account for 21 percent of email revenue
- Recover shoppers who abandoned their cart. Last year 66 percent of retailers didn’t try and recover the abandoned cart on Black Friday.
- Welcome emails generate 8X more revenue than regular promotional emails

A/B Test One Step at a Time
If you’re not A/B testing, then you’re just guessing. Consider that a true and hard fact of conversion rate optimization for email. 

- eCommerce brands that A/B test their emails generate 20 percent more revenue on average.

Competitive Content
Consider your competition, and kill them with content. At the end of the day, as marketers, one of our goals should be to build stronger relationships with our customers. An effective way of doing this is through meaningful, personalized conversations. Personalization is more than adding a customer’s first name into the subject line. Try sending more than just promotional emails.

- 94 percent of customer insights and marketing professionals across multiple industries said personalization is “important,” “very important,” or “extremely important.”
- Email personalization results in a 56 percent increase in customer satisfaction.

Final Thoughts
The holiday season offers myriad ways to present your brand to customers to build lasting relationships and encourage new and recurring sales. Remind customers how your product benefited them during the past year. Provide a helping hand to customers to relieve some of their holiday stress. Don’t let the smaller essential dates, like birthdays, slip past during the holiday rush. Make your product offerings timely and personalized. And don’t forget to thank your customers for their business.

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