Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If you’re betting on email to boost sales this holiday season, you have the right mindset. Last year, online retail sales grew 11.3% over 2020 to more than $218 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Although the ease of pandemic restrictions will bring more people to stores, email remains an effective way to drive online revenue.
How will you use email to boost holiday sales for your business this year? With inflation hitting the highest rate in 41 years, you must make sure your campaigns have the best chance of landing in the inbox — and convert.
Here are five ways to prepare your email program for the busy shopping season ahead.
1. Increase your sending rhythm
Not all businesses send emails all year round. Some show up in their customers’ inboxes only when they run a promotional campaign. If that’s your case, you want to consider ramping up your sending frequency ahead of the holidays. The number of emails you send, and how often you send them, can influence your ability to reach the inbox.
Mailbox providers consider sudden spikes in email traffic suspicious, as they can indicate spam. So, before launching your holiday email campaigns, begin nurturing your list with relevant, educational content. Keep a steady rhythm, and intensify it gradually before Black Friday to avoid landing in spam.
2. Check the validity of your contacts
The quality of your email list is vital to your email deliverability. Several studies show that email databases deteriorate by more than 22% every year. At ZeroBounce, we found that, due to the pandemic, 30% of our email data had gone bad in the past year.
Removing obsolete email addresses, especially before an important campaign, is a must if you care to arrive in the inbox. Ignoring it can cause significant damage, as bounces and spam complaints can send your emails to spam. One of our customers was even blocked by his email service provider because of a high bounce rate. Only when our customer validated the company email list did the email provider agree to reinstate the account.
You wouldn’t want to be blocked from sending emails during the holiday season, so check that your list is fresh and valid. Your bounce rate should never exceed 2%.
3. Use data to decide the best times to send
A compelling offer that goes out to a healthy email list already puts you ahead of the pack. But to help your campaigns shine, keep past subscriber behavior in mind when scheduling your emails. Thus, you’ll know when your audience is most likely to open your emails.
So, what are the best days to send emails during the holidays? The top performers are Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Sunday and Thanksgiving, recent data from Oracle shows.
The Oracle marketing research team also suggests sending campaigns on Thursdays to influence weekend spending. The study demonstrates that click-to-open rates are 54% higher than Fridays.
4. Test your emails on mobile
In 2021, more than 42% of Black Friday ecommerce revenue came through mobile, an Adobe study shows. Checking how your email renders on smartphones is always important. But during the holidays, it can make a dramatic difference in your revenue.
Email testing tools allow you to test various aspects of your campaign and identify potential errors. For instance, an email can render correctly in Gmail, but not in Outlook, so pay attention to how your campaigns display with different providers.
Also, consider running all your emails through a spell checker and make sure all your links are functional and relevant to your audience.
5. Gather valuable social proof
If you’re like most businesses, you’re probably going to send many emails in the last two months of the year. One way to avoid repeating your content is to use lots of customer testimonials.
Ahead of your holiday email campaign, prepare by gathering social proof like stellar reviews, case studies, quotes, and awards worth mentioning. Third-party validation contributes dramatically to how people perceive your product. Oftentimes, it can seal the deal for an indecisive prospect.
Final tips to make your holiday email campaign a success
Running an email campaign during the holidays can be nerve-racking. It’s not as simple as scheduling a few emails, so anxiety is high for many business owners and marketers.
To ease some of the tension, consider starting early. Have a clear plan and strategy in place weeks before you send your first email. Creating a checklist also helps. Include everything you and your team must do, from defining your offers to ensuring you have all the right tools.
Proper planning will bring you calm and confidence so this holiday season will be successful for your business.