Loyalty marketers always want their emails to stand out, but during the all-important holiday season, they take on extra meaning and potential impact.

What can loyalty marketers do to ensure their holiday email communications are relevant and personalized?

Loyalty360 talked to SendGrid CMO Scott Heimes to learn about some key tips that loyalty marketers should consider this holiday season.

Can you talk about email tips that loyalty marketers can use this holiday season?

Heimes: Right off the bat, make sure your subject lines are short—about seven words or fewer—and avoid obvious, easily ignored signifiers, like “Happy Holidays” or “Tis The Season.” Avoiding these terms may sound counter-intuitive, but readers are overwhelmed with so many repetitive subject lines this time of year, especially on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that they just mentally turn them off. In fact, in 2016, we found that subject lines mentioning these shopping holidays performed slightly worse than others. If you want to stand out, offer unique deals, like free shipping or buy one, get one free, in your subject line. Be creative, not derivative.

Speaking of overwhelmed, avoid sending high-volume, high-frequency emails to your lists. It increases the chances of unsubscribes and spam-reports and lowers your reputation amongst subscribers. Instead, be proactive during the holiday season and ask your recipients what sort of engagement they want with your company during the holiday season, if at all. Doing so can boost your reputation and nurture quality leads. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Why are some companies successful with their holiday email campaigns and why do others struggle?

Heimes: There is one reason why some companies are more successful than others during the holiday season and it is this: They listen to their customers and engage with quality communications. That’s really it. When companies engage with their readers on a personalized level, they gain the critical insight they need to better communicate with them. Make no mistake, engaging isn’t easy. It requires a lot of planning, a strategy for segmentation, and the wherewithal to know when to remove emails from your lists, but knowing who to contact, when and how is worth the work.

What are some key tips regarding increased engagement levels with holiday email campaigns?

Heimes: Don’t get too excited and send more emails when subscribers engage. Doing so can annoy readers and can send great emails straight to spam. Instead, look for consistent email engagement with subscribers. If they click and explore often enough, it may be a sign they’re either willing to receive more emails or tell you exactly what they’re looking for so you can cater to their needs. Remember: The key ingredient in any successful campaign—not just the holidays—is consistent and learnings driven conversation.

Other than executing restraint, it’s important to take the time to evaluate your campaign after the holiday season is over to understand what worked, what didn’t, and where those successes and failures are in your email lists. Doing so can help fuel your email campaigns during 2018 and set you up for the next year’s season—which you will need to begin planning as early as possible.

What is being done well in this area and where does the challenge lie?

Heimes: Marketers are taking big strides toward engaging their readers with the smart use of email preference centers. By enabling consumers to communicate what they’re receptive to and how often they’re willing to take a look at an email, companies are gaining far better insights into communicating with their subscribers.

The challenge now is keeping that conversation consistent across channels. Are your emails consistent across desktop applications? Web browsers? Are they optimized for mobile? Just as important, if not more so in some cases, are your landing pages. Are your landing pages consistent with your themes and messaging after a click-through or are they wildly different? The challenge going forward will be committing to a holistic holiday campaign that touches every aspect of the buyer’s journey.

Why is email such a strong form of customer engagement for marketers?

Heimes: Email is one of the strongest forms of customer engagement because it almost guarantees a connection with a large number of interested consumers. It opens a direct line of communication between the business and the customer at a relatively low cost. Additionally, email has one of the highest return on investments in any marketing category today, is highly measurable and can give marketers the rare opportunity to see how email campaigns and outreach directly affects the business. 

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