Holiday Email Marketing: Will You Be On Santa’s Naughty List?

This holiday shopping season, we anticipate record growth for online sales, with Thanksgiving expected to reach $1.1 billion, Black Friday at $1.6 billion and Cyber Monday at $2.27 billion, up 15% year-over-year. With retailers opening their doors and flipping the switches for online sales earlier, your email inbox is likely already a digital deluge of email promotions and coupons for “incredible savings!”holidays-christmas-featured

Consumers know what they’re interested in and what to trash — but many emails never even make it to the inbox. As the end-of-year approaches, email marketers spread holiday savings and cheer, but sometimes also lumps of coal in an effort to finish the year strong.

Some bad email behaviors can even get marketers on Santa’s “naughty” list (the blacklist, that is) and barred from reaching their consumers at all.

Santa’s Naughty List

So, how do email marketers end up on the naughty list?

1. Changing The Game Plan

During the holiday season, email marketers are especially motivated to ramp up email in a last-ditch effort to meet ROI goals for the end of the year. The net result? Ditching good practices they have built up over the year and over-emailing during the last quarter of the year. And when emails repeatedly receive little to no engagement, this increases the chances of becoming blacklisted.

New Year’s resolution: Less is more.

2. Choosing Poor Email Collection Methods

Retailers commonly ask consumers for their email addresses at the register, but this method leaves a lot of room for human error (i.e. incorrect addresses being keyed in), which can result in retailers spamming invalid addresses. Sending emails to invalid addresses is another way that marketers get a trip to the naughty list.

New Year’s resolution: Create a double verification entry system where the customer can enter their information via a terminal. Make sure to send the customer an opt-in confirmation and welcome email before sending marketing offers.

3. Emailing Consumers Who Haven’t Opted In

Retailers should be specific and upfront with consumers about why they are being asked for their email address. If consumers haven’t opted in to receive emails from you, you shouldn’t email them. Another way to get blacklisted is sending emails to consumers who don’t opt in.

New Year’s resolution: Be transparent with your customers and only email customers who have explicitly opted in to your mailing list.

Santa’s Nice List

Marketers on Santa’s “nice” list employ these email best practices:

1. Relevant, Real-Time Inbox

Real-time inbox means sending consumers relevant and timely messages based on their location and interests. For example, once you sign up for a product or service, the retailer sends you a welcome email with a relevant promotion and may further customize the offer based on your geo-location. By sharing meaningful content, consumers are more likely to be engaged and open the email.

2. Email Responsive Design

More and more consumers are checking email on their smartphones. Messages that aren’t optimized for mobile are almost instantly overlooked. Research shows that retailers who understand the importance of responsive design are winning the game in email deliverability.

3. Cross-Channel Engagement

Sometimes email is not always the best way to reach the consumer. Those retailers thinking about cross-channel engagement such as mobile push notifications, POS, call centers and more are going to create a more lasting, positive relationship with the consumer throughout the holiday season.

These are just a few sure fire ways that marketers ensure their holiday stockings are chocked full of goodies (not coal), making them a shoe-in to starting the New Year on Santa’s “nice” list. What best email marketing best practices do you employ?

(Stock image via Used under license.)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Email Marketing | Email Marketing | Email Marketing Column


About The Author: is Director of Deliverability for Adobe, where she's responsible for leading the deliverability function for the company’s North American client base, including reputation management strategies and services, and deliverability operations.

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