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Seasonal Marketing – using data and insight to create campaigns that work

While seasonal email marketing campaigns are usually the focus for more consumer-facing brands, B2B marketers can still harness the undeniable increase in web traffic and online spend experienced during the festive period. 
But to ensure maximum returns on their marketing campaigns, marketers need to act fast and use the data and intelligence available to create an informed strategy for the festive period. Helen Taylor, data analyst at Experian CheetahMail gives a few tips from on how to maximise your email campaign this Christmas.

1)     Get the timing right 

Many marketers assume that Christmas campaigns need to start as early as feasibly possible, but this is simply not the case.  Figures from Experian Hitwise show that festive emails begin to have a real effect during November, and the number of transactions resulting per campaign are higher than at any other time of the year   Targeted emails sent during November have the highest unique open rate (12.28%) with the number of transactions per mail higher than at any other time. Interestingly, December accounts for a quarter of all Christmas related emails that are sent, but the resulting transaction rate is lower than in either November or January.

Essentially, the key time to start sending your seasonal campaigns is now.  Statistics from 2010 suggest that the 2nd and 3rd week in November are best.  Launching a properly targeted campaign now will hit customers as at the perfect time as they make their purchasing decisions ahead of the Christmas period, and keep them engaged during the January sales.

2)     Targeting the right offering to the right customer  

Christmas email marketing campaigns can be unsuccessful if not correctly executed. The scatter-gun approach can blow up in marketers’ faces, simply because, as a customer, being inundated with offers for things we have no interest in is extremely annoying.  This can lead to anti-marketing — when marketing campaigns discourage potential customers rather than intriguing and enticing them.

Marketers need to ensure that they deliver campaigns that base distribution on what customers are interested in.

Using data and analytics can also drive cross and up-selling with existing customers; if they’ve just bought mobile handsets, what about offers on accessories and insurance in the pre and immediate post-Christmas period?

3)     Perfect presentation to drive responses

Marketers need to ensure they cut through the noise at Christmas and deliver campaigns that really stand out, so creativity is important here.  You should consider the possibility of including video in your mail-outs or using an animation to push up the open and response rates.

For email campaigns, this demands the integration of art and science, with pretty packaging made possible through some clever coding.  Be sure to run a preliminary campaign in a test environment to ensure readability and accessibility of your mail through all desktop and mobile email operating systems.

4)     Keyword enhancement – cut through the corporate inbox

Within a business environment, marketers need to ensure they use keywords that attract attention and generate the best responses in subject lines. Christmas 2010 threw up some interesting opening rate results.

November:  ‘Christmas’ was popular, but this was increased when combined with concepts such as ‘sale’ or ‘XX% off’ with a 22.39 per cent open rate.

December:  What is surprising is that ‘Christmas’ tailed off in December with a fall to just over 13 per cent, when adverse weather and seasonal fatigue may have been factors. The big ‘opener’ in December was email with competitions and prizes in the subject line. A word of warning, however, as subject lines containing words such as ‘congratulations’ and ‘free’ fared less well, with opening rates of just 7.5 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively in December— largely because people associate these terms with spam.

January:  As we’d expect, ‘sales’ feature strongly here, as do ‘competitions’ and as the cost of Christmas begins to sink in, so too does ‘free delivery’.
 

5)     When, where and how to use email and social media to generate responses

We can also improve the efficacy of email marketing by considering where and when customers open their email, whether that be on the move or in the office.

2011 research from mobileSQUARED suggests that come 31st December there will be over 32 million smartphones in the UK, representing a penetration rate of more than 50 percent, and by 2015 they believe this will be 100 percent. This means that half of your customers could be opening their emails whilst they’re on the move in 2012, and if marketing emails aren’t optimised for mobile; your customers are not always getting the message.

The day of the week and time of day that emails are sent have a big effect too. Throughout the Christmas period, mornings generated the best unique open and click rates as customers looked for the best offers available. Evenings came in second and afternoons were the least productive time to send. While no single day emerged as a clear favourite in December and January (perhaps owing to disrupted routines), in November, we saw that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays were the best days to send email.