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4 ways to ace holiday email marketing during COVID-19

4 ways to ace holiday email marketing during COVID-19

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Lauren Ross

The busiest time in the email marketing calendar is almost upon us: Q4, complete with American Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and a daily flood of emails until the end of the year.  This year, we’re expecting a busier fourth quarter than ever—not only because more people are shopping from home in the age of COVID-19, but because email open rates have risen steadily since the onset of the pandemic.

How can we, as email marketers, approach this new normal during the height of our work year? Well, we start with these four ways to appeal to seasoned recipients, face down fresh challenges, and maintain both technical and content-related best practices.

  1. Create positive vibes 😄

    These are difficult times for everyone, so acknowledge what your customers may be feeling and the new routines they may have adopted. Virtual gatherings, for example, may put a new twist on traditional holidays.

    Of course, the key is to demonstrate how your products or services can fit in with these adjusted occasions. Many businesses have modified their services to accommodate the new normal, and are now using email to inform recipients about the modifications—and, just as importantly, explain how they’ll benefit.

  2. Stand out from the crowd 👋

    Consumers will very soon be flooded with marketing emails. But volume alone is not the only consideration here. Remember that the vast majority of these emails will be promoting specific online offers. That’s what you’re up against.

    73% of holiday shoppers will purchase primarily online this holiday (Netimperative/Rakuten)

    So, with the competition steadily increasing its rate of fire—and refining its targeting—how do you give your emails a fighting chance of even being opened in the first place?

    1. Remember that subject lines that are personal and specifically call out offers are more likely to be opened.
    2. Place the most interesting offer above the fold so it’s clearly viewed in the preview window.
    3. Use the power of triggered emails and journeys to best engage each recipient.
  3. Stress the safety of local store shopping 🛒

    Even though online shopping will dominate this season, it’s likely that people will still make at least some in-person visits to their local stores. With that in mind, craft emails that emphasise safety precautions, give detailed opening hours, and describe special services being provided during this high-traffic holiday season. On each store email, include:

    • Store restrictions (mask-wearing, limited capacity, and anything someone may need to do to prepare for a visit to the store)
    • Special services (curbside pickup, delivery, appointments for services)
    • Modified store hours (senior shopping hours, extended or reduced hours)
  4. Appeal to smaller budgets 💰

    This holiday season is likely to see cautious consumers rein in their spending—or at least be more circumspect about their purchases. So, take every opportunity to showcase deals and sales, starting with subject lines that concisely describe your headline offer(s).

    46% of consumers are more interested in deals, coupons, or promotions now than before COVID-19.

    Email design should also allow for coupon codes to be easily copied, with particular attention paid to mobile layout and accessibility. After all, a recipient that finds themselves unable to copy a coupon code won’t be able to use it, and will likely become frustrated and less likely to engage with future campaigns.

    Stress value in email content and copy. With 50% of consumer families having someone concerned about a job—and more than a third of them having already experienced some loss of income—let your recipients know how your products and services will enhance their lives, go easy on their budgets, and fit into their adjusted lifestyles during these trying times.

Look to a brighter 2021

While people may be staying local, socially distanced, and sometimes locked down, we’re collectively looking forward to life returning to normal in 2021. Lay the groundwork with content that speaks to the future, such as being able to return to travel, social functions, and entertainment venues. What will people need to get ready to get back into the swing of things, and how can you help them achieve it?

As always, we’re here to help you crystallise good ideas into great ones—and make meaningful connections with your customers even during the most challenging times.


Lauren Ross
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