When it comes to maximizing holiday sales from your email and SMS marketing programs, discovering the nuances of the season can help brands squeeze as much eggnog out of … whatever eggnog comes out of. With all of the data out there, uncovering the lesser-known can feel overwhelming to downright impossible.
Here are four nuanced tips to help you prepare your email and SMS marketing for the long, drawn-out holiday shopping season:
1. Don’t wait until November.
Holiday sales, as they have for years, start early. Target began its “Circle Week” on Oct. 1, and Amazon.com's Prime Big Deals Days start on Oct. 10. Consider this second date to be the unofficial official start of the holiday shopping season.
Marketing should start no later than mid-October, and by Nov. 1 brands should be significantly ramping up their marketing. Last year, according to Adobe, Friday, Nov. 11 was the last time daily online sales dropped below $3 billion until Dec. 16 ($2.8 billion). That corresponding day this year is Nov. 12. This is when the full-court press should go into effect.
Because holiday deals begin earlier, the reliance on standalone days like Black Friday take a back seat to extended periods like Black Friday Week. These sales should begin on Nov. 18 or 19.
Dec. 1-23 should encompass a sense of urgency to appeal to procrastinators, clear out excess inventory, and promote gift card sales. Dec. 25 through Jan. 1 should be your final holiday push as consumers resume their shopping. In fact, Dec. 26 recorded the second most email-related orders in all of December 2022.
2. Send on weekends.
During last year’s holiday season, the majority of the lower-order days for email and SMS fell on Saturdays and Sundays. But that doesn’t mean they were poor shopping days. Remember, no day between Nov. 12 and Dec. 15 had online sales under $3 billion, weekends included.
While orders tend to be lower on those weekend days so too did email and SMS sends. Fridays may perform better, but look at the rest of the weekend as a prime opportunity for your messages to more easily stand out and capture shoppers’ attention.
However, if you’d rather focus on the best email order days, nine of the 10 best days in 2022 fell in November, with Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day, and Cyber Monday commanding the top three spots.
3. Lean into SMS marketing.
SMS growth is a multiyear trend. In the first half of 2023, brands sent 48 percent more SMS marketing messages than over the same period in 2022. As SMS adoption continues to increase, brands should expect it to be a significant sales channel this holiday season and beyond.
Last year, more than 1 million SMS messages were sent on Thanksgiving Day and nearly 3 million were sent on Black Friday — two of the biggest shopping days of the year. These numbers will be even higher this year.
In looking at SMS-generated orders, the eight highest days of the season all fell in November. Brands should lean into SMS for ongoing sales campaigns, retargeting shoppers, and breaking through inbox congestion on high-volume days.
4. Use automation for retargeting.
In the first half of 2023, behavior-based automated emails generated 47 percent of all email orders and only 2.6 percent of message sends. The performance is just as strong during the holidays.
In 2022, in the first 14 days of November, sends of cart, product and browse abandonment emails all increased by over 50 percent and orders increased by at least 60 percent. Conversion rates of those emails were all 70 percent or more better than scheduled campaign emails.
Using both email and SMS automation for high shopping intent messages such as a welcome, browse abandonment, and cart abandonment series should be considered a must for brands. Not only can these messages recapture lost sales, but do so at a lower cost than traditional paid retargeting channels.
If well prepared, a longer holiday season means more time to increase sales. E-commerce merchants who want to maximize their profit this holiday season can use email and SMS marketing in a smart, calculated way to achieve just that.
Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the senior e-commerce expert at Omnisend, the all-in-one e-commerce marketing automation platform.
Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the Director of Content at Omnisend. With 15-plus years of experience in email, mobile, and social media marketing, he’s helped over 100 DTC companies around the world, including numerous from the Internet Retailer Top 1000, maximize sales through their email marketing programs. Zakowicz is a frequent speaker at ecommerce events, often shares his ecommerce insights across various industry media outlets, has been retained as an ecommerce expert witness for trial, and is the host of Omnisend’s Cart Insiders Podcast.