[20] Holiday Planning Starts NOW - Tips To Get Your Emails Ready For B – Email Growth Society

[20] Holiday Planning Starts NOW - Tips To Get Your Emails Ready For Black Friday And Cyber Monday


Think you have a ton of time ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Think again. It's in less than 125 days. There is a ton of work that needs to be done to make your email stand out - and make you the big bucks!

In this episode, I outline your pre-planning playbook so that you can build a WINNERS LOG of best-performing email elements. 

Have questions? Send them my way at conversations@emailgrowthsociety.com


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Holiday Planning Starts NOW - Tips To Get Your Emails Ready For Black Friday And Cyber Monday

It is officially July 26, 2021. We are going to start thinking about how to knock your Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails out of the park. You're likely saying to yourself, “Amy, I have so much time still. Why would I be doing this right now?” The thing is, you do not have a ton of time. You see, when the actual email planning begins somewhere in mid-October 2021, where you're looking to execute on this strategy, you better have your playbook ready. Also, your best templates, subject line, formulas, days, times to send. The list goes on. You simply cannot be figuring it out during that time.

After all, eCommerce reports say that $270 billion was spent online around the world during Cyber Week, the week leading up to and including Cyber Monday in 2020. It was $61 billion in the US, so this could be the big week of the year for your company. Let's start with the reality. You do not already know what is best. Unless you have done testing in the last days that resulted in statistical significance, all that you know is a hunch. If you're saying to yourself, “It's best to send emails at 8:00 AM. I find when I send a sale, it's best to do it at 8:00 AM. I know this template works because I've only used this template from the beginning of time.”

You are only capable of making hunches and those will not be good enough when your company's revenue depends on it. We also can't say, “Here's what worked in 2020 and I'm going to do the same thing again.” 2020 was a different year than 2021. Things have changed. Your users and list are different and how they respond to your email likely is as well. Fun fact, email testing should be conducted about every quarter to validate. They can certainly change.

We are seeing later and later times for the best opens. Who would have thought that? In January 2021, 6:00 PM was the key time and we're starting to see open rates at 9:00 PM, 10:00 PM, 11:00 PM. In this episode, we're going to chat about what you need to be doing in August 2021 and September 2021 to build your winners’ log.

Your winners’ log is simply all of the best parts that you know are going to work when the big day comes. They're the things you need to know. Let's talk about the proper work that you need to be doing. First, it's time to start your email strategy at least by August 1st, 2021. It is time to marry up what the product sales are going to look like coming to life via promotions. One thing to consider is supply chain issues are real. Thanks, COVID.

Have a backup plan if that doesn't pan out in case your stock doesn't come in on time. You don't want to have your whole email strategy hinging on a set product when you run into supply chain issues. Once you start to understand what the sales look like and how you may start to communicate what is new, unique or noteworthy, begin plugging these campaigns or topics into your email content calendar. You can also get your campaign briefs in advance if you want.

After this next step, you could apply those learnings to your campaign briefs. The second thing and the most important thing you need to be doing is testing. Know, don't guess. To understand how our email strategy may come to life, we need to begin testing starting in August 2021. If you have done some testing, great, but it's time to validate those tests.

CWEG 20 | Holiday Planning


Remember, statistical significance is important and it takes a pretty large sample size, ideally 10,000 per test. Not everyone has those types of lists, which means that you may have to validate the test again to fully understand a clear winner. For instance, if you're doing time of day testing on a Monday, you may have to run it one more time the following Monday to marry up the results because you don't have the large list. Also remember, do not just rely on what your ESP is telling you. Make sure you're looking at this with a critical eye and even perhaps using a statistical significance calculator to make sure that your data is panning out.

Sometimes the ESPs are built in to look at this objectively and say, “6:00 PM, one.” Remember, you're looking for that variable of change. In order of importance, here are the tests you should be running. For your open rates and open rates alone, time of day across all days of the week. Black Friday and Cyber Monday do not have flexibility in the day of the week. Understanding the best time to send is key for these two, but you will also be sending other key holiday messages on other days of the week and doing some resets.

To understand your best open rate opportunity, make sure you conduct a morning, afternoon and evening test on every single day of the week, Saturday and Sunday included. Typically, 9:00 AM, 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM are good starts. If your test comes back and let's say 6:00 PM is the winner, test it again but test 6:00 PM against a later time like 9:00 PM. This will then help you understand if there is an exact time or if there is a good window.

Remember, this is only going to affect your open rates. To get our sales, we need people to open first. Remember, you're looking at the open rate to decide on a winner looking for statistical significance. Another open rate would be subject line formulas. When I say this, I'm not talking about the actual words. I'm talking about the formulas you can use to lift your opens, things like fear of missing out and being direct.

Sometimes subject lines are super boring because we get right to the point and that can work well. Things like asking a question, using an emoji, and front-loading the offer include starting the subject line with the offer or backloading the offer and putting it at the end. Things like this are not always about the words that we choose, but it's more applied formula. If you test these formulas, you can start to understand which one moves the needle more with your audience and then you can worry about what the words themselves will be.

Another one you need to start thinking about as it relates to increasing your clicks is template elements. It's important to start experimenting with the template elements like adding a navbar or not to the top of your hero image. Sometimes our emails have a logo at the top and offer that navigation bar. If you're a retail store, it might be tops, bottoms, underwear and sale.

You need to understand, does the navbar at the top itself help increase clicks? There have been times in the past when we have tested this and seen the nav email win, but it has nothing to do with the navbar. If you see that, you have to retest it. That's a perfect way to validate your test. You are looking to say, “Does this navbar cause more people to click because they move right to tops?” The navbar serves as its call to action.

Giving consumers ideas takes some of the mental load off their plate. It delivers value that isn't necessarily monetary.

Another good test is adding a headline and CTA into your hero image so it's all above the fold for a glance and take action approach. We find in some situations that sometimes a more lifestyle-based hero image draws people in and we have the headline, some copy and the CTA message. A lot of times, when we're in these urgent holiday types of situations, we want to have anything I need to know in that first hero section. You're going to want to not assume that works. It doesn't always work, especially if you're a lifestyle brand. It doesn't always work, so you need to test it out.

Another one that's often missed a lot is the CTA button color. We tend to always make our button colors the same as our website. When we start to explore the color palette, we find that certain colors work better than others and you need to know what those are, especially for those key emails that are going to drive sales.

Speaking of CTA, you also need to test your CTA button text. Does your audience like it when you are direct or creative with your CTA text? Does Shop Now work better than Save Now? These things are good to know. I know a couple of our clients that instead of Shop Now, their customers have fun ones like Use My Code or Grab the Tips. At the end of the day, Shop Now or telling them directly what to do may work best so you need to know.

Lastly, with testing, look to see if you create a template that's got more text in it versus more images, which one pans out for the clicks. This is a big one, especially since some of the ISPs block images. If we assume that we're going to have our entire email be one giant image, we've probably lost some clicks if that image doesn't render. It's important to then compare it against one that might have a few images in it and it has some live text because then you can see what the click percentages look comparatively and it's important going forward. If you can tackle these ahead of holiday time, you are going to be in great shape.

The next one is to strategize the gifting side. Deals are amazing. They incentivize your consumers to purchase, but not every brand has the margins for deep discounts, and not every consumer will be receptive to that. How else can you deliver value? The answer is gifting. There are two ways you can go about this and you need to start thinking of this. First, gift guides. I love gift guides. They stand out in these holiday time emails because you don't use them at all during the year so they're great.

Giving consumers ideas takes some of the mental load off their plate. It delivers value that isn't necessarily monetary. However, everyone is looking for gift ideas around this time, so some subscribers will already know what they want to buy for their special someone, but what about the ten other people on their list that they have no clue what to buy? This is where your gift guide will be very popular.

Next is giving. Some subscribers will already know what they want to buy for their special someone but if we capitalize on the interest by launching a giving campaign, we can either donate a certain percentage of profits over the holiday season or match any donations from your subscribers. You can do a giving campaign whether somebody is coming to your site to buy for their special someone. They can also participate in that feeling of donation. It's that season of giving and that's always a good thing for your brand and a nice component to the holiday time.

CWEG 20 | Holiday Planning


It’s another great way of still drumming up some traction but not necessarily pushing a discount. This is a huge bonus if you use a preference center and identify your gifters ahead of time. That would be amazing. All year-round, you're probably getting folks coming in and buying things for their partner's birthday or a special day of the year.

Using that preference center is a great way to help them self-select as your gifters. That way, when we go into this holiday time, we can position our gifts guides and maybe our giving campaigns a little bit more towards that particular segment. It takes some of the guesswork out of it and allows you not to have to maybe mass blast. You can be very strategic with the gift guide.

Last, think about how you may reduce friction with your offer within your email. This one does need some thought ahead of time. Whichever offer you end up landing on, you need to lead with it. Don't bury it under the pre-header or below the scroll. Put it in front and center. Shout it from the rooftops. Sometimes when we try to be too creative with our campaigns, we forget about the user experience.

One thing you're going to want to start to think about is if you're doing the gift guide, where is it going to go to where it stands out on its own? If you've got the twelve days of Christmas or whatever you're doing, where does the offer need to be to where it's explicit, your user understands and there's none of this unnecessary friction? Make your offer visible and easy to take advantage of. For example, entering a coupon code at checkout creates an extra step for the consumer. It slows down the process. You can put items on sale, so they are automatically discounted at checkout or auto-apply the coupon code and the cart. You've made it easy to take advantage of the offer. That’s another great one as far as user experience goes.

I usually tend to try not to use the codes all the time because they are an extra step. You're busy but being able to slowly plan leading up to the holidays is important. When November 2021 sneaks up on you because you know it well, you'll have a plan ready to put in action and you will, in turn, have so much more control over the results. As always, drop me a note at Conversations@EmailGrowthSociety.com if you have any questions at all. Happy emailing, everyone.

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