One of the most important things you can do for your holiday email plan has nothing to do with creative, calls to action, send times, segmentation or targeting. It’s making sure your email is a significant factor in your company’s brand strategy and not the afterthought or last resort.
This means you are the advocate for email marketing. You have to insert yourself into strategy sessions and brand conversations, to claim a seat at the table instead of finding yourself walking into a meeting and being told “just send another email.”
Your job is to help your coworkers – the merchandisers, brand managers, finance people, other marketing teams and your C-level execs – understand that email is a distinct channel with unique capabilities.
Other channels like web and social, can’t do what email does, which is to establish and capitalize on a 1:1 identifiable relationship with each customer in ways that are relevant and valued, not creepy or annoying.
Face it: Nobody knows or cares about email as much as you and your team, so it’s up to you to show email off to its best advantage and help everyone else at the table see the depths and possibilities.
These five strategies can help you elevate email’s role in driving revenues and building customer engagement:
Remind people that email is a rich medium if you have complete data on your customers.
Whether you’re looking at personalization, product recommendations and selections within the email, to choosing the best time to send a message, the more data you have, the more informed your email is.
Remember this: Smarter email – messages that show your recipients you recognize them as individuals, not just part of a faceless customer mass – perform better.
Show what cool stuff your email could do if you had richer and more complex data. Persuade them to go beyond the surface look and feel, and go deeper into all the potentials.
Don’t let email get lumped in with other channels.
Do your best to avoid a comparison with direct email. Yes, your email messages need to reflect elements of the brand strategy, but it can’t look like anything else. A lot of executives think email is just an electronic version of a catalog or print ad. Show them everything your email can do besides sell things.
Establish yourself as the email authority.
Now’s the time to call on all your years of experience so you can lay out what works and what doesn’t. You have to be able to show that what works in search or social marketing, might not fly in email.
Show up with two essential elements:
- Examples of the best emails you’ve ever done. Be able to explain why they worked.
- Know them backwards and forwards so that if someone asks for them, you have them right at your fingertips.
These will give you the confidence to stand up for your channel and protect it from people who would co-opt and misuse it. As good as email can be, in the wrong hands it can do a lot of damage. You have your own revenue goals to meet, and you can’t afford a bad holiday season.
Jump on opportunities to help email support the brand strategy.
In any brand planning, something gets overlooked. Between now and Black Friday, look for a gap and volunteer an email solution. Maybe you could add a transactional or triggered email, or come up with a message that adds revenue or touch points, brings back shoppers or increases trust.
Your email strategy has to incorporate the brand visions, but you can also adapt the brand strategy to show how email can support it. That will make your team members look at you and say, “You really know what you’re doing!”
Get your own email house in order.
Every brand strategy has legacy emails and systems that need to be updated. One of the worst things to happen is to have one of your C-level execs get hold of an email that’s off-brand.
Check and recheck your automated systems to be sure they work and have been updated to reflect current strategies. You want no surprises – zip, zero, nada, nothing – once the holiday machinery starts to churn.
Be sure all of your triggered emails and transactional emails work and reflect updated creative, such as copy, images, branding. Do a test opt-in, purchase, account creation or whatever is crucial to your strategy to be sure everything works as expected and they’re collecting and integrating the data you need.
Naturally, no matter how carefully you plan, test, proof or supervise, something’s going to go wrong. Have a backup strategy ready to go if an email misfires, the website crashes or something else goes haywire. They’re better – and more effective – than a big bottle of aspirin or a fifth of Southern Comfort. Trust me on this.