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‘Tis maybe the season to be jolly, but it’s also the time of the year that requires the most attention for retailers.

To make sure all the hard work pays off, you need to choose channels wisely so they can have the biggest impact for return on investment (ROI). While you might have people in your team that think email is dead, we can help you prove them wrong.

In fact, according to the 2016 Email Industry Census – Key Sector Report, email ROI is not only great for the retail sector, it’s growing. Eighty-two percent of retailers rated it as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in 2016, a 19 percent increase from the previous comparable year and nine percentage points above the industry average.

2016 Sector Census ROI

How can email marketing help you drive sales this holiday season?

1. Welcome, nurture and notify with automation

This time of the year is not just busy for retailers, but many customers find it hectic, too. So be helpful to them to increase brand affinity. Is your welcome program in place and working well to complete the digital handshake with new customers and gift buyers? Making that first contact in a timely fashion creates favorable impressions of your brand which could turn them into a long-term customer. And more important for that goal is to set-up a nurture program that continues the relationship even after the holidays are gone. Lastly, automate all notifications about delivery even past the initial order confirmation to help customers track when their precious gifts arrive.

2. Innovate with behavioral triggers

When asked ‘how they intend to innovate with email in 2016?’, the majority of retailers in our Email Census indicated behavioral triggers as their focus. For example, you could create a special campaign for those customers who have purchased the most from you during the past three months, or those who have been the most engaged with your emails. Or why not use your transactional data to send a triggered email to those who purchased presents from you last year and see whether they would like to do that again? Take it to the next level by suggesting product recommendations that would complement last year’s purchase.


3. Mobile optimized customer journeys, not just emails

Mobile optimization is not a new strategy and certainly not new to retailers as they score above the industry average for its use. However, it’s surprising to see that only 24 percent of retailers score their email marketing as ‘quite’ or ‘very’ optimized for mobile devices. What about the rest of the 76 percent? Those retailers will stand to lose this holiday season as mcommerce is expected to grow. If we look at 2015’s figures, the traffic share was mainly coming from mobile devices with a 63 percent dominance on Black Friday. Even though most sales were still completed on desktops, the figures for mobile are dangerously close and expected to increase this year.

One important thing to note is that the optimisation process shouldn’t end with emails, especially as the goal is to bring customers back to the website to convert clicks to sales. Make sure that your website is responsive to make that customer journey as smooth as possible.