Can I have your attention please? Yes, you! As marketers, we shout out to customers in an attempt to grab the reader’s attention and get them to engage with, buy from and talk about our brand. Cutting through the clutter is not an easy task and there are several components that have to be in place for your email message to work successfully.

A recent survey revealed that a majority of retailers continue to email subscribers who have been inactive for more than 40 months. Surprisingly, only 46% of retailers have stopped mailing these inactive subscribers.

Marketers shouldn’t be at the mercy of ISPs who try to “protect” their email users from unwanted messages. They should ensure inbox deliverability and subscriber engagement by focusing on compelling communications that recipients will look forward to opening.

“Engagement filtering” looks at historical factors like messages opened, messages deleted without being read and messages responded to in determining what gets delivered to the inbox, and what gets relegated to the junk folder.

The bottom line is, due to spam filtering it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ensure emails are being delivered to inboxes. With so much competition surrounding ecommerce this Christmas, you don’t want to end up missing the boat entirely, therefore, you need to put the right strategy in place in order to engage recipients.

Below are some proven ways to boost your email marketing success during holiday season:

ONE. Everyone appreciates a warm welcome. Welcome programmes are becoming a very important way to engage consumers. 78% of 1,000 consumers reported using them. Of that percentage 46% showed increased revenue as a result. A well-executed welcome introduces a new customer to your brand, gathers critical data about that customer’s interests, and sets the stage for well-targeted messages that stand a much greater chance of being opened.

TWO. Always check your RSVPs. In order to engage your email subscribers, they actually need to be subscribers. If you are one of the few retailers that have a double opt-in email programme, you certainly find that not everyone confirms his or her subscription immediately or at all. Sometimes a simple follow up (one-time – don’t be a pest!) is all you need to increase conversion. If however, you do not leverage double opt-in (as most of you likely do not) then consider the response to your welcome message as an indication of potential long-term interest. If the message isn’t opened and/or clicked, you may consider messaging to the audience differently (both contextually and frequency) until some level of engagement is realised (or not).

THREE. Giving back is good. The Gap’s “Give and Get” programme is a great example of a retailer combining altruism with a great engagement strategy. Subscribers get a nice discount, part of the proceeds from their purchase benefit a non-profit of their choosing, and they are encouraged to share the deal with friends. Especially during the holidays, feel good offers can be big motivators.

FOUR. Don’t forget the party favours! A little incentive can go a long way. When recipients get something in return for their attention, they are more likely to engage with your brand.

FIVE. Out with the old… “do not reply” button, that is. A lot of marketers talk a good game about communication being a two-way street and then send out messages marked “do not reply.” How about trying “we want to hear from you” instead? Encouraging email recipients to provide feedback can improve your inbox delivery — it turns out that ISPs look at replies alongside other filtering metrics!

SIX. Say thank-you. Movie ticket service, Fandango, automatically entered subscribers into a sweepstake as a way to thank them for their business and keep them engaged as they watched for the winning announcement via email. How’s that for a win-win?

Don’t forget…

Have some fun with your email content and design. Keep it appropriate to your audience but allow yourself some creative room to experiment. And continue to test and evolve your templates! Just be sure not to add too many changes to your template at one time. Remember, subscribers continue opening your emails because they know what to expect. Build on that foundation, and you’ll see your email marketing success soar. Oh and have a Merry Christmas.

Kara Trivunovic

Kara Trivunovic


Kara Trivunovic is the Global Director of Strategy for StrongMail.