New insight from Experian Marketing Services helps brands prepare for the holiday season

With the holiday season just a few months away, new research from Experian Marketing Services, the recognized leader in data-driven marketing and cloud-based marketing technology, pinpoints five strategies that brands should consider incorporating into their holiday marketing campaigns to help boost program performance. According to the Q2 2016 Email Benchmark Report, marketers should consider the quality of subscriber data obtained during acquisition, social media, creative content, email personalization and retention strategy.

“While the holidays may seem far away, now is the perfect time for marketers to begin preparing for this all-important season,” said Spencer Kollas, vice president of global deliverability for Experian Marketing Services. “By leveraging data from last year’s campaigns, as well as current market trends, brands can create more effective holiday marketing campaigns that increase engagement and improve the customer experience.”

Quality of subscriber data obtained at the point of sale (POS)

Marketers need to take the appropriate steps to improve the quality of the data obtained at the POS, as those subscribers often are highly engaged with the brand. In fact, between April 2015 and March 2016, welcome mailings to POS subscribers had a 32 percent higher click-to-open rate than for subscribers obtained from other sources (23.2 percent for POS compared with 17.5 percent from other sources). To ensure data quality, marketers should invest in real-time email validation technology, train store associates for data collection and have customers verify data in real time.

Social media

Targeting email subscribers based on their interest in social media can lead to high email engagement for brands. For example, welcome emails sent to subscribers who engaged via Facebook had an 11 percent higher click-to-open rate than other welcome emails from the same brand (22 percent for Facebook welcomes compared with 19.9 percent for other welcome emails).

Creative content

Fresh creative ideas that add a sense of urgency are an important strategy for holiday campaigns. During the 2015 holiday season, a number of brands leveraged countdown clocks that helped boost engagement performance. Marketing campaigns that included a dynamic countdown clock had a 41 percent higher click-to-open rate and more than double the transaction rate of other holiday mailings from the same brands.

Email personalization

Personalization can help boost performance of promotional emails. Based on data from April 2015 to March 2016, brands that included personalized subject lines experienced 27 percent higher unique click rates, 11 percent higher click-to-open rates and more than double the transaction rate compared with other promotional mailings.

“Nowadays there is an expectation among consumers that brands create personalized mailings that communicate relevant messages,” added Kollas. “While personalizing emails with a first name can be effective, marketers also should consider populating communications with more granular data points, such as purchase or browse behavior. When personalization is done correctly, marketers can create an improved customer journey.”

Retention strategy

A proper retention strategy can help brands keep holiday-season customers throughout the rest of the year. Brands that sent “thank you for your purchase” mailings saw twice the open and click rates, as well as five times the transaction rate, compared with promotional mailings. Additionally, promotional campaigns that included “our way of saying thanks” experienced two and a half times the transaction rate of other promotional mailings.

Email benchmarking trends

Findings from the Q2 2016 Email Benchmark Report also highlight overall email marketing trends during the quarter. According to the analysis, email volume rose by 17.1 percent from a year ago. Diving a bit deeper, two-thirds of consumer products and services and 86 percent of media and entertainment brands showed year-over-year gains in email volume.

Other findings:

Despite the increase in email volume during the quarter, open and transaction rates remained steady from a year ago
Year-over-year unique click rates declined from 2 percent to 1.8 percent, while the actual number of clicks received in the quarter rose by 7 percent
Quarter-to-quarter email volume remained the same for Q2 compared with Q1 2016, but revenue per email rose from 6 cents to 7 cents in Q2