Do you have a lonely unmatched sock (or five) that’s been sitting in your drawer for an embarrassingly long period of time? If so, today’s the perfect day to search for their missing companions. Yep, today is Lost Sock Memorial Day.
It’s also National Train Day, and National Chicken Dance Day is coming up on May 14. If you miss any of these holidays, you have all the rest of May to celebrate National Barbecue Month. Could any of these give you a new and interesting hook for your next email campaign?
Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother’s Day, Halloween — each of these holidays and "special" days occupies a prime spot in many retail marketers' email calendars. You might even have begun planning out your Black Friday strategies by now.
But what do you do for inspiration the rest of the year when you need a campaign theme or a fresh approach to snare your customers’ attention? One idea is to look to "second tier" holidays or the thousands of specially declared days, weeks or months that honor people, movements, ideas or historical events, such as Earth Day, National Bike Week or National Escargot Day (May 24).
These lesser-known holidays and special days can help you inject personality into your emails, thus making them stand out in the inbox, but they can do much more. They also can increase near- and longer-term engagement and deliver significant revenue.
Have Some Pi and Buy Green
I found a couple of creative examples in my own inbox. A King Arthur Flour email focused on March 14, Pi Day (you know, 3/14), featured an offer of $3.14 shipping on orders totaling $31.41 or more.
ZAGG, the mobile-accessory retailer, found a new twist on the St. Patrick's theme. It ditched the clichéd "Savin' o' the Green" approach, instead offering a discount on any green product in its inventory. Nary a leprechaun in sight.
I absolutely loved these two emails and wanted to learn more, so I quizzed the marketers who worked on the campaigns about what inspired their ideas, how they created and launched the campaigns, and whether they paid off in the end. (Spoiler alert: They did!)
Each marketer shares details from her campaign below:
1) "Pi(e) Day" Campaign, King Arthur Flour, Tracy Taylor:
Background: "We have done several one-day, 'it's-a-cool-date-on-the-calendar' emails, such as a '12/12/12' campaign for 12¢ shipping on a $12 order. Those promotions were last-minute add-ins and have earned the nickname 'spikers' because we see huge spikes in sales during the promo day. "
Creation process: "The Pi(e) Day email idea came from one person, and the rest of the team jumped on board. We did have a little more planning time with Pi(e) Day than other spikers.
Like all our email creative, we handed the idea over to our Web designer, who designs all our emails, and he came up with the cool animation idea for the email."
Back-end support: "The setup of the promo was extremely easy – not any different than previous discounted shipping offers.”
We gave the heads-up to our warehouse and call center teams. The supervisors of those teams scheduled extra support during that time."
Email deployment: "We planned this promotion to run 36 hours. The first email was sent at noon on March 13 – the day before Pi(e) Day. This was sent to our full marketing list.
The 'last chance' second email was sent the morning of March 14 to our most active email customers. We have found that the last-chance email brings our biggest sales. Seems to be that sense of urgency.
Like most of our 'spikers,' we announced an email-only special coming up via Facebook: 'If you don’t receive our email, you may want to sign up ...'"
Results: "The Pi(e) Day promotion was our highest revenue-generating promotion so far this calendar year, about 19 percent higher than our second-highest."
2) "St. Patrick's Day 20% Off Everything Green" Campaign, ZAGG, Jessica Andreasen:
Background: "When I came up with the St. Patrick's Day promo, I was trying to think of a fun promotion – something different from anything we had done before.
I also wanted to push some products that not all of our customers are aware of. For example, we put iFrogz products on ZAGG.com, and not all ZAGG customers are aware of what iFrogz has to offer." (Editor's note: iFrogz is a brand of smartphone cases and products that ZAGG acquired in 2011.)
I looked to see how many green products we could offer and confirmed that we had enough SKUs and enough inventory for it to be a potentially successful promotion."
Creation process: "The development process was actually relatively easier than most of our promotions. Our design team designed and built the landing page, and our development team added the SKUs to the page and discounted them in our system."
Email deployment: "We didn't test anything new on this promotion, other than the promotion itself.
We sent an email on March 4 with the idea that people would get their green accessories — cases, earbuds, etc. — in time for St. Patrick's Day. We sent a second email on March 8 to those who didn't open the first email. These follow-up emails are successful for us, and we send them with almost every campaign we do.
We also had a banner on our home page and promoted it through some of our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter)."
Results: "We didn't see a huge increase in revenue over our regular emails, because we included many lower-priced items in this promotion, but we did see that several of the products were selling as much as 10 times as many as they had been previously.
Also, quantity sold has increased since the promotion. That is, we’re selling some products two to four times more than before the promotion.
Conversion rates from the home page banner were on the higher end, but not significantly higher than others we've done. We also saw an average response from our social media efforts compared to other promotions. While this isn't an exciting clear winner, it proved that these types of promotions are of as much interest to our subscribers as our others."
Holiday Search Sources
Ready to get started? The Internet is your best friend, because you can search out calendars of major, minor and offbeat holidays, historical anniversaries and official days, weeks, months and years.
Below is a short list of websites that catalog all the events and observances happening on a particular day. Better get going, because Pack Rat Day (May 17) is right around the corner.
One caveat: If your customer base ranges across international boundaries, look for events that most of your customers will understand. Pi Day = universal. National Hoagie Day (May 5)? Not so much.
Have you tried an offbeat holiday promotion that worked well? Let me know about it in the comments below.
1) Blog: “5 Common Holiday Email Mistakes – and How to Overcome Them”
2) Ebook: “Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Email Marketing”
3) Blog: “Why Humanizing Content Is Important”