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Guest Blog: Windsor Circle on 3 Holiday Marketing Tips to Boost Revenue

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by: Will Schnabel (@wschnabel)
15 November 2012

It’s that time of year, when the holidays start to sneak up on us. This month, we’re happy to have Brad McGinity, VP of sales and marketing for Silverpop partner Windsor Circle, providing us with three tips to maximize marketing efforts this time of year – it’s not too late!

[caption id="attachment_5345" align="alignright" width="125" caption="Brad McGinity, VP of sales and marketing, Windsor Circle"][/caption]

November is here! That means Christmas is just a few short weeks away, and Cyber Monday (the biggest online sales day of the year) is even sooner, but you’re not worried, right?

If you said “yes,” congratulations! If not, you have company. Regardless, you should benefit from these three holiday marketing tips, culled from both our experiences with clients and data compiled from the 2011 holiday season. These tactics are geared toward helping you acquire more customers and then retain them come January.

1) Offer free shipping in some capacity.
In 2010, 50 percent of merchants offered free shipping. In 2011, that jumped to 56 percent, according to ComScore. I expect that upward trend to continue in 2012. Unfortunately, this means that free shipping is no longer a differentiator. These days, it’s more like table stakes, and you have to pay to play. Fortunately, there are still a few ways you can use free shipping to your advantage:

  • Boost conversions: ComScore reports that 50 percent of shoppers abandoned their cart when free shipping was not offered. This means free shipping should increase your cart conversion rate.
  • Recover abandoned carts: If you’re not going to offer free shipping initially, consider sending a triggered cart abandonment message (or series of messages) and including free shipping as an incentive.
  • Drive average order value: Consumers spent 18 percent more when offered free shipping. The average cart without free shipping was $100, and $118 with it. This $18 should cover your shipping cost.

2) Schedule emails early in the week.
If you look at the full 2011 calendar year, the top 10 days for online spending by consumers happened from Nov. 28 (Cyber Monday) through Dec. 16 (Free Shipping Day). The three biggest days were Mondays (Nov. 28, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12). Three of the next four were Tuesdays (Nov. 29, Dec. 6, Dec. 13).

My hypothesis is that Mondays and Tuesdays are so popular because people “showroom” on the weekend, then come back to the office on Monday and Tuesday to look for the best deal online. Regardless of the cause, this should impact how you schedule emails. Sunday evening and Monday/Tuesday before lunch become critical times to deploy email marketing campaigns, social posts, and PPC dollars. Also, ensure you have adequate staffing for your customer support line.

3) Use an automated welcome series to retain holiday buyers.
As you increase marketing spend and acquire new customers, set up an automated “New Customer Welcome Series” designed to retain them in 2013. We consistently see this generate an uptick in conversion rates and a decrease in list churn.

During the holidays, it’s more likely that the average consumer’s inbox will become overrun with promotional mail, so delay your welcome series and alter the content to reflect back on the holiday season. Our clients generally send a three-part welcome series:

  • A “Welcome to [Company]” email is sent five days after someone's first order. It offers 10 percent off the next purchase and simply says "thanks" for the customer's business. For your post-holiday campaign, include copy along the lines of, “We hope you had a great holiday with friends and family, and the New Year is off with a bang!”
  • An "About [Company]" message follows 10 days after the first purchase and shares some of the things that make the company a great place to shop. Talk about your return policy, shipping rates, customer service, and special features of your website like a "Wish List." Also, remind the customer of the “10% Off” coupon previously provided.
  • "Hot Items" are shared in the final email of the series 17 days after the first purchase. The campaign reminds the customer of the coupon and features two items (one expensive, one inexpensive) that are popular with customers.

For the post-holidays welcome series, instead of timing all the emails to go out “X” number of days after the purchase, schedule them to start on Monday, Jan. 7. You’ve invested a lot to acquire these new customers, so make sure they get a little TLC, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Windsor Circle helps retail marketers Connect, Analyze and Act. Connect your digital marketing solution, your eCommerce or Shopping Cart platforms, and Google Analytics for a more comprehensive view of your customers. Analyze customer behavior with more than 70 charts and graphs to identify customer trends and marketing opportunities. Act on your insights through targeted customer segments and automate lifecycle marketing campaigns. Visit Windsor Circle to learn more.

Related Resources:
1) Tip Sheet: "8 New Twists on Holiday Marketing Traditions to Help Drive Revenue"
2) Slideshare: "Aloha: Welcome Email & Unsubscribe Best Practices"
3) White Paper: "How to Turn Cart and Process Abandonment Scenarios into Revenue"

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