We’d say the holidays are right around the corner… but you know better. According to RetailMeNot, 70% of Prime Day shoppers were already buying gifts in July! While the holiday sales are already here, kicking off a busy season for marketers, Marigold Engage by Sailthru, here to help.

We just presented our 2019 Holiday Readiness webinar to get you prepared for the busiest time of the retail year. If you couldn’t tune in, here’s a breakdown:

Get Ready for Greater Traffic (and Definitely Call Us)

Even though this holiday season will be shorter than average, but there’s still a pace for record-breaking web traffic. Black Friday and Cyber Monday both broke records on mobile and desktop last year. You may even increase your send volume as a result. Just make sure you’re prepared! Share your plans with your Customer Success Manager. From send frequency and audiences to landing pages, they’re a great resource for everything related to strategy and messaging.

For instance, sometimes a campaign is popular — maybe even too popular, causing unplanned site downtime. We now have throttling capabilities for both email and mobile. You can limit mobile push to messages per second, and limit campaign sends to messages per minute. 

Your CSM will almost certainly encourage you to test everything you can, including running lists and promo code imports. You should also pay special attention to new templates and creative. We are your partner in success on the testing front and as such are offering Sailthru customers unlimited access to our Email Client Test feature through the end of the year. Now you can easily make sure your emails look good on every browser.

Perfect Your Personalization

The more customers shop, the more retailers are going to email them. With all the holiday sales, that can result in up to 23% more emails and personalization is crucial for cutting through the noise. Personalize subject lines and use Personalized Send Time to reach your customers when they are most likely to engage with their emails.

Of course, you should also be sure to personalize the content of your email messages. If you’re sending to a new customer whose preferences you don’t know yet, best sellers and trending items are a sure bet, especially as people look for gifts. New to personalization? We’ve launched Easy Personalization in Email Composer that you can now deploy without code!

Up Your Trigger Game — Across Channels

Did you know triggered messages, behavior-based responses to consumer behaviors, account for 77% of email ROI? With Sailthru’s Lifecycle Optimizer, you can combine automation and personalization, sending:

  • Welcome Series: Holiday sales bring on plenty of new shoppers and subscribers. With a strong (read: personalized) welcome series, you can turn November’s new customer into February’s loyalist. Be sure to confirm opt-ins to ensure your sign-ups are valid.
  • Cart Abandonment: The overwhelming majority of online shopping carts are abandoned. Be sure to capture those extra holiday sales with personalized messaging, pre-emptive discounts or strong retargeting where the customer is most likely to engage. Did she abandon in-app? Try catching her attention with a push notification instead of an email.
  • Post-Purchase Messaging: Use this opportunity to thank your customer and show that you appreciate their business. Take it to the next level by asking for a review or social share, including relevant content such as a video on how to use the product, or consider incentivizing the next purchase: all solid strategies for building brand loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases.

With our Email Triggered Overlays, you can personalize the customer journey from email directly to web or mobile. For example, if you include any kind of special announcement or promo code in an email, you can ensure that the same messaging follows the users in a banner when they click into the email and browse on your site..

Diversify Your Discounts

Gone are the days of staking out the Best Buy parking lot at 4 a.m. While the rise of ecommerce allows us to sleep in on Black Friday, that doesn’t mean holiday shoppers don’t still love a good deal. According to RetailMeNot, 62% of retailers are introducing new deals to encourage earlier holiday sales.

No retailer can make their fourth-quarter numbers without a strong discounting strategy. Time-bound discounts create a sense of urgency, while tiered discounts promote larger order values. Whatever strategy you use to boost those holiday sales, we recommend standing out with personalized discounts based on a customer’s purchase history or engagement. In fact, when Sailthru surveyed 1,500 consumers alongside our Retail Personalization Index research, we found that personalized offers is a major indicator of customer satisfaction. And yet, only 20% of retailers include personalized discounts in their abandoned cart messaging.

Make Your Subject Lines Stand Out

Always test subject lines to keep engagement high! Last year, Marigold Engage by Sailthru’s Data Science team analyzed 243 million of the emails we sent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Some of the biggest takeaways:

  • Keep It Short and Sweet: Four-word subject lines had the highest open rates; 18-word subject lines, the lowest.
  • Personalize. Our customers saw a 20% increase in open rates when using their customers’ names or referencing specific products they were (or were predicted to be) interested in.
  • Three Is the Magic Number: Emojis drive open rates, particularly when there are three of them. But not when there are one or two.

Dominate Your Deliverability

The ISPs are always dynamically scoring your stream of mail with a sender reputation, which determines if your mail is delivered to the primary inbox. As your reputation is key to your revenue, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Open Rates by Top Domain: Open rates should be consistent across the top ISPs. If one is significantly lower than the rest, you may have an inboxing issue at that top domain.
  • Bounce Rates: If hard bounces are above 0.5%, check the audience. If soft bounces are are high, there may be a mail block.
  • Overall Open Rates for Changes to Your Norm: Low open rates can show poorer engagement and play an important role in your reputation.
  • Opt-out Rates: You don’t want to sacrifice your loyal year-round list for the holiday season. If opt-out rates rise, take a look at what you are doing and adjust.
  • Complaint Rates: High complaint rates indicate that users do not like what you are sending — either the content or frequency. Monitor complaint rates with each send.
  • Be Careful: While we always encouraging testing, the holiday season isn’t the time to risk impacting your deliverability. Don’t introduce any new (or reactivate any old) lists, remove suppression lists or change your domain name. Exercise caution with new acquisition sources, editing signup and opt-out pages, and changing your sending cadence.

Master Your Mobile

eMarketer projects that 86% of this year’s holiday sales will take place in brick-and-mortar stores, but don’t sleep on smartphones (literally, don’t do that; it could be dangerous). Mobile commerce is perpetually on the rise, projected to grow 25% from last year. And that’s just counting sales and not all the other mobile touches along the customer journey, such as consumers’ habit of researching prices and reading reviews in-store.

Here are some mobile best practices to keep in mind:

  • Think Locally: Send mobile messages in customers’ local time zones for maximum engagement.
  • Promote In-App Purchases: Be the reason mobile commerce is on the rise. Creating transactional templates helps.
  • Update Your SDK: This ensures compatibility with the newest devices.
  • Push Early to the App Store: This avoids delays closer to holiday breaks.
  • Create Engaging Push Notifications: We found that push notifications with emojis have a 25% higher tap through rate, on average.

Did we leave miss anything? Download our 2020 Holiday Playbook for more trends and best practices (or call your Customer Success Manager).