beyond_holidays

How was your inbox on Thanksgiving? How about on Black Friday? A little more crowded than usual? Now how many of those emails were from brands that you rarely hear from? Okay, hold that thought.

One estimate predicted 25.6 million people would be out shopping for deals on Thanksgiving and another 95.5 million people would shop on Black Friday in the U.S. Given that the population of the U.S. is about 320 million, that’s a significant percentage.

But if such a huge percentage of people are willing to shop on these two days, wouldn’t it make sense to convert some of these annual shoppers into perennial ones?

What if you could turn a holiday email success into a year round one? Think long term, like the holidays are not the only time you can market to people, and maybe what you could do is to work hard to engage them so they want to keep hearing from you beyond the holidays.

With that in mind, here are three ways you might tweak your holiday email marketing, to try and extend that email program beyond a deluge in December to a drip that’s welcome all year round:

  • Give them a reason to buy in January: When they buy during the holidays, send a confirmation email with a coupon that can be redeemed in January, post holiday. Then in January, send a reminder email that they have a coupon yet to use. I am less likely to be buying for me during the holiday season, but might very well want to spend some money on myself after the season is over. Maybe there’s something that didn’t show up under the Christmas tree that I really wanted. And maybe that January discount is how I’m going to justify buying something for moi.
  • Give them a breather? Stop sending emails if they buy from you during the holiday season, and start again after the New Year. You might even word your confirmation email to say, “To show you our appreciation for your patronage, we’re going to stop emailing you until the holiday season is over. We know you have a lot of emails already headed your way from other businesses. So we’ll disappear from your inbox for now, and see you again in the New Year!” I know, this one is extreme example but it’s test-worthy, no?
  • Think long-term all the time: If you want to keep a customer buying beyond the holidays, it’s not rocket science. It just takes one little thing—a thing that many brands still fail to do. All you have to do is be customer-centric and engaging. Yes, that’s all. Instead of thinking, “Hey, they bought something from us, let’s keep emailing them through January and beyond, and see if they buy again!” you think, “Hey, they bought something from us! Let’s turn that into a relationship with this customer! What are ways we can use email to serve the customer, engage them, and earn their loyalty?”

Sure, a lot of what I am suggesting is email marketing blasphemy given the heavy duty email schedules many retailers, including many of our clients, engage in during this time of year. But isn’t a totally different way to thinking the only way to really differentiate yourself at the inbox? Hmmm.

About the Critic: Scott Hardigree is Founder of Email Industries (The folks behind IndiemarkBlackBox and FormSwell). Connect him everywhere, here.