In our continuing Partner Insights series, we ask several email industry experts to weigh in on a timely topic of concern to email marketers today. This time, we’re focusing on how to keep the holiday rush from being frightful and instead how to make it the most lucrative possible.

Our panelists this month are:

Robin Paschal, Account Director, Brierley & Partners, Inc.

Loren McDonald, VP of Industry Relations, Silverpop Systems, Inc.

FP (FreshPerspectives): Robin, It’s midnight on October 31st. The night of ghouls, ghosts, and ghastly pranks. What can your customers do to ensure their holiday rush is a treat and not a trick?

Robin: Basically to ensure that our customers have a great Holiday Rush, we look to get as many people “in the door” as possible. Where we are looking at using FreshAddress services, we aim to exchange email addresses for direct mail addresses and vice versa. In these ways we can make sure that we are reaching out to people using both channels.

FP: Tell me a bit more about Brierley & Partners.

Robin: We’re a full service agency, and we handle mostly loyalty programs as well as CRM programs.

FP: Robin, what do you have as parting words of wisdom?

Robin: In closing, for ensured holiday success, maximize your list and reach out to people in as many channels as you can.

FP: Loren, let’s talk about holiday rush preparation.

Loren: Well, there are several aspects, and I am sure that you would agree. First off, clean your database and make sure you know who your actives and inactives are.

Basically then you want to proceed with a segmentation strategy through which you treat customers differently based upon past behavior. This should give you a distinct advantage. And really critical during the Holiday Season is the issue of “low hanging fruit”—that of the abandoned shopping cart or the untouched wish list

FP: What would you suggest in terms of timing for a touch strategy for the “low hanging fruit,” in particular the abandoned shopping cart?

Loren: First off, we suggest a touch going out immediately after abandonment, say within several hours. This is a pre-emptive strike against the prospect going to a competitor. Then next a touch either at 24 or 48 hours from the time of abandonment. This would be the same time of night or day when they originally abandoned. Lastly, an email that goes out 3 to 5 days later.

FP: In terms of messaging strategy, what tends to work well with these re-marketing programs targeted to abandonment issues?

Loren: The idea, is to make these emails—which are behavioral—more personal and less promotional. For example, the inclusion of a photograph and a digital signature of the E-Commerce Manager offers a warm, comforting, soothing approach. And initially the verbiage should be of a similar type of a soft sell, gently reminding them that as he or she left an item in a cart, and suggesting perhaps there was a technical problem. Then as series of messages go on, we are more apt to recommend more promotional verbiage. For example, messaging can be driven on basis of inventory availability (e.g., scarcity; maybe X is running low.)

One more thing before we leave abandonment issue, not only do we have cart abandonment, but there is Wish List abandonment, and Browser abandonment. Conversion rate won’t be as high but the volume is considerably higher; thus, they are worth paying attention to.

FP: What are some of the tactical steps that can increase conversion rates on re-engagement campaigns:

Loren: We have had a lot of success with adding in charts about shipping deadlines and costs above the administrative footer/signature field. Seeing how long and how much it’s going to take to get a present from one side of the country to the other can do a great deal in encouraging people not to put off a purchase. It’s a cool way to use email real estate to educate its recipient in order that he/she can make a more informed purchase decision and ultimately push people over the line.

Last tactical thing is mobile. Statistics show that about 1/3 of subscribers are using mobile devices to view emails or browse. I like to say that the “finger is the new mouse” and thus, emails should be designed accordingly. Basically, emails should be made simpler, easier, use larger fonts, and have fewer calls to actions.

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