“It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it.” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Christmas is two months away, but already we see signs of the holidays everywhere.
If you open your local newspaper there will be fliers and postcards that fall all over the floor. Turn on the TV and you’ll see commercials promoting new toys and holiday deals. If you go online you’ll already start to see ads and emails for holiday shopping.
Man. We still have Halloween and Thanksgiving to get through.
It looks like the annual holiday creep is upon us. Every year the holidays start earlier and earlier and it can be frustrating as a business (and rewarding) because it’s a non-stop fight for attention in the inbox.
Let’s look at the history of holiday shopping. With understanding about why people shop so early for holiday gifts and how businesses react to those shopping habits we’ll be better prepared for holiday email marketing strategies.
The Psychology of Holiday Shopping
Shopping is an emotional experience.
People are emotional creatures. We live by our emotions for better or for worse. It is difficult to make every decision with a sound, reasonable mind. I’m sure some people can, but they probably don’t have any excitement in their lives.
We need emotions to make life interesting. This is why we love the holidays and why we love holiday shopping. It’s an emotional time and people feed off it.
People tend to spend their money more wisely when they are of sound mind. During the holidays, though, people are not of sound mind at least in some aspects.
For example, would you purchase red wagon for your child or grandchild on a random day in July? Most likely you would not. Your sound mind will think of reasons not to purchase the wagon.
The child already has enough toys.
The child will lose interest after a few minutes.
Wagons are expensive these days.
Now, change the setting of the wagon purchase decision to November from July. Now you have different feelings happening and your mind is distracted. You are seeing commercials on TV of parents and their kids playing in the yard. There are print images in store windows and TV shows are airing holiday specials.
Your brain focuses on good memories from your childhood like the time you received a red wagon for Christmas from Santa.
How can you put a price on that kind of memory?
“Here’s $100. I’ll take one red wagon please.”
For the last 100 years or so the business world has put the marketing machine into full force during the holiday season. Businesses realize that people are emotional and since the holidays are an emotional time it makes sense for businesses to bring out those emotions. It clouds our minds and makes us more apt to make purchases.
Business Reaction to Holiday Shopping
Every year businesses try to extend the holiday shopping season.
The Holiday Creep.
Why do businesses do this?
The longer The Holiday Creep lasts the better chance there is to close a sale. There is a balancing act going on with how much businesses can push the emotional state of the holidays onto people without the effect wearing out.
Businesses push the holiday season out earlier. This is the normal way to increase Holiday Creep. People get in the mood sooner for Christmas. They’ll put out decorations earlier and will start buying seasonal food earlier. It all adds up for businesses.
Urgency is another way businesses cash in every holiday.
We all think about the people that procrastinate every year. These people wait until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. Some businesses will take advantage of these folks toward the end of the season by putting a premium on last minute items and shipping charges.
There is also urgency in the other direction. Businesses are putting pressure on people to purchase items sooner rather than later. The idea is that the popular gifts might run out soon so it’s safer to make the purchase now.
With this going on it can be difficult to understand how your business can manage the entire holiday process. Here are three tips.
How to Create a Holiday Email Marketing Strategy
Tip #1: It’s okay to focus on the emotions of your customer. People are seemingly passionate about pricing. Lots of companies will focus on discounting and promotions for the next two months.
You don’t necessarily need to focus on price to win the inbox. There are other emotions to use to win the attention of your customers. Focus on nostalgia, family and other good feelings that people associate with the holidays. When people feel good they are likely to make a purchase.
Tip #2: Urgency is a powerful emotion. Use it early and use it throughout the holiday season. Schedules fill up during the holidays so there are lots of dates that people need to worry about and plan for. If you can get people ready before those dates they’ll not only buy from you they’ll appreciate the reminder.
Tip #3: Do the work for your customers. Everybody is busy during the holidays. People are busy at work. People are busy on the weekends doing all kinds of things. Then the holidays come along and things get even busier. People are planning and getting ready. Time is precious.
Do something for your customers. Make gift suggestions. Curate for your customers and they’ll be happy to spend money with you. They will realize that you’re helping them save time.
Things are about to get crazy in the email marketing world.
In order to win over some attention in the inbox you’re going to have to get creative. Follow the tips above and you should have a few good strategies heading into the holiday season.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a large retailer or a small business. There is something to gain from the holiday season because people are in the buying mood.
Most people respond to marketing messages according to how they feel about a product rather than logic.
Noted psychologist Robert Plutchik created what is now known as the “wheel of emotions” which describes how emotions are related, which marketers can use to cultivate the desired emotions and response.
Emotional Factors That Influence Engagement
Now let’s explore how as email marketers we can cultivate these emotions in our subscribers, and influence their engagement.
Anticipation: Humans are curious. You can use this to your advantage when crafting your emails. Enticing imagery, trigger words, and teaser content all help to motivate your prospects.
Joy: Happy customers mean well engaged, repeat customers. Keep customers happy by offering valuable content, positive imagery, and well-written copy.
Trust: Your prospects want to feel safe when interacting with your offer. You can build trust through endorsements, well-known referrers, and reviews.
Emotional Factors That Influence Purchases
Research suggests that up to 90% of all purchase decisions are made unconsciously and in a matter of seconds. Below are some emotional factors that can influence those split-second purchase decisions.
No-brainer: People prefer to buy without thinking. If people are required to think too much when interacting with your offer, you are exhausting them, and the subconscious mind doesn’t like that.
Make it easy. Narrow your product choices and cut out unnecessary information.
No Risk: People have a natural aversion to risk. As a general rule, people feel loss more powerfully than they feel gain.
Consider positioning your product as being the “safe” option rather than the “new” option or give them the option to kick-the-tires before committing.
Social Proof: People will follow the crowd. As humans we all like to move with the herd and see what other people like.
Provide your customers with proof that other people are buying, and benefiting from, your product.
An Example of Emotional Email Design and Copy
All of the work we do as creative marketers uses the abilities we have to play with emotion.
But as email marketers we have additional considerations, which run parallel to emotional triggers, such as preview text/panes, image rendering, mobile views and subject line/content/landing page continuity. All of which must also be considered.
Here’s a Breakdown
- Joy: Snappy Headline + Professional Imagery
- Anticipation: Simulated Video Animation + Crisp Body Copy
- Social Proof: “Mind. Blown.” Tweets
- No-brainer: Solo Offer + Clean Call-to-action
- No Risk: Free Trial or Learn More
This email also successfully addresses the limitations of the medium. For example, note how well this email rendered on my mobile device.
Note too this slick screenshot that was created by a new, free service from MailChimp called Smartphones@.
What’s The Takeaway?
If your emails aren’t tuned to resonate with your audience’s emotions, you could be losing business. By cultivating one or more of the desired emotions in your email creative, nay…your email program, you’ll boost click rates, decrease attrition, and grow your revenue.
But remember this…emotional engagement doesn’t begin and end with email creative…but you can use it unleash the power of this creative thinking in all of your marketing or professional endeavors, not just design or copy of the email itself.
P.S. Props to Justine Jordan who created the Litmus email. I’m a fan but not just because she wears an awesome cat hat. Justine’s work reflects that she has strong sense of how aesthetics and copy should work in partnership.
Mother’s Day is on Sunday May 13, 2012. According to Microsoft, it is the second largest shopping holiday.
This means you need to start planning your email marketing now even if your organization isn’t likely to act until the last minute.
Psychology and Opportunity
More than any other holiday, Mother’s Day is as much about the giver as it is the receiver.
Mother’s Day is also loaded with a lot of emotional triggers; love, appreciation, and even guilt.
Needless to say you can use these triggers to drive response rates, all while to helping direct your customers toward the perfect gift or experience.
But this holiday is not only for retailers or those that sell services geared towards mothers.
All marketers can use Mother’s Day to show that they are real human beings with real moms. Even B2B email marketers (like Indiemark) can give their customers ideas, inspiration, or simple shout-out to the mother’s on their list.
Here are a few email marketing strategies and tactics you can use to plan and execute a rewarding email program this Mother’s Day:
Show Them the Way
Many prospective buyers don’t have the time or talent to pick a word-class gift. So help them decide with gift suggestions.
If you’re short on time and resources you can find success by simply showcasing your most popular ideas, creating packages and upselling with Good, Better, Best options.
More sophisticated marketers, on the other hand, can also segment their way to success. According to this DM News article marketers can use gender and age demographics to fine tune their recommendations. And if past behavior is truly the best predictor of future behavior, then organizations can tap into historical purchase information and in turn reference previous Mother’s Day purchases or find a relationship between what customers like to buy and what products are hot this year.
Get In Early
According to data compiled by eDataSource the traditional flowers and candy marketers are not yet in full swing until two weeks before Mother’s Day.
You can use this window of opportunity to provide your customers with great suggestions, incentives and peace of mind in knowing that they can check this one off their to-do list.
Want to take it even further? Consider sending an email-exclusive, early bird offer to reward loyal subscribers.
Bust Through the Clutter
Once the email volume really picks ups, roughly 10 days prior to the holiday, you’ll want to be creative with your subject lines and offers.
Don’t be afraid to scare them; subject line “Yikes! Mother’s Day is next Sunday. Perfect Gifts Under $5O”. Don’t be afraid to stand out; subject line “If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!”. Just don’t be afraid.
This will give you a better opportunity to ensnare and persuade your customers, before they give in to the default choices.
In the final days, things are really heating up. Now you’ll want to offer a solution that works for procrastinators. For offers, think guaranteed delivery and gift cards as well as high-end products and high-priced packages. A rushed shopper will gladly pay the price for their lack of planning.
If you have the available demographics, you can target the moms on your list with a Treat Yourself campaign. This segment also presents potential to marketers who reach moms in the weeks after the holiday is over.
Mother’s Day email open rates peak after the holiday according to this survey from Experian CheetahMail. The data reveals an opportunity send follow-up emails after the holiday is over to convert cautious shoppers or those who have not yet seen their mothers. Some shoppers may also be waiting for further discounts on products. Just be sure to suppress those that have already made Mothe’s Day purchases.
Need Some Mother’s Day Marketing Inspiration?
May the following quotes rouse your marketing spirit and lift your heart, especially the doozy from Tina Fey.
- No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you…life. — Unknown
- Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. — Unknown
- We never know the love of the parent until we become parents ourselves. — Henry Ward Beecher
- A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. — Tenneva Jordan
- The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. — Unknown
- All mothers are working mothers. — Unknown
- Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs since the payment is pure love. — Mildred B. Vermont
- When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. — Sophia Loren
- There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it. — Chinese Proverb
- A Mother’s Prayer: First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches. May she be beautiful but not damaged, for it’s the damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the beauty. When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with beer. Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age. Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes and not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking you, because if I knew, I’d be doing it. May she play the drums to the fiery rhythm of her own heart with the sinewy strength of her own arms, so she need not lie with drummers. Grant her a rough patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, for childhood is short – and adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait. O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers and the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed. And when she one day turns on me and calls me a bitch in front of Hollister, give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, for I will not have that shit. I will not have it. And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 am, all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a mental note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes. Amen. — Tina Fey
Additional Resources from The Retail Email Blog
- First Reference to Mother’s Day
- Interesting Mother’s Day Emails and Subject Lines
- Mother’s Day Email Stats from 2011
You’ll work directly with clients to manage deployment. Includes creating, testing and deploying message as well as analytic review (email creative will be crafted by others).
You must have strong customer service skills, email marketing knowledge, knowledge of multiple ESPs a plus, but not required.
You’ll need to be good at:
- Managing client relationships
- Multitasking, organization and time management
- MS Office: Including Outlook, Word and Excel as well as Basic to advanced HTML Skills
- Problem solving skills and attention to detail
- Face-to-face and telephone communications with clients
- Working in a busy environment (it gets crazy here at times)
- Report writing & documentation
- Must be a self-starter (we’re okay with you working remotely)
What you’ll get from us:
- The opportunity to build your knowledge of email marketing by working for a leading email marketing agency
- An opportunity to advance within the company
- The experience of managing email marketing campaigns for SMBs as well as well-known international brands.
- The benefit of working from home, imagine no commute and saving on gas and time
Please submit your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 214-530-5972 ext: 705
Our friends at Red Pill Email have released the newest version of their highly anticipated Email Service Provider Comparison Guide; an insanely comprehensive view of the features and functions of 45 email service providers, in the US and Europe.
If you’re just starting out or in the market for a more appropriate email marketing platform, this affordable email service provider comparison guide is a no-brainer.
It breaks the vendors out into small-market, mid-market and enterprise companies. Additions to this year’s guide were what verticals the email service providers tend to specialize in and what skill level you should have in order to use its services. It also details the email service providers pricing options, strengths and weaknesses.
The full 173-page report costs $500. Red Pill Email also offers a small-market version focusing on 17 small business-focused email vendors for $150, as well as a pared down free version.
Full Guide (
$500, $450 with promo code)
Small Market Edition (
$150, $135 with promo code)
Discount Promo Code
Use “INDIEMARK” at checkout and save 10%.
Please note that we DO NOT receive any commissions on the sale of these email vendor guides, we just think it’s simply the best email service comparison guide on the market, plus we really like the folks at Red Pill Email.
That got me thinking. Have email marketing best practices, strategies and tactics been thoroughly covered? More simply, is the content we produce here at Indiemark in line with your ever-changing needs? I have no idea.
But what I do know is that it takes me a lot of time to produce a blog post, infographic, webinar or whatever. I also know that you probably receive tons of marketing-related emails everyday, some of which are packed with worthless or irrelevant information. I don’t want to be that guy, ever.
To ensure I invest my time wisely, and avoid wasting any of yours, I distributed this this short survey to our subscribers, fans and followers.
Here are a few of the results:
The content marketing survey was only seven questions but the results will certainly help me to create more of what you really want and less of what has no value to you.
Thanks to all that participated!
In this free whitepaper, the good folks at Inbox Group explain why welcome emails play a huge role in email marketing, offer tips on the content and timing and structure of welcome, and showcase winning welcome email messages to inspire your own.
Why invest in welcome emails?
- They provide foundation of success email and marketing success
- Drive immediate response
- It works FAR BETTER than you might think
How do welcome emails perform?
- Four times the open rate
- Five times the click rate
- Eight times the revenue
What you’ll learn in this whitepaper:
- How to use welcome email to drive action now, and loyalty later
- When to send, and how to approach, welcome emails
- If you need a welcome email or a welcome series
- How to milk it for all it’s worth!
Don’t worry, the guys at Inbox Group are very cool. Your registration information will be kept private and used only for non-evil purposes.
Inbox Group, a Dallas-based email marketing services firm, today announced their acquisition of Indiemark, a creative email marketing agency. Founded by email marketing veteran Scott Hardigree, Indiemark has been providing stellar email strategy, creative, integration and deliverability services to small business and Fortune 500 companies alike.
This acquisition reflects Inbox Group’s belief in the incredible growth opportunity in the full-service email marketing marketplace. With Indiemark in the fold, Inbox Group now has the staff, processes and infrastructure in place to accommodate the company’s ever-expanding email marketing tools and services available to companies of all sizes.
“Indiemark is a perfect fit for Inbox Group,” said Christopher Donald, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Inbox Group. “Our cultures and steadfast dedication to offering best-in-class email marketing customer service while providing leading-edge email marketing solutions make it a solid acquisition for Inbox Group.”
Indiemark’s founder, Scott Hardigree, will remain with the company and will continue to be a driving force at Inbox Group. Hardigree stated, “This union ensures the continuation of our respective traditions of providing the highest value email marketing services, anywhere. I couldn’t be happier.”
“We’ve always respected how Scott Hardigree and Indiemark managed their clients with the highest level of integrity, industry knowledge, and truly some of the best customer service on the planet,” Donald added. “We’re excited to welcome the Indiemark brand to the Inbox Group family.”
Indiemark will maintain operations under its own brand and continue business as usual with the addition of Inbox Group resources.
About Inbox Group
Since 2009, Inbox Group has been providing businesses and non-profits with email marketing agency and deployment services. Inbox Group offers an array of email services, including email strategy, creative, email deliverability, list growth and management, as well as email deployment solutions. The Dallas-based email marketing agency and email service provider manages email marketing strategy and deployment for Fortune 500 companies, multi-national brands, non-profits and large associations, helping to increase their ROI with the use of email marketing, social media and multichannel campaigns.
For more information on Inbox Group, visit Inbox Group’s website at www.inboxgroup.com or call 214-716-0268.
Founded in 2008, Indiemark is led by email marketing thought leader Scott Hardigree and supported by a gifted team of strategic, creative, and technical professionals. Indiemark provides a full suite of email marketing services including strategy, design and production, deliverability and optimization, as well as software integration and customization services.
For more information on Indiemark, visit Indiemark’s website at www.indiemark.com or call 407-970-9372.
If you’ve seen Zombieland or The Walking Dead you know that there are rules for staying alive in the midst of a Zombie plague. I know what you’re thinking, “How can I apply those rules to my email marketing?” No?!
Okay, surviving the (un?)likely event of a post-apocalyptic zombified wasteland might take priority over the success your email marketing efforts but given the season, and my fascination with Zombies, it seems appropriate to share a slightly modified version of these rules with you now.
- Cardio. Like outpacing a Zombie hoard you must be able to run your email marketing program for an extended period of time. No sprinters here. If you’re going to survive thrive, endurance is key.
- Double Tap. It takes at least two gunshots to safely deal with a Zombie. This is the same when dealing with customers and prospects. You’ve got to tap them again and again and again to demonstrate your value.
- Beware of Bathrooms. You are at your most vulnerable to a Zombie sneak attack when you are in a bathroom. If you become comfortable and relax for too long; your email marketing program can run into the same problem. Be vigilant. Keep testing. Always be on the lookout for opportunities and dangers.
- Travel Light. It will be harder to out run a Zombie if you’re carrying more than you can handle. No dead weight. This goes for both the objects and people (practices and vendors) you carry with you. If they can’t pull their own, ditch ‘em.
- Dress smart. Clothing should be tight-fitting and purposeful, with easily accessible pockets. The same holds true for your emails; tight in their construction, purposeful in their message and accessible across mobile devices and desktops.
- Limber Up. When entering a Zombie zone you’ll want to be as limber as possible. Have everything in order before pushing the “go” button. Your contact strategy. The creative. Landing page. Sales support. Let’s do this!
- Know your environment, use it to your advantage. Outside of their apparent supernatural sense of smell, Zombies have limited insight into their surroundings. You’re no Zombie. Observation and information are your most powerful weapons. Previous purchases, subscriber behavior, stated interests, calendar dates. Data is the next best thing to Zombie repellant.
- Buddy System. Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances shall you EVER go anywhere alone (yes, this includes the bathroom). You can’t always see a Zombie coming from every direction. Having an email marketing partner can be a huge help, preferably one with extensive Zombie hacking experience. They can be objective to things you may not want to see, try or do; helping you save time and money.
- Enjoy The Little Things. When fighting Zombies you’ll need to take time and entertain yourself (and your subscribers) every chance you get. Enjoy getting to know your clients and enjoy testing new ways of selling. Enjoy the added-value (e.g. branding, social sharing) that email marketing can provide. Have fun but never rest.
This list is intended to be a living document, designed to be passed from survivor to survivor. Please comment so that we can add, edit or consolidate these rules. Our future depends on it.
In case you missed it, here are the slides to the webinar that I (and the team from Mass Transmit) put on last week.
Along with several eye-opening stats and HTML coding tricks, you’ll also find really good tips for creating a one-size-fits-all email template framework, that renders well across mobile devices and desktop clients.