Ah summertime, that wonderful period of the year where people flee to sunnier climes to get their tan on. Unfortunately, for us marketeers this makes it harder to reach customers as the number of out of office notifications increases. Since we know this happens every summer, how can we adjust our email marketing tactics to ensure we’re being as effective as possible?
Don’t run for the sun
Most importantly, do not stop marketing just because the sun comes out. The months may be deathly slow but there are still opportunities to connect with your customers. Your emails may also be more likely to hit the target, as customers potentially have more leisure time over the summer and could be more receptive to your messages.
Embrace the challenge
The summer months are a great opportunity to do some testing, especially with content (here are some ideas). It might be time to employ user generated content and experiment to discover what your customers really want. Here’s one example of a brand who took advantage of the summer season and kept their customers interacting:
Feel at Home #holidayspam
Three were very clever with this campaign. Travellers are often wary of expensive roaming charges and so avoid using their phone for calls and data while abroad. Three also knew that people love to share their holiday snaps and brag about their experiences abroad. So they decided to tap into this behaviour and counter the fear by emailing customers to confirm there was no extra cost for using their phone in many popular holiday locations. This was a great tactic as it offered added value, solved a problem for customers and made them feel grateful to Three for keeping them connected while away. It’s exactly what any customer would want. Noone wants to pay extra to use their phone when on holiday.
Secondly, Three further encouraged sharing by using #holidayspam and designating 18 vacation destinations around the world where customers could upload and share holiday
pics – at no extra cost. The pictures could be uploaded to both Twitter and Instagram, essentially creating free advertising for Three. To further incentivise sharing, if the customers uploaded a holiday snap at one of these locations using #holidayspam, they were entered into a competition to win an amazing holiday!
In summary, they provided customers with a tangible benefit, made it fun and incentivised it with the chance to win a holiday… which they knew they’d want, as they’re already on holiday! They specifically designed the campaign around the idea of holidays and engaged customers at a time where they were less likely to interact with the brand. The video below shows just how well it worked.
The key element that I took from the success of this campaign was the mobile aspect of it. Gone are the days where people go to a foreign country and are no longer reachable. People take their phones everywhere and with an increasing amount of places offering free WiFi, emails are always accessible. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that your emails are fully mobile responsive. Make it easy for people to interact with you. Ensure that your emails are mobile optimised and that any landing pages are too. Read more about making your emails mobile responsive.
Over the summer, you need to innovate and work harder with your email marketing to keep your customers engaged. Luckily, much of this can be set up in advance if you use marketing automation. Whilst you might want to send your usual newsletters and one-off campaigns, you can also set up emails to run automatically when a customer meets a certain condition or a combination of conditions. This works particularly well during summer when you’re short staffed. For example, if you’ve set up a summer email campaign that includes a competition, why not include the competition into your welcome programme. This means that every time a new customer signs up to your list, they automatically receive an email telling them about the summer competition. Just remember to take it out of your welcome programme when the competition ends!
What about timing?
It’s also important to consider the timing of your campaigns. If people are on holiday, the location data you hold about them might not be so relevant anymore. With this in mind, it’s often better during summer months to do a campaign that could be applicable no matter where you are in the world and not worry so much about the time you send your campaigns. (Although, there’s nothing like doing a bit of send time testing over the summer months to work out what works best for your database). That’s why competitions are so effective, since you can enter no matter where you are. Campaigns that tend to work less well during the summer period (depending on your business that is) are in-store offers. Asking a customer to come into their local branch over the summer isn’t necessarily a great move as there is a reasonable chance they won’t be around to take advantage of it.
Let’s play a game
A clever content idea is to use games. There’s nothing worse than being stuck at an airport with nothing to do and brands should take advantage of this opportunity. Create a highly addictive, brand related game that you can push out through email to your customers. Just last summer, I noticed the game ‘Heads Up’ from Ellen DeGeneres being played at an airport by at least five separate groups of people. Games are a great source of data capture too; use a form at the start or end of a game asking your customers to enter their details so their score can be saved. This means you can build your email lists during a time where you thought your email marketing wasn’t going to be as effective.
It’s never too early to start preparing your summer campaigns. All the best ones I’ve seen have taken lengthy planning but it’s worth it! You also might want to take holiday yourself, so make sure you have your automation sorted before you go. Summer isn’t the time to abandon your campaigns, it’s an opportunity to get even more creative. Embrace the challenge and have a happy summer emailing!