Since email began, the retail industry has been constantly changing. Gone are the days when one had to physically enter a shop and interact with another human in order to receive a discount. Now all you need is internet access and a bank card. With this change, online shopping has become huge. According to the Financial Times, consumers in the UK are spending five times more online than offline. This makes ecommerce more of an opportunity than ever.
Along with this has come a change in the frequency of online promotional sales, making the way in which we communicate them to consumers especially important. When online sales made their first appearances, it was easy to make your email stand out among others because your brand was doing something that others weren’t, and the chances you’d both be running an email sale offer at the same time as a competitor was slim. Now, every brand is taking advantage of promoting their sales online, and this makes email marketing an even greater challenge for marketers.
The January sales are an especially important time to be promoting sales – everyone is broke from spending huge amounts around Christmas, so encouraging them to buy your products is a harder sell. Add to this the culture change (the fact that sales happen all year round) and you’ve got a marketing challenge on your hands. As a colleague of mine said: ‘DFS have had a sale on since I was born’.
So how can you adapt your emails to have maximum impact during the January sales period?
Keep to the point
Don’t throw everything you have on offer into the email. Focus on one thing you know will interest your customers. If you have data rich enough, segment your email, and make use of dynamic content to ensure you’re sending customers content that is relevant to them. If your data isn’t up to scratch, here are some work-arounds you can capitalise on.
The New Year has just arrived, which means resolutions, resolutions, resolutions. Focus on your products which will interest people who might have made resolutions to get healthy, do something new, save money, travel, be less stressed. TIME magazine made a useful list of the top 10 most commonly broken new year’s resolutions – a great insight into areas your customers may be focusing their attentions on in January.
One company that used this tactic really well was Pen Heaven (below), who capitalised on
the start of a new year by promoting diaries and planners. Who doesn’t need a new diary at the start of the year?! Their subject line, ‘25% off 2016 Diaries + Limited Stock Left on Seasonal Offers’ was clever for several reasons:
1. They clearly pushed the discount.
2. They made reference to the relevance of the New Year.
3. They mentioned what the product was to get customers interested.
4. They instilled a sense of urgency; suggesting the diaries were in short supply.
5. The email was clean, clear, aesthetically pleasing and offered a discount code.
Have a strategy
Don’t just send one email and then tick the ‘January Sales’ box on your ‘things-to-accomplish-in-January’ list. According to the Office for National Statistics, online sales in January 2015 increased by 12% compared with January 2014. January Sales are a whole month of opportunity, and not a month to miss out on.
One company who had a brilliant strategy this year were Sainsbury’s. Their subject line was ‘Anna, up to £58 off to kick-start your New Year’. They also had a great pre-header; ‘Healthy savings for a happier New Year’. By doing this, they specified the discount available, made reference to the event and also triggered the ‘new year-new me’ health response in their customers. A powerful trio, carefully constructed to gain their target’s attention. Within the email, they also had a clever double offer: ‘£18 off your first shop’ and ‘£10 off your next four orders’. This is really smart of them – not only are they capitalising on the January Sales period but they’re also improving customer retention while they do it.
Sainsbury’s went a step further by making the process easier for their customers (right). The email contained a section which actually looked like the sort of voucher you’d print off and use in store. They clearly outlined the steps for voucher redemption and gave a clear deadline. Another gem from this email was the part just under the voucher which encouraged people to sign up to more Sainsbury’s communications using the incentive of helpful voucher reminder emails.
This is a great strategy; people have busy lives and don’t always remember they have a voucher sitting in an old email somewhere in their inbox. Sainsbury’s are making sure that those customers are continuing to shop with them and not another provider. This is exceptionally smart, as internet shoppers tend to be more loyal than in-store buyers – take Tesco as an example, where online shoppers spend 46% of their total grocery budget with the retailer while the average offline Tesco shopper spends only 29%.
Have an attention grabbing subject line
With the amount of emails flooding into people’s inboxes it’s imperative that yours stands out. A few things you can focus on are:
How much is the discount you’re offering?
There is a science behind the wording used to communicate the discount in your subject line. If you’re offering anything over a £100 discount, use a pound sign – if you’re offering anything below, use a percentage. For example, if you’ve got a pair of trousers and you’re offering 30% off, it sounds a lot better to say 30% off than it does to say £4 off. Equally, if you’re selling a high price item, saying £1,000 off sounds a lot better than 10% off.
Have you made what’s on sale obvious?
Getting people to open your email can be tricky, make sure whatever you’re putting in your subject line is going to interest them enough to open the email. A great way to do this is to use your data – putting a piece of dynamic content into your subject line is every bit as useful as in the email itself. If Joe likes suits and Sunil likes t-shirts, there’s no point putting an offer for t-shirts into both their subject lines. Dynamic fields can help you with this problem. Send Joe a subject line with suits, Sunil one with t-shirts and everyone is happy.
Be a little quirky
There’s nothing wrong with doing something different. One really fun subject line I’ve seen this January was from Very; ‘It’s SALE time… Ready, Set, SHOP!’ This grabbed my eye and I even opened the email. Why not try something of your own?
Make it fun
This should go for any email you send but applies to a greater extent during busy sales periods. Whether it’s an eye-catching gif, a game or a super quirky way to present your content within the email, make sure it’s engaging and entertaining. One brand that did something slightly different with their campaign was Lowbrow Customs (right) who used the following subject line:
Save up to 80% with our year end 🔥 Sale!! Bring it on 2016! 🎉
While those emoticons will not show up on all email clients (we can just hope they segmented their data based on email client before sending) they did get my attention and it added something different to their email that not many other companies used. I particularly enjoyed that they used the fire emoticon to replace the word fire. It’s the little things in life!
Good luck with the rest of your January Sales emails campaigns – we’ll see you soon!