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Tech Guest Viewpoint – Surviving the Holiday Season, Week by Week


By Christopher Lester, Emma

If you’re like me, you might still be in denial over the date on the calendar. But it’s true: The holidays are well upon us. Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But let’s be honest: It’s also one of the most stressful times of the year, and the busiest to boot.

Not only is your time limited, your customers’ attention is limited, too. Their inbox is stuffed with holiday greetings, coupons and special deals. During the next few magical weeks, marketers need to be succinct, strategic and savvy to stand out from the crowd during the annual end-of-the-year push.

This time of year, it takes a little something extra for your content cut through the clutter, so we used some holiday content data from Outbrain to help create this week-by-week survival guide.

Week 1: Get in the holiday spirit (and sell, sell, sell!) (Nov. 23-29)

It’s time to roll out that holiday content, if you haven’t already. In 2013, Outbrain saw holiday content consumption peak on Cyber Monday, with 26% more clicks than Sunday before it, and twice as many as Giving Tuesday. Emails sent through Emma with subject lines containing “holiday” had a 21% higher click-through rate and almost 10% higher open rate than average.

Week 2: Seize the Cyber Monday (Nov. 30–Dec. 6)

Heads up, retailers: We found including the words “Cyber Monday” in the subject line of an email sent on Cyber Monday 2013 actually decreased open rates.

Take one look at your own inbox and you’ll know subscribers are bombarded with Cyber Monday messages. Get creative and stand out from the crowd.

Another tip: Don’t forget about Saturday and Sunday! Outbrain found Americans are more likely to click on holiday content on the weekend. Create an automated email series scheduled to send each Saturday in December. You can provide audience timely holiday content when you’re not working. It's the email marketing equivalent of Santa's elves.

Overall engagement with holiday emails starts to steadily decline after the second week of December, so focus your holiday email marketing on this week and next – while people are still paying attention.

Week 3: Make it easy to buy. Like, really, really easy.
(Dec. 7-13)

November was all about inspiration and convenience, but your audience is now ready to shop. Give an option to buy with every email – Outbrain found headlines related to shopping had a 21% higher click-through rate than other holiday content in 2013.

Another way to capture attention is through video. Outbrain reports holiday headlines promising video content had click-through rates 27% higher than average. Add product videos, testimonials, tutorials or behind-the-scenes vignettes to your emails and promote the video content in the subject line.

Week 4: Share Season’s Greetings. (Dec. 14-20)

Outbrain discovered headlines dedicated to Christmas performed 8% worse than average in terms of clicks, but emails sent through Emma with subject lines containing “Greetings” or “Season’s Greetings” were opened 52% more than average.

Week 5: Tempt procrastinators with a good sale.
(Dec. 21-27)

Last-minute shoppers are feeling the holiday pressure – and they want to know about your sale. We found email subject lines containing the word “sale” had a click-through rate 27% above average during Christmas week.

Week 6: Celebrate (and libate, because you deserve it)!
(Dec. 28 – Jan. 3)

Kick back with a cocktail and get ready to ring in the New Year. Or, share your recipe with your email subscribers as an end-of-year treat. Outbrain revealed headlines containing the word “cocktail” have an 85% click-through rate during the last two weeks of December.

And no matter how you cap off the year, plan on diving into your email results when you're back in the office. You’re bound to learn a lot about your audience you can apply in 2015.

Christopher Lester is the VP of sales at Emma.

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