Q4 2023 - Post 4: 10 Email Marketing Strategies Your Brand Needs in Q4

Invest in your email marketing before Black Friday, since your retention strategy can be significantly more valuable during Q4 than any other time of year.

Your retention strategy has the potential to be significantly more valuable during Q4 than any other time of year—so if you’re not optimizing your email program in preparation of this wonderfully hectic sales season, you might want to pay attention.

Dialing in retention efforts through owned channels like email and SMS can not only boost performance during pivotal sale cycles such as BFCM, it opens up doors for the effective remarketing of holiday purchasers. 

By optimizing your opt-in points, automations, and campaign strategies, you can collect more first-party data and capitalize on more conversion opportunities during peak sale season and beyond.

So without further ado, here’s 10 core components to a successful email marketing strategy for DTC brands in Q4:

1. Black Friday list building & health

Looking for an effective marketing channel that doesn’t run into insanely competitive CPMs during the holiday season? Owned channels like email and SMS could be your answer, but you’ll want to start building your lists now.

Not only will strategic list building allow you to scale owned audiences, it can unveil opportunities for retention and incremental revenue far beyond the holiday season. A captivating opt-in strategy and effective Welcome Series can go a long way in nurturing a prospective customer into a paying one.

It all starts with a sign up. Online retailers should have an obvious way to join the email and SMS lists on their website. For most, that means a popup and a sign-up form in the footer with some sort of incentive. 

We see nominal discounts (10-25% off) perform best for brands with average order values (AOV) under $100, and dollar value discounts perform well for brands with AOVs over $100. However, we always encourage testing your offer with your audience.

Facebook Lead Ads can also be effective ahead of the holidays, but beware of low quality leads. We tested this last year and found the lower cost per email sign up didn’t translate well when looking at conversion and revenue metrics. We’re more focused on website and landing page sign ups for 2023.

dwight office pumpkin head gif

Spooky season sign ups are key to Black Friday success. Emails gathered in October have the highest three-month value of any period of the year, and your payback period will be at its shortest heading into the holidays. 

October also offers less-expensive CPMs to populate retargeting lists before CPMs start climbing in November. These factors should allow you to be more aggressive with how much you’re spending to acquire leads and email addresses heading into November.

2. A/B Test: Now’s the time

Well, actually, a long time ago was the time. But if you haven’t started testing and have a large enough audience to get statistically significant results quickly, now is the time to gather as much data as you can.

Get your automations and campaign tactics optimized before November hits to ensure you’re making the most of each email and SMS touch point, and don’t forget to keep testing into the new year and beyond.

Some of our favourite tests for DTC brands:

  • Test your offer
  • Test your subject lines (beware of Apple Mail open inflation when deciding on a winner!)
  • Test your CTA buttons (styling, copy, placement)
  • Test your content length
  • Test different segmentation strategies 
  • Test time delays in automations

3. Identify your offer using data

Choosing your BFCM offer shouldn’t feel like throwing darts in the dark. You should have enough data to determine whether a sitewide discount or bundle offer is right for you. Studies show that discounts between 10-25% generate higher click rates than percentages outside of that range.

Before diving into all the offer opportunities, ask yourself what your goals are: 

  • Is maintaining an AOV over a certain figure imperative to keeping your profit margins, well, profitable? 
  • Can you afford to offer a deep discount on an entry-level item and prioritize the repeat purchase, making a longer term CLV play? 
  • Are you facing any limitations with supply chain management or stock?

4. The power of personalized quizzes and holiday guides

Another powerful tool you can use to grow your email list ahead of Black Friday is personalized, shoppable quizzes and holiday guides. 

Not only do quizzes make for a more engaging and valuable experience in exchange for emails, but they can also educate the user about the brand and make recommendations for gift ideas based on the information submitted. 

Holiday gift guides shared well in advance of BFCM can preview specific products, provide a sneak peek at your offer, simplify the shopping experience, and grow your email list (as long as the content is valuable to shoppers).  

Quizzes and holiday gift guides can act as a high-converting acquisition tactic, funneling leads into a nurturing automation with personalized recommendations. 

This valuable first-party data can be stored in your ESP and leveraged to tailor email and SMS marketing campaigns around holiday customer cohorts, as well as reactivation efforts after the holidays have passed. 

Octane.AI, our go-to quiz tool, has endless case studies flaunting amazing returns from zero-party data strategies. It’s not uncommon to drive a 60% AOV increase or a 200% CVR boost with the proper data-backed strategy.

5. Optimize & customize your existing email flows for BFCM

During busy sale periods, brands are competing for inbox attention more than ever. Make sure your brand and offer stand out with hard-hitting creative, catchy (and short) subject lines, and value-focused messaging. 

If you’re running a sitewide offer, make sure to update your core flows (like your Abandoned Checkout) to call out the offer and urgency in the subject line.

We recommend brands pay special attention to site and cart abandonment automations, as the average number of abandoned carts and bounced sessions typically skyrocket during BFCM. Shoppers have an abundance of products and offers at the tip of their fingertips, so reminders of urgency, scarcity, and savings help to ensure your offer doesn’t go unnoticed.

It’s also worth auditing your product recommendations to highlight specific collections from your BFCM sale. If you’re using Klaviyo’s data feeds, creating a BFCM-specific data feed and resyncing items included in your offer can ensure the subscriber sees the highest value items and accurate pricing in their inbox.

6. Give your VIPs some extra TLC for BFCM

Reward your most valuable customers with extra value during Black Friday Cyber Monday. If you’re using Klaviyo, you can leverage Historic CLV, Average Order Value, Number of Orders Placed, as well as click data to determine who your high value VIPs are. 

A special VIP offer can be the differentiating factor between your brand and a competitor, so be sure to roll out the red carpet for your most valuable customers.  This extra TLC can come in the form of a special offer, a deeper discount, exclusive bundles, free shipping, or even just early access to the regular sale.

It doesn’t need to be fancy, but building that relationship with your best customers can go a long way with retention.

7. Optimize for mobile

You’ve heard it before⁠—mobile experiences are taking over the eCommerce world. From shoppable product feeds in social media apps to live stream buying experiences, customers have more options to purchase on their mobile devices than ever before. 

Making sure your experience is optimized for mobile includes more than just testing your mobile UX and inbox rendering for handheld devices. 

You’ll want to remove as many barriers as possible for mobile shoppers. We’re excited about text-to-buy features rolling out across the board, thanks to a recent update from Shopify, as well as mobile contact cards, in-app social shopping, and more. 

Keeping font sizes above 14px is also a great way to make sure your emails are mobile friendly. This is especially important when considering text within images—when the image gets compressed to fit on a smaller screen, so will the text overlay. No one wants to be George on Black Friday.

seinfeld george squinting

Test to make sure it’s still legible, or opt for live text instead. We love using EmailOnAcid for all of our device testing and troubleshooting.

8. Consider every part of the experience

A customer’s experience with your brand doesn’t end at checkout. In fact, what you’re doing after the purchase may just be the make-it-or-break-it moment for your brand. 

We prioritize positive CX across every touchpoint, from customized order tracking landing pages (check out Wonderment for this) to timely customer service replies and great nurturing strategies. 

As marketers, it’s important to take a look at the bigger picture. We recommend going through the customer journey yourself: 

  • Does each touch point make sense given the context of the relationship? 
  • Is everything on-brand and user-friendly? 
  • Are any of your communications unclear or confusing? 
  • Are you oversaturating your email subscribers with too many automated emails from your 50 Shopify Apps?

Taking inventory of your full brand experience is the best way to understand your customer’s POV, and can be helpful in deciding where to optimize.

9. Check your email design

Looking to level up your email design but not sure where to start? We love getting inspo from DTC darlings all over the internet, whether it’s an inspo link from reallygoodemails.com, a Twitter screenshot from a fellow email marketer, or a data-backed design from Klaviyo’s Showcase gallery. 

A few things to consider before you dive into updating your email templates:

  • Accessibility: whether you’re a drag and drop or fully coded email person, make an effort to prioritize accessibility wherever possible. 
    Use alt text on images, live text instead of image-based email, left aligned paragraph copy, and use appropriate colour contrast.
  • Content Hierarchy: notice how we’ve split this article into small, digestible sections? That helps your eye scan the page and find the headline info, read what you need, and move on. 
    Apply the same concept to emails using proper headings (h1, h2, h3), buttons, and spacing to create hierarchy.
  • CTA Buttons: make actions clear, simple, and stand out. You want your subscribers to understand exactly what the purpose of the email is without having to dig through the copy. Make your CTA the loudest thing on the screen!
  • Stay On Brand: Your inbox experience should closely resemble what customers are getting on your website. Continuity can go a long way for brand recognition (especially during competitive marketing periods like BFCM). 

Make sure to establish a solid quality assurance process with all this beautiful, functional design. Last thing you want is a typo in your big BFCM launch email.

crying after email send gif

10. Less Is More

A 2022 study by Omnisend answered an age-old question in email marketing: does more content actually add more value? It turns out that emails with less than 160 words see the best click rates, and anything more sees a significant drop in engagement. 

Subject lines should be short and sweet as well. Data shows that keeping it under 40 characters is the best way to boost opens (and this data pre-dates Apple Mail Privacy Protection, so we can trust the validity of the open rate metrics).

Conversion-focused emails should highlight the offer, the value, and the desired action. Anything further should be concise; (we love the use of trust badges and icons to pile in extra info) or included on the landing page. 

That’s it for us, folks! If you have any questions about optimizing your email marketing strategy or want to inquire about working with our team, get in touch here.

What's next? Planning a paid media strategy to take your Black Friday sale to new heights!

© Kulin Co 2024