Expert commentator | Smart Insights | Fri, 25 Nov 2016 11:00:00 +0000

Automating your marketing is key in such a busy marketing period, find out how RedEye’s Head of Future email suggests it is done

Summer is long gone and the Bank Holidays have been exhausted for the year. While ‘normal’ people start to stress about when to put their central heating back on, us marketers are in full planning and panic mode. Two key events loom before us: Black Friday Weekend, and of course the run up to Christmas. It’s all become rather stressful.

With more and more focus on the few weekends left of the year before sales season takes over, it’s more crucial than ever for brands to implement perfectly executed, strategic marketing experiences for shoppers on the approach to Christmas. Brands are not only at war with their competitors, but with the expectations from previous years’ performances and their customer’s expectations (all searching for the next big bargain).

Take a little stress out of the planning by making sure you’re Automation ready…

Marketing Automation, especially if you value personalisation, will always be your best option. Not sure what to promote? Let the data speak for itself to ensure you stand out from your competitors by keeping relevance in your campaigns. Sure you can send that email about the warehouse full of 60†TVs that are going for knock down prices, but is it really the item they want to bag in a bargain browse frenzy? Probably not.

Take a leaf out of the classic offline promotion tactics we’re all familiar with but take for granted. If you want your customers to buy more, waft the hypothetic smell of freshly baked bread throughout the store or make sure they pass by the sweets on the way to the checkout. It’s the same with online. You should push those items you want to promote, but give your customers something irresistible. And to make it irresistible base it on their basket or browser behaviour. Your Black Friday emails can contain everything from their last abandoned basket item to the pages your customers were viewing in anticipation of this special weekend. If they are a VIP, let them know you know how loyal they are. If they are a new customer or eager prospect, make sure you recognise this and deliver the goods – and when I say goods I mean the right content!

The stats don’t lie, one research outlet found that relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.

It’s also a great time to reactivate some sleepy customers. Take a look at your data. Who was active last year but has disappeared? ‘We miss you’ messages no longer cut it with this segment, so throw them a lifeline. As more Black Friday and Christmas customers move to online, send them some teasers before the event. Get them re-interested and re-engaged. Allow them to share the anticipation via social.

It’s not just the before that matters either – your marketing activity around these events must contain a secondary message, for as they say, ‘the fortune is in the follow up’. Today, you don’t need reams and reams of new content either; send the follow up and change the subject line according to response, gender, customer or prospect. Or change the hero image in the same vain. Using a multi-channel platform will enable quick and easy follow up campaigns using no extra resource or cost during this hectic time.

Most emails are toast after 24 hours. If you haven’t heard back by then, reach out again. Follow up emails are worth the effort. Research has shown that you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your second email if the first goes unanswered. Experian has also found that remarketing can generate 54% increase in revenues, driven by a follow up email.

And what of your email content? Are you going to splash out on a countdown clock (yawn!) to create some drama and urgency? If so, you will be joining all your other competitors who also believe they will get ahead of the game by counting down to the ‘big event’. While I like to see an animated clock like everyone else, automated agile content can do so much more for you during these months. Add in some video content that will stream inside the email or send an email with a live poll and ask your recipients what they want to see and actively listen to what they want to experience. All in the touch of a button. Add in a slideshow with unique URLs or use some clever personalised imagery. Yes, by all means use a countdown clock if you have to. But how about etching the recipient’s name onto that big screen TV you want to push? Or including a live map displaying their nearest store? Wherever they are.

Automation is key in this marketing quarter. Whether you decide to use dynamic content, agile content, teaser or follow up emails, the most cost-efficient and resource-efficient way to get the most out of marketing online during this time is to be 100% automation ready.