Guest post: Engaging your customers with email in time for Christmas

Paul FordPaul Ford, VP of Product & Marketing at SendGrid, advises retailers on how to engage customers through their email marketing campaigns.

There’s no doubt that engaging customers is one of the biggest hurdles that retailers face as they look to expand their reach. With a growing array of tools at their disposal, many retailers are overlooking the importance of email marketing and sticking to social media to entice new customers. According to a recent McKinsey & Company study, email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire new customers than social media – nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.

However, there’s no point in sending out an email marketing campaign that will be a total turn-off to prospective customers. In the run up to Christmas, retailers can follow some simple steps to draw in their customers and increase conversion.

The festive period is a great opportunity to acquire new interest in your brand, as well as to sell to existing customers, but before working up any killer campaigns, retailers need to grow their distribution list. Don’t fall into the trap of buying a list, as this will contain many false addresses, which will reduce your legitimacy as a sender. Instead, create multiple opportunities for customers to sign up to your mailing list on your website or mobile app. Generally, it’s best to keep these sign up messages short. Each time someone new signs up for marketing email, send a friendly welcome email, as first impressions always count.

Be sure to personalise any content you send out to customers, as it will make them feel loved and valued. During the sign-up process, most sites will have asked for a first name and last name, so use them! According to a report by Adestra, businesses can see as much as a 20% uplift from personalising messages.

Finally, subject lines can make all the difference to customer engagement. It’s best to remember that ‘less is more’ – according to a recent study by Retention Science, subject lines with six to ten words yielded the highest open rates at 21%. Five or fewer words yielded an open rate of 16%, while 11 to 15 words had open rates of 14%. It’s wise to keep the subject short and snappy, as well as personalised where possible. Why not try something like “David, two for one on reindeer cupcakes” or “Lucy, half price Christmas jumpers all week”.

This Christmas, retailers will be fighting to have their voice heard amongst the festive din. Make sure that you keep any email marketing campaign targeted, personalised and varied to engage customers, and to avoid simply adding to the noise.