Guy Hanson, VP Customer Engagement at Validity
There was a time when the festive sales season spanned a five-week period, from the American tradition of Thanksgiving, through to New Year’s Day. However,this has undergone significant growth in recent years, with many organisationspromotingoffersin mid-Octoberall the way through to mid-February. This is now the busiest time of year for organisations and consumers globally, meaningit has never been more important for marketers to focus on cutting through the noise with relevant targeting.
Expanding the peak sales season
Although most consumers are familiar with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many brands have started harnessing other well-knownevents into their own marketing practices to connect with more customers. An example of this can be seen with Diwali, the festival of lights in India, whichis one of the major festivals celebrated globally by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists. Given the scale of this holiday, many email marketers have recognised an opportunity to convey their best wishes to the many subscribers who will be celebrating.
Singles Day is another shopping holiday which is becoming increasingly recognised. The date, November 11th (11/11), was chosen becausethe number one represents an individual who is single.Originating in China, the day began as an unofficial celebration for bachelors. The day has grown over the years to become a celebration of self-love, familial and platonic relationships, and, paradoxically, relationships. Indeed, Singles Day is now the largest shopping day in the world2, with marketers in Europe and North America beginning to include the event in their marketing calendars.
Although tapping into theseis highly beneficial for marketers, events such as these present unique challenges. For example, Gmail is the dominant mailbox provider in India, with over 80 per cent1 of all subscribers owning an account. From a marketing perspective, this means deliverability best practices are strongly informed by everything that is important to Gmail’s sophisticated AI-powered filtering solution. This includes being fully authenticated, using a positive opt-in consent model, maintaining a good sender reputation, mailing only to engaged subscribers, and providing an easy-to-use opt-out function. Additionally, senders running Singles Day promotions should be aware of the challenges at hand withdeliverability aimed at the Chinese market, as Chinese postmasters typically have a much higher set of standards for identifying good email senders.
Senders running these promotions will need to be aware that customers might not yet be familiar with them. Therefore, brands should be intentional about establishing awareness, by using pre-header text and subject lines that clearly explain what the event is. They could also consider including a short synopsis that can be read when recipients open their emails.
The MPP impact
In September, Apple introduced Mail Protection Privacy (MPP) with its iOS15 update, which prevents senders from using tracking pixels to measure open rates and device usage, while also masking recipients’ IP addresses to prevent location tracking. When it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, MPP is potentiallybad news. In addition to the impact on email best practices like list hygiene and recency management, image caching means functionality like countdown timers will no longer update in real time,remaining static at the time they are cached.Features like this are really important around this time of year, creating urgency as deadlines approach,andorganisations will need to identify alternative solutions.
Although open rates remain important for marketers, revenue and conversion rates are most valuable for measuring success.The demographic of customers will come into play, as MPP only affects Apple users, so engagement segments that heavily rely on opens and clicks will remain valid for non-Apple subscribers. As a new policy, it is not yet clear just how much MPP will impact marketers in the long term, but it is likely that this will change over time as more Apple users upgrade to iOS15.
Changing consumer behaviours
The global pandemic has forced many individuals to completely change the way they shop. Although online shopping is not a new innovation, there has been a big shift in consumer spending behaviour over the last year and a halfas successive lockdowns forced a migration to ecommerce. In addition,brand loyalty is more important than ever, although organisations are having to work harder for it. In fact, a recent survey found that 40 percent4of consumers switched brands throughout the pandemic.All of these factors are worth keeping in mind for organisations navigating the holiday sales season. By targeting the right customers with relevant content, brands can ensure they engage with their target customers, while not overwhelming them with unnecessary inbox traffic.
The next few months will present an unprecedented set of challenges and opportunities for email marketers, so it is important for them tounderstand how to overcome them effectively. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday imminent, now is the time for brands toidentify solutionsharness the opportunities and drive revenue.