Holiday Hints for Better Sales: Blast Your Email Opt-in List During the Holidays

Blast your opt-in list to win friends and influence holiday sales.

Take advantage of the seasonal spending spike and increase your small business sales. To maximize holiday transactions, the Sloan brothers offer this series of six key strategies.

Despite e-mail inbox overflow in the 2006 holiday season, nearly 75 percent of those who responded to a late December survey by New York-based e-mail performance company Return Path said online mail influenced their purchase decisions.

Targeted e-mail to opt-in subscribers has become an essential holiday promotional tool, one being used with increasing sophistication in e-commerce. Eighty percent of retailers rely on regular e-mails to build customer relationships, use strategies that enable them to target prospects at the moment of intent, and reach customers with cost-effective, highly relevant campaigns.

“Since e-mail works so well as a sales-driving tool, it’s tempting to believe that more e-mail will automatically drive more sales during the holiday season,” says Matt Blumberg, Return Path chairman and CEO. “However, e-mail overload is a real burden for many consumers, and may significantly dilute response.”

A 2005 holiday-shopper survey by E-mail Labs, a leading company in high-performance e-mail marketing solutions based in Menlo Park , Calif. , found nearly half received far more e-mail than expected when they opted into a list, and more than two-thirds deleted the messages without reading them.

So as you plan to put your opt-in e-mail list to work, remember that subscribers will be inundated with messages from many other commercial sources. Sharpen your focus and personalize the message to stand out amid the inbox clutter. Here are some tips from E-mail Labs:

  • Ensure that sender and subject lines stand out in the inbox. Your company, brand or newsletter name should appear in the sender line. State your message content in the first 50 to 60 characters.
  • Put your most important content in the top left quarter of your message. This is the section that appears in an e-mail client’s preview pane, scanned by a third to half of readers before opening.
  • Be certain that important content shows up whether or not images download. Don’t hide offers behind images; readers who block them by default won’t see your pitch. Always provide key content as both text and HTML messages.

While the clock ticks during the frenetic final days of the holiday season, put your opt-in e-mail list to work with a personalized, attention-grabbing, simple-to-click-through blast. For example, you might create momentum for a holiday campaign that combines timed print ads with direct mail and opt-in e-mail. Think about sending a special holiday reminder or a time-sensitive offer.

These tested tactics can capture your customers’ attention and remind them to buy from you, a familiar and trusted merchant, at a time when they’re getting barraged with impersonal ads for businesses they don’t know.

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