Here we are with the final lesson I’m sure you’ve been waiting for where we discuss putting everything in action for a successful Holiday Season. If you’ve followed all of the course lessons leading up to this, thanks for sticking with it. If you’re jumping in here to get the scoop for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that’s totally fine, much of this lesson discussion is really combining the concepts we’ve covered through this course thus far. For more details, you can head back to those previous lessons.
In this lesson, we’re going to cover the following topics for our Holiday Season strategy, which is truly applicable year round:
- Holiday Prep
- Key Dates and Initiatives
- Updating Flows
- iOS 15 Privacy Settings
- Incorporating SMS
- Beyond BFCM
We’ll begin by tackling the prep work leading up to Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Then, some key dates and initiatives through the holiday season. We’ll discuss updating flows, implications of privacy settings, incorporating SMS, and then a look beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
For most direct-to-consumer businesses, the holiday sales season is absolutely massive. With the prevalence of smart phones, more accessible wi-fi, and cheaper data plans, consumer behavior has shifted at an exponential rate toward online sales. The implications from Covid-19 exacerbated that paradigm shift in 2020, but it’s expected to leave a lasting impact.
Given that, how do you begin to get prepared for a monumental holiday season? For starters, you need to ensure everything within your email is fundamentally sound and healthy. Are the emails you’re sending now performing well? Regardless of whether the answer is yes or no, there’s always room to level up; so, what can you do to see that improvement? In our previous lesson on Understanding Performance, we touched on a lot of areas where you can acquire insights from Benchmarks and Analytics. With that, we want to begin by ensuring that emails are hitting key benchmarks for Deliverability. Klaviyo has provided a table with a great breakdown on key metrics to examine for deliverability.
So, how do you hit those sweet spots? If your open rates aren’t performing well, are you sending to the right audiences? Have you tested your subject lines? Let’s start with those audiences.
As we mentioned in our lesson on Campaign Strategy and Segmentation, it’s important to utilize your Engaged Segments and be wary not to send every email to every contact all the time. You want to systematically send your emails to a tight-knit group of contacts that is lean and effective. The more contacts you send to that just let their inboxes fill up and don’t open your emails, the poorer it reflects on your sending reputation. So, only seldomly should you cast the wider net and appeal to your full list in an attempt to pull those stragglers into your Engaged Segment.
Additionally, you can always actively A/B test all of your subject lines and continually work to refine the best ways you can get users to open your emails. Whether it’s leading questions or using emoji, push your boundaries and get creative sooner rather than later so you know what’s working when the holiday season hits and you’re trying to stand out among all the other emails.
When you’re seeing subpar click rates, try to take a hard and unbiased look at your email content. Maybe even ask someone else for candid feedback; sometimes we’re so close to our own work, we don’t see glaring issues. Is everything clear and laid out intuitively? Is there excessive scrolling before you get to a call to action? Maybe it’s as simple as moving your calls to action higher up in the email. You may be surprised at what a difference that can make. Are there too many calls to action? Is the content compelling? I’ve gotten emails offering a 5% discount and frankly I felt a bit insulted. You can always choose to A/B test your sends based on clicks. Make sure you keep the exact same subject lines for a good test, but maybe try some different ways of laying out the content; for instance maybe an image first as opposed to a headline first. See which might be more attention grabbing.
Send times are also something to test and get a better grasp on in terms of performance. It’s a little less pertinent with time-sensitive holiday promotions, but having a clearer understanding of when your email opens perform better is certainly worth pursuing.
List Growth & Maintenance
While getting poised for good deliverability leading into the Holiday Season, you also want to strike a balance between email list growth and also email list maintenance or scrubbing, which is removing unengaged contacts from your list. It might be worth exploring paid ads in order to expand your brand awareness and drive site traffic. Getting into paid ads on Facebook and Instagram or Search Engine Marketing such as Google Ads can really ramp up your subscribers. Cost per click is only going to get higher as more brands start ramping up their spending heading into the holiday season. So, the sooner you get in the mix, the better. Check out our Facebook and Instagram Ads Course for Shopify if you’re interested in getting started on this yourself. Also, aside from paid ads, you might consider affiliate or influencer marketing. Leveraging an influencer’s audience to drive traffic to your site can also help to bolster your email list. With the right mix of sound product-market fit, great UX, and a compelling offer, you have the potential to see the increased traffic work in concert with your email marketing in a tremendous way.
But unhinged list growth isn’t necessarily helpful. It’s always best to ensure you’re taking a measured approach to ensure you have qualified traffic leading to your site and that your email list is maintained. Utilize your Sunset Flow in order to flag those users that are clearly unengaged and make sure that you’re either excluding them from your email sends or suppressed from your list altogether. You don’t necessarily want to be sending emails that never get read or to be paying for dead weight on your account.
Key Dates & Initiatives
Of course, you also need to prepare by figuring out what sort of offers or promotions you’ll be running and when. That means you’ll need to know all of the key dates throughout the Holiday Season, not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There really aren’t any do-overs. So, we need to get it right.
We have a lot of dates that are important to know for your target market. However, simply knowing those dates alone and sending on those dates isn’t actually a strategy. With Klaviyo, you can really tailor your approach to make sure you’re tactical with your emails instead of practically spamming your contact list with emails every day and crossing your fingers that they eventually cave in and make a purchase.
- Black Friday Preview
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- Giving Tuesday
- Shipping Cutoff Approaching
- Shipping Cutoff Deadline
- Virtual Gift Cards
- New Year’s Eve
Here’s an example of how we might approach our key dates. First, we start with a Black Friday preview. In some cases, maybe we have an exclusive, early promotion that we send only to a VIP segment. This can give an advanced read on sales. Or, as cutthroat as Back Friday is, often you see brands starting their Black Friday deal well in advance of Black Friday. It can be hard to stand out among the crowd, so being early can help to get that attention. Now, that doesn’t mean you can write off taking things seriously when the real Black Friday rolls around just because your Black Friday deal is out early. Some people are going to want to wait until they see what everyone else is offering.
In some cases, I see brands send out a Black Friday Preview email saying “get ready, this is what we’ll be offering”. Personally, I tend to dislike these emails. People are often distracted or lazy about reading and understanding the email. That messaging can easily be misconstrued and you’ll get the impulsive shopper looking for the deal well in advance of the promotion leading to disappointment or frustration. What is going to be most effective is to find a means of getting subscribers engaged and looking at your site ahead of Black Friday. Give your subscribers blogs and content like a Holiday Gift Guide, so when they see you pop up in their inbox with a Black Friday deal, your brand is already top of mind and they already have their wishlist planned out. This tactic also helps to ramp up to your increased holiday sending. Otherwise, if you suddenly appear in inboxes every day or maybe multiple times a day from a much more occasional rate, you run the risk of getting unsubscribes or marked as spam when subscribers see this sudden change.
Cyber Monday is typically a continuation of the same Black Friday offer. Changing the deal or making a deeper discount could leave some people salty. It also can be confusing if someone opens an old email. And when you begin trying to abruptly change your promotions if you’re running paid ads, you’re likely not giving the ad platform algorithms enough time to optimize. It’s highly recommended to just keep it simple with a single promotion through Black Friday weekend and into Cyber Monday.
Giving Tuesday can put a unique spin on things and is nice to align with a charitable cause, offering a donation of proceeds from your sales for example. Of course this can be part of your unique offer any time! Help people in need, help the environment, help animals; align yourself with a cause that resonates with your target market.
As the season wears on, it’s important in ecommerce to know when you can last feasibly ship out product to make it to customers in time. Leveraging that and providing messaging around it is incredibly impactful because you empower your customers with the knowledge that they’ll get their order in time and provide a solution to their fear of missing out.
And when it’s too late to feasibly send out any physical product in time, promoting your virtual gift cards can do much of the same thing. Provide a solution for that last minute shopper.
When New Year’s Eve rolls around, while some might start feeling burned out from the Holiday spending, that isn’t everyone. Some have just received gift cards or money and it’s an opportune time to spend. So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to have a compelling way to ring in the new year. It can be an extremely effective way to appeal to a segment of non-purchasers with messaging that it’s their last time to save before the year’s end.
On that note, outside the key dates we outlined, there are plenty of other opportunities through the Holiday sales season to send additional content. This is where educational content and product demonstrations can truly shine. This is a great strategic approach to email marketing year round, creating engaging, educational content that doesn’t need any sale or promotion to be valuable. This alongside paid ads and organic social media posts is a rock-solid tactic leading brands to successful growth.
One of the most powerful and impactful things you can do with your campaign strategy is to leverage segmentation for retargeting. We covered this in our previous lesson aptly titled Campaign Strategy & Segmentation. Suppose this: let’s say you have a customer that makes a purchase on Black Friday when she receives your Black Friday announcement email. After she’s made her purchase, does it make sense to continue to include her in your email campaigns throughout the weekend as you would to those who haven’t made purchases? No, of course not. What about people that have already clicked some of your emails? You have a microcosm of your awareness funnel for your promotion.
At the top you have awareness; are they aware? Have they seen or opened the email? Then there is interest; have they clicked the email and visited the site? At the bottom is decision; have they viewed product? Did they abandon their cart or maybe even make a purchase? Different subscribers are at different stages, so speak to them accordingly. You can create a segment based on users that have clicked on a certain email, for instance. This can be incredibly powerful. Or if someone has viewed product recently, maybe even viewed product a certain number of times, that can be a clear indicator of interest. When someone has recently made a purchase, maybe you want to create a segment simply to exclude them from your campaigns. Klaviyo’s data is there for the taking and I encourage you to use it to its fullest potential.
Ahead of your Holiday Sales, it’s worthwhile to take the time to audit your Flows.Take a good look at them and reconsider the subscriber journey with respect to the promotions you’ll be running. It might be an opportunity to update them to include additional emails and promotions. After all, while the money is flowing, maybe you can incentivize additional, repeat purchases. Or are you offering promotions in your automated Flow emails that might compete with your Holiday promos or potentially confuse your email subscribers? It might be worth creating some alternate emails to switch over to temporarily while you’re running those promotions. This is most easily accomplished using the A/B testing feature within your Flows. You can create an alternate email and when you’re ready to switch it, you simply change one from 100% to the other and then back when you’re ready to revert it.
iOS 15 & Privacy Settings
With your retargeting strategy this holiday season and going forward, it’s going to be important to account for the implications from Apple’s iOS 15 privacy updates. We touched on this in our previous lesson on Campaign Strategy and Segmentation. To reiterate, iOS 15 will allow users to be able to opt out of sharing some information, namely open data may be hidden. So, your opened emails may be an unreliable metric since the data may be obfuscated. So, it would be advisable to adopt a retargeting strategy using segments of Non-Clickers, that is, contacts that didn’t click your email. If someone didn’t click, that by default includes everyone that didn’t open. This way you can make sure you’re reaching contacts with fresh content in your marketing initiative if they didn’t click on the email.
Although we said we were focusing primarily on email within this course, it’s difficult not to include some mention of SMS. So, this is a whole topic in and of itself, but SMS can be a game-changer for your business and not just for the holidays. If you’re not already using SMS marketing, you’re more than likely missing out.
Klaviyo has built SMS seamlessly into the platform to get you up and running in no time as well as supporting features to compete with any other SMS app on the market.
As an agency, we often hear a considerable amount of trepidation or concern about venturing into SMS marketing and being too aggressive with their customers. What a lot of brands forget is that SMS marketing is only going to subscribers who actively opt into receiving marketing SMS messages. So, it is a self-selected group that actually prefers that method of communication.
Sooner rather than later, you want to begin collecting SMS subscribers. Just like in email, the prep work pays off and building that list of subscribers that are engaged with your content will help to hit the ground running when the Holiday season is in full stride.
So, what are the high level objectives for SMS leading up to BFCM?
- Enable SMS on your account
- Capture SMS opt-ins ASAP
- Incorporate SMS into Flows
- Devise your SMS campaign strategy
First, enable SMS on your account. It’s super simple. Within your account, navigate to your top right dropdown menu and select Account followed by the Settings dropdown and choose SMS. Here you’re now able to set up SMS and subsequently can configure all of your SMS details. You can see Klaviyo’s guide on setting up SMS for more details in the link provided.
Once you have SMS enabled on your account, you’re going to want to begin capturing phone numbers and SMS opt-ins. So, make sure you have an opt-in strategy. Whether it is front and center on all forms, maybe an added step in multi-step forms, or maybe you embed a form on a page and link there from a Welcome Series Email, work out your strategy for acquiring those opt-ins. Also, just like with email, consider an intro offer and make sure you express a value proposition for signing up. You’ll want to clearly establish what the benefits are for subscribing.
Since Klaviyo has both email and SMS within the same platform, one of the most valuable features is that you can add SMS messages right into your Flow automations. With conditional splits, you can create specific pathways for subscribers to follow if you have an SMS opt-in. This way you can deliver content in their preferred method or perhaps reach out via SMS if they don’t open your emails.
Lastly, you want to establish your SMS campaign strategy. How will SMS work in concert with email? Perhaps SMS subscribers will receive sneak previews or special offers. It’s a much more personal mode of communication when you’re right in someone’s text messages. So, don’t overdo it. Even moreso than email, make sure you only reach out with truly valuable content that users want to receive and at a cadence that won’t be irritating. It’s a chance to nurture your customer relationships, so don’t suffocate them with too many messages.
It goes without saying that the Holiday sales season is much longer than a single weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and you’ll want to consider more than only a single weekend of sales. When you set your sights on the long term, the work you do during Q4 can pay off year round. Never forget your long term retention plan.
Be sure not to miss an opportunity to introduce your brand and values. During the holidays, you might have new customers who are so eager to shop for gifts, they may skip through the beginning of a typical customer journey and purchase before subscribing and receiving your Welcome Series. Make sure you’re reaching out to customers post purchase who have not received that Welcome Series. Using the proper conditional splits within your Flows based on whether or not a customer has made a purchase, you can tailor your content. Use your brand story and values as an opportunity to maintain engagement with the customer as a strategy for retention going forward.
Don’t overload your customers with too many emails. Whether it’s Black Friday or Good Friday, make sure recent purchasers aren’t bogged down with more emails for the same sale or promotion if they’ve just made a purchase. Use segmentation and exclude audiences strategically. However, there is plenty of opportunity to re-convert a recent purchaser. You’ve just broken the ice and the customer already sees value in your product, so given the right approach, presenting a compelling offer that speaks directly to this stage of the customer journey, you can get multiple purchases. Consider working this into a post purchase automation such as your Customer Thank You Flow.
Loyalty rewards are also an excellent way to incentivize and gamify the shopping experience by offering points and reward tiers. There are apps in the Shopify ecosystem devoted to this such as Rise.ai, Smile.io, Loyalty Lion, and Swell. With all of the options, offering double points or specials for redeeming points is a great way to lead customers back long term, knowing that they’ve accrued some redeemable value with your brand. We’ve worked with Rise.ai to often integrate with Klaviyo. Through their integration with Klaviyo, you can display point balances within emails and enhance that experience to remind customers to come back and shop to earn more points or redeem the ones they have.
Customer Service needs are certainly ramped up during the holidays. Emails that answer common questions to address trepidations pre-purchase or provide product use info post purchase are a great way to build engagement with customers through educational content while reducing the strain on customer service. And this information is typically relevant year round, so it’s not only a win in the short term.
Landing pages and where you’re linking are another consideration with your email marketing. I see a lot of brands that might advertise a product or collection and link to their homepage, leading users to have to track down what was shown. Make sure you’re directing traffic in the most efficient route as possible. That may be a product page, collection page, or a dedicated landing page that speaks to a specific offer. You might try and test what seems to work best for your brand and customers. You can always create A/B tests for your campaigns but link to different pages and see the results.
In this lesson, we covered a lot to prep for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the entire Holiday season, and set the stage for future growth.
We discussed the best ways to prepare by ensuring a healthy contact list. Using engaged segments, A/B testing to improve your open and click rates, and being keenly aware of both list growth and maintenance are going to set the stage for effectively reaching your subscriber inboxes.
We also covered some of the key dates and initiatives for email. These initiatives are certainly not an exhaustive list, but shouldn’t be missed. Furthermore, all of them can all be extremely effective with multiple email sends around them using retargeting segments.
We also covered the importance of auditing and updating Flows as needed to ensure the messaging you’re sending out in campaigns doesn’t contradict any automated emails.
Make sure you take privacy settings into consideration. More and more users are likely to opt out of sharing critical data for your segmentation. So, ensure you are using metrics that are reliable. Opens may be compromised, so be sure to look more toward clicks as a useful metric.
It’s never too soon to start growing your SMS opt-ins. Incorporating it into both your Campaigns and Flows can help your business to reach new heights.
Lastly, we covered thinking long term beyond the holidays with retention strategies, to nurture relationships through educational content and value for your subscribers.
I hope you enjoyed and gained a lot of value from this course. It was ambitious in scope to be as comprehensive and informational as possible without being too daunting. Klaviyo being such a powerful tool, hopefully this helps to lead you on a path to success. Of course it’s a lot to take in and manage and if you want to get in touch here with Electric Eye as a professional agency with a great track record for setting up and managing accounts, feel free to reach out.
Thank you for watching.