It's nearly September — and Santa's on his way. So pack up the bathing suits, give a cursory glance at October's ghosts and goblins, a fleeting nod to November's pumpkins and falling leaves, and focus all your energies on the all important winter holiday season.

Spencer Kollas, vice president of global deliverability for Experian Marketing Services, conceded the holidays might seem far away. But shake off that complacency: Time moves quickly and now is the perfect time for marketers to begin preparing for the end-of the-year holidays.

By leveraging data from last year’s campaigns, as well as current market trends, brands can create more effective holiday marketing campaigns that increase engagement and improve the customer experience, Kollas said in a statement released today.

Experian: From Credit Reporting to Marketing

Experian Marketing Services describes itself as a provider of data-driven marketing and cloud-based marketing technology.

And it clearly understands the power of data. It's a division of the Dublin-based company best known for as one of the nation's three big credit-reporting agencies — you know, the companies that collect consumer credit account information on virtually every person with a loan, a credit card or a public record, including judgments and bankruptcies.

Experian's Email Benchmark Report

So it should come as no surprise that data was the focus of its just released second quarter Email Benchmark Report, which suggests marketers should consider the quality of subscriber data obtained during acquisition, as well as focus on social media, creative content, email personalization and retention strategy.

Learning Opportunities

The report confirmed that email marketing remains popular, with volume climbing 17.1 percent from a year ago. However, open and transaction rates remain steady.

In addition, year-over-year unique click rates declined slightly from 2 percent to 1.8 percent, while the actual number of clicks received in the quarter rose by 7 percent. And quarter-to-quarter email volume remained the same in the first and second quarters this year, but revenue per email rose from 6 cents to 7 cents in the second quarter.

5 Email Marketing Strategies

Spencer Kollas
So what's an email marketer to do? Kollas offered these strategies:

  1. Try to improve the quality of the data obtained at the point of sale (POS) by investing in real-time email validation technology, training store associates for data collection and having customers verify data in real time. These customers are often are highly engaged with your brand. In research between April 2015 and March 2016, Experian found welcome mailings to POS subscribers had a 32 percent higher click-to-open rate than for subscribers obtained from other sources (23.2 percent for POS compared with 17.5 percent from other sources).
  2. Target email subscribers based on their interest in social media. For example, welcome emails sent to subscribers who engaged via Facebook had an 11 percent higher click-to-open rate than other welcome emails from the same brand (22 percent for Facebook welcomes compared with 19.9 percent for other welcome emails).
  3. Capitalize on fresh creative ideas that add a sense of urgency to your holiday campaigns. During the 2015 holiday season, marketing campaigns that included a dynamic countdown clock had a 41 percent higher click-to-open rate and more than double the transaction rate of other holiday mailings from the same brands.
  4. Get personal, and go beyond a subject line with the customer's first name. Based on data from April 2015 to March 2016, brands that included personalized email subject lines — anything from first names to more granular data points, such as purchase or browse behavior — experienced 27 percent higher unique click rates, 11 percent higher click-to-open rates and more than double the transaction rate compared with other promotional mailings. "When personalization is done correctly, marketers can create an improved customer journey," Kollas said.
  5. Keep your customers after the holidays with a proper retention strategy. Brands that sent “thank you for your purchase” mailings saw twice the open and click rates, as well as five times the transaction rate, compared with promotional mailings. Additionally, promotional campaigns that included “our way of saying thanks” experienced two and a half times the transaction rate of other promotional mailings.

Title image by Hannah Morgan