November 2

2021 Holiday Best Practices

Time flies! This saying rings true, especially around the holidays. So as marketers prepare to bid adieu to the previous year, they also focus on a final goal - preparing for the peak holiday sending season. 


This fall, Deloitte reported that ecommerce holiday sales might grow by as much as 11% to 15%, compared to the previous holiday season. With so much to gain, is your strategy set up to ensure your brand will get a piece of the pie?

To help marketers make the most this holiday season, Optimizely's market-leading Digital Experience Platform (DXP) offers simplified sophistication. A critical aspect of the DXP is composability. Meaning with Optimizely, you have the flexibility to choose components based on the outcomes you want to drive for your business. During this time of year, the pressure is on to meet goals and deliver results. As a result, the need for clarity and confident decisions, backed by data, is increasing.

To prevail through the chaos of the holiday season, let's take a look at how Optimizely can help. In this post, we'll use Optimizely Data Platform's (ODP) capabilities, a part of Optimizely DXP, and review some tactical examples.

Customer-centric email marketing with Optimizely

At Optimizely, we love to help our customers think in more customer-centric, not campaign-centric methods.

To help marketers make the most of the increasingly essential advantage of data-driven decision-making for holidays and end-of-year sales, Data Platform provides data-science-powered insights about your audience to guide your strategy. Then, with new insights and understanding, marketers can leverage one-click integrations to activate their data in leading marketing, sales, and customer service channels.

With brands planning for peak holiday sending beginning in October, we know you and your team have spent countless hours crafting your content and campaigns. However, even the best laid out campaigns will have no effect if your customers do not see them!

When it comes to email marketing, marketers need to be concerned about the governing principles that determine email deliverability and use their data to investigate where they can be the most successful from an ROI and customer experience perspective.

The customer experience determines email deliverability

First, we'll need to consider whom we're sending emails to and the services that make email marketing possible. We're talking, of course, about internet service providers (ISPs). These companies often act as gatekeepers because they, too, are striving to create the best online experience for their customers. As a result, ISPs have rules in place to govern spammers and unsolicited content. Of course, the success of your campaigns depends on your ability to adhere to these rules, but it's often the unique pressure of the holiday season that trips many marketers up from making the right decision.

Data Platform provides prescriptive recommendations for your marketing based on your audience data. Data science models clarify who should receive what messages, when they should get them, and what you should say. First, however, let's review a few things to ensure your brand is top of mind this season.

Deliverability tip 1: Consistent send volume

To ensure inbox placement, focus on the two critical ingredients for good deliverability: consistent send volume and identifying engaged customers.

It is essential to focus on building towards spikes in higher send volume both leading up to and during peak holiday sending. Today, brands need to have a consistent send volume to show ISPs that they're not spammers. ISPs are also watching for engagement.

In addition to ongoing sender activity, recipients need to receive value from your emails. Therefore, opens and clicks also matter, and ISPs combine sender activity and recipient engagement factors to determine inbox placement.

Deliverability tip 2: segment for engagement and send frequency

Along with sending volume, brands must also concentrate on data from recipients. Our rule of thumb for identifying engaged customers during the holiday peak is simple: send to those who have opened, clicked or ordered in the last 13-18 months.

Again, incorporating criteria that state customers have had an active action during this period helps decrease the risk of getting caught in spam traps or reaching out to expired inboxes.

Another way to think about segmenting your audience is through the lens of seasonality. For example, you can use Data Platform to identify seasonal shoppers to create a segment of customers with at least one order between November 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, who also had no transactions before November 1, 2020.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are critical dates on which consumers are looking to purchase that 'treat yourself' or 'high ticket' items they have had their eyes on for some time. So don't forget to highlight your special holiday deals in your outreach to these customers.

Data Platform makes segmentation as easy as clicking a mouse and can get even more specific as you devise the appropriate strategy for email. However, one channel can only get you so far. With Data Platform, marketers enjoy activations into any channel they choose to reach customers with relevant and personalized messaging.

Go beyond email marketing with Optimizely Data Platform and omnichannel campaigns

It is undeniable that during peak holiday sending, inboxes often become flooded. With all the brands out there pushing their deals, it is critical to implement strategies to help your brand stand out from the rest.

One proven strategy for Optimizely customers has been utilizing multiple touchpoints to complement email campaigns. To illustrate, let's say you send out an email campaign at 9 AM. Chances are, due to higher-than-average inbox volume, your message becomes buried beneath the competition by the early afternoon. The case for the second touchpoint: one send might not be enough.

Consider a second nudge that goes out later that day to all customers who have not engaged with the first email. The data indicates they may have missed it. That way, your brand stays at the top of the inbox and top of mind. Attention is the essential arbitrage, and though increasing send frequency can help, it's always necessary to stay personalized, no matter what.

With insights gathered from Data Platform, marketers can easily personalize emails, even through automation. For example, adding dynamic content to the subject or preheader, such as the customer's first name or the name of a particular product you know they're interested in, is a quick and easy way to catch the eye of your consumers. When paired with personalization, urgency can also be decisive - focusing on using language to express approaching deadlines to save and adding phrases without gimmicks or known triggers for spam filters.

Most have heard the timeless phrase, don't put all your eggs in one basket. It's true for holiday marketing campaigns and selecting an ecommerce platform as well. Make sure you reach your audience by prioritizing omnichannel campaign outreach.

With Data Platform powering your omnichannel campaigns, the customer experience can become seamless across multiple marketing channels. Your website, social media, emails, and SMS messaging can harmonize to drive engagement and revenue.

The reality is that some consumers are more active on some channels more than others. For example, consider adding an SMS message to your flash sale emails. Also, adjust your web experiences, such as modals and embeds, to display Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. By expanding your marketing reach, you are creating more incentives and ways to shop for your customers and more ways to shop equals more revenue for your business!

Collaborate with an Optimizely expert this holiday season

We know this time of the year is busy, so let us take some of the weight off your shoulders.

Our Customer Success Team is here to help you implement these best practices! Reach out to either your assigned CSM or our Optimizely Support Team with any questions around the upcoming peak sending season.

Our final piece of advice? Ensure your omnichannel strategy is finalized and ready to go so you can sit back and relax!

Happy Holidays from our team to yours!