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Christmas 2021: how to set up a post-COVID Email Marketing campaign

18 November 2021Reading time: 6 min.

The Christmas season is right around the corner. Have you prepped your email campaign strategy? Here’s some practical advice and data on the evolution of this post-COVID holiday so that you can fine-tune the right Email Marketing strategy.

A quarter of the annual e-commerce demand happens during Christmas time. But what’s to expect from Christmas 2021? We’ve (almost completely) left the pandemic behind us. However, the health emergency has left an indelible imprint on consumer shopping habits. 

This year, digital sales will exceed $1 trillion globally. But experts say that there’ll be many surprises: this year’s Christmas shopping promises to be very different from the past.

How should Italian brands and companies prep for Christmas 2021? Let’s try to forecast what’ll happen in the next 2 months. Check out the statistics and trends that have already emerged from our studies last year. This will provide a profitable outlook for those who place a lot of emphasis on not just Christmas but also Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

And what about Email Marketing? What role does it play this year? We have some interesting data to share with you. In fact, it might make you review your Email Marketing strategy for Christmas 2021.

How has communicating with and tapping into consumers changed since the pandemic?

Everyone will remember 2020 as the year of lockdowns and a health emergency. But for companies and the marketing realm, it’ll also be the year of mass digital revolution.

According to a Salesforce report, 58% of 2020 brand interactions were online

(+17% compared to 2019). This trend was evident right from the start: already in the first months of the pandemic, MailUp’s customer base peaked not only in sending volumes (customers even quintupled this) but also in openings (up to 40%) and clicks (up to 15%). All of this includes a considerable boost in engagement (from 200 to 400%) for specific sectors.

These data are from the first weeks of the lockdown. However, if we look at the 2020 global trend, there’s an irreversible change involving digital technology on behalf of both companies and consumers. 

Online traffic is definitely another interesting aspect: it increased by 1% in Italy, whereas global data fell by 2%. 

Why is the mid-pandemic so important? 

Since Italians finally “discovered” e-commerce, it seems unlikely that they’ll abandon it. Despite getting back to normal, data tell us that more than 16 million people think their habits are irreversible.

Indeed, in 2020, all sectors recorded an increase in e-commerce purchases. Growth rates reached 56% for sectors like Food & Grocery. 

It’s now a digital-first world following the pandemic. Companies that want to stay on the market must accept this and adapt as quickly as possible to new consumer demands, namely: personalization, empathy, speed, and digitalization.

How did Email Marketing respond to COVID-19?

According to MailUp data, opening rates (+11%) and unique clicks (+13.2%) went up in 2020. This growing trend is a clear sign of greater trust between companies and recipients. But it also tells us that user interest and attention has gone up when it comes to brand communication.

Data on sending distribution also give us key insights. The largest mailing volumes in 2020 were in fact recorded in November with 1 billion 326 thousand emails (9.69% of the total), whereas May 2019 had the the most mailings ever. 

What kind of emails were sent during this period? DEM and newsletters clearly show us the root of the trend: the Christmas campaign, starting with Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November. So it’s no coincidence that the same Black Friday-themed campaigns also recorded higher opening rates (+8.84%) and clicks (+13.46%). 

Email Marketing: the most effective tool for tapping into consumers this post-pandemic Christmas

Experts predict that Christmas 2021 digital sales will reach $1 trillion globally. But how can companies tap into new consumers? 

Email Marketing may be the ideal solution for Christmas marketing since it’s an opt-in channel. This means that consumers can choose to receive Christmas communications and offers from brands they like. Plus, databases can be segmented. This enhances the relevance of sent messages to the potential customer so that you can personalize emails based on the recipient’s demographics, interests, or purchase history.

Businesses can improve their performance by implementing Email Marketing best practices and using a reliable delivery platform with high deliverability rates. MailUp, for example, guarantees a 99% email delivery and has increased this by 0.19% over the past year.

As for your Christmas newsletters, another tip to boost conversion rates and customer loyalty is to have an eye for email design. Focus on a look that goes with the occasion. Make sure it’s original and fits the brand. Personalization is always an ace up the sleeve for Email Marketing.

If you don’t know how to start creating DEM and Christmas ad hoc newsletter templates, then contact the MailUp Creativity Suite. This team of expert email designers, developers, and accounts will help you develop a template that fits your brand during your Christmas campaign. 

Segmentation: the key to a successful Christmas 2021 campaign

Engagement is the most effective parameter for companies in verifying the success of their Email Marketing campaigns.

Industry data demonstrate that brands aiming to tap into post-pandemic consumers must grab attention by personalizing communication, e.g. gift guides with varied content that’s designed to guide the user in looking for a Christmas present—a perfect time saver. This means segmenting databases effectively, so recognizing different recipient clusters.

Below are 5 key segments for the 2021 holiday season:

  1. Big spender: These are customers in your database that have a high average order value. You can raise profits if you send these customers timely seasonal offers, e.g. let them preview offers or give them a discount with a minimal purchase.
  2. New customers: They’ve bought from you for the first time recently, meaning they’re still in the engagement phase. Tempt them into spending a little more on that perfect gift through cross/up-sell campaigns or by offering a further discount on their next purchase.
  3. Regular customers: Since they’re brand loyal, you have to reward them during special occasions like Christmas. To encourage a purchase, send them personalized emails with product recommendations based on previous orders. You can also reward them with exclusive benefits like free delivery or the guarantee of receipt before Christmas.
  4. Wishlister: These customers appreciate your brand and have placed various products on their wish lists. Christmas is the perfect time to spur them to buy what’s caught their attention over the year. We suggest creating personalized dynamic emails with the products they want. If there’s no response, then go for multi-channel remarketing on social media networks.
  5. VIP: These are the company’s most profitable customers (with the highest ROI). Pamper them all year round and make them feel really special at Christmas. Then they’ll be brand ambassadors to other consumers, enhancing your brand awareness. This group appreciates Merry Christmas greetings, Christmas giveaways, and exclusive benefits that reward their loyalty.

How can I customize my Christmas emails for each target?

Relying on professional sending platforms like MailUp is vital in ensuring you reach recipient inboxes without the risk of ending up in Spam. In fact, these platforms provide a series of hyper-personalization tools like the Display Condition, which lets you show different content within the same message based on your target segments. 

display condition example

Using groups and filters or advanced segmentation tools that can create specific targets within the database are also extremely useful, if not essential, in achieving this goal. 

Christmas: the time of year to concentrate on 2021

If you’ve been anxiously awaiting the Christmas campaign to harness the historic, record sales of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and December, then get ready for what’s new this year. Take advantage of the ideal marketing channel for you while connecting with others: Email Marketing.

Christmas is a special time of year. Make your email recipients feel unique with our tips, and you’ll surely triumph!

This article was written by

Valentina Pacitti

Valentina Pacitti

Copywriter and translator since 2012, in charge of SEMrush Italia's blog since 2015. Words are my means of communicating with people - I read and write plenty of them. I like to know them inside and out, so that I can pick the best ones for every story I'm telling. Simple, clear, precise - this is the writing style I prefer. I'm more offline than online, but you can always find me on my social channels to discuss ideas and projects.

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