Note: Upon her indictment on federal money laundering charges and her arrest February 8, 2022, Inc. dismissed Heather Morgan as a contributing columnist. As is our practice, we do not unpublish editorial content, and rather have added this note for full transparency.
Cyber Monday 2016 marked the biggest day in e-commerce history for the U.S. According to Adobe Digital Insights, consumers spent $3.45 billion in online sales, although that number is probably a little higher in reality.
But it seems many online marketers don't promote their Cyber Monday sales nearly as well as they could. According to MailCharts, a email-marketing company that tracks email programs for 30,000 different companies, many retailers treat Cyber Monday as simply an extension of Black Friday. In other words, they do little in the way of extra promotions, and often don't email customers about the holiday itself until it happens.
That might save time for the person crafting the emails, but doing it this way means missing valuable chances to stand out before the big shopping day.
If Cyber Monday is as popular this year as it was last, marketers and retailers face a huge task in capturing customers attention. You'll get started writing those email campaigns now, and start sending them on the early side.
When I spoke with MailCharts' Director of Marketing, Carl Sednaoui, he had several Cyber Monday strategies that companies should incorporate into their email campaigns. With that in mind, here are a few ways to amp consumers up and make your Cyber Monday sale stand out from competitors.
1. Start sending emails before Cyber Monday.
MailCharts, who included Cyber Monday as part of its holiday shopping survey last year, noted that 70 percent of emails were sent on or after the big shopping day in 2015. And only about 13 percent were sent ahead of time.
But if you stop and think about it, that approach makes little sense in 2017. Between apps, emails, Twitter announcements, and Facebook messages, consumers are beyond inundated with promotions. You'll lessen your chances of impressing Cyber Monday shoppers with your deals if you email them when everyone else does.
Instead, use the weeks beforehand to build a sense of anticipation. Send the first message a week or so before the actual shopping day. Mail volume will be lower, which means a well-crafted subject line, such as "Get Ready: 60% Off Acme's Entire Online Store Nov. 30" can get your promotion into the consumer's mind, if not their calendar, ahead of time.
Doing it this way also helps avoid customer fatigue, which runs rampant on big shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
2. Keep your holiday campaign consistent with your brand.
Cyber Monday may excite people, but if you run a luxury clothing company that's all about understated elegance, you won't win many shoppers by sending an email with flashy graphics, emoticons, and words like "zany." Likewise, a muted color palette and reserved language won't work for a company that sells sneakers to teenagers.
Presumably, your brand's identity already works for you. Even if it needs a little help, Cyber Monday is no time to try a refresh. Instead, consider the look and language used in your existing emails and web copy, and build your Cyber Monday campaign around that. Brand recognition is hard enough on the busiest shopping day of the year; don't make it harder by changing your style last minute.
3. Create urgency in your subject lines.
Ever read a subject line that says something like, "Last Chance to Get Your Free Gift" and immediately stopped work to investigate? Subject lines that get the most opens tend to be very specific and attention-grabbing. So if your subject lines just read "Cyber Monday Sale," your potential customers won't likely feel a need to open the email and start shopping right away.
On the other hand, subject lines like, "Get Ready: 50% Cyber Monday Sale" or "40% Off Site-Wide Sale For Cyber Monday" include all the info a customer really needs right there in the subject line. All the reader has left to do is open the email and click "Shop Now."
A word to the wise: avoid all caps in your subject lines. It's tempting to think this will grab more attention. In reality, it's one of the top email spam triggers out there.
4. Spark emotions with your calls to action.
Urgency is just one way to get customers to click the "Shop Now" button. There's a wide range of emotions marketers can leverage to appeal to their readers. Shopping, after all, is an emotional experience, even if we don't always realize it. "Last Chance" or "Don't Miss Out" can create fear of loss or scarcity, which are powerful motivators. Or, if your consumers respond to more positive calls to action, make them feel singled out and special: "Be the first in line for our Cyber Monday event."
You will know better than anyone what types of emotions will speak to your customers. Remember them when it comes time to create your Cyber Monday campaigns.
At this point, Cyber Monday is a holiday in its own right, so it's time to make your promotional plans reflect that. Underscore the word "plans." The more you can prepare in advance, and the better you can anticipate your potential customers wants and needs, the more successful your Cyber Monday will be.