Thrive Market and Sephora Tie for Top Spot: Thrive Market Wins with an Insights-Driven Approach to Email and Mobile, While Sephora Excels with a Robust Connection Between Online and Offline Channels

Liveclicker, a Marigold brand and the leading personalized marketing automation technology provider for retailers and publishers, announced today the results of the 2022 Retail Personalization Index. Thrive Market, the health-first membership for conscious living, and Sephora, global beauty retailer, have tied for the top spot in the 5th annual analysis. Thrive Market earned high scores for its sophisticated mobile app and email experiences using a data-driven personalization strategy that enriches the entire customer experience. Sephora saw success for its highly orchestrated online and in-store personalization approach based on loyalty and experiential marketing. DSW earned the third spot for its personalized communications during a customer’s first interactions with the brand and an online shopping experience that mirrors the one in store.

With a combination of DTC start-ups and large brick-and-mortar companies at the forefront this year, top performers prove that every type of retailer can use the zero- and first-party data they collect to create highly successful personalization strategies that deliver more value for customers and higher returns for brands.

“Over the past two years, brands have had to focus on short-term gains, whereas consumers have increased their expectations for meaningful personalization both online and in store. That means there is now a lot of work to be done in order for brands to meet these new customer expectations and see successful revenue generation at the same time,” said Jason Grunberg, General Manager at Sailthru. “With more retailers turning to zero- and first-party data strategies to drive the future of marketing, it is more important than ever to create value-driven personalized engagement with customers to collect insights that offer continuously better experiences – and revenue opportunities – across every touchpoint.”

The top five scoring brands in the 2022 Retail Personalization Index are: 

“We are thrilled to have been crowned as a top performing brand in this year’s Retail Personalization Index. Personalization is integrated into our entire customer strategy, from the moment someone lands on our webpage, to our ongoing relationship on email and on our app. Our approach to personalization creates incredible value for our members – and drives strong performance for the business,” said Lindsay McGovern, Senior Director of CRM & Lifestyle at Thrive Market. “We see an accelerated first-to-purchase experience, stronger repeat purchase rates, and higher overall lifetime value.”

While Thrive Market dominated the mobile category with its highly intuitive app that is driven by past purchases and preferences, Sephora topped the website category with a robust loyalty-driven experience that makes the beauty retailer’s vast product catalog feel relevant to millions of customers — and seamlessly connects online experiences to in-store shopping. 

Email also proved to be a top performing channel for DTC and native digital brands, such as 1stDibs, Wayfair and Fashion Nova, which jumped from 69th in 2021 to 12th place in this year’s overall ranking. Ranked sixth, Fabletics scored highest in email for its advanced product filtering and curated product recommendations among many features. Thrive Market also earned high marks for its email approach, in which the brand delivers an experience that is immediately personalized from onboarding data and continues to integrate even more advanced personalization elements over time. The brand also includes a combination of newsletters and triggered content in its emails that help gather additional insights and drive more sales. 

Consumers are aware of the value exchange that drives personalization and favor brands that offer personalized experiences. A study commissioned by Coresight Research and Liveclicker as part of the 2022 Retail Personalization index, found that 71% of consumers will shop more often with brands or retailers that personalize their communications. While the vast majority (98%) of retail marketers use some form of advanced personalization, many are not delivering personalized experiences that live up to consumer expectations. While 71% of retailers think they excel in personalization in marketing, only 34% of consumers agree. It is critically important for retailers to develop more value-driven personalization that encourages true consumer engagement across channels and supports zero- and first-party data collection to support personalized marketing and commerce in the future. There is ample opportunity for retail brands who rise to the challenge, as 80% of consumers noted that they would share data in exchange for deals and offers, while 70% would share data for loyalty points.

About the 2022 Retail Personalization Index

A team of researchers calculated the scores of the Retail Personalization Index, which come from a checklist of 80 attributes that a retailer could implement to personalize and/or enhance a customer’s experience across site, email, mobile, other digital channels (which includes in-store, social, and traditional mail), offline, and privacy. The 2022 Retail Personalization Index also includes findings from three surveys: 

Customers Save Time and Boost Performance with Automated Brand Language and Call-to-Action Tools

NEW YORK, Jan. 11, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Liveclicker, a global provider of next-level email personalization solutions for B2C marketers, today announced that WWE, Kabam, and Insider were recognized as 2021 Q4 Email Innovator Award Winners. These three media leaders displayed unique and effective approaches to email marketing that increased performance. In an uncertain time, these three brands went the extra mile to connect with their audiences and achieved success with meaningful content.

“Liveclicker is a fantastic partner for us, providing dynamic email capabilities that help us breathe new life into our content and find creative new ways to use email to reach our audiences. We’re thrilled with the results we’ve seen from incorporating Liveclicker into our email marketing strategy,” said Jake O’Brien, Senior Lifecycle Marketing Specialist at Kabam.

Each media company achieved improved email performance and increased the dynamic engagement of their email with Liveclicker, leading to Email Innovator Award recognition.

WWE increased clicks by 35%, embedding video into email: The world’s premier wrestling media brand worked with Liveclicker to embed video featuring high-energy content and unforgettable stars directly into its emails. Creating impactful video-forward content, WWE grew engagement among its dedicated fanbase and improved KPIs.

Kabam drove a 286.5% lift in email engagement with LivePolls: By putting next-level experiences and new ways to have fun in the hands of mobile gamers everywhere, Kabam lives its mission by entertaining the world one interaction at a time. The entertainment content brand incorporated LivePolls, LiveReveal and surveys into its emails to increase engagement with subscribers. In one campaign, LiveReveal increased click-to-open by 46%, while incorporating embedded survey data in another campaign drove click-through-rates up 33%.

Insider boosted its welcome series with video, garnering 50,000 impressions to date: With 250 million readers worldwide, Insider embedded video content into its welcome series to initiate better relationships and set the tone for what customers can expect. The sixth video in the series features a heartfelt video from Editor-In-Chief Matt Turnernew, which captivates readers with a more personal and dynamic experience.

“Email has become a major engagement channel for media brands, and our customers WWE, Kabam, and Insider show the impact of adding dynamic features can dramatically increase performance. We’re so excited to award each of these brands as Email Innovators. With elements like embedded video that create richer experiences and LiveReveal and LivePolls that encourage engagement, Liveclicker helps media companies make the most of every inbox interaction,” said Kenna Hilburn, Chief Operating Officer at Liveclicker.

To learn more about why each brand is bringing home the hardware, click here to read our 2021 Q4 Email Innovator Award Winners’ case studies!

Unfortunately, the common assumption is that email only works for retail and media’s biggest brands. Many owners make the mistake of believing that small business email marketing success isn’t possible—or, at the very least, won’t work as effectively for them.

But that’s not even remotely true!

In fact, many marketers cite email marketing as their most lucrative channel for online engagement. After all, for every dollar your small business invests into email your team creates the potential for ROI of $20 or more. Giving your budget the most bang for its buck—no matter how big or small it may be.

That said, this investment takes time to pay off—and your company expects results now. So, here are four tips to inspire small business email marketing success right away!

Excite first-time shoppers with small-scale personalization

Right now, you’re seeing more online traffic from first-time shoppers than any other time of the year. But if you’re not personalizing these engagements based on where new visitors are finding your brand from, you’re leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table.

For example, if you know a user came from a specific paid media campaign, personalizing their shopping experience to incorporate consistent messaging between their onsite, email, and mobile interactions increases their likelihood to convert—as well as your ability to take a running start to new, long-term customer relationships that keep them coming back for future purchases.

small business email marketing success

Social media channels are another increasingly popular small businesses are using to inspire email marketing success. By incorporating the same influencer, Instagram post, or a social media ad that brought someone to your site into their welcome experience, you create a highly relevant first impression that makes them much more likely to take advantage of future updates, offers, and exclusive opportunities like loyalty program membership.

Combined with a data-driven ESP, first-time shoppers can even be tracked via cookies on your site experience whether they sign up to receive your emails or not. But when they do, all of the collected first-party behavioral data can be used to personalize your messages on a one-to-one scale.

Optimize your CTAs for small business email marketing success

Your email experience should feel like a gift: thoughtful, personalized, and surprisingly delightful. But without an equally impressive CTA, even the most carefully planned interaction isn’t likely to lead to small business email marketing success.

small business email marketing success

Adding an eye-catching CTA is one of the easiest ways to supplement your spot-on marketing messages and boost campaign conversion rates. So, before you send your next email, here are a few tips for crafting irresistible CTAs that convince your customers to buy:

Know the value of every email subscriber

While ROI is obviously an important metric to help you gauge small business email marketing success, there’s an equally important—yet much less talked about—benchmark to consider: subscriber value.

After all, an accurate estimation of your email subscriber value lets any small business marketing team know how much it costs to acquire an engaged recipient, how much they’re potentially worth, and how many resources you should put into finding and retaining them. Once you have an understanding of these figures, it becomes much easier to make informed decisions about your strategy—and where you can make the biggest impact for the smallest investment possible.

Test rendering across devices and ISPs to ensure small business email marketing success

Did you know that ESPs and third-party email services will often change your email’s code as you send messages out? After all, adding tracking pixels, removing unnecessary code that’s likely to get your interactions stuck in the spam filter, and rewriting links are standard ESP practices.

Left unchecked, however, these positive-minded changes can be bad news for your email rendering. Especially when you consider that email clients like Gmail, Apple Mail, Yahoo!, and Outlook play by their own rules.

For example, these companies make the decision to either enable or block email images by default—creating two very different renderings of your campaign (or more if you create additional personalized versions based on individual user preferences). And if you’re not aware of these issues due to lack of pre-send testing capabilities, you risk losing the impact your campaign could have had because your messages will appear broken to anyone that opens them.

small business email marketing success

Sure, you could put in hours of extra work testing every email across every browser, email client, and operating system your customers could potentially use. But teaming up with a powerful ESP or email partner is the most effective way to eliminate email rendering issues before they occur. These solutions put robust design tools and testing mechanisms at the tip of your fingers, allowing you to preview your email campaign across any device or ISP with a single click—before you press send.

Plus, many of these email partners will deliver an abundance of responsive, code-free email templates ready to use and email builder tools to automatically optimize your messages. Not to mention access to industry-leading reporting systems that shed light on the real-time strengths and weaknesses of every campaign.

No doubt about it—retail customers love to click and collect. Cleaner stores and more crowd control? Great! Same-day delivery or free expedited shipping? Bring it on!

In all seriousness, a quick ramp up to new ecommerce services and pandemic-friendly fulfillment options helped retailers survive the last 18+ months. But going forward, these same tactics will inspire enough customer loyalty gains to become a standard part of any customer experience—especially for the buyers that didn’t (or couldn’t) make it to your stores in 2021.

No matter how much customers value these added services, however, they can be expensive to run. They also require extra attention and more personnel in order to give customers the immediacy and convenience they expect. This is a major challenge given ongoing staff shortages, especially going into the holiday shopping season. 

So, where will the money come from to meet these higher customer expectations? Many retailers, whether they’re exclusively brick-and-mortar, ecommerce-only, or a hybrid operation, are hoping higher retention will cover these added expenses. 

While many have refocused attention on personalization and email marketing to help them reach out to their most devoted customers, other, more savvy retail marketing teams are looking at new ways to capitalize on customer loyalty instead.

Dealing with shifting customer loyalty

Customer loyalty, whether measured informally or through a tiered or VIP program engagement level, has always been a key driver for retention. However, retail customer loyalty strategies have shifted markedly since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

According to Clarus Commerce, nearly 70% of consumers say their loyalty is more difficult to maintain today. And while product quality and price still impact customer loyalty in some cases, the picture has become undeniably more complex.

A new kind of customer emerged during the pandemic, which Accenture christened the “Reimagined” shopper based on its 2021 consumer survey. These shoppers are less tied to price and product quality and more concerned that brands understand and respond to their needs, especially during economic or social disruptions.

customer loyalty strategies

In fact, Accenture’s study revealed that 57% of consumers would switch retailers if their regular brands don’t meet their expectations for health and safety, protect their data privacy, or align with their personal beliefs. 

3 customer loyalty strategies for 2022 success

Customer loyalty programs are a good jumping-off point for building retention because they pay off.

“Top-performing loyalty programs can boost revenue from customers who redeem points by 15% to 25% annually, by increasing either their purchase frequency or basket size or both,” McKinsey reports.

Restructuring your customer loyalty strategy can help you incorporate these new customer expectations in more effective retention programs that don’t prioritize purchases, points, or prizes like the loyalty programs of yesterday.

customer loyalty strategies

But you don’t have to turn a loyalty program into a cost center instead of a revenue generator. Anything from a little fine-tuning to a reimagination of rewards, along with a healthy dose of employee empowerment, can turn a minor producer into a customer-retaining powerhouse.

So, don’t wait—take advantage of these 3 customer loyalty strategies now!

1. Go omnichannel

Call on all of your marketing channels to promote offers, notify members about rewards, and collect data you can use later to go deeper into personalized messages. This fits with another customer expectation—a seamless experience no matter which channel they choose to connect with your brand.

Email can remain your loyalty flagship because of its wide reach, personalization potential, and economical distribution. If you need proof, look no further than this noteworthy example from women’s apparel retailer Torrid.

Torrid sends each loyalty program member a detailed monthly statement that shows how much she earned in the last month, how close she is to the next highest rewards tier, and what rewards she can spend now. Giving this brand’s triggered loyalty emails a chance to supplement regular monthly reminders that encourage customers to spend rewards, move into a higher loyalty tier, or take advantage of a limited-time offer it expires.

customer loyalty strategies

Cheetah Digital’s Digital Consumer Trend Index 2021 found email outperforms SMS by 92%. But that doesn’t mean SMS can’t (or shouldn’t) still play a key role in your customer loyalty strategy. SMS or push notifications through a branded app can be just as effective as email for alerting VIPs to reward or tier expirations, short-term offers only for VIPs, or even reactivation pings for program members who haven’t purchased lately.

2. Enlist your employees in the loyalty cause

Nobody knows your customers better than your front-line store personnel or customer service specialists. Do they know your loyalty program as well? 

Retail workers know how fast a casual mention of an unexpected loyalty perk, VIP discount, or other reward can turn a “just browsing” customer into a first-time buyer. Or appease an unhappy one enough to re-engage with your brand. 

But if your employees don’t understand your customer loyalty strategy or can’t access it to suggest purchases that result in rewards, they can’t leverage your efforts to encourage more customers to buy or to redeem their rewards.

Lucky for you, three marketing tactics can turn your employees into loyalty program ambassadors:

3. Think beyond points and discounts

Shoppers certainly are, anyway.

“The heart of loyalty is not merely the cheapest price-point, but a brand that can foster community, recognizes the customer as an individual, and delivers content and product recommendations that reflect this,” according to Cheetah Digital’s Digital Consumer Trend Index 2021 report. 

Most loyalty programs reward on purchases, but if customers aren’t in the market for products all the time, this strategy causes your loyalty program to lose value and meaning over time. So, use email to offer incentives or tier points for completing preference profiles, taking short quizzes, submitting personal data like birthday or postal address, or making friends-and-family referrals. That way, you can give your customers something no competitor can deliver or compete with: a highly personalized, engaging email experience. 

Conclusion: your customer loyalty strategies can (and will) make all the difference in 2022

The ripple effects of the pandemic—staffing shortages, supply disruption, channel-shifting for purchases, and continued economic uncertainty for many consumers—will continue to challenge retailers into 2022 and even beyond. 

Building up an effective customer loyalty strategy is a key first step in retention. And not just to persuade them to buy, to buy more, and to buy more often—but also to give you many more ways to show them how much you value them as customers and people. That might be the ultimate tie that binds someone to your brand long-term.

It’s no secret that email marketers are dealing with increased workloads. Today, you’re being asked to do more than ever—and with less time, budget, and team bandwidth too.

Which is why centralized martech solutions are becoming more and more necessary with each passing day. Over the last six months, we’ve seen a nearly 40% increase in the use of API-based integrations among our partners—proving that brand-specific personalization tools are necessary for bridging the industry’s most important knowledge gaps by giving marketers access to their entire suite of integrated third-party platforms, software products, and data feeds from a single location.

With this in mind, we’re excited to announce our direct integration with world-leading brand language optimization technology provider Phrasee. And even more excited to see the brand-specific email experiences you create using this new, seamless combination of your brand’s best-performing content, loyal customer insights, and industry-leading personalization capabilities.

“We have a shared goal of creating a single, user-friendly hub for email marketers to make it easy to access the very best content and capabilities for their campaigns. Together, we offer a better overall service and more robust capabilities, and we’re thrilled to help email marketers integrate intelligent brand content support from Phrasee, easily and all in one place,” said Kenna Hillburn, Chief Operating Officer at Liveclicker.

So, what do you stand to gain from our Phrasee integration? Let’s explore the advantages brand-optimized personalization can deliver your business now!

Create more (and better) CTAs faster with the power of Phrasee and Liveclicker at your fingertips

Personalization is essential for any brand looking to build solid, long-term relationships with its customers. Not only does it help boost engagement, but it also can reduce customer acquisition costs—allowing marketers to focus on increasing the lifetime value of their current customers (a more cost-effective tactic) rather than focusing on engagement-driven audience metrics.

And while email experts are aware of this reality, many still struggle to implement personalization into their existing efforts and into their CTAs in a way that doesn’t sacrifice elements of their brand voice and style. Now is the time for brands to look past standard, non-personalized messaging in favor of personalized experiences that are woven into every step of the customer journey.

Liveclicker’s integration with Phrasee helps you create brand language that turns opens into clicks—and clicks into loyal customers. We make it easy for you to deliver personalized experiences with the right content, at the right time, to the right people—all in your unique brand voice.

Phrasee integration

Why is this so important? Because studies show that personalized CTAs convert 202% better than default or standard messaging, and 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase that is personalized. Together, we help you increase conversions by creating “brand-centric” copy in less time. And by making it possible to test your email experiences at the moment of engagement, you can be sure your team is always sending the most relevant, impactful content to every recipient.

Scale your marketing efforts without sacrificing your brand’s voice 

Take the guesswork out of creating high-converting copy by testing multiple, AI-powered CTAs code-free in just a few clicks. Phrasee’s integration with Liveclicker helps you spend less time stressing over what works by adding proven, brand-optimized CTAs automatically to your live, personalized elements.

Phrasee integration

This allows you to quickly determine which option(s) are most likely to positively influence your click-through rates and immediately deploy that winning option to the rest of your campaign. That data is then automatically sent back to our system so you can create future CTAs that include the language that customers are not only responding to, but that they’ve come to know, love, and expect from your brand. 

Introduce new campaigns with language that is relevant to every customer

Creating and deploying new campaigns just became easier and quicker, particularly for nimble teams who don’t have much time to generate a bunch of new CTAs.

Phrasee integration

So, whether you want to introduce a new product category or roll out a new seasonal product, our integration makes it easier to automate your brand’s voice, create clear CTAs throughout your personalized experiences, and ultimately make each offer irresistible. 

Validate what is working based on data, and not just a gut feeling

No more subjective squabbles over language or endless hours in the thesaurus. We know that the process of creating and testing multiple email messages can be long, overwhelming, and very subjective. Our integration helps you confirm assumptions based on data so you can stop creating copy that just sounds good and let the data tell you exactly what is good.

Phrasee integration

We also help you automate the process of adding variants to your personalized elements, A/B testing them, and updating the winning experience immediately so that your campaigns are optimized in real-time for success.

For more information about what our Phrasee integration means for you and email marketers everywhere, click here to check out Liveclicker’s Phrasee partner page. Or, read our press release to learn more.

For any media brand, your biggest competition to hook new holiday readers won’t be another network or news outlet. It’s all those holiday emails filling up your readers’ inboxes.

But don’t close the book on email until after New Year’s Day! Instead, check out these tactics that top retailers use to cut through the clutter, grab readers’ attention, and move engaged subscribers to act. 

In other words, you can beat them at their own game. And if you keep reading, we can show you how.

Email connects you to your audience and new holiday readers

As a media brand, email can connect your audience (and hopefully, a lot of new holiday readers) directly to your latest  books, news stories, TV shows, streaming platforms, or subscription models. But a strategically designed newsletter can also move your audiences to your platform permanently—increasing their daily brand interaction and likelihood to buy.

new holiday readers

So, instead of waiting for them to discover your content, use a well-timed, personalized email to nudge them into action.

Remember the days of  “appointment TV?”

A well-timed email can remind your new holiday readers when and why to tune in now instead of waiting to catch your shows later. Got breaking news? Share it fast in an email bulletin, and track individual engagement and responses to learn which content gets your audience excited.

new holiday readers

You can even use the data you’ve collected directly from your readers or viewers to create highly personalized messages featuring dynamic content that looks as if you chose it just for them. This season, don’t be afraid to call on the power of email—and your audience’s propensity for checking their inboxes regularly—to stay in touch, to persuade them to engage with your emails, to reward them for viewing or reading your newest content, and to whip up excitement about new programs and whatever’s coming next. 

Another bonus to hook new holiday readers: reliable first-party data

Publishers will be among the most affected when Google’s plan to kill off third-party cookies in its Chrome browser goes into effect sometime in 2023 (or later if another delay happens). After all, every other browser is likely to emulate that move sooner or later. 

Today, media brands are ramping up efforts to collect more first-party data before they’re forced to make any changes due to outside factors. And the email address is both a solid piece of first-party data by itself and the gateway to a reservoir of activity tied to it—from predicted future subscriber engagement levels to preference, interest, and behavior data tied to these unique digital identifiers.

Apple’s MPP ups the engagement ante for everyone

Amidst all this email optimism, however, publishers share a data privacy concern with their retail compatriots. 

They’re also figuring out how to grapple with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature in its iOS 15 update, which masks the open rate in an effort to block the kind of tracking email senders rely on for engagement. (Click here to learn more about these changes and make your email marketing evolution possible.)

Today, one important question remains unanswered: How can publishers create engaging content that helps them attract and retain audiences and stand out in busy inboxes? Our answer: Watch what top retailers do and see which three of the following tactics work best for your brand.

4 tactics top retailers use to snag attention and drive action—and how you can use them to hook new holiday readers

1. Automatically pull live web content into your email messages

The secret to email marketing success in media and publishing is efficiency. And one of the best timesavers you can implement is automatically sharing out the content you post on your website with targeted audience segments who are most interested in it—and therefore the most likely to engage with your emails as a result of this addition.

Your subscribers and hew holiday readers alike will see your news as it happens. Tempting them to click through for the full story on your website. You won’t have to wait for them to discover your content on their own ever again.

You could create dozens of individual email newsletters with bits and pieces of fresh web content—but if you’re in the news business, that’s like writing newspapers one by one or hand-crafting a news broadcast for each viewer. It just doesn’t scale.

And sending one-message-fits-all news updates to everyone in your audience will turn off people who aren’t into what you’re sending. Especially new holiday readers who can find similar content in thousands of other places with a simple Google search.

Dynamic content implemented directly into your email experience through real-time data feeds or web scraping tools is the best way to avoid leaving new holiday readers out in the cold feeling disengaged. By using subscriber or viewer behavior, preference, and interest data to select and load content into designated modules in your email template, you can identify any audience perfect for a targeted campaign and maximize their engagement level through highly relevant messaging.

new holiday readers

Bonus 1: If you’re tracking breaking news, trending articles, score updates, or any other dynamic content on your site, your emails will automatically update every time your subscribers open the email with a live scraping tool or data feed’s support—no need to keep sending emails every time something changes.

Bonus 2: Add live video from your event right into new holiday readers’ email experiences. If your subscriber’s browser supports it, they can watch your interactive content right in their message. If not, they’ll see an optimized static image they can click to view on your website.

2. Season static content with 1:1 personalized material

Emails from top retailers often include a mix of general news, like sneak-preview sales announcements, with content based on individual subscriber data from previous web behavior, email activity, or submitted content preferences.

This tactic combines discovery—showing your subscribers something they might not find on their own —with personalized content. And together, these two forces create a feeling of serendipity. The personalization you can offer may not be as obvious as it would be in a transactional email, for example, but it definitely has a more relevant look, feel, and message than a generic news roundup.

You can see this serendipitous mix of static and dynamic content subtly at work in the Food Network’s Recipe of the Day daily email below. Look for modules of dynamic content based on the recipient’s browsing or download history sandwiched between layers of static content.

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 3. Turn new holiday readers into first-time attendees with live calendar reminders

Remember the old days when you had to park yourself in front of your TV at a specific time to watch the latest episode of “Survivor,” “Blue’s Clues” or “Seinfeld?” If you missed it, you were out of luck until the next broadcast.

Today, streaming and live content have just about destroyed this concept. While it’s good to give your audience viewing options, wouldn’t you like to send them a reminder to tune in at a specific time so they can see your shows roll out in real-time?

A live calendar element helps you build engagement for any exciting event: whether that’s a season-opening TV show, movie premiere, book launch, and or special educational webinar. And by making your invite as easy and engaging as possible to act upon, you increase the chances a new holiday reader becomes a first-time event attendee.

Retailers use calendar invites to remind customers about new-product launches, big sales, store openings and other can’t-miss events. Here’s how it looks in a new-collection drop-date announcement from Tommy Hilfiger:

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This year, invite your viewers from the same email you inform them about a new event by introducing “Add to Calendar” buttons and links. That way, subscribers have a one-click process to register for any online experience that’s automatically updated to their calendar app of choice—so when the big day finally arrives, a reminder email can automatically be sent without building, updating, and sending any follow-up messages manually!

4. Count down to the season’s every can’t-miss event

A customized email countdown timer is one of the most versatile retail personalization elements  you can use to inject real-time anticipation for any kind of topic, article, or newsworthy event. Use these simple-yet-sophisticated elements to build excitement before an event—or to let new holiday readers know how much time is left before their first invite expires. 

On its own, this is a popular tactic among retailers to let customers know how much time they have to shop before a juicy offer ends. But for even greater impact, combine your email countdown timers with any of the dynamic personalization tactics we’ve already covered in this blog.


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In this email, Disney combines video and a countdown time to promote its programming for International Friendship Day. Just imagine the urgency and FOMO you can add to any email experience with the simple addition of a timer.

The holidays have arrived earlier than usual this year. It’s weeks before Black Friday, yet retailers are already feeling the usual frenzy of the holiday shopping season.

And if that wasn’t stressful enough, email marketers everywhere are dealing with extra obstacles in Q4:  an onslaught of holiday season shipping delays and inventory challenges—not to mention the lack of any end to these problems in sight.

For many retail marketing teams, holiday season shipping delays and inventory challenges are posing serious threats for any content or product launches months in the making.  The good news, however, is that we’re all in this together!

So, here are four ways you can use creative email solutions to eliminate customer frustration, sales friction, and negative experiences this holiday season—no matter how many shipping delays and inventory outages your company may face in Q4 and beyond.

Leverage live inventory to save time and satisfy your shoppers

Save your customers, designers, and delivery team from several headaches this holiday season by incorporating live inventory feeds into your email experience. After scraping personalized website content or embedding data feeds that consider recently browsed items, product and brand preferences, purchase history, and more, you’re able to dynamically display the most relevant, engaging promotions across every channel someone interacts with in real-time.

Beyond a more personalized, easy-to-browse shopping experience, leveraging live inventory in your emails means you’ll never need to deal with a broken page link, send a sold out alert, or make a last-minute update to push a different product ever again. Freeing you up to take on bigger, better things than holiday season shipping delays and inventory challenges this year.

Drive customer urgency through personalized callouts

Customers want to shop, but may not be ready to buy yet for a number of reasons. While holiday season shipping delays and inventory challenges may cause a few unforeseen problems, dedicate your Q4 emails to highlighting the positives to drive customer intent through urgency.

If new inventory arrives, for example, mention that it’s first come, first serve and will go fast. If inventory is running low, use a dynamic data feed to highlight the exact number of hot sellers left in stock in combination with urgency-inducing language to close the sale. Then, you can put the fancy decorations on your customer experience by using back-in-stock and pre-order email campaigns to re-engage any disappointed or dissatisfied customers.

Promote gift cards and in-store shopping this year

When all else fails, promote gift cards and e-gift cards when faced with serious holiday season shipping delays and inventory challenges to get more customers back inside your stores. While some may think a gift card is an impersonal email promotion, the reality is a lot of shoppers are uncertain about what they’re going to buy this year. And giving them the option of buying something is always better than not getting a family member, friend, or loved one a gift at all!

You can also send a gift card message with live data feeds and product recommendations to make these messages a little warmer. An embedded email poll is also a fun pairing to highlight the items you do have in stock ready for on-time delivery based on individual customer feedback and preferences submitted.

And if you have physical stores, you can drive shoppers to their closest location using a dynamic map with holiday hours to push store-only offers or gifts with in-store purchase. That way, your loyal holiday shoppers know you’re fully stocked to deliver an exceptional holiday experience.

Set customer expectations by overcommunicating holiday season shipping delays and inventory challenges

Transparency is going to be key to your holiday campaign success in 2021. So, let customers know as early as possible when your standard shipping cutoff dates for holiday shopping are with countdown timers and one-click, add-to-calendar event email elements.

If you want to take personalized experiences to the next level, use dynamic tracking mechanisms in your messages to follow each individual shopper’s order and communicate shipping progress as it happens—all from the same email their purchase was confirmed from so customers have one consistent place to check anytime they need a status update or a deliver is running late.

If you’re like many email marketing professionals we know, your day doesn’t end when you clock out. Because that’s when your email side hustle begins!

There’s no denying that communication and email skills are in big demand today. Whether you’re a developer, a copywriter, or a strategist, chances are pretty good that you’re putting your specialized knowledge to work on your own time already—or you’re dreaming about the day when you can turn your email side hustle into a fulfilling, full-time gig.

Now is the right time to start your email side hustle

Plenty of people have made the jump from 9-to-5 worker to self-employed business owner. Especially at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when companies furloughed, cut back, or eliminated their in-house email teams. 

In fact, The Census Bureau says a record 4.4 million people started their own businesses in 2020—a 24.3% increase over 2019. Although many email pros turned to freelancing when their jobs disappeared, others took a chance to start something new. To advance their careers by putting their skills to work on the aspects of email marketing they love most.

After all, from specialists and directors to VP-level strategists, companies are turning to outside contractors to plug the skill gaps on their teams. Some as temporary measures, while others are doing so permanently to eliminate the investment a full-time email marketer requires.

Having the right skills and a fierce determination to make your email side hustle succeed are must-have mindsets to make this option viable. Building your business up from the occasional job for friends or family members to a thriving business of steady work takes work, organization, and a good network of connections. 

5 questions to answer before you start your email side hustle 

Moving from the security of a regular paycheck into a freelance email marketing career is like bungee jumping. That first step can be terrifying, and you’ll be in for a wild ride. But it can also be the most fun you’ll ever have.

So, if you’re looking for a few tips to help you take that crucial first step, follow these five recommendations to level up your career from moonlighting professional to full-time freelance authority!

1. DBA or LLC?

You can start a company with nothing but your brainpower, but you’ll need to formalize your business structure to pay taxes properly and protect your business from liability. 

In the United States, many solo businesses organize as limited liability companies, or LLCs. The LLC separates the business from your personal assets—hence the term’s “limited liability” designation. If your business fails or someone sues you, your personal assets such as your house and car can’t be attached to settle debts or a lawsuit.

A DBA, or “doing business as,” isn’t a formal business structure like an LLC. Instead, it’s a state filing that publicly declares your business name if it’s different from your personal name. You’ll need it to open a business bank account or to operate your business if you have an LLC with a different name. And, unlike an LLC, a DBA doesn’t offer any liability protection should a worst-case scenario arise.

If you’re a US-based email marketer, check your state’s requirements before you decide how to structure your business, and chat with a tax professional. Legal Zoom can answer basic questions, but always consult an attorney before signing off on an LLC or another business structure.

One last word of advice: Get business insurance. Some companies will require you to file an insurance certificate before starting work, so it’s good to be prepared ahead of time when someone inevitably asks.

2. What email certification(s) do I need?

Certifications can be more valuable than college degrees or industry awards because they’re impartial measures of your competence on technical platforms or with industry best practices.

The certifications that matter most for starting your successful email side hustle will vary by your area of expertise. If you’re focused on search marketing and optimization, for example, you might need to show Google Analytics or Bing Ads certification even to be considered as a contractor.

If you’re an email specialist, however, consider getting certified in major marketing platforms like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud, HubSpot, and Mailchimp. All four offer extensive training courses and certifications at little-to-no cost—making them a perfect option for accelerating the growth of your new business. 

Industry associations such as the Digital Marketing Institute and the American Marketing Association even offer joint training and certification. Something that would be suitable for any aspiring professional aiming at strategic consulting or working with big brands beyond the self-guided course offerings and platform-specific training options featured on sites like Udemy and Coursera.

3. How do I ask for referrals?

Word-of-mouth is the easiest way to build up your email side hustle’s client stable, but what do you do when you have only a few paying  customers? Ask them for referrals. That’s easy to say, but hard to do right.

Pick your references carefully. Start with clients who like you—as in really, really like you and know you well—and ask them to write a testimonial for your website, LinkedIn page, or other public-facing forums. Structure your request so it focuses on the benefit they got from your services—higher revenue, reduced churn, increased conversions, etc. 

Also, once you’ve secured their all-important referral, make sure you Include their personal and company names as well as their title for credibility. Explain the type(s) of clients you’re looking for so your referrers don’t send people who aren’t good fits for your services. Also, ask for the referral as soon as you complete the service—don’t wait months to give them a chance to forget about how much you helped.

4. How much should I charge for my email side hustle?

New freelancers often underprice their services to attract clients. But that’s not sustainable in the long run, for you, your email side hustle’s success, or your fellow freelancers. So, before you sign your first contract and start working on any projects assigned, check these two guides to start your pricing plan:

How to Calculate Hourly Rate for Freelance Marketers & Consultants

This HubSpot guide includes rate calculators for several digital marketing guides and handy info on rate variations and fluctuations. Once you get established, look at Freelancer Rates: How to set them and raise them to deal with next-level issues like your “resentment number” (how low you’re willing to go before you start hating the project or the client who’s trying to lowball you).

The Creative Group’s 2022 Salary Guide for Creative and Marketing

This is an excellent salary guide for creative and marketing professionals in the U. and Canada because it localizes pay standards by cities, reports on trends, provides salary guides for specific jobs, and lists the hottest jobs and most in-demand skills all in one place. Although it’s skewed toward salaried workers, it’s definitely a helpful resource for any freelancer struggling to set (and defend) their hourly/project rates and fees.

5. Where can I find my fellow freelancers?

Marketers are particularly sociable creatures. Here are a few places where we hang out:

Wrapping up

Once you take that big bungee jump from corporate life to email side hustling and freelancing, it’s hard to look back. As an old US Army slogan once said, “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.” All the time and effort you put into getting your business off the ground, finding new clients, and expanding your skills will pay off in the satisfaction of knowing you directly helped a company achieve its email goals. Not to mention—hopefully—a pretty nice check, too.

DIrect marketing channels like email, mobile app notifications, and SMS messages are almost certainly a part of your holiday marketing strategy. But if you’re only using these communication paths to push out one-size-fits-all emails and generic promotions, you’re failing to tap into Q4’s true business potential.

Because in 2021, three important holiday shopping stats we’ve found point to some major retail industry changes over the next few months.

And—much like last year—there’s no approach to guarantee 100% success. Between an earlier start to holiday shopping than ever before, new buyer behaviors and preferences, and alternative fulfillment options born from  a need to avoid supply chain shorts and delays, you’ll need to be as agile as ever when it comes to planning, implementing, and executing your seasonal marketing strategy.

So, before you make significant changes to evolve this year’s holiday planning effort, think about these three holiday shopping stats and how they impact your brand in Q4 and beyond. Consider this blog our special gift to you!

Start Your Holiday Shopping Season Now

It’s not exactly a secret that there’s a laundry list of problems plaguing the retail sector right now. Chances are, your customers are well-aware of the supply chain shortages and rising materials costs impacting your products. Which is why they’re already starting to put together holiday shopping lists and seek out deals on the gifts they know friends and family want in 2021.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by The NPD Group revealed that 51% of holiday shoppers plan to start stuffing their stockings before Thanksgiving this year—including 38% who will begin making purchases as early as this month!

For you, this means you need to start testing your holiday email experiences and campaign tactics now. Things like advanced audience segmentation and predictive analytics—when combined with personalization—can ensure your messages reach the right people with the perfect content at the right time.

holiday shopping stats

Let Your Customers Shop for Themselves This Season

This year, you’ll see more online holiday shoppers than ever before. But here’s the most important question: Will your recipients be reading your emails for their own benefit, or on behalf of someone else? It can be tough to identify individual consumers’ intent and who’s shopping for whom over the next few months. So, why not give your customers the best of both experiences?

While we’re about to kick off the season of giving, it’s critical to remember that only 27% of holiday shoppers are focused on browsing and/or buying products for other people. Meaning things like self-gifting guides and messaging focused on “Treat yourself” approaches are guaranteed to deliver more impressive results than you may think in Q4.

Now more than ever, it’s vital your emails offer something valuable to every recipient—no matter their motivation, engagement level, or who they’re shopping for. And you can do this by simply combining thoughtful, stay-at-home themes with highly relevant product recommendations and dynamic content to create convenient shopping experiences that deliver great gift-giving ideas. For your subscribers and their loved ones.

holiday shopping stats

Make e-Gift Cards a Priority

Since December 2020, year-over-year sales of holiday e-gift cards have increased by over 106%. And with more supply chain shortages and inventory challenges to deal with this year, you can be sure this trend will continue to grow as retailers and consumers alike search for gifts and shopping experiences that are impossible to delay.

So, if you’re looking to tap into the feelings of homesickness to drive consumer conversions and engagement this season, promote e-gift cards at every opportunity. It’s an easy way to generate revenue—especially among shoppers who are struggling to find the perfect present. Plus, it’s a sneaky smart way to prevent negative customer experiences caused by seasonal shipping mishaps that inevitably happen every year.

holiday shopping stats

Want to incorporate even more modern retail trends into your holiday email campaigns? Check out our 2021 Holiday Marketing Guide for some fresh, exciting ideas you can implement with little-to-no extra work right now!

What’s scarier than a haunted house on a dark and stormy night? For email marketers, it’s being asked to churn out a last-minute Halloween promotion on the fly.

Don’t let that last-minute request throw you! Because our treat bowl is full of five last-minute Halloween email tactics to help you create maximum engagement—and eerie-sistible experiences—with minimal effort. 

Halloween is bigger and more boo-worthy than ever

This year, Halloween enthusiasm has rebounded to near-2019 levels. The National Retail Federation projects consumers will spend $10.1 billion, or $102.74 per person, on costumes, décor, candy, and food, up more than $2 billion from last year’s figure. 

Fortunately for you, plug-and-play interactive modules and personalized email elements recycled from previously successful campaigns will help you create attention-grabbing experiences in less time than it takes to put on your costume.

As always, begin your email planning with a specific goal for the campaign. Sure, you’ll drive a few extra sales, and that’s always a bonus. But a Halloween email campaign can also reveal data you can use to guide and refine your holiday email marketing content and targeting. 

5 last-minute Halloween email ideas for max engagement

Emails designed specifically for engagement can tell you more about your customers’ preferences, generate fresh, new ideas, and help you collect the zero- and first-party data you need to create even more relevant messaging. So, let’s get started!

1. Click to reveal the deal 

Mystery and Halloween—is there any more perfect combination? An effective email can be as easy as swapping in some Halloween visuals and asking customers to click on the one they like. You can go for fun (favorite candy or costume) or unearth some customer preferences by featuring Halloween-themed merchandise in several categories, but one thing is certain: this tactic is all treat, no tricks.

last-minute Halloween email ideas

Whichever approach you choose, be sure to use unique promo codes and virtual gift unwrapping experiences to make customer acquisition and attribution tasks easier to track and apply automatically.  

2. Suggest last-minute purchases and products

Gift guides are always popular. But this year, with the holiday shopping season and Halloween overlapping and inventory in a precarious position to deal with, your suggestions should reflect real-time order status and live updates to avoid disappointing customers who are ready to buy. If a product sells out, this real-time module can swap in a replacement automatically – no need to pause the campaign and rebuild the email.

3. Promote BOPIS and less spooky fulfillment services 
You’ll never go wrong by helping customers shop quicker and more conveniently. Let time-pressed shoppers know they can celebrate Halloween even if they had to leave preparations to the last minute by highlighting your Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) service.

last-minute Halloween email ideas

You can even include explicit details such as BOPIS locations and instructions for your order-availability notice directly in your emails to give shoppers one place for all the info they need. Just make sure your Halloween email campaigns stress ease of service and alternative fulfillment availability accurately.

4. Offer complementary options to delight every customer

Although Halloween has regained much of the steam it lost last year thanks to lockdowns and public hesitancy about gathering in large groups, not everyone is on board. Recognize this continuing hesitancy with content that refers to both large-group and at-home celebrations to the degree that it’s relevant for your brands. 

5. Give Halloween browsers a second chance to buy

Browse-abandonment emails can prod some shoppers to buy if you send them out right after they break off a session. Now, go back to your browsers who checked out your goods early in the season but never went back to buy and tempt them with an offer—especially if it’s something they browsed before but has gone on sale in the meantime.

Reach out to your previous shoppers with a gentle email reminder, using a dynamic product recommendation if possible, that incorporates each shopper’s browse abandonment history and available inventory. You can thank us for that engagement rate boost later.

Generate clicks, conversions, sales, and more last-minute

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and all the other marquee Q4 shopping events right around the corner, Halloween might feel like an afterthought. 

But a carefully designed interaction combined with these five last-minute Halloween email ideas can deliver plenty of value in the days leading up to Halloween, whether your goal is to drive extra sales, clear out inventory, or collect more data you can use to give your customers the best-possible experience.