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How To Sleigh Your Peak Season Marketing

Blog title reading, How to Sleigh Your Peak Season Marketing
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Peak Season or Peak Risk?

Peak season is a make-it or break-it time for marketers. While the potential for revenue and customer engagement surges during this period—especially as holiday shopping accounts for 18% of annual sales and is expected to grow another 4.5% this year—not all brands experience the same lift. The focus must be on identifying the strategies that will result in maximized performance - or risk the consequences. 

The problem is, marketers are faced with more barriers than ever this year. With economic uncertainty, increased unemployment rates, and growing consumer debt, consumer behaviors are changing at an ever-accelerating rate. However, marketers don’t have enough resources to address these shifts in consumer behaviors, and the toolkits we’ve come to rely on to deliver highly personalized experiences that drive performance are quickly becoming outdated. In short, marketers are being left with fewer resources to entice customers that are more challenging to convert than years prior. 

It’s a high-stakes situation, but by using templated messaging that automatically delivers personalization across channels, you’ll overcome the most common roadblocks and bring your marketing to its peak performance this season. 

Rethink Email Design

Emails styled like poster boards may look nice, but highly curated messages from header to footer don’t cut it in today’s marketing landscape. Unscalable emails like this not only put a strain on your team and resources, but they usually result in customers getting reused messaging because there are only so many fully-curated images that a team can produce in a short amount of time. This quickly fatigues customers, and they’ll quickly ignore those repetitive emails. 

Marketers need to approach their email strategy wholly differently with dynamic templates that allow for countless options—all from a single HTML code. When you take this approach, marketers can transform a single structure into multiple emails that look and feel individualized to every customer. And with personalization on hand, they’ll look far from boring or cookie-cutter. 

Take this example from Dune London. On the left is a generic promotional message that applies to all customers. But, thanks to this email being built from a dynamic template, marketers have the opportunity to personalize this promotion for customers that have left some breadcrumbs behind about themselves.

With an automatic copy change using first-party data, the version on the right is personalized for the customer who recently browsed flat sandals. With this addition, the customer is far more enticed to engage. 

Two email examples from Dune London, one personalized and one fallback/generic

Dick’s Sporting Goods makes a similar change using dynamic templates, but this time applies it to product recommendations. Here, the brand again uses first-party data to showcase products below the hero that are based on recent website behaviors. For customers that have yet to interact, a fall-back version that uses the same template simply collapses the product imagery. 

Email examples from Dick's Sporting Goods, one generic and one with personalized recommendations

Similar logic can be applied to the navigation bar. Placeholder categories can be populated based on business rules, and fallbacks are in place when those rules are not met. The navigation bar may be evergreen for your emails, but the content within doesn’t have to be.

Email from Next Beauty with personalized navigation bar.

Using set business rules based on recent behaviors, category affinity, or upsell opportunities, Next Beauty personalizes their template with every send. Rather than boring emails, dynamic templates clearly give marketers the flexibility to cater to individual customers, all while reducing creative and promotional fatigue.

Reach Peak Engagement

Sleigh the holiday season with strategies and examples from our lookbook.


Automate to Celebrate

If dynamic templates are the framework, automation is the fuel behind personalized emails. As seen in the previous examples, automation is key to activating customer data and transforming emails into tailored experiences. But, automation can also be used to leverage contextual cues or deploy messaging across channels. All you need is strategic business rules in place. 

12 Days of Deals Scratch Off Email Campaign

Time-targeting is a perfect example of using automation for a contextually relevant message. Here, Duluth Trading Co. powers their 12 Days of Deals campaign using automated rules that show the correct image based on the date. As an added engagement-driver, every deal is gamified using a scratch-off experience.

As YoY growth for mobile is predicted to continue its explosive growth with 17.5% increase in adoption rates, marketers would be wise to use these same tools to enhance their omni-channel campaigns. Being able to seamlessly translate the hard work behind a valuable email campaign onto mobile is a game-changer.

Here, REI Outlet reuses a module from their latest email within mobile app inboxes. Just as easily, the brand is also able to make the most of their creatives by using them in push and in-app notifications. Through automated, dynamic templates, REI Outlet efficiently engages customers at every possible touchpoint.

Omni Channel Example for REI Outlet

Maximizing the Holiday Hammock

With these tools now in place, it’s time for marketers to optimize their use specifically for peak season strategies. Strategizing for peak season is more important this year than ever; namely, because peak season grows longer every year. In 2023, 56% of shoppers intend to start holiday shopping as early as October—24% higher than last year.

However, the usual promotional-heavy campaigns simply aren’t feasible for a quarter of the year. Instead, marketers need to use this extended season to learn more about customers and cement brand value.

Email from HSN with different retargeted follow-up emails based on poll results

Check out this poll from HSN. Using a single poll living in a dynamic template, the brand generates retargeting messages based on responses. Personalized campaigns like these aren’t only valuable for the engagement they create, they’re crucial in generating and collecting zero-party data for campaigns later in the holiday season. 

Another way brands can make the most of the extended peak season is by reinforcing brand value and showing customers why you’re the perfect match for them. Barnes & Noble did just that with their dynamic key messaging module.

Email from Barnes and Noble with changing header

Living at the top of all their emails sits an ever-changing personalized banner. This module ensures that the same content is never shown twice in row, preventing the dreaded content fatigue. Loyalty members receive yet another layer of personalization, with their unique membership benefits and opportunities displayed alongside the daily offers. 

Why You, and Why Now?

It’s no secret that the competition is fierce during peak season. That’s why the last strategy marketers need to hone in on is showing customers why they should spend with you—and now. To do this, marketers can start with personalized messaging around their existing loyalty program. 

Take Macy’s, for example. The brand perfects that approach by leveraging loyalty and sales data within their product recommendations. Not only are the products displayed personalized to the customer’s previous browsing history, but the possible points earned are added alongside to entice customers to take action. 

Email from Macy's with personalized recommendations layered with urgency

For an even more urgent approach, Currys leverages social proofing, inventory notifications, and limited-time pricing in their messaging. Here, the brand drives engagement by displaying all three within their latest email, driving customers to buy today. As an added guardrail, out-of-stock SKUs are suppressed to ensure the best experience possible for customers.

Email from Currys including social proof, inventory, and how many views

Plan for the Holidays Now

Don’t stay satisfied with a time consuming, hard-coded email that’s a one-and-done. Expect unlimited variations from your HTML code, with countless ways to delight customers all season—and all year—long.

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