News Round-up: Holiday Revenue Forecast, Personalization, and Email Lessons from Starbucks

Happy Cyber Monday morning, marketers! You’ve done the hard work, already, right? That means you have a few minutes to catch up on some news. Check out what we have below, then dive into your analytics!

Holiday online sales could top $100 billion in sales

The holiday season now underway could be the first in history to see online sales of more than $100 billion.

That eye-popping prospect is included in the “Holiday Predictions” report from Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) that was released earlier this month, writes Giselle Abramovich in CIO. The report is based on an analysis of one trillion visits to more than 4,500 retail websites, 55 million SKUs, and 12 million social mentions, along with a companion consumer survey.

The Thanksgiving weekend just concluded was expected to drive $19.7 billion in online sales, and $6.6 billion in revenue is expected today, she reports.

Mobile devices will get quite a workout. “While desktop purchases still account for two-thirds of revenue year-round, mobile is often the starting point for many shoppers,” she writes. “ADI predicts that consumers will visit retailer websites from their mobile devices more than from their desktops this holiday season.”

Scot Heimes, writing at MarketingProfs, has some advice for email marketers looking to make the most of this critical sales period now underway. His suggestions include focusing personalization on already-engaged consumers, not flooding consumers with messages, sticking to short subject lines and cleaning your lists.

“Don’t be afraid to experiment (and test!) with your email program during the holiday season, but avoid using tactics that lower your engagement and boost the likelihood your messages will be marked as spam,” he writes.

Personalization seen driving impulse purchases this holiday season

Jess Nelson at Email Marketing Daily writes that personalization will be key to maximizing holiday sales this year, and will be a significant driver of impulse purchases.

“Personalized recommendations in email messages can substantially drive revenue and engagement,” he writes. “Almost half of 1,006 American consumers polled by customer data platform Segment responded that they had purchased a product in the last three months that they would not have bought otherwise because of a convincing recommendation by a brand.”

The Segment report showed that recommendations during the online checkout experience were most likely to drive an impulse purchase, Nelson writes, adding that 16 percent of consumers polled said an email message had prompted an impulse purchase in the last 90 days.

“Email personalization can also lead to repeat purchases according to the Segment study, with 44% of consumers admitting they would likely become a repeat shopper after a personalized experience and 39% saying they would be likely to tell their friends or family,” according to Nelson.

Capitalize on automation, but don’t forget the human touch

“Over time, technology has helped email evolve from a mass communication channel to one that delivers increasingly targeted and personalized messages,” writes Mike O’Brien at ClickZ. “Ironically, the same technology leads to fewer human interactions. That human touch is often the missing piece that can take your email campaigns to the next level.”

When it comes to automation, O’Brien warns against email marketers against taking a hands-off approach.

“Most email service providers have some level of automation, empowering marketers to do their jobs better and faster. But that same volume of technology is often a double-edged sword, allowing them to deliver a better customer experience but making it easy to “set it and forget it,” he writes.

“Automation still requires a human to set the campaigns in motion and put the time and resources into finding the right platform,” he writes. “To make the most of that platform requires deep knowledge of its capabilities.”

What Starbucks can teach us about email marketing

Designer Carlo Pacis, who once worked as a Starbucks barista, says the coffee behemoth can serve as a role model for email marketers.

Since working at Starbucks, Pacis writes that he’s “learned a thing or two about Starbucks, and almost as much about their intensive – and rather brilliant – email marketing strategy.” He has distilled his takeaways from Starbucks into what he calls “Venti-sized strategies,” which he shares at Business 2 Community.

Successful email marketing a la Starbucks begins with consistent messaging, Pacis writes. “They send emails at least once every two or three days, each with a different type of promotion or the occasional piece of content. Doing this serves to keep Starbucks top-of-mind—even if a subscriber doesn’t open an email, the push notification they receive might be the reason they take a pumpkin spice latte detour on their way to work.”

He’s also impressed by the company’s use of personalization, subject lines, typography, images and photography, themed promotions, gamification and the “engaging” layouts of its messages.