Part 2: 5 key elements to optimize in your holiday email template.

Oct 22 2020 | PayPal Editorial Staff

Email marketing during the holidays is one of the most cost-effective and impactful ways to reach customers. But not all holiday email templates are created equal. Small tweaks to key elements can have an outsized impact on your open and conversion rates.
But what are those tweaks, exactly? We tapped the knowledge of our resident email expert Samantha Cole to learn how merchants can optimize their email marketing template for the holidays (check out part 1 of our conversation to learn how to optimize your overall holiday email marketing strategy). When building and testing your holiday email templates, these are the five elements Cole tells merchants to focus on.

1. Start with the subject line.
Cole pinpoints the subject line as the most important factor for email success. "After all, if they don't think your email is worth opening, nothing else you do will matter," she says.

While best practices for subject line length are about 55 characters, make sure you front-load the main information in the first 30 characters to ensure it gets seen on mobile lock screen notifications. This includes messages like 'Today Only' or 'Ends Tonight' that can create a sense of urgency.

Many email apps also let you now use emojis in the subject line. Not only can this help you email stand out in the inbox, but it can convey an entire word or idea in a single character. If you plan to use an emoji in your subject line, send out test emails to different devices to ensure it will render correctly.

2. Don't forget the super subject line.
Also known as the pre-header, this is the small line of text that appears below or after the subject line in the inbox. "Too many businesses fail to specify that content, leading the email app to fill that space with the first copy it finds in the email," Cole says.

By specifying the super subject line, you can make sure the content complements the subject line while giving you more space for messaging that can entice people to open it.
Super subject lines should be no longer than about 40–60 characters long. Like subject lines, make sure to front-load them with the most important content. Once you have A/B tested your winning subject line, consider running an A/B test using your subject line with different super subject line options to see which one gets the most customers to open and convert.

3. Think about your 'From' name.
What's in a name?

More than you think. Some merchants don't know the name displayed as your 'From' name can also be modified. According to Cole, this provides another piece of valuable inbox real estate to test regularly.

"If you're a clothing retailer called Fashion, you don't have to use 'Fashion' as your From Name," Cole explains. "I would recommend experimenting with different names like Fashion Men's, Fashion Kids, The Fashion Team, Fashion Deals, Fashion Outlet, Fashion Shopping, or even play around with things like 'Your Friends at Fashion' or 'Jim from Fashion' to see what drives the best response."

One thing Cole notes is to make sure the name isn't misleading. In the example above, only use 'Fashion Men's' if you're promoting menswear, while 'Fashion Outlet' should promote your outlet deals.

Find the From Name setting in your email provider's template settings. To make sure the full name shows up in mobile inboxes, keep the length to less than 30–40 characters.

4. Personalize your content.
Personalization helps email feel more relevant to the consumer. But this year, try to go beyond using common tactics like the recipient's first name in the email subject line or salutation.

"When possible, email should be truly personalized to the reader by including organic content you know they will like based on their profile or past experience with your business," Cole said.

For example, if you have a loyalty program, you could include how many points they have in their account to encourage the customer to use them. If showing sale items, you should include items that are similar to past purchases, items by brands they've purchased before, items in their wish list, or items based on their searches while logged into your website.

Another idea is to display different images depending on the device the reader is viewing your email on. "Think about a Cyber Monday promotion. You could display an image of someone shopping your website on their computer if they look at the email on their PC. Meanwhile, a mobile recipient would see an image of someone looking at the website on a smartphone," Cole said.

5. Focus your message.
Keep in mind that even your biggest fan is a busy person. When they get your marketing email, they will only spend a few seconds scanning it before deciding to delete it or click your call-to-action (CTA) button. "Your email needs to be hyper-focused on the single thing you want the customer to know and what you want them to do," Cole said.

Take the time to edit your email content to its bare essence to ensure your message gets across. Ways to simplify your email include:
·       Use short, sentence-length paragraphs instead of big blocks of text.
·       Avoid adding important text to images in case images are blocked.
·       Add plenty of white space to help focus the eye.
·       Have two CTAs: one at the top and one at the bottom
·       Make your CTA button larger so that it's easier to find and click (especially helpful on mobile devices).
·       Don't make your email longer than the equivalent of a few scrolls on a smartphone.

The holidays start now.

While the holidays might feel far away, now’s the time to start getting your email template in order. To help you optimize your overall holiday email marketing strategy, check out part 1: How to build your 2020 holiday email strategy.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

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