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The Nudge Effect, Segmentation, and How to Make Email Marketing Your Holiday X-Factor

Frank Jackson, 10/26/2018,

There’s an often overlocked aspect of the ecommerce calendar that can be the difference between you having an ok holiday season, and the type of sales that sends you on your next big island vacation. It comes down to one important question…

How much thought have you put into your holiday email marketing strategy?

I know - I know - with all the other million things you’ve had to think about to prep for the holidays, it may have crossed your mind that when it comes to sending emails, you can quickly set up a campaign, blast it out to everyone you can, and you’re done! Not so fast, my store-owner friend. Targeting customers that will actually turn into conversions will take a little extra time but will turn into drastically more sales both on Cyber Monday and down the road.

It’s important to know why email marketing is effective, what you can do to send emails to the right segments, and the strategies that will get your holiday marketing off to a fast start.

How To Make Holiday Marketing Effective

Here’s a reminder - in 2017, US consumers spent $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday – the largest day of online shopping in the history of the US. This broke the previous record set on Cyber Monday in 2016. (Do we see a pattern forming?) In short, Cyber Monday is kind of a big deal, and email marketing can be the way you blast past your estimated sales numbers.

Embrace The Nudge Effect

We all know the annoying website that you bought one shirt from three years ago that emails you every week. Although you might be very familiar with that brand, you probably don’t have a strong affinity for it. Because you’re reading this, we know you care about your business and taking care of your customers. If that truly is you, don’t worry about (sparingly!) emailing your customers.

Customers don’t mind receiving updates from brands they trust. So, your periodic emails reminding your customers that you miss them have been slowly building towards the awesome strategy you’re creating for the holiday season. This consistent follow-up, even if you aren’t seeing the conversion you’re hoping for, is having a positive impact. It’s called the nudge effect. It keeps you in the minds of your customers and can often indirectly influence people to buy from your site or browse your products without even opening your email.

How can you turn the nudge effect into active shoppers? Have a subject line that is not only worth reading but also encourages action. While opening your email is great, you ultimately want your customers to shop your store. By having a subject line like “$20 Off Purchases Over $100 – Today Only!” You might encourage a few shoppers to go directly to your site even if they don’t open your email.

You can also see the nudge effect in consumers inbox management. A Smart Insights study found that nearly 50% of consumers don’t open an interesting email, but they do save it for later. By having an interesting subject line, and keeping your emails in your customers inbox, you constantly have the nudge effect working for you – even without sending another email.

Be Strategic With Your Email Recipients and Subjects

Be Strategic With Your Email Recipients and Subjects

We know Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge ecommerce holidays. Since 2010, Cyber Monday sales have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.7%. We also know email marketing is incredibly effective during this time period. But how do we turn the effectiveness of your emails into your best days of the season?

By sending those emails to the right customer.

Hopefully, you have a number of different customers. You might typically sell to one gender or one age group who keep coming back to you when they need more of your product. But what about the shoppers that are just stopping by for the holidays? It’s important to remind these shoppers that you’re there and have the products that you want.

One of the most effective ways to target your seasonal shoppers is to use your data from last year. Sort your sales by date and send your customers from last year’s Cyber Monday sale a targeted email advertising your Cyber Monday deal this year. You can even offer an additional discount for being a loyal Cyber Monday shopper.

Or – look at customers from previous promotions and target them as well. By using the sales data you already have, you can easily segment your customer base and send the emails to a small group of customers that will act on your call to action. Also, you aren’t filling up the inboxes of your most loyal customers who will likely know about your promotions anyway.

Know Your Business

Now that you’ve embraced the nudge effect and segmented your customer base, you want to make sure every email you send aligns with your business goals and brand. This might sound simple, but it is really important to take the few extra minutes and evaluate whether your email and holiday season strategy aligns with your company vision. Do you sell handmade, high-end accessories? You might not want to offer a 50% off sale on Cyber Monday as your customers could perceive your products as cheap. You want to sell as much product as possible during the fourth quarter, but you want to do it in a way that maintains your brand and allows you to come out of the holiday season to build on the momentum you’ve created.

What Holidays Benefit from Email Marketing?

Should you run a promotion for each holiday? Probably not. But, you want to be aware of each and make sure that you are capturing sales for any holiday that you can. One thing to keep in mind are the holidays between Christmas and New Year’s. These might not be big gift giving days but these might be a time to encourage your customers to treat themselves with some of the gift cards or money they might have been gifted. No matter what, know these dates and be prepared to advertise and fulfill your increase in orders.

Helpful Tips For Each Holiday

Helpful Tips For Each Holiday

Like we just mentioned, the list of dates above are important. Here are a few notes for each of the holidays:

Thanksgiving Day

Since 2015, Thanksgiving Day ecommerce sales have topped $1 billion dollars each year. That’s nothing to sneeze at! Don’t be afraid to email your customers how thankful you are for them (the nudge effect!) and also include a small discount or sale that your customers can act on quickly while they are recovering from their Thanksgiving feast.

Black Friday

In 2017, consumers spent over $5 billion on Black Friday. What was email conversion like? An incredible 25%! Even if it is just a reminder email to let your customers know you’re there, you’re likely to see some conversion. You can even save your best promotions for a few days.

Cyber Monday

Although Cyber Monday is billed as being one of the most heavily discounted online shopping days, it is also one of the most fruitful for email marketing campaigns. An astonishing 92% of shoppers look forward to discounts online on Cyber Monday. Take advantage of consumers excitement to shop by sending out targeted promotional emails.


Make sure your Christmas emails stand out! We all know how many Christmas emails we get, so make sure yours is different! Have a funny subject line or interesting body of your email. Do something that makes yourself stand out.

New Year’s

For traditional retail stores, this is a day to process returns. For you, it is an opportunity to encourage your customers to spend the few extra bucks they now have from their return on something they actually want! Also, you can use New Year’s as a time to jumpstart your sales for 2019.

What’s Next?

Now, you’re almost there! It’s just a short time until Cyber Monday and the next thing you know – it’ll be New Year’s. So, start segmenting your customers, implementing your strategy, and making sure you’ve got everything in place for what will undoubtedly be your best holiday season yet.

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