3 minute read

5 Lessons Labor Day Can Teach Marketers About Holiday Season

As a marketer, here’s what Labor Day likely looked like for you:

  • “We have an amazing promotion running right now.”
  • “We need to move inventory and hit our numbers.”
  • “We’ll email all of our customers when the promotion starts, again when it’s happening, and again right before it ends.”
  • “Damn. Our unsubscribe rate last weekend was higher than I’d like it to be.”

As a consumer, here’s what Labor Day likely looked like for you (this is what it looked like for me):

  • Received 49 emails from retail brands (in some cases, multiple emails from the same brand).
  • Stepped away from my computer to allow my inbox anxiety to subside.
  • Opened a few and searched for the cheapest deals only.
  • Unsubscribed from overly persistent brands.

Studies show that the average Labor Day sale offered by brands hovers around 50% off. The immediately recognizable result is high sales volume. However, the reality isn’t as positive. Increased sales often come at the expense of margin, and superfluous promotion of these sales can result in high unsubscribe rates and a borderline harassing customer experience. With more promotion-heavy days (such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday) on the horizon, promotional and offer management strategies become critically important, both to your bottom line and as they relate to customer satisfaction.

As holiday season approaches, how can you drive sales, protect margin and – most importantly – minimize the number of customers getting fed up with your brand? Simple… Don’t send to everyone. A marketer’s first impulse when developing strategy for large-scale promotions is to send multiple emails to the entire marketing list. This strategy is predicated on the presumption that, because a sale is wide reaching, the messaging around it should go to everyone. While that may seem sensible at the surface, not everyone needs or wants to receive this message. 

Here are five audience groups you can leave out of your next mass promotional send:

Non-sale purchasers 

If someone never purchases sale items on your site, the chances that behavior will suddenly change are much lower than the likelihood of it continuing. Some consumers simply buy premium products and aren’t driven by price. Why not spare them promotional messaging and reduce the likelihood of your correspondence landing in their spam folder? Try excluding any customer who hasn’t purchased a sale product in the last year.

Extremely recent purchasers 

Should someone who purchased last night receive a promotional email this morning? While aggressiveness in retail is often necessary, balancing long-term customer loyalty with short-term profitability is too. Honor a customer’s recent purchase by not immediately hitting them with another request for their money. Try excluding people who purchased yesterday (and potentially slot them for a follow-up campaign or promotion reminder later).

People who are already going to buy from you 

We’ve reached the point where predictive models can help us assess which customers are more likely to purchase in the future. If someone is already likely to purchase a product at full price a week from now, do you really want to give them an offer today to purchase that product at half price? Try excluding customers whose likelihood of purchasing in the next week is above average.

People who never engage with the categories you’re discounting

If your promotion applies to a select group of product categories, then ostensibly, the people who need to know are the customers who have purchased or routinely purchase those types of products. If someone has never engaged with your featured categories, they likely won’t care about any discount associated with them. Try excluding people who haven’t engaged with a featured category in the past year.

Someone who’s a better fit for another promotion (if multiple sales are running)

Running multiple sales is a recipe for inundating customers with promotional messaging. If you’re running two or more sales, any given customer should ideally receive correspondences relating to only one of them. Use behavioral data to exclude people whose previous site engagement makes them a clearly better fit for the other promotion.

No customer can keep up with the amount of promotional messaging to which they’re exposed during the holidays. Selectively excluding valued customers from irrelevant correspondences makes the messaging they do receive more impactful. Employ these recommendations this holiday season, and let intelligent segmentation be the gift that keeps on giving.