Email and Halloween are a perfect match. Email is the most effective marketing channel, hands down. It has the biggest reach of any owned marketing channel: 70% of Millennials admit to checking their emails while driving (yeah, don’t do that) and eMarketer expects the US adult email audience to reach 203.8 million by 2017.
Email is the right channel. So, let’s examine why is Halloween the right time.
Halloween is a massive retail opportunity. It is a family-friendly holiday without the expectations of Thanksgiving or Christmas, so while it does not see the same spend, purchase amounts do leap by comparison with the previous month.
Let’s check out some stats:
- 68% of adults expect to celebrate Halloween
- Total consumer spending at Halloween is expected to reach $8.48bn this year
- The average spend per adult is slightly over $74; this year it will be $82
- 36 million children take part in Halloween celebrations in the USA alone every year
- Halloween sales are worth $2.08bn in confectionary alone
US Spending on Halloween breaks down like this:
By now, I hope Halloween has your attention. So, how do you build on all this excitement to show your customers what you can do for them at Halloween?
Here are nine ways to go about pumpkin’ up your Halloween email marketing and boo-st your revenue.
1: Offer Halloween Freebies
Halloween is a perfect opportunity to incentivise purchase with freebies. If your business is ‘Haloweenable,’ consider themed offers. If not, consider seasonal giveaways.
This is really about two things, separate but interrelated. On the one hand, you are offering something of value for free – a clothing store that offers Halloween-themed add-ons to purchases is doing this. Check out Rent the Runway’s themed email, showcasing costumes and offering freebies at the bottom of the message.
Sometimes, you are just showing customers that you are in on the joke. A novelty bumper sticker for every $20 spent isn’t giving people anything of ‘real’ value, but if it makes them smile or their kids get a kick out of it, you are onto something.
If you have real audience data, use it to target freebies based on demographic and purchase history data. For instance, a family with young children will have more use for playful freebies, while a young couple might prefer a more conventional approach. If you do not have that data, try mentally putting yourself in your customers’ shoes.
Gone for a run’s super-low-cost Halloween-themed purchase leaders are part of a cut-price/buy-one-get-one/freebie giveaway strategy that also involves cookie cutters and other family-oriented items.
Imagine what low-cost items your subscribers might have a use for, or which difficulties they might face that you can solve with freebies or offers. Everyone gets trick or treaters; everyone has to carve a pumpkin or come up with fun treats for their kids; can you help?
You always remember someone who takes a stone out of your shoe. This approach is likely to pay off down the line in improved perception of your brand even if it does not generate sales right now.
If you want it to result in increased sales, consider offering the freebie everyone loves: Free shipping.
(Source: Business2community.com )
Theme it and time-limit it for maximum effect.
2: A Design for (After)life
Halloween is a kitschy, cheesy, cozy season. Its outward trappings of supernatural terror are there to draw attention to this: it is safe, family-oriented without the stifling expectations of Christmas and it is a season for letting your hair down, dressing up and playing in the street even when you are usually not allowed to.
Understanding this dual nature is essential when you are doing Halloween marketing because it means that shared memories and experiences have produced a shared visual vocabulary: Moons and witches, bats and spiders, fake spiderwebs and graveyards, Draculas and Frankensteins, ghosts and pumpkins all add up to spell ‘Halloween’ in our minds. That does not mean you should give your whole brand an Addams Family makeover, but sprucing it up in a stylish, knowing way can yield dividends. Try creating an alternative logo that reflects the season. Alternatively, consider a Halloween-themed email campaign that uses Halloween design elements and takes customers to a similarly-branded landing page.
Just remember that for this season, it cannot be too cheesy – if it is, it will just be funny and endearing.
Accessorize were nailing this approach in 2014. Check out their Halloween email:
They get bonus points for taking the Halloween all the way to the logo with subtle spookiness. In essence, they use lighting and photography to build a Halloween-style image out of not much more than… a few well-chosen accessories. They are foregrounding their value and scoring big in design, simultaneously.
Meanwhile, in 206 British supermarket chain Waitrose is getting branding right: just a couple of color changes and a simple flying witch animation:
3: Segmentation, Cadence and Time
Halloween lasts FOREVER. Its related shopping spree keeps on the whole month of October and a little either side. It is a fact that 41% of Halloween shoppers start taking into consideration all the related offers before October even begins. That is not just for marketing purposes; Halloween parties at work, with family and with groups of friends mean the same customer might be celebrating the season five or six times. 65% of US adults will attend a Halloween costume party; 85% to 90% of children will go trick or treating.
So don’t ramp a few emails up around the day (night?) itself and leave it at that. Keep offering Halloween-themed emails throughout the month. You will not be pestering customers so much as reflecting their concerns.
There’s a cadence that fits Halloween build-up over the month. People may begin shopping before October begins, but they are opening their Halloween-related emails about a week ahead of the main event:
(Source: Experian.co.uk )
Segmentation gives you the targeting you need to send the right emails to the right people at the right time. That is email marketing 101. Moreover, it applies at Halloween: only 6% of campaigns analyzed by eDataSource scored open rates over 20% last Halloween, largely because of weak or nonexistent targeting. It is a season that requires its particular targeting criteria. Halloween is celebrated differently based on age. For instance, parents with very young children, young people attending college, parents with kids aged 5 to 16 – they are all going to want very different Halloween-themed communications, and their purchase needs will also be different.
When demographic and purchase history segmentation are nailed, move on to cadence. Where possible, use triggered workflows that let users fork themselves over to the most appropriate variant for them. That can be based on clicks, opens or other factors. It makes sense to use standard workflow patterns like upsell and cross-sell emails, especially in a month where consumers are buying for several different events centered around various groups.
Last Halloween, predictably, Amazon’s emails got the highest open rates at 42%. That partly happened as a result of their gigantic reach, but also because of the reputation they have built by targeting emails accurately to consumers’ interests. (It is probably not the less-than-inspired subject line: ‘Halloween Costumes, Candy +More.’)
4: Social and Email Go Together Like Trick and Treat
Email marketing is highly effective. It is most effective though when it is embedded in an overall marketing effort that encompasses a range of channels. Social and email can be optimized for Halloween and should form a part of a complete Halloween strategy.
Consider using Twitter Cards. They are designed to let your followers sign up without leaving the social platform. Facebook has a ‘subscribe’ button that does something similar, allowing one-click email subscription from your Facebook page. (Use Facebook Custom Audiences to target your subscribers on Facebook.)
Events like Halloween form a fantastic opportunity to power cross-channel marketing with urgency, scarcity, and relevancy. Asking Twitter followers to join your email list leverages the trust you’ve built on social to establish a deeper level of engagement.
Consider adding social sharing buttons to your emails to encourage your subscribers to share your content across social channels too.
Alternatively, try embedding video in your emails, or embedding social feeds in landing pages and emails. That is most effective when it foregrounds the social nature of the Halloween season. Even though social is hard to track attribution and ROI when compared with email, it is getting better and more effective as numbers become more available. So consider asking customers to send in Halloween photos, stories, animations or jokes. Hashtags are your friend here – despite rumors of their demise, they help groups to be formed, and members to find each other, establishing a genuinely social experience with your brand at the center.
5: Subject Lines Still Rule
Again, great subject lines are email 101: without a good subject line, the rest of your email will not be read. However, Halloween’s subject line requirements are a little different. It is the only time of year when worse can be better: A cringe-worthy pun about monster savings, a spooktacular result or a fangtastic offer is right in the spirit of the season. It is the time of the year when corny, parent-ish gags and puns are a good choice; people will groan along happily. Don’t be the brand that is too ghoul to have fun.
On the other hand, don’t bury yourself and your offering. You want to fit in, not blend in. Try to remember that subject lines which foreground value still perform better at Halloween.
Here are some classics to inspire you:
Spooktacular DIY inspiration
Your Last-Minute Halloween Guide
Check out how crafter’s store Etsy offers a range of subject line ‘flavors,’ from glorious Halloween tack like ‘wonderfully wicked’ through spooktacular punning to bottom-line-up-front pain-points and a cozy, autumnal option for the less spookily-inclined.
Your Guide To Carving Pumpkins
Monster mash potatoes, mummy dumplings and more
Partner Team: Halloween: Create a Spooky Board to Reach your Audience
Pinterest offers its email recipients a guide to using Pinterest for Halloween as well as how-tos for predictable seasonal emergencies; they found the one person in the world who actually does know how to carve a pumpkin and got them to share. They also used a punny reference to kitsch classic Monster Mash in a family-friendly subject line that links to the concerns of a user base that skews 85% female and strongly tends to young, new parents.
Win our Halloween treats | Beware of these bewitching accessories…
Two for one, with a strong value, prop in both. Solid game from the accessories business.
From The Freelancer:
7 Perfect Halloween Costumes for Freelancers
This is interesting because it finds a way to get a solid subject line that promises value and is targeted to the recipient’s core interests and identity. It does this despite the fact that the Freelancer’s paid offerings are long-term, business-oriented subscription services. But even the most dedicated solopreneur will want to slip in a pair of false fangs this month – and don’t you wonder how a freelancer’s costume is different?
How effective are Halloween-related subject lines as opposed to the non-related ones?
Here are last year’s most commonly-used Halloween keywords:
(Source: Experian.co.uk )
‘Halloween’ seems to get opens; people love zombies; Halloween-related emails get opened more around Halloween.
Remember, the rules of good subject lines still apply: keep them short enough to be mobile-friendly, make it clear what you’re offering, and foreground the value for the consumer.
6: Some Cosy, Some Scary…
Not everything you do at Halloween has to be about hooded figures with scythes. Chances are you have at least some customers who would prefer to sit out the Halloween season with a warm cup of something pumpkin-spiced and a book by someone other than Edgar Allan Poe.
Remember that while 65% of American adults will be attending a Halloween costume party, that leaves 35% who will be staying away from the whole event. And there are people who would rather see the cosy side of the Halloween festivities, even if they don’t want to escape them altogether. These people need some email marketing love too.
To make this approach work for you, consider building email workflows that refer more to the autumnal pleasures of the month than to the creatures of the night. Fork people over to these based on their behavior onsite if you’re in ecommerce, or based on their social posts and email responses. Start by serving customers similar emails, with a spread of punny, kitsch and obvious pain point Halloween subjects, the way Etsy does above. But include one or two that address non-halloween themes, just like Etsy does. Fork recipients over to the right workflow depending on which of these emails they respond best to.
7: Reward Loyalty
Consider a Halloween-themed loyalty program. Loyalty programs enhance revenues and generate even greater ROI than baseline email marketing campaigns.
(Source: Emailmonks.com )
Use classic loyalty methods like escalating discounts to increase your customers’ interest in the program, and keep it Halloween-focused by not rolling points over outside the month. Consider a points program that ties in with social: incentivise social engagement by offering points redeemable against purchase in Halloween week, for instance. Alternatively, if you already have a loyalty program, theme your loyalty program communications for Halloween. Remember, there’s a lot of Halloween spend already allocated. Your goal should be to present yourself as the right place to spend it, and loyalty programs can help to reduce friction caused by uncertainty and trust issues.
8: Flash Sales
Holding flash sales throughout the month can allow you to build urgency and scarcity into the seasonal awareness your customers already have.
Here’s Kohl’s, doing this very well:
Halloween is theming, tight time limit and a clever, variable-discount take on gamifying the experience of checking out, Kohl’s is killing this one. This is a compelling, time-limited offer: a solid flash sale.
Flash sales are particularly effective when integrated into a cross-channel marketing strategy. Most flash sales aim at getting new customers. Whether they are particularly effective achieving that is up for debate. While an A/B tested flash sale campaign from mobile device case manufacturer CaseMate generated impressive-looking figures, like a 236% increase in revenue, it didn’t clearly show long-term profitability.
For Halloween email marketing, you’re more interested in converting – in pushing maybe-customers over that line, and tempting one-time customers back. So the prospects for long-term profitability on the back of upselling and cross-selling are better.
You can integrate channels effectively by building apprehension with email marketing, then using social channels as well as email to alert customers when the sale is actually about to start. Various forms of exclusivity can be leveraged this way too: for instance, consider giving a promo code that’s worth more to email subscribers to pick up more subscribers as well as more sales, or send a two part code by both email and Twitter; each part gets you 10% off, both together are worth 25%. Build this in with your cross-channel efforts to help you get subscribers from your Twitter followers and Facebook friends, and vice versa.
9: Involve your customers!
This one ties in with the multichannel approach: they fit together as two halves of the same coin. There’s nothing more effective than user generated content for driving social proof and engagement. At Halloween, that is of particular importance. Consumers are likely to have a circle of friends with similar tastes and of similar ages. So anything you can do to get them to share their costume ideas, Halloween cookies, cozy purchases, great deals or kitschy giveaways with their friends is important.
The key to this is to integrate useful content into your emails and social posts.
Content marketing and social marketing are usually viewed as slow-burning methodologies: strategies, not tactics. However, just because Halloween is happening right now, doesn’t mean Halloween-related content marketing is not going to fly. Check out Tesco’s social post video:
<iframe width=”723″ height=”401″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/yqWeuBJfxsQ” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Posted to Facebook, the video showcases Tesco products being used to create Halloween effects. Viewers were then directed to how-to pages that teach readers how to achieve similar effects. Pain points solved, customers entertained, and purchases encouraged? Sounds like a win.
Try embedding a similar video in emails and encouraging recipients to share it to social. Fun vines showing accelerated how-tos, or Halloween infographics, all help foster customer involvement and drive your campaign. You could offer your customers the prize of being featured in your email campaign’s video or how-to: the more you involve your customers in your marketing, the more effective it will be.
Halloween does not generate the dollars of Christmas, Mothers’ Day or Valentines’ Day. However, it is a huge opportunity to put yourself in front of the consumer’s mind who will soon be making their biggest purchases of the year. It is also an excellent opportunity to let your brand show a little personality too. Email marketing is the perfect way to generate more revenue at Halloween, but it works best when it is done as part of a comprehensive strategy.
It’s important for brands to find the balance between trying too hard to be likable and having no sense of fun. But nail it, make substantial offers, build social engagement and social proof as a part of your strategy, and Halloween could be the season where you grow your list, your revenue and your business.
Now that you’ve read some good strategies on how you can increase your ROI during Halloween with email it’s time to start applying them. Create your free Moosend account today and use the coupon code “Halloween” while you checkout to get your first month for FREE! Send unlimited campaigns and keep your customers coming back again and again.