Making Seasonal Adjustments to Automated Campaigns to Boost Results

July 7, 2023 | 6 minute read
Jennifer Dana
Vice President, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
Chad S. White
Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
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Automated campaigns—whether sent via email, SMS, or mobile push—perform so well that they’re often overlooked as not needing attention. However, it’s because of their high engagement and conversion rates that we should be constantly giving automated campaigns extra attention and trying to make them even better. 

This is especially true during the holiday season, which is make-or-break for most B2C brands. Here are several areas to focus on:

Make Your Automated Content Seasonally Relevant 

Find ways to bring the holiday season into your automated campaigns. Keeping in mind that seasonal design changes should be coordinated with those that you plan to make in other channels, consider the following changes:

  • Seasonal imagery. Add snowflakes, holly leaves, snowmen, Christmas lights, and other visual motifs to your automated campaigns. Also, consider using the classic Christmas colors of white, green, and red selectively in your designs.
  • Seasonal navigation bar links. Add a “Gifts” or “Holiday” link to the nav bar in your automated campaigns.
  • Seasonal messaging. Acknowledge in your copy that your subscribers are getting these messages during the holiday season by speaking to their seasonal needs and how your brand can help. Acknowledge your customers’ desire for great gifts and great deals. For example, promote major upcoming sales, like those on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday. And highlight your seasonal and limited-availability products.
  • Secondary seasonal messaging. Add secondary messaging that speaks to shoppers’ needs during the holiday season, whether it’s promoting gift guides, order-by deadlines, gift wrapping services, financial options, or other helpful content.

If you’ve created these kinds of creative assets in past years, pay extra attention to what’s new and different this year. For example, do you have new fulfillment or delivery options, such as curbside pickup or same-day delivery? Do you have new financial or payment options, such as buy now pay later? Have you made changes to your return policies, such as adding free returns in store? Be sure all of those are accurately reflected in your automated campaigns and stay updated throughout the holiday season.

While nearly every automated campaign can benefit from seasonal updates, the ones that can most benefit from them include welcomes, browse abandonments, shopping cart abandonments, checkout abandonments, back-in-stock notifications, order confirmations, and shipping confirmations.

Take an inventory of your automated campaigns and identify new opportunities with our checklist of 110+ Automated Campaign Ideas (free, no-form download).

Adjust the Behavior of Your Triggers 

The triggers, suppression behaviors, and other aspects of your automated campaigns may need tweaking going into the holiday season to maximize your results.

For example, outside of the holidays, it may make sense to ease new subscribers into your promotional messaging by suppressing those messages until the end of your welcome series. However, during the holidays, most new subscribers are signing up so they can get those promotions and learn what’s hot. So, withholding promotional emails to new subscribers during this time of year can do more harm than good.

Outside of the holiday season, it can also make sense to delay the sending of shopping cart abandonment messages for hours to avoid disrupting normal buying behaviors. However, during the holiday season, decisions are typically made much more quickly. Because of the time-sensitive nature of many holiday deals—particularly on days like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday—you’ll likely want to adjust cart and browse abandonment messages to trigger more quickly, if not immediately.

Similarly, if you’re using an abandonment series, it may not make sense for the second or subsequent touches in that series to be sent after you can guarantee Christmas delivery. So, consider adding rules for ‘Last Ship Date’ to your cart and browse abandonment triggers. These rules can accelerate triggered timing or add banners or other messaging within the body copy that encourages shoppers to purchase by a certain date to ensure on-time delivery.

For our most comprehensive holiday planning advice, get our Holiday Marketing Quarterly (free, no-form download).

QA Your Automated Campaigns.

After you make those adjustments, do some quality assurance testing, because this is the time of year when you least want your automated campaigns to break. Hopefully, you’re also QAing your automated campaigns at other times during the year to ensure that they are communicating what you want and functioning as intended.

At whatever points during the year that you QA your automated campaigns, we recommend at least checking your...

  • Text. Is it still communicating what you want? Is it still on brand? Is it free of typos? Are the fonts and font fallbacks correct?
  • Links. Does every button and link work? Do they take your subscribers to the most appropriate and efficient landing page? Be sure to check your navigation bars, recovery modules, and the administrative links in your footers and headers.
  • Mobile version. Mobile optimization is as important as ever. Don’t neglect the mobile experience of your digital marketing campaigns.
  • Rendering. Email rendering is complex, because inbox providers change their code support periodically and rarely announce changes. Take this opportunity to run a thorough rendering and functionality check of your email automations before heading into the holiday season. For instance, our Campaign Deployment & Monitoring Services team uses Litmus to test every campaign they send on behalf of our clients to ensure that they’re rendering and functioning as intended across all of the email clients and devices that are used by their subscribers.
  • New content. While all of your automated campaign content should be reviewed as part of the QA process, new content modules, text, images, and links should get extra scrutiny to ensure they are correct.
  • Trigger logic. Check the rules that govern when each of your automated campaigns will be sent. As previously mentioned, it may make sense to tweak these at various times of the year.

You may find that additional checks are necessary based on your program and the channel your automation is running in, but giving attention to those six areas will serve you well and greatly reduce errors and missed opportunities.

Just remember that you’ll need to back out these adjustments and re-QA once the season is over, as you either revert to non-seasonal messaging or convert over to messaging focused on the next selling season.

How to create and maintain effective automated campaigns as your program sophistication grows.

Adjust for Other Selling Seasons, Too

The holiday season is the biggest and most impactful selling season for most B2C brands, so investing time and energy in making adjustments to your automated campaigns makes the most sense there. However, other selling seasons can be deserving, too—including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and back to school.

After you get good at making seasonal adjustments to your automated campaigns for the holiday season, do the same for your second-biggest selling season…and so on, until the payoff doesn’t justify the effort. That said, you should definitely match the effort to the opportunity.

For example, adding a seasonal nav bar link to your Mother’s Day collection or specials is very low effort. Adding secondary messaging blocks related to Mother’s Day takes considerably more effort. And reskinning your welcome email for Mother’s Day takes more yet—probably so much that the return isn’t there. Through testing, determine which occasions make the most sense for your brand.

Regardless of how often you seasonally optimize your automated campaigns, make sure you’re routinely QAing them to ensure they’re rendering and functioning properly. After all, these are living and breathing campaigns. They require ongoing care and attention if they are to perform their best.

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 Need help with your automated marketing campaigns? Oracle Digital Experience Agency has hundreds of marketing and communication experts ready to help Oracle customers create stronger connections with their customers and employees, even if they’re not using an Oracle platform as the foundation of that experience. Our award-winning specialists can handle everything from creative and strategy to content planning and project management.

For help overcoming your challenges or seizing your opportunities, talk to your Oracle account manager, visit us online, or email us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com.

Now thoroughly updated, this blog post was originally published on Oct. 20, 2020 by Jennifer Lancaster Dana and Chad S. White. 

Jennifer Dana

Vice President, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Jennifer Lancaster Dana helps clients transform their customer experience by enabling and optimizing their marketing technologies, including CDPs, loyalty, omnichannel delivery, personalization, and analytics. She and her team have collaborated with AT&T, Macy’s, Hewlett Packard, Sephora, Marriott, REI, US Bank, Intuit, and many other clients to build and implement roadmaps that span across technology enablement, CX strategy, and organizational transformation. Jennifer’s consulting philosophy of living by your clients’ objectives has helped Oracle Digital Experience Agency achieve a 96%+ client satisfaction rating. 

Jennifer lives in Colorado with her family; and outside of work enjoys skiing, hiking, and traveling.

Chad S. White

Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.


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