Preparing for the Golden Quarter: Email is Your Digital Key

5 Min Read

by dotmailer

Time waits for no marketer, and the Golden Quarter (GQ) is on the horizon. Summer promotions have made way for Fall content, and it won’t be long before retailers kick-start the holiday season with hype for Halloween. Competition for GQ 2017 this year is set to be tougher than ever, but the potential for revenue is rousing. 2016 saw a total of $91.7 billion in sales from November through December – for online trade alone.

With so many retailers looking to benefit from the season, you’ll need a fine-tuned strategy that engages customers and champions ROI. Email delivers $39/£39 for every $1/£1 spent, making it the obvious choice for bringing home the holiday profits. And with email marketing automation in your pocket, you can create timely and relevant campaigns to reach every customer at the right time – with the right proposition for them. Companies using email marketing automation are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle.

At dotmailer, we know email. And we know that businesses who’ll win big this holiday season will be those using automation to deliver communications that surprise and delight customers. This post brings you some key preparations you can make for GQ 2017:

Prepare by growing your list

By now you should have already begun devising a strategy for pre-season list growth, but here are some quick tips on optimizing your reach potential. Capitalize on increasing traffic to your online store by installing a popover to collect visitors’ email addresses in exchange for browsing privileges. If your website and payments system allow, you could also enable pre-orders to customers who provide their email address.

If you operate a bricks-and-mortar store, bridge the gap between online and offline – and offer customers a truly seamless experience – by introducing e-receipts to partner (or replace) paper copies. Iconic fashion brand and dotmailer client, Fred Perry, saw an increase from 100 weekly email collections to 3,000, just from introducing e-receipts to their omnichannel strategy; this also meant they were able to collect 95% of in-store transactions, nurturing that crucial 360° view for the quarter ahead.

Get noticed in the crowded inbox


Your customer’s inbox is a noisy place at the best of times, but the holidays prove exceptional. Cutting through the din of sale announcements and discount-driven messages is crucial, and a stand-out subject line puts your campaign in with the best chance of securing an open. Every business is different, and what works well for a competitor won’t necessarily be the best fit for you. However, if you’re looking to whip up a winning subject line this holiday, prioritize the following three ingredients:

  • Value-driven

With every business blasting cut-price deals, the best way to beat your competitors is by offering something long-lasting. Think dedicated holiday email programs, special editions of content, and access to interactive and rich media.

  • Journey-specific

Acknowledging where a customer is on their journey with your brand drives relevancy and fulfils the one-to-one ambition. Segment customers by pathway actions, like date of signup or most recent purchase, and devise subject lines that speak directly to the customer’s experience.

  • Mobile-friendly

54% of consumers now access emails on mobile, so ensure that customers can see your subject line – and its accompanying pre-header text – in its entirety. 20-30 characters provides a general rule of thumb, but thorough testing always is recommended.

Use automation to light the path to purchase

The relevance of your email marketing strategy will be the deciding factor in the revenue race this year. 2016’s holiday shopper was left disappointed by thoughtless batch-and-blast messaging; according to the UK Direct Marketing Association (DMA), 84% of consumers found less than half of the emails they received to be relevant and interesting. Brands that delight customers with personalized campaigns are best-placed to drive conversion.

Automation allows you to guide each customer on a contextually relevant and super-personalized brand journey, but at the scale of your entire email list. Looking to drive your high-value customers to spend big this season? Place these contacts in an email program that nurtures their particular buying motivations. Build a ‘quick gifts’ series to catch the windfall of last-minute, low-spend browsers on your site. Using the data you hold on your contacts, and the information feeding in to your email platform from your store, you can provide your list with personalized engagements based on relevant past behaviour. Plus, with automation taking care of email sends, all of this communication can occur in customers’ real-time.

  • Nurture program

It’s impossible to hold the hand of every new lead while simultaneously providing a valuable experience to your existing customers. By setting up a series of nurture programs targeted to your various segments, you can give everyone the red carpet treatment without maxing out on time and resources.

For new customers, the first email in your nurture program should give them a hearty welcome. Those arriving just before the festive season could receive a series of welcome campaigns: a heartfelt thank you and an offer to complete your preference centre to receive targeted gift ideas; a tour of your bestselling products and an invitation to tailor their product recommendations; an introductory offer to tempt them if they haven’t yet made that first purchase.

For existing customers, you can use the data you hold on them to get even more granular with targeting. Start your holiday nurture with a gifting survey, asking customers for the kind of products on their list this year; then use data on their past order behaviour to send a super-relevant gift guide to each customer demographic.

  • Abandoned cart program

With the Baymard Institute currently tracking the global abandoned cart rate at 69%, the potential to rescue lost revenue from customers leaving items behind at checkout is significant. Unfortunately, research from our 2017 email benchmarking report reveals that 60% of retailers aren’t sending abandoned cart emails to their mailing list.

Cart rescue automations provide a 40% open rate, with conversion sitting at an average of 28%. At dotmailer, we recommend setting up a series of three abandoned cart email reminders, the first of which should be sent within 24 hours of the event.

In your first email, alert the customer to the situation at hand, and let them know how easy it is to access their basket and complete their order. It’s important to remember that the abandon might have occurred by accident, so stick to some unassuming copy: ‘Oops, it looks like you’ve forgotten something’ over ‘What can we do to change your mind?’

The second email should up the ante by appealing to the customer’s fear of missing out. Include the items that have been abandoned within the email and pair these with live information, such as stock volumes and a delivery qualification timer.

The third is your last-chance-saloon. Add value to the transaction by pulling in relevant product recommendations or showcase some positive user-generated content. The final email is also your chance to get feedback on your checkout experience, so include a link to a checkout survey and bag some data for GQ 2018.

  • Post-purchase program

Concentrating on marketing well for the Golden Quarter stands you in good stead for the rest of the year. Automating a robust post-purchase program during the holiday period ensures that both new and returning customers are maxing out on value, and nurtures your reputation.

The majority of customers will be buying to gift, so a priority for your purchase program should be delivering an opportunity for gift receipts, product registration or warranties – an added opportunity to grow your database. Inviting recipients to review their products provides another method of immediate contact; you could invite customers to share some heart-warming user-generated content via social. You should also use your GQ post-purchase program to cross sell complementary products, making sure every recommendation you make is based on the data you hold on customers.


Want to get more ideas for email marketing in the Golden Quarter 2017? Check out dotmailer’s free Black Friday cheatsheet.



For 20 years our strategists, engineers, and UX designers have been building leading-edge ecommerce sites. From the cloud to the edge, we’ll help you make smart decisions and speed time-to-value, whether you’re building from scratch or moving to a new platform.

Corra, a Publicis Sapient company, is the global commerce leader and SI helping brands and organizations grow by evaluating, building, and optimizing their digital commerce ecosystems. Our vast experience with composable and headless implementations speeds time-to-value and provides technical freedom to our clients. Our TotalCare managed services program provides gold-standard support, enhancements and ongoing commerce strategy. We are strategic thinkers, accomplished engineers, and award-winning experience designers. We believe outstanding customer experiences can’t exist without flawless technology, and that flawless technology is pointless without beautiful, human-centered design. Our clients are an integral part of our team. Together, we remove the obstacles that are limiting growth and discover new opportunities. We don’t rest until our clients achieve their full potential. Our clients’ KPIs are our KPIs. We have 20 years of experience in commerce technology, but we also know that customer expectations are constantly evolving. For this reason, we’ve built future-proof solutions and refined an agile execution process that helps our clients achieve more with less. As a Publicis Sapient company, Corra joins a global network spanning 20,000 people with 53 offices around the world enabling us to accelerate our clients’ businesses through designing and building the experiences and services their customers demand.

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