How to Provide Value Without Providing Discounts

In the first two posts of our Holiday Reading Series, we looked at how 2020 forced email marketers to innovate and adopt new technology, and explored how email marketers have dealt with the emotional hardships of this year.

Peak sales periods come with many challenges for retailers and marketers. Not only are average email volumes around 25% higher during these periods, the more competitive landscape means retailers are pressured to significantly slash their prices to boost sales, which can have an ongoing business impact.

In many countries, the peak sales season now effectively runs from November to January, and 2020’s biggest sales events are set to be more important than ever, given what a tough year it’s been for retailers. Businesses are challenged with protecting profit margins in the months following the holidays, but many fear losing customers if they’re unable to keep offering generous discounts.

Fortunately, consumers interpret value in different ways and aren’t always fixated on cash discounts. While promotional content provides retailers with short-term benefits, cleverly optimising email with personalised and valuable content offering a human connection can establish a loyal following over a much longer period. This is welcome news for marketers who can cleverly (and affordably) use their email program to provide customers with the content they’re hungry for.

The art of providing valuable content starts with the ability to see your business through their eyes — what are their interests? What’s helpful to them? Once you’ve identified what will resonate, you can focus on giving them more of this via your marketing messages.

Here are just some of the ways marketers can use email to increase value for your customers without needing to slash prices beyond Christmas:

  • Be inspiring – Life in our modern world can be very demanding, therefore it’s no surprise emails providing inspiration and helping to simplify time-consuming decisions and tasks are hugely appreciated. For example, The Iconic offers handy ideas for fully styled festive outfits and Dan Murphys provides entertaining ideas for the holiday season.
  • Provide entertainment – The average person consumes around 34 gigabytes of information every day, so it can be easy for emails to get lost in this noise. Clever marketers often use entertainment to stand out from the pack. Try including fun quizzes or animations and amusing short videos in your emails to grab attention. Better yet, incentivise shoppers with a competition. Correctly used, animated GIFs can provide additional colour around offers and can also provide clues about the sender’s tone of voice, like funny or heartfelt. This is exactly what Qantas did for a recent promotion offering Frequent Flyer points. The animation grabbed attention in the inbox.
  • Teach them something – Consumers are loyal to brands providing valuable and helpful content that isn’t always centered around selling a product or service. Whether it’s beauty tutorials, style hacks, recipes, DIY ideas, or industry updates, businesses offering a diverse and informative range of content are more likely to have a more engaged customer base all year, not just during sales season. This is something Canva has done well, encouraging subscribers to develop a personal brand.
  • Offer free shipping – If it’s applicable to your business, consider offering free shipping from time to time. Free shipping is the number one reason shoppers proceed to the online checkout. In fact, 48% of shoppers add more items to their cart to qualify for free shipping and 41% of shoppers search online for a free shipping promo code. Here is an example from Temple & Webster, as a thank you for joining their email program.

Providing your customers with value doesn’t mean you need to constantly offer them discounts. Marketers creatively using email to benefit customers have far more reasons to get in touch more often, creating a more loyal and engaged customer base without needing to eat into hard-earned profit margins.

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