by Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter
Halloween is coming up! Children will be marching up and down your block dressed as ghouls and goblins in a matter of weeks. You should start receiving party invitations anytime now.
For marketers, the lead-up to the haunting holiday can boost sales before the year-end crunch. And for the last two years the dark day has been a bright spot in a spooky economy.
Halloween retail sales reached a record-breaking projection of $6 billion in 2009, up 4.2% from $5.77 billion in 2008, according to industry market researcher IBISWorld.
Do you have any Halloween promotions planned for your email marketing? Take a look at six proven ideas we’ve pulled from MarketingSherpa case studies and how-to articles for some inspiration.Idea #1. Make Halloween a month-long, multichannel theme
Using the entire month of October as your Halloween selling season gives you a lot of flexibility. You can develop a month-long marketing plan that mixes different types of promotions and uses all your channels.
That way, you'll avoid overusing any single Halloween promo tactic, such as sending a rash of email offers right before October 31.
For example, last year the team at baking accessory company Wilton coordinated a month-long series of Halloween promotions that offered party tips, cookie- and cake-decorating ideas, and product promotions in several channels:
- They created Halloween party-planning videos that they posted to YouTube, their blog, and their Facebook page.
- They used Twitter to promote Halloween baking ideas and specific products, such as cookie cutters. Then, on Halloween, they sent a tweet encouraging customers to post photos of their creations on Wilton’s Facebook page.
- They made Halloween the theme of their October email newsletter, offering ideas for cookie, cake and cupcake decorations.
By combining email and social media promotions, they generated a 120% increase in Halloween product views on Wilton.com.Idea #2. Time email promotions for different customers
When developing email campaigns for October, you'll want to target the organized Halloween planners as well as the last-minute shoppers. If you're a multichannel merchant, this means developing different email campaigns for online sales and in-store purchases.
We spoke with Diana Voigt, Marketing Manager, HalloweenExpress.com, about her company's October email planning. She recommends:
- Emailing ecommerce promos two weeks before Halloween.
- Emailing brick-and-mortar promos during the week of Halloween to capture sales from last-minute customers with no time to have orders shipped. Idea #3. Offer Halloween-appropriate incentives for purchases
Your Halloween promotions are likely to include discounts and other special offers. But Voigt also recommends testing a free gift for every seasonal purchase.
Find a low-cost product that's small and easy to ship with every Halloween order -- such as pumpkin carving kits. These sweeteners will push more reluctant customers to make purchases, and will help regular customers feel like they’re getting a better deal.
If your company does not normally offer any Halloween-related products, these freebies will lend more credibility to your holiday-themed marketing. Their product shots will also give you additional seasonal imagery to use in your emails.Idea #4. Encourage user-generated Halloween content
You can also ask your audience to explore its creative side by sending you Halloween-inspired creations.
User-generated content such as photos, stories, drawings and jokes can build excitement among customers, generate search traffic, and give you content for Halloween promos. You can also repackage the content to share with partner sites to earn in-bound links from holiday-related content.
For example, Dan Roberts, Senior SEO Strategist and Analyst, Hearst Digital Media, worked with his team to create a gallery of images on their Good Housekeeping
website of pets wearing Halloween costumes. They had enough images to gather them into subtopics, including a "Star Wars" theme.
is not the typical kind of brand that resonates [on sites like Digg]. But if it’s Star Wars, they’ll look at it," Roberts says.
The team built a page to host the gallery and submitted the link to Digg. The strategy worked, and within a week they were ranking well for competitive search engine phrases around Halloween costumes.
"This was going into the Halloween season. It couldn’t be better. This was like a lightning bolt," Roberts says.Idea #5. Tie regular products to the Halloween theme
Running Halloween-related marketing campaigns does not require selling costumes, party supplies or pumpkins.
For example, Thom Pharmakis, VP of Internet, Lands' End, described how his team created a special email newsletter for Halloween. The newsletter included a feature called "Spooky colors" on how to use Lands' End clothing as a Halloween costume.
Even if your promotional calendar is filled out to Christmas, you can make slight changes to emails to give them a Halloween spin. This can be as simple as adding a spooky subject line with some supporting copy and a Halloween-inspired image.
If you want to sell a few Halloween items, fun novelty products are fairly easy to find by searching for specialty wholesalers and making a few inquiry calls, Voigt says.Idea #6. Buck the traditional Halloween theme
Of course, with so many Halloween promotions in the air, you might decide that the best way to stand out is to present customers with an alternative to ghosts and ghouls.
For example, The Greenbriar, a luxury resort, designed an email campaign that promoted a "Different kind of Halloween" for its audience of upscale travelers.
The email featured:
- Rich red and gold autumnal colors, as opposed to the typical black and orange color scheme of most Halloween promotions.
- Imagery of a mother and daughter lying on fallen leaves, and copy that reinforced the notion of a unique family vacation, such as: "Make this Halloween one that the whole family can enjoy. Your kids may never beg for candy again."
- Images and links to fall activities at the resort, including:
o Fly fishing
o Mountain bikingUseful links related to this article
Year-over-year growth of Christmas holiday retail sales in the United States from 2000 to 2012
SherpaBlog: Treat Halloween Like a Shopping Mini-Season in EmailMembers Library LinksEmail and Social Media Integration: 5 Strategies to Grow Audiences and Design Campaigns
Podcast: Don't Fear Using Halloween Tie-Ins to Market Your ProductsSpecial Report Part 2: Social Media and SEO -- 7 Tactics to Boost Rankings and Generate LinksLands' End Discovers Stories Work Better Than Sales Pitches in Its Weekly Email NewsletterFredericks of Hollywood Tests PPC Campaigns & Landing PagesRe-Email Campaign to Prospects Who Clicked But Didn't Buy: 125 Hotel Nights Sold at $600 a Pop