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How to create a real estate website with WordPress

Real estate agents are able to advertise, promote, and even rent and sell homes all over the country and around the world, thanks to online technology. The same technology lets buyers research new homes and neighborhoods, helps sellers know how to stage and price their homes, and lets both find a real estate agent they trust. That technology also empowers you to create a real estate website with WordPress.

Why? While a lot of this new technology is handled through different mobile apps and even third-party websites like Zillow and Realtor.com, real estate agents still need to have their own website that will show both buyers and sellers the kinds of work you do, the homes you sell, and the services you provide.

And when it comes to the kind of website you have, we’re big fans of real estate websites built on WordPress.

The great thing about WordPress is that it’s scalable. This means building a real estate website with WordPress is smart, no matter how big it is, whether you have a one-person shop or a large agency with 50-plus agents and offices throughout the city.

So let’s talk about the ideal choice for your real estate website, and how to create your real estate website with WordPress.

Guide to creating a real estate website with WordPress

We’re going to cover a lot of territory in this article, including:

  • Benefits of using WordPress for a real estate website.
  • Getting your real estate domain name ready.
  • How to create a real estate website with Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting.
  • WordPress themes for real estate.
  • WordPress real estate plugins.
  • Tips for building your WordPress real estate website.
  • Conclusion and next steps.

Let’s get moving.

Benefits of using WordPress for a real estate website

There are many benefits to building a real estate website with  WordPress.

Lots of functionality

The biggest benefit of a real estate WordPress site is that it’s almost limitless in its functionality. Thanks to the various plugins and themes available, you can trick out your website to provide all the functionality that buyers and sellers have come to expect.

For example, there’s the advanced listing search, which lets buyers specify the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want, or to look only at condo and townhouse rentals that allow pets, or even limit their search to a specific geographic area.

Map display

Once the users know where they want to look for their new home, you can show the listings on a map display, which usually uses Google Maps to display your different properties.

Users can send the address of their favorite listings to their own Google Maps app on their phone.

And when you build a real estate website with WordPress, some themes will even let you customize the pin images and layouts of your website’s maps to take advantage of the different photos of the property.

Property details

Of course, once the buyers know where the properties are located, they’ll want to see the specific property details, like a floor plan, square footage, amenities, school district and so on. And you want your theme to display this information in a clear, easy-to-read layout that looks good on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

Save favorites

As they do their research, your buyers are going to find some homes they like and want to keep an eye on. A good real estate WordPress theme will let them save their favorite real estate listings so they can come back and find them later. This lets them compare different homes and properties, and will keep them on your site longer.

Mortgage calculator

You can even offer a mortgage calculator, which will let buyers know how much they can expect to pay each month, based on the listing price of the home.

Booking and reservation requests

There are options for rental properties, which means you can build a real estate website with WordPress that offers online booking and reservation requests. This is useful not only for real estate agents, but multi-family dwellings and rental property managers.

Agent listings

Several real estate WordPress themes will let you display your agent listings. You can show agent details on individual property pages, but you can also show them separately on your Contact Us or About Us page.

Mobile friendly

Finally, if you haven’t heard about this yet, it’s important to know: Your website has to look as good on mobile devices as it does on a laptop. So you need responsive themes.

87% of smartphone owners perform a mobile search at least once a day — and Google gives search ranking preference to sites that are mobile-friendly, regardless of where people see it.

You can save yourself some major headaches, and even push ahead of your competitors by using a responsive theme as you’re creating your real estate with WordPress.

Getting your real estate domain name ready

Real Estate WordPress Houses In Subdivision

Before you start building your real estate website, you need the perfect domain name to tell people where you live online. When you buy your domain name, it’s important to find one that’s perfect for you and your real estate agency.

Your domain name is basically your web address.

Choosing your domain name

You want something that’s descriptive, but not too long. If you can, include your location so people know where exactly you’re located and what areas you cover, but don’t go nuts.

For example, you don’t want one that’s overly long — BjornJorgensonSellsHomesInBemidjiMinnesota.com — and you don’t want one that’s not very descriptive — JorgensonSells.com.

But BemidjiHomeSales.com or BemidjiRealEstate.com are just right: They tell your customers what you do and where you do it.

Sure, having your name in there would be great, but consider getting that for your individual agent’s page.

Pro tip: You can buy a domain name, such as your own name, and then forward it to a different website.

For example, my domain, ErikDeckers.com, automatically forwards to one of my blogs. And if I ever wanted to, I could forward it to a new website. Consider doing this for each of the agents in your agency, forwarding those domains to their agent page or even their own listings.

How to create a real estate website with Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting

You’ve chosen your domain name, so now it’s time to set up your real estate website with WordPress. But unless you have some technical expertise or extra time on your hands, you probably don’t want to go the self-installation route. (But if do you, here’s how to install WordPress on cPanel hosting.)

That’s where Upfiv’s Managed WordPress Hosting comes in handy.

Managed WordPress Hosting is Upfiv’s streamlined, optimized platform that lets you build a WordPress site quickly and easily.

WordPress sites built on Upfiv’s WordPress Hosting live on dedicated WordPress servers. Upfiv’s admins are focused strictly on those servers’ security and maintenance, and they manage the basic hosting administrative tasks, such as installing WordPress, automated daily backups, WordPress core updates and server-level caching.

If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry.

That’s why the Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting option is probably your best bet. It just means that WordPress will be updated, backed up and optimized to run faster.

And you’ll be able to get starting really quickly. Managed WordPress Hosting features pre-built themes that are easy to customize with a drag-and-drop editor. Just choose your industry — real estate — and you’ll get a ready-made site, complete with images. You can also make it completely your own with thousands of third-party WordPress themes and plugins to choose from (more on that later).

Choose your Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting plan

Check out the different Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting plans, specs and the pricing (which varies by country).

Choose your WordPress real estate theme

Once you’ve chosen your Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting plan, choose your real estate WordPress theme. There are tens of thousands of WordPress themes to choose from, but only a couple dozen for real estate websites. Some of them are free, and some of them are premium/paid themes.

Narrowing down your three to five favorites can be tough, let alone settling on your final one.

To be honest, I like some of the free themes. But the premium themes just have more functionality, better technical support, and they’re often better made.

Since this is the face of your business, this is not an area to cheap out on. If you prefer the look of a premium theme, go with it.

Real Estate WordPress Free Theme

Personalize your real estate website

Next, you want to personalize your website. This is the chance to upload all your own graphics, images, logos and written content. You’ll want to come up with your tagline, get some high quality photographs of your office, staff, and property listings. And you’ll want a lot of high-quality written content for your various pages explaining your services.

Add the right plugins

You’ll also want to start adding the various plugins that will actually make your website functional.

There are plugins for security, social media sharing, search engine optimization, Google Analytics, and various property listing plugins.

We’ll take a closer look at popular WordPress real estate plugins below.

Learn how to quickly add a plugin to your WordPress site.

WordPress themes for real estate

What makes a good WordPress theme if you’re a real estate agent? Which features should you look for? Your website is all about your users’ experience as much as it is your own preferences and selections.

Regardless of what you choose, there are some common features your visitors will expect when looking for real estate websites with WordPress. Many of those will come from the theme you choose as much as from the different plugins you add.

The theme is the facade of your website, the front of the house, the exterior siding and landscaping. In short, it’s the curb appeal of your website, and it’s the first thing visitors are going to judge your real estate website on, before they ever go inside.

To start,  scroll through the WordPress Theme Directory, or the real estate themes selection on Upfiv’s WordPress Hosting site, to see what’s available. Whatever you choose will be applied to your entire website all at once, not just a few pages.

Real Estate WordPress Real Estate ThemesWhen you choose your WordPress theme, you need to make sure that it’s mobile responsive. That means it will adjust to fit on your user’s screen, whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Google will actually penalize sites that aren’t mobile friendly, plus many of your clients will be driving around and looking up properties on their phones, so you need to make sure your site will work in those situations.

You also want to make sure that your theme will work on all the internet browsers, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge.

We’ve already discussed it earlier, but remember some of the benefits of specifically using WordPress themes for real estate websites:

  • Advance listing search
  • Map display
  • Property details
  • Agent listings
  • Favorites
  • Mobile-responsive

Now that you know what to look for in a WordPress theme for your real estate website, let’s hone in on a few available themes you might want to consider.

Premium WordPress real estate themes

Here is a short (and certainly not exhaustive) list of some of the themes we found that really shine for real estate websites. Check out each theme’s page for current pricing.

Wp Estate

This premium theme is designed for independent real estate agents and agencies, but you can also use it to allow users to submit their properties for free, for a fee or based on a subscription.

WP Pro Real Estate 7

Ideal for just about any type of real estate professional, this theme enables you to build sites ranging from paid real estate listing portals to vacation rental websites.

RealPlaces

A standout feature of this theme is the ability to display content in various machine-translated languages.

WP Residence

This premium theme includes about a dozen pre-made demos to help you get a site up and running quickly, plus machine translation capability for 32 languages.

Free WordPress real estate themes

While many real estate WordPress themes are premium (paid), there are a few great free ones out there if you know where to look.

Cabana

Cabana from SMThemes includes a slider/slide deck theme that slides photos of various homes past the front page. It also has Google Maps shortcode for map listings, and has responsive web design. It has a landscape/horizontal orientation, which makes it ideal for panorama photos.

Interon

Also from SMThemes, Interon is ideal for showing off luxury houses and condominiums. Just like its sister theme, Cabana, Interon includes a slider, responsive web design, social media integration, and it’s SEO friendly.

Relic

Relic is SEO-friendly, mobile friendly and has a photo gallery that lets you include several photos for a listing. Although it’s free, it also comes in a premium version that has some additional functionality; it might be worth the upgrade.

Avenue

Avenue integrates with your MLS subscription to let potential buyers search for houses based on price, size, and number of bedrooms. This Browse Listing feature is usually only limited to premium themes, but Avenue is free.

WordPress real estate plugins

Plugins are what give a real estate website with WordPress its functionality. Rather than little sub-programs that you would have to code yourself, these are standalone modules that you load into your WordPress installation.

You can search for new plugins just by going to the Plugins menu on the sidebar, and clicking Add New.

From there, you can find great WordPress real estate plugins like home affordability and mortgage calculators, and ALTOS charts and online calendars so potential buyers can schedule meetings with you.

There are plugins for adding local events, schools, local restaurants and even business partners. You could even consider cross-pollinating your website with local business partners as a way to attract new home buyers to your city or part of town.

You can even offer downloadable content, such as livability surveys and reports, or eBooks on moving or mortgage financing.

When you’re ready to install plugins, check out our step-by-step instructions.

Here are a few plugins that every WordPress website needs:

  • Yoast SEO: An all-in-one SEO solution that offers on-page analysis of your blog posts and pages.
  • Social sharing: Plugins like JetPack will let you connect your favorite social networks to your blog and then share them automatically
  • Security (e.g. Sucuri): There are plenty of hackers who want to break into your website, whether it’s to sabotage your site or use it for their own nefarious hacking purposes. Protect yourself with a strong security plugin.
  • Smush Image Compression: Compress your photos by removing unnecessary information without reducing the photo quality. Your images will be smaller and load faster, which makes your site more mobile and SEO friendly.
  • Lazy Load: Improves your page load speed, which is an important SEO factor. The faster a page loads, the better Google ranks it.
  • Contact Form 7: Lets you create forms for visitors to use via drag-and-drop interface. Use these for Contact Us pages or surveys.
  • Google Analytics Dashboard: Lets you track important metrics like the number of visitors, how they found you, the social networks they used, and even what kind of device (mobile vs. tablet vs. laptop) they used.
  • Business Profile: This is a local SEO plugin. If you depend on local search traffic (think restaurants, retail, and real estate agents), install this one.

And don’t forget these plugins for your real estate website with WordPress:

  • WP-Property: Great for real estate agents and property managers too. It uses Google Map integrations so you can display your listings on a map.
  • Easy Property Listings: A listings-based plugin that lets visitors sort by price, date and location. You can link to virtual tours and floor plans, and add a photo gallery to your Google Maps listings.
  • IDX: Let visitors search for MLS-listed properties on your website. Since searching for properties is what brings people to you in the first place, this is a critical plugin to get.
  • WPL Real Estate: Customize your listings database without changing the entire database, and your search listings will appear on Google Maps as they’re added. You can even create your own customized iPhone or Android app with this plugin.
  • Leadin: Collect all your website leads and push them right into your customer relationship management (CRM) sales software.

Tips for building a real estate website with WordPress

Real Estate WordPress House For Sale]Once you’ve framed out your website — bought your domain name, ordered your managed hosting, and installed your theme and plugins — it’s time to finally put up your interior walls and decorate this thing.

There are a few things you want to do when you’re building your site:

Keep your audience in mind

You want to give your visitors plenty of reasons to come back. That means it has to be useful (e.g. able to search listings), and provide solid information (such as useful blog articles about buying and selling or tips on finding the right home), and it has to follow solid design principles.

Make your site neat and attractive

The navigation of your WordPress real estate site needs to be simple and limited to the few topics buyers and sellers look for.

Use videos and full-width images whenever you can.

This is where having a professional designer or a premium WordPress theme can make all the difference in the world.

Pay attention to SEO

Optimize your site with the appropriate keywords so visitors can find you: your city or the neighborhood you serve; the types of homes you specialize in; the services you offer.

Make sure your site is filled with original text, not copy-and-paste text from other websites.

Write useful articles that people will want to spend 60 seconds reading, and keep your videos to two to three minutes in length. (Note: Upfiv’s Deluxe and Ultimate Plans come with an SEO Wizard to help you get listed on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. )

Include a blog

Maybe it’s because I’m a blogger, but I think this is critical for most websites, especially real estate sites. Write articles about the neighborhoods you serve, the school ratings, the local restaurants and businesses. Write about house-search checklists and guides to finding a lender.

Make yourself the local expert on these topics.

Ask friends to share photos and write ups about the different festivals and special events in your community. All of these things will help your site’s SEO when buyers Google more information about the community they’re thinking about living in.

Conclusion and next steps

If you want to build a successful real estate WordPress site, it’s pretty easy, and we’ve laid out the entire strategy for you.

First, select the WordPress hosting plan that’s right for you, whether it’s a Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting plan or you buy your own server space and host it yourself.

Next, select the right WordPress theme for real estate agencies. Sure, you can use one of the free generic themes, but these themes have been created specifically for you real estate agents — take advantage of those extra capabilities!

Install the WordPress real estate plugins that will add much-needed functionality to your site. And don’t forget the general, non-real estate plugins for security, SEO and analytics. Every website should have them.

Be sure to provide great written and visual content for your website. Visitors want to read valuable information about their next home purchase or sale, so they might as well get it at your site.

Once you’ve got your WordPress site all built and ready to go, be sure to set up your professional email address and link it to your site in your email footer. You can get your professional email address when you buy your domain.

Link your website to your social pages. You can do this with your social sharing plugin, but be sure to include the domain name in your social network bios, too.

Finally, you can keep your website secure by keeping your themes and plugins updated. One way hackers can break into a real estate website with WordPress is by exploiting flaws in outdated plugins and themes. One reason the plugin/theme creators create updates is to plug these holes, so protect yourself by updating everything when it comes available.

WordPress might seem like a huge, unwieldy product to work with, but it’s the No. 1 content management site for a reason. More than 30% of the world’s websites run on it for a reason, and if it’s good enough for The New York Times and Walt Disney, it’s good enough for your own real estate agency.

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Al Cannistra and Stephani Worts.

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9 Black Friday email campaign ideas to take you through Cyber Monday

Some of the biggest shopping days of the year are right around the corner. No matter what you’re selling, your customers are ready to open their wallets, and you need to be primed to take advantage by creating Black Friday email campaigns.

One of the biggest assets you have is your email list.

But, since your customers’ inboxes are going to be inundated, you’ll need to stand out and give them a reason to open your emails. It’s not enough to show up; you need to sweeten the deal and make them an offer they can’t refuse.

If your idea well has gone dry, then this post is for you. Below you’ll find nine different suggestions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns.

We’ll cover can’t miss coupons, scarcity-based bonuses, value-add partnerships and a lot more. No doubt your brain will be on fire with ideas about how you can make this holiday shopping season your most profitable yet.

The importance of Black Friday email marketing

The Black Friday weekend can be a massive boost to your overall sales numbers for the year. Best of all, you can get this boost just by sending some thoughtful and well-crafted emails.

Year after year, more and more customers are getting their wallets ready for the impending sales, and this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday are primed to be the biggest ones yet.

To take advantage, it’s a good idea to start planning your marketing campaigns early, instead of scrambling at the last minute.

According to Sendgrid, nearly 24 billion emails were sent during these 24 hours last year. That’s an email for roughly half the world’s population.

But that means one thing — crowded inboxes.

You need your emails to stand out and get opened if you’re going to convince your customers to click through and visit your store.

9 revenue-boosting Black Friday email campaign ideas

It can be hard to come up with creative email campaigns from scratch — especially during the holiday season when you have a million and one other things on your plate. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.

  1. Get in your customers’ minds early.
  2. Offer a pre-sale for loyal subscribers.
  3. Entice with a free shipping coupon.
  4. Create a scarcity-based bonus.
  5. Create a time-based Black Friday sequence.
  6. Frame your sale as smart Christmas prep.
  7. Create a raffle or free giveaway.
  8. Partner with other complementary retailers.
  9. Extend your Cyber Monday sale, aka the Tuesday Blowout.

Let the nine email campaign ideas below get you moving in the right direction.

Editor’s note: With Upfiv Email Marketing it’s easy to prep Black Friday emails in advance and schedule them to send whenever you want, so you don’t have to spend your holidays sending emails.

1. Get in your customers’ minds early

Before the madness of post-Thanksgiving sales begins, you’ll want to already be at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

No doubt their inbox is going to be flooded with hundreds of emails vying for their attention. But you can hack this by having them actually seek out and look forward to your email.

One effective way to do this is by sending a thank you email out on Thanksgiving day. The only purpose of this email is to thank them for being a loyal customer and always opening your emails.

Make it a real email, like one you would send to a friend. Don’t use company-speak. Write it with emotion and from the heart.

Then, towards the end of the email, let them know about the massive sale you have coming out. Something like, “P.S. tomorrow will be our biggest sale in company history, so make sure to keep an eye on your inbox.”

The goal of this email isn’t to play with emotion, but instead share your thanks and gratitude and briefly let them know about your massive sale coming up (that could save them a lot of money).

2. Offer a pre-sale for loyal subscribers

If you’re looking to drive sales before the holiday rush starts, you can create a pre-sale email campaign.

This will be for your loyal customers only. To do this effectively, you’ll need to segment your email list based upon active users who regularly open emails or regularly buy products from you.

You don’t want to send this out to everyone on your list.

First, you need something to offer. Maybe you’re marking down certain items, offering a coupon code off the total order, or throwing in a buy-one-get-one-free deal. Whatever it is, create an offer that your loyal subscribers can’t resist.

With this deal, you’ll have a countdown timer in place. You could offer this deal for Thanksgiving day only, or you could offer it for a few days up until black Friday starts. It’s up to you.

Think of this email like a red carpet event. Only your most exclusive subscribers (the ones that are most valuable to your business) are allowed in.

3. Entice with a free shipping coupon

If you’re looking to sweeten the pot of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday email deals even more, then consider offering a free shipping coupon as well. You’re already offering incredible bargains, but free shipping too! That’s a no brainer.

To ensure you aren’t losing money on the deal, calculate your shipping costs, and offer a free shipping coupon for orders over a certain value. For example, “orders over $89 will get free shipping, just enter the coupon code FREETHINGS at checkout.”

You can offer this coupon throughout the entirety of Black Friday weekend, or choose a day like Black Friday or Cyber Monday to really boost sales that day.

4. Create a scarcity-based bonus

Black Friday Email Woman Shoe Shopping

During this time of year, you want people to take action as quickly as possible. You’re competing with hundreds of other stores for your customer’s hard-earned cash.

One way you can nudge yourself out in the lead is by sweetening the deal. Instead of just offering a discount (like every other store is doing), you can include a free bonus.

Maybe it’s a free backpack or T-shirt. Whatever you’re offering, make sure it’s good, as a lot of customers will buy something from you just for the bonus alone.

You can take this even further by making the bonus scarce. For example, only offer the gift to your first 200 customers. You can also send a follow-up email letting your subscribers know how many of the bonuses have already been claimed.

If you’d like, you can even tease this bonus in your earlier emails. Since you’ll be emailing your customers relentlessly from Black Friday all the way through midnight on Cyber Monday, you can leave this bonus until later on.

Something like, “keep an eye out for our Cyber Monday email where we’ll be giving away a gift worth $250 to the first 200 customers.”

5. Create a time-based Black Friday sequence

One great way to create scarcity is with a countdown timer. Once the timer is up, the sale is over. No questions asked.

There are multiple ways you can run this.

For example, if you have multiple lines of products you can offer a discount on that product line for each specific day. Black Friday is for watches, the weekend after is handbags, and the blowout Cyber Monday sale is all remaining accessories.

Each email you send will focus on the category of items you’re selling, as well as a countdown timer to show how much time they have left to buy.

Or, you can include a standard countdown timer for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals embedded in your emails, or even at the top of your website. You can expect a lot of sales to trickle in at the last minute, just before the timer is up.

6. Frame your sale as smart Christmas prep

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday being some of the biggest shopping days of the year, people are going to be spending a lot of money.

However, a lot of customers will also be looking forward to Christmas, budgeting for this time of the year as well. You can take advantage of this by framing some of your emails as “getting your Christmas shopping out of the way early.”

While all your friends are rushing all over town and filling up their Amazon carts, you can sit back and relax.

You took care of all your Christmas shopping weeks ago.

Even the reminder that Christmas is coming and these will be the lowest prices you’re offering all year should be enough to garner a few extra sales.

7. Create a raffle or free giveaway

People love free giveaways and the chance of winning big. It’s the reason millions of people play the lotto every single year.

Of course, you won’t be offering a prize that substantial. But, make it compelling enough, and you can see a flood of new orders. For example, whoever makes a purchase over $50 during Black Friday will be entered into a giveaway for a $1,000 gift card.

Your customers are already primed to buy, and this can push them over the edge.

It doesn’t have to be a cash prize either. Maybe free shipping for a year? A gift card to another store? A free lifetime subscription to the software you’re selling?

Get creative and think of a prize so compelling you’ll have customers buying from you solely to have a chance at winning.

8. Partner with other complementary retailers

Black Friday Email People With Shopping Bags

This one will take more work beforehand, but it can be a great way to reach new customers while multiplying your bottom line.

The premise is this: Instead of emailing your list over and over again, you’ll get other retailers to email their customers about the massive sale you’re having and vice versa.

Make a list of stores that aren’t your direct competition, but instead offer complementary products. So, if you’re selling backpacking backpacks made from Kevlar you could partner with retailers who sell tents, camping knives, water filters, bottles and more.

Then, you’ll have these retailers email their list with your Black Friday or Cyber Monday coupon codes, and you’ll do the same with your list.

This will not only result in more sales and new customers for your business, but you’ll also be creating goodwill with your customers.

You could even negotiate an affiliate deal, where you’ll receive a portion of the total sales that come through your link. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay out affiliates on your end if you work out this kind of deal—yet another way to generate revenue during the busiest shopping season of the year.

9. Extend your Cyber Monday sale, aka the Tuesday Blowout

If you’re not burnt out with the five days of emailing, then we have another one for you.

The single-day extended sale.

The purpose of this is to sell to the last remaining stragglers or those who are remorseful they didn’t pull the trigger over the previous few days.

Think of this as the final blowout sale. However, you have to be careful not to alienate those who already purchased from you previously. They might be a little salty if you’re going back on your word. For example, if you had a time-based deal that ended at midnight on Cyber Monday, then you need to follow through with that.

Trust takes a lifetime to build, but only a second to lose. Don’t get greedy and go back on your word to make a few extra sales.

Instead, offer different items for sale, or provide less of a discount. Think of this sale like you’re a sporting goods store trying to clear out summer inventory to make room for fall and winter.

Wrapping up: How to make this Black Friday weekend the best yet

Running successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday email campaigns takes a lot of preparation and planning, but it’s time well spent. Do it right, and you’ll be looking forward to the post-Thanksgiving season every year.

You don’t have to execute on every single campaign idea above. Instead, pick a few that are most in alignment with what you sell.

Here’s a quick recap of the email campaign ideas:

  1. Send a thank-you email on Thanksgiving day to be on the front of your customer’s mind.
  2. Create an exclusive pre-sale for your most valued customers before Black Friday begins.
  3. Offer a free shipping coupon on top of your heavily discounted prices.
  4. Include a high-value bonus that’s only available to your first 200 buyers.
  5. Use a countdown timer to inspire people to buy before time runs out.
  6. Frame an email as taking care of Christmas shopping early.
  7. Create a super enticing raffle for one lucky customer who buys something during the sale.
  8. Partner with complementary retailers to have them share your sale with their email list.
  9. Extend your Cyber Monday sale into a Tuesday blowout sale for those who missed out.

Hopefully, the ideas above will help make the upcoming Black Tuesday and Cyber Monday the most profitable yet.

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Macdara Bracken.

Image by: Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

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How to prepare your email subscriber list for the holiday season

Isn’t it hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us again? It feels like just a few weeks ago we were throwing off our sweaters and digging out sandals for the summer. Our snow shovels and winter hats have been collecting dust, unused and stored for cooler weather. It’s time to start pulling out the winter gear and, similarly, now’s the time to prepare your holiday email subscriber list.

Email marketing was responsible for a total of 24% of holiday sales during the 2018 holiday eCommerce season. That means email marketing alone brought in nearly $170 billion in revenue for businesses during November and December of 2018.

7 steps to prep your email subscriber list for the holiday season

So, before you gear up to send out your Black Friday messages, let’s get your email list and email strategy ready for holiday sales with these seven steps:

  1. Clean up your email subscriber list.
  2. Get new email subscribers.
    • Gather all your subscribers in one place.
    • Test your integrations and forms.
    • Ask to be whitelisted (or ask for a reply!)
    • Re-share your opt-in to encourage new subscribers.
    • Pair up for a collaboration.
    • Ask for referrals.
  3. Build new email segments.
  4. Update and fine-tune your automations.
  5. Superpower your transactional messages.
  6. Mark important dates on your calendar.
  7. Make a plan for the holiday season.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

Gift-Wrapped Box Represents Holiday Email Planning

1. Clean up your email subscriber list

The first thing to do to get your email list ready for holiday promotions is to clean up and remove inactive subscribers.

Think of it like doing a deep clean before you start putting out the holiday decorations.

Start by segmenting your list into people who haven’t opened in more than 90 days. If you haven’t emailed in more than 90 days, then you’ll need to start with people who haven’t opened in the 90 days before that. It could even be up to a year since they last opened.

Next, you’ll send that group of subscribers a special series of emails to ask if they still want to hear from you.

These messages should be short and to the point.

You can use humor to encourage open rates if it works with your brand. Remember, your subject line is very important for these messages. They can’t click to stay on the list if the subject line doesn’t get them to even open the email.

Here are some sample subject lines:

  • Long time, no see!
  • Is this goodbye?
  • We miss you
  • Was it something we said?
  • Do you still want updates from us?

The content of these messages should be straight-forward with a single call-to-action: Click here to keep getting our messages.

Communicate the benefits of staying on the list, whether that’s access to exclusive sales, notifications about new products, or never missing an episode of a podcast or blog post.

Send at least three re-engagement messages to this segment of the list, removing anyone who did click to stay on the list from the segment.

After sending those three emails — if they never clicked to stay on the list, remove them. This might be painful if you’re focused on list size, but a smaller list size actually helps with your engagement and deliverability.

You’re paying to send them emails that are ending up in spam folders and trash bins, all while hurting your deliverability to the people who really want your messages.

Time to let them go.

2. Get new email subscribers

After you’ve bid farewell to some unengaged subscribers, it’s time to build your list back up. You’ll do that in a few different ways, including collecting up all the subscribers you have across multiple systems, testing your email subscription forms for any leaks, and running campaigns to get more subscribers.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these processes below.

Gather all your subscribers in one place

If you’re like most business owners, you’re collecting contact information from your customers in several different places, like your eCommerce system, your landing page software, your CRM, and even your social media accounts. Remember all those email addresses you collected when people wanted to join your Facebook group? Did those addresses actually make it to your email system?

Collect up all those email addresses that you have explicit permission to use, and add them to your email list.

Test your integrations and forms

Next up, test your integrations and forms to ensure that the people who are joining your list are actually making it onto your list. A good way to test is to use a special email address so you can track each form individually.

Rather than create a bunch of free accounts, you can modify your existing Gmail email address, for example, and still check whether or not you receive your test messages. To illustrate this, your email address might be hikingfan@gmail.com. You can add a plus sign after the first half (before the @ symbol), and any words you want after, ending up with something like hikingfan+reddit@gmail.com.

This is really handy if you’ve got several different lead magnets or signup forms to test. Examples of these test addresses might look like this:

  • hikingfan+footerform@gmail.com
  • hikingfan+popup@gmail.com
  • hikingfan+leadmagnetA@gmail.com
  • hikingfan+leadmagnetB@gmail.com

Just don’t forget to delete all of those dummy subscribers after you’re done testing!

Ask to be whitelisted (or ask for a reply!)

One way to get your subscriber list ready for the holiday is to ask your new subscribers to whitelist your email address or add you to their address book.

Another way to get whitelisted is to have them reply to an email from you. Most ISPs will automatically add an email address to the address book when you’ve sent them an email. By simply asking a question — like “What is the biggest problem you’re facing” or “Which is your favorite style” and asking for a reply (instead of a click), you can improve your deliverability, strengthen your relationship with your subscribers, and get some customer feedback all at the same time.

Re-share your opt-in to encourage new subscribers

Once you’re sure that your opt-in is running like a well-oiled machine, it’s time to share it with the world to get even more subscribers. Here are a few ways you can share your opt-in to get new subscribers.

Share on your social media profiles

This includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can share as a post as well as in your header image.

Post in related and appropriate Facebook Groups (as allowed)

If you’re a member of a Facebook group that allows promotions, share your free opt-in.

Pin it

Pinterest can be a massive traffic generator, especially around the holiday season. As a matter of fact, 72% of pinners say Pinterest inspires them to shop when they aren’t actually looking for anything. Your freebie can be just the hook they need to start buying from you.

Update your website

If you’re already promoting your website on social channels and ad campaigns, make sure your opt-in lead magnet is easy to spot. If you’re looking for ideas to promote your lead magnet, check out 70+ ways to promote your email opt-in.

Pair up for a collaboration

The holiday season is also a great time to partner up with other businesses that have similar client profiles. You can create a collaborative product, or simply promote each other’s products to your own lists.

Remember — you can’t exchange email subscriber lists (that’s strictly against CAN-SPAM regulations), but you can certainly tell your customers how great the other person’s products and services are.

Another great option is to create a buyer’s guide that includes products from multiple businesses. You can create it once, and then have everyone share it because their products are featured!

Ask for referrals

Another easy way to build your email list is to ask your existing customers to invite their friends to shop with and buy from you. We all have an innate desire to display what we’ve learned, found, and discovered.

One of the best ways to encourage your customers to share is to give them something to give, and something to keep.

This can be a special offer for each of them, including a discount for their purchase, free shipping or even a gift with purchase.

Asking for referrals doesn’t just have to be for the holiday season. You can build an automation system that works with a specific segment, like automatically asking for the referral after someone makes their fifth purchase.

Red Bow Gift Box Illustrates Holiday Email Campaign

3. Build new email segments

Now that your list is clean, and you’re beginning to grow your subscriber list, it’s time to dig into your email system and build new email segments.

An email segment is a collection of people from your email list who meet certain criteria.

Here are some of the most popular segments in eCommerce marketing, and what they mean:

  • Big spenders: These are the people who have purchased the most from you — often the top 5% to 10%. You can target these customers with new product releases and higher-priced products.
  • New customers: New customers are the ones who have made their first purchase from you in the last 30 days. It’s nice to reward them for buying from you with a special offer on their next purchase.
  • Churning customers: These are customers who have purchased from you more than once, but who haven’t purchased in an extended period of time — often 60 to 90 days. Verify these time frames against your average customer buying behaviors. Use a win-back campaign with a special offer, like a free gift with purchase or free shipping, to get them back into buying.
  • Frequent buyers: Frequent buyers might not always be big spenders. They’re often looking for something new or exciting, so send them your latest and greatest!
  • Specific category buyers: Depending on what you’re selling, you may have categories that appeal to specific customer groups. A great example is a clothing retailer that sells for both men and women. You can segment people who purchase only one type or the other and target your promotions accordingly.
  • Customers by region: When it comes to holiday-centered segments, it can be helpful to group customers into geographic areas, which is especially useful if you’re going to have shipping deadlines. This way, you can tailor your emails to warn of upcoming cutoff dates for holiday orders.

Of course, these don’t have to be the only segments you create! Your creativity is only limited by the capabilities of your email service provider.

4. Update and fine-tune your automations

This isn’t directly related to your list prep for holiday promotions, but it’s a really important element of your overall email marketing strategy.

Set aside some time to review all of your running automations and transactional messages to ensure that they’re up-to-date, and helping to drive improved conversion rates.

Automations and funnels are a series of emails that are sent based on a customer’s activities on your website or in your email list. They’re triggered when someone takes those specific actions that you’ve defined.

A good example of an automation, or funnel, is your welcome series or an upsell series of emails after someone buys a smaller product. When you’re reviewing these, make sure they’ve got relevant dates and offers that align with your upcoming holiday promotions.

And don’t forget to check your links!

Before launching your holiday promotions is a great time to build upsell and cross-sell automated messages. Cross-sell products fit into the category of “People who bought this also bought,” while upsells are often accessories and services related to what they bought.

These messages help your customers fill their holiday gift bags and stockings with goodies from your store, based on what they already know and love.

Plus, those automated messages can help you sell more year-round!

5. Superpower your transactional messages

Transactional messages are also emails that are sent based on someone’s activity. The difference is that they’re related to their specific shopping and purchasing activities.

Transactional emails include order confirmation messages, shipping confirmation, and delivery confirmation. It can also include abandoned cart emails.

If you’re not already sending abandoned cart emails, this is the time to turn them on. An estimated 70% to 80% of eCommerce shopping carts are abandoned, and abandoned cart emails can recover anywhere from 3% to 12% of those transactions.

Not sure how those numbers affect you? Here’s how that could impact your bottom line:

  • Completed orders per month: 100
  • Average order size: $100
  • Estimated abandoned carts (75%): 300 cards abandoned
  • Abandoned Revenue: $300,000
  • Recovered Revenue (3%): $9,000

And if you think your transactional emails have to be 100%-related to their current purchase, think again! In these messages, you can include cross-sells (other products that customers who have purchased this have also bought) and upsells (including accessories and services related to their new product purchase).

Your transactional messages are also a great place to remind your customers of deadlines, like the last day for ground shipping in time for holiday delivery.

6. Mark important dates on your calendar

Speaking of dates, the last thing you’ll need to do to get your email marketing strategy ready for the holiday season is to mark important dates on your calendar — including anything you need to do for those dates, like update messages in your automations and transactional messages.

As an example, in your abandoned cart email, you may add some text or a graphic with your shipping deadlines for holiday delivery, simply as a gentle nudge to remind someone that they don’t have a lot of time if they’re planning on gift-giving.

After that initial deadline has passed, you’ll want to update that text and graphics to promote expedited shipping. And if all the shipping deadlines have passed, then you may want to promote a gift card instead.

And when the holidays are over, don’t forget to take all those mentions back out of your automated emails and transactional messages!

Set a reminder now in your favorite task management system or on your calendar.

It’s easy to think now that you won’t forget it, but after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, updating those messages will likely be the last thing on your mind.

7. Make a plan for the holiday season

Tying into marking important dates on your calendar, making a plan for your holiday emails benefits both you and your subscriber list. You’ll be less stressed about meeting your deadlines, and your list will get well put-together emails with plenty of time to make their shopping deadlines.

Things to include in your plan:

Shipping deadlines

One of the biggest challenges around the holidays is shipping deadlines. If your deadlines are too early in the season, you might miss some of those impulse buyers. On the other hand, if they’re too late, then you run the risk of a shipping delay ruining the customer’s holidays.Sales and special offers

While most people are always bargain hunting, holiday shopping brings out the hunters in all of us. By planning your sales, you can encourage customers to purchase earlier in the holiday season — reducing your stress in processing orders and reaching your goals, and their stress in making sure that their gifts arrive on time.

Last chance

Some of the most important dates in your holiday planning are the last chance to arrive for the holidays. You’ll need to factor in production time and shipping time for all of your shipping methods.Wrapping it all up

There you have it! Seven things you can do right now to get your email list and strategy ready for holiday marketing. Of course, these tips aren’t just great for the winter holidays. You can use them for any holiday that resonates with your business, from Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day and beyond. Happy holidays, indeed!

Image by: David Beale on Unsplash

Untitled design (20)

How to ‘sleigh’ your holiday marketing campaigns

The holidays are fast approaching and it’s time for business owners to start preparing. Brands are strategizing and starting their holiday marketing campaigns earlier every year, and it’s no surprise since small businesses claim the holidays account for more than 30% of their total yearly sales.

Shoppers are checking off all the people on their lists, so it’s vital that you are top-of-mind when they’re brainstorming where to go to satisfy their retail and holiday needs.

8 ways to ‘sleigh’ holiday marketing campaigns

With some timely prepping and extra effort, you can certainly “sleigh” your sales goals this holiday season with these ideas.

  1. Be festive and fun with your branding.
  2. If all is calm, then all is bright.
  3. Provide answers by creating a gift guide.
  4. Get festive with a unique holiday special.
  5. Make the holidays a win-win with a contest.
  6. Partner up because the more the merrier.
  7. Give back to get more.
  8. Don’t forget to spread the love.

Use these eight festive marketing strategies to increase sales, get in front of more people, and make 2019 your best year yet.

1. Be festive and fun with your branding

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or your brand lives online, this is the time of year to go big on branding.

People are dazzled by holiday lights and tinsel everywhere they look, so don’t let your business seem blah next to all the others.

You know what your email inbox looks like in December. It’s overflowing with festive emails and clickable content.

  • Do your emails reflect the excitement of the holidays?
  • Does your business look like it’s a holiday headquarters?
  • Are your store windows flashing holiday cheer?

If not, let’s fix that.

Bedazzle your logo

One easy way to get festive is to change your logo to cliche holiday colors like red and green. Think that’s too corny? Here are 15 famous brands that have altered their logo for the holidays. If that’s still too off-brand for you, try working with more muted variations like white, gold and silver.

Add festive graphics

The next way to “sleigh” your holiday marketing campaigns is with some festive graphics. Catapult your website visitors into the holiday spirit with a temporary holiday home page banner.

Next, share holiday-themed graphics on social media throughout the season. Post fun holiday quotes, announce sales or seasonal specials and share important information using these exciting graphics. The good news is they can be reused throughout social media, emails and online.

Being festive shows your customers you’re in the holiday spirit and it adds personality to your business.

It’s also a smart way to humanize your brand, which will improve sales and the reputation of your brand in the long-term.

2. If all is calm, then all is bright

Holiday Marketing Campaigns Cat With Lights

Holiday-crazed shoppers are anything but calm. Thankfully, this craziness creates a sales opportunity for you.

Make it a stress-free holiday by simplifying things for your customers.

Offer a gift wrapping option, extend your store hours, grant free shipping or delivery, validate parking, and simplify return policies.

You can appeal to the rare proactive shoppers or inspire people to shop early by offering an early-bird special or layaway option.

Not only can you make the shopping experience stress-free, but also fun!

Host a special shopping event and holiday party that brings your community together. Your customers will have fun and get their shopping done at the same time. Talk about a win-win situation.

But, it might not be possible for your business to offer all of these options.

During this stressful time, you can be a light to your customers. Simply providing a snack to a weary shopper or helping someone carry something to their car can change someone’s day.

Next-level customer service and a simple smile go a long way — especially during a time of year when shopping malls become a battle zone and your customers are trying to get through the chaos.

By adding a little extra zen to their errand running, your will quickly entice them to stay longer in your store and on your website.

3. Provide answers by creating a gift guide

While we’re discussing ways to make life easier for your customers, let’s talk about a clever way to promote many of your products simultaneously: gift guides.

Match the typical holiday recipients — husband, daughter, grandma, best friend — with your corresponding products.

If your own selection of products or services isn’t wide enough to span this group of gift recipients, you can add other companies’ products. Just be sure to choose like-minded businesses and those who complement your brand without any competition.

Not only does bringing in outside sources improve the quality of your gift guide, it also has the potential to expand your audience reach.

How? Contact the brands and tell them you’re including their product in your gift guide. Chances are, they will be happy to share that guide with their followers too, which puts your brand in front of a whole new audience.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll return the favor in their own holiday marketing campaign and include you in their content in other ways.

Gift guides make great content for email newsletters, social media and blog posts.

These helpful guides are popular and come from brands and influencers alike.

Make a mental note to tap some local or like-minded bloggers in your industry who release gift guides and take the time to email them. Ask to be considered for their guide this year or if there’s another way you can work together. You miss all the chances you don’t take.

In addition to a gift guide, brainstorm other ways your products and services can be incorporated into the holidays.

  • Can they be used in a holiday recipe or used in a unique way at a holiday party?
  • Can they make holiday shopping easier?
  • Maybe something you sell would be a nice donation for a charity or can become a tax write-off?

Get creative and think about how you can make your business more holiday-friendly.

4. Get festive with a unique holiday special

The next way to improve your holiday marketing campaigns is to boost sales with a holiday special.

Limited-time offers excite customers and drive extra traffic in store and online.

If you have an eCommerce store, try offering free shipping, discount codes or a small gift with purchase. Even a small stocking-stuffer can persuade a shopper who is on the fence about a sale.

A holiday special, no matter how small, also provides that added incentive for last-minute shoppers on the hunt for a last-minute deal.

After the holidays, most retail businesses experience down time. Keep customers checking back with your business long after the holidays are done by providing a coupon with holiday purchases for a future purchase. That way, customers are willing to revisit your store to take advantage of this new incentive.

5. Make the holidays a win-win with a contest

Another unique holiday marketing idea is to host a contest.

Advertise an attractive gift package and announce the winner a week or two before the holidays are over to keep the excitement going through the season.

To enter your contest, ask people to follow you on social media, share your post and/or tag some friends.

Another entry option is to create a quick landing page with an email capture form, or use a survey tool like TypeForm to capture email addresses and contact information.

Not only will you excite your audience with a fun contest, but you’ll drum up some new followers and capture some extra email addresses, which you can market to year-round.

Social media is a great platform for these contests and giveaways.

Because social media posts gain impressions by engagement and shares, contests often become popular content on timelines, spreading your cause and also increasing brand awareness.

Contests engage your audience and influence loyal fans (or new ones!) to participate. Amplify your voice and share your contest via emails and any other communication channels you’re already using. The more shares and engagement you can create, the more you expand your organic reach online to get in front of more and more eyes over the holidays.

Holiday Marketing Campaigns Wrapped Presents

6. Partner up because the more the merrier

They say the more the merrier, right? Bring that mentality to your business and leverage this friendly time of year to find some new partners. Team up with other businesses in your neighborhood or industry and run a holiday special together or invest in some seasonal advertising that promotes both of you.

If you have similar goals or complementary resources, you can even throw an event together. If an in-person event isn’t possible for your business, partner with a like-minded brand online to host a holiday giveaway on social media or find another way to co-promote to each other’s audiences.

Sharing is caring, and if you can discover a lucrative way to become allies with a fellow business, it’ll be sure to boost sales this holiday season.

Partnerships open new doors and introduce the possibilities of endless opportunities all year.

If it’s not the right time to work with another business, why not join forces with your loyal customer base?

Make holiday shopping a family affair and attract kids with holiday cookie decorating or hiring a Santa Claus for photos. Try your best to find these partnerships long before the holidays begin — the more time for planning and working out details the better.

7. Give back to get more

The holidays are a popular time of year to give back too, and that can have a positive effect on your marketing. Consider partnering with a charity to spread some holiday cheer to those who are less fortunate.

There are many ways to aid a charity as a business, and you can use your status to also get your community involved as consumers by either donating money, buying an extra item to donate, or offering their own time or volunteer hours.

Doing the right thing and helping others feels great, but it’s also a smart business move.

Working with a charity gives you newsworthy content to share on social media and within your content marketing, such as on blogs and within emails. An added bonus is the fact that people respect and promote businesses that are trying to make a difference.

People are happy to make a purchase for a good cause. Your decent deeds improve any word-of-mouth marketing and positive talk about your brand.

8. Don’t forget to spread the love

If you only take away one strategy from this article, be sure to spread the love this season.

Do everything in your power to make your customers feel appreciated. That means being extra thankful and grateful in all communications and interactions.

Send an email just to thank your audience — no selling or advertising involved. Share a social post with pictures of customers and revel in joyful memories.

While holiday shopping lists are what bring your customers in during the season, your love and quality customer service will bring them back year after year. Use this time of year to build your community and strengthen the relationships with your audience through gratitude.

This is where small businesses can stand out. Every business is competing with one another for shoppers’ purchases. Small businesses — even those with loyal buyers — are no exception.

There are ways to compete with big box stores, but excellent customer service and genuine interactions are a big way to get ahead.

While department stores herd customers like cattle and people become numbers, you can make a difference with targeted marketing and embracing small interactions with each customer you encounter.

You’ll capitalize on all the good service you’re sharing when people happily leave positive online reviews and don’t hesitate to tell their friends about your great store.

It’s never too early to start planning your holiday marketing campaigns

It’s smart to plan ahead and start preparing for the holiday season as early as you can.

Here’s a holiday marketing checklist to help you get organized before you begin implementing the marketing strategies listed here.

As the holidays roll around, stock up on hot chocolate and take time to prepare your team and business. A strong holiday marketing campaign will help you stay on people’s radars before, during and after the holiday season. It’s time to crush those sales goals. You got this — “sleigh” away!