Should your business change its email strategy during the holiday season? Even if your business does not sell a holiday-related product, it’s worth taking the time to think about integrating your upcoming email campaigns with the holidays.
This doesn’t mean decking your campaigns with boughs of holly—although you can if you want, as we’ll see in a minute—but it does mean understanding how your customers’ behavior and needs change during the holiday season.
This way, you can make sure you’re sending the right kinds of emails: the ones that meet your customers’ needs while giving them the opportunity to meet yours. Consider it a holiday present for both of you!
Identify Your Goals and Study Your Data
Before you send a single holiday-season email, take some time to identify your goals. Even if you aren’t planning to focus directly on holiday sales or promotions, your business probably has goals to accomplish by the end of the year—and email is one way to help you achieve them.
News site Business 2 Community explains:
With only a few months left until the end of the year, marketing can help highlight areas that are performing well or push the additional sales, sign ups, or traffic needed to meet year-end targets. Depending on where your business is in the growth stage, these goals can vary.
As you begin to build a holiday strategy that reflects these goals, be sure to integrate data learned from previous holiday email campaigns. Business 2 Community has more advice:
Use tools like Campaign Comparison to analyze your historical email data from previous holiday seasons – compare your previous campaigns and identify your best performers. Identify who your current audience is, what type of content they engage with and how. What subject line formats gave the best open rates? Which call-to-actions drove the highest click throughs?
Don’t have that data yet? It’s time to start tracking analytics. (You should be doing this anyway, regardless of any information you may have collected from previous holiday seasons.) Email service MailChimp suggests focusing on:
- Send time optimization
- Campaign reports
- Click maps and goal tracking
- Ecommerce plugins that track ROI
Keep in mind that customer behavior may change significantly during the holiday season, so it’s worth paying special attention to what your mailing list subscribers are doing. The more you know about your subscribers’ behavior, the better you can craft that email that gets opened, read, and clicked.
Automate Some Messages, Handwrite Others
All that extra analytics tracking sounds like a lot of work, so free up your schedule by automating your holiday greetings. Planning on sending out a message wishing your mailing list a happy and prosperous new year? Write it today and schedule it for January 1, 2016.
MailChimp suggests going one step further and automating as many emails as possible:
Automate your most common emails—welcome messages, activation reminders, etc.—to save valuable time during the holiday season.
There are a few holiday emails that shouldn’t be automated, though. If you were thinking about sending holiday cards via email, the magazine Entrepreneur has one suggestion: don’t. Take the time to send a physical card instead:
Email holiday cards can easily be mistaken for spam and they just don’t have that personal impact that a physical card does. There is also a good chance that your card will sit on their desk for a period of time, further engraving your brand in their mind.
Entrepreneur also wants you to write a personal message in each card, by hand. A person’s name is, as Dale Carnegie put it, “the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” and it deserves to be handwritten. Your customers and clients are valuable to your business—so make sure they feel that way.
Have a few customers that are exceptionally valuable? MailChimp suggests giving them a special holiday present:
Thank your best customers for supporting you throughout the year by rewarding them with a special holiday note or exclusive discount.
Avoid These Holiday Don’ts
Now that you know how to optimize your holiday email campaigns, here are a few holiday email don’ts to keep in mind.
First, don’t be erratic with your holiday mailings. Email and marketing platform SendGrid explains why:
Sometimes, you can get so filled with the holiday spirit, that you get overly aggressive with your sending volumes—one day you send a discount opportunity to a large portion of your list and then the next day you send a reminder email to a small set of customers, and then you follow that up with a segmented blast to new subscribers.
These erratic sending volumes can send a red flag to Internet Service Providers. If they think you’re sending spam, they can affect how many of your emails get delivered to your customers. This is a risk you can’t take when there is so much opportunity to make valuable connections with your subscribers during the holidays.
Second, don’t be afraid of being authentic. Many companies wonder if they should write “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Wishing customers Happy Holidays is always fine, but it doesn’t have to be the default. If you want to send a Christmas card, go ahead. If you want to wish your customers a happy first night of Hanukkah, schedule that email and send it.
Customers recognize authenticity. So celebrate the holidays in a way that is meaningful to you.
Lastly, don’t forget about the follow-up. To quote marketing automation platform Marketo:
After you have created a super-amazing, thoughtful and entertaining holiday email, your next step is to consider what you will do with the people that converted or showed interest. You can’t forget about creating a follow-up plan because it will take your program to the next level. Well-planned, thoughtful follow-up will help close the sale, open up an opportunity to talk with a sales person, etc.…
It’s just like any other kind of holiday gift—it’s not complete until you’ve followed up with that thank-you note. Your holiday email campaign isn’t complete until you close that sale or help your company achieve its goals. Use this guide to help you get there.
What are some of the most memorable holiday email campaigns you’ve received? Did they follow these rules—or break them?