Trick or Tip? Holiday Email Strategy from Howl to Ho-Ho-Ho

Trick or Tip? Holiday Email Strategy from Howl to Ho-Ho-Ho

"The holidays aren’t just about retail. It’s a great reason to connect with subscribers from B2B through Financial as most everyone enjoys some holiday wishes. "

sam1Considering the season, chances are you’ve been receiving a lot of creepy and scary Halloween emails lately. Some of them have been funny, some of them timely and others complete rubbish. Sure, I could discuss what makes an email good or bad, aesthetically as well as technically; however, wouldn’t you rather know what you may be forgetting to think about with all these tricks and treats distracting you? That’s what I thought!

The way I see it, Halloween is the unofficial start to the Holiday Season – the end zone for retail brands and an opportunity for any brand to make a positive impact on ROI. With that, if you’re holiday email strategy isn’t already in full swing, you’re already behind the curve – EEK! Talk about frightening! The good news – all is not yet lost and opportunity abounds if you take a moment to realize it.

The holidays aren’t just about retail. It’s a great reason to connect with subscribers from B2B through Financial as most everyone enjoys some holiday wishes. The retail world brings some great examples of how to connect and to use the holidays to your benefit. Halloween is that first opportunity and the beginning to the rest of the season – but, where to start now for 2013?

The key is realizing that holidays, events and everything in between is an opportunity to connect, engage and retain your subscribers. What holiday emails do particularly well, with a proper strategy, is tickle the fancy of subscribers and offer up things that they don’t often get throughout the year from their favorite brands. The extra special bonus for YOU is increased engagement and the opportunity to increase frequency as well.

Did someone say frequency? Dela Quist isn’t writing this article, but he’ll appreciate this bit – the holidays offer a welcome opportunity to send more email, more often with more relevance. A sampling of international email volume during the 2012 holiday season from an Experian study shows the steady increase of email volume beginning in October through the New Year holiday.sam2october

Subscribers are generally more tolerant of additional volume in their inbox during the holidays as everyone is out looking for a good deal. What’s even more important is understanding subscribers are generally more tolerant to more volume all year long with a solid communication strategy and relevant offers. Regardless, use the holidays as an opportunity to make things happen, but use caution – sam3octoberdon’t just send email after email of the same ol’ hero creatives with a reindeer hanging out in it. Consider the holiday key dates – Thanksgiving (US-November 28th), Black Friday (US-November 29th), Cyber Monday (Intl.-December 2nd) and so on. Determine the best touchpoints for your brand and test them. Perhaps you’re uncertain if Cyber or Black Friday will be the big hit – it might be a combination of both. Test, test, test!

UK based ESP, dotMailer just released “The Email Marketer’s Christmas Handbook” and it’s a brilliant resource and guide for anyone needing some assistance getting started. In fact, their calendar with key dates and holidays only misses some US holidays and Festivus on December 23rd – pen them in and it’s solid! dotMailer even provides an excellent process flow for building a new strategy from initial analysis through deployment to help you get your holiday email campaigns rockin’. Key points include with creative embellishments care of moi:

  1. Initiate analysis!
    1. Did you run any holiday campaigns in 2012? If so, assemble the analysis and see what story the metrics tell
    2. Is holiday email new? Analyze current campaigns, offers and content and see what makes sense for the holidays
      1. Provide new and different offers during the holidays to bring added impact
      2. Think outside of that proverbial box and be creative!
  2. Competitive Analysis!
    1. This is a “duh” moment – if you’re not signed up for the competition’s email, smack your forehead and go do it!
  3. Segmentation and behavior!
    1. If you don’t segment your lists, you need to start and the holidays are an excellent time to do so
    2. Test offers to different populations – keep it clean and use No Mail Controls (hold-out groups) if quantities will tolerate it
    3. Figure out what makes your subscribers tick
      1. Use what you’ve got rather than lamenting about what you don’t have. If we as marketers relied solely on our dream list of analysis and tools, we’d never get anything done.
  4. Think mobile! (2nd “duh” moment)
  5. Use social to enhance your email program
  6. Test, Test and TEST!
    1. Throwing email from your platform without rhyme, reason, solid analysis and testing is akin to sticking your tongue to a frozen metal flagpole – Don’t do it!sam4october

Start with all of the recommendations above and definitely don’t get overwhelmed and freeze before winter even sets in. Grab a hot cocoa, focus, and find the fun and challenge in establishing or strengthening an amazing holiday email strategy.