Planning for the Holidays? What Email Marketers should do now

OK, don’t hate me.

You might not be ready to see any holiday messaging yet (and neither are your customers!), but this is the time when most marketers are in the middle of their planning. You’ve probably already reviewed the holiday collection of products and approved which ones have made it to the final list, you have a good idea of your strategy and messaging, and now it’s time to go into details for each channel plan.

When it comes to email marketing, make sure these activities are part of your to-do list if you want to have a holiday season like no other.

1. Test your ideas – if your main message strategy is sorted, don’t set the details in stone yet. Plan tests on small segments to get a sense of what type of approach will generate the most engagement. That doesn’t mean emailing groups of people about Christmas in September, but it refers to testing messages within the same theme. For example, will a short and intriguing approach work better than expansive and inspirational? Whittard tested it with their Easter campaign and a short postcard style for their seasonal product won on engagement and sales!

2. Warm up your lists – while you’re busy coming up with exciting creative, don’t forget about deliverability. It might not be the most glamorous aspect of email, but get it wrong and all your creative will go to waste. Look at your sending patterns and volume, both now and over the past 9 months. You will likely ramp that up as you get closer to the end of the year so do it slowly, and with smaller audiences if possible, rather than moving from sending an email once a month to once a day in the space of a week.

3. Identify your winners – was there a particular campaign that really stood out in terms of results last year? It might not come to mind straight away, but spend some time looking at reports and you might be surprised. Replicate the strategy using this year’s new focus to see if it’s as successful this year.

4. Start planning segmented campaigns – it can be as simple as cross-selling products based on previous purchases or recommending similar things. Just read how Parkinsons used the idea to double their revenue last year based on two simple segments: card buyers and product buyers.  If you’re looking for more simple segmentation ideas, check this post.

5. Which customer do you have in mind? – this tip will help across your whole marketing strategy. When planning for a persona, keep in mind a specific person for each segment (family member, friend or even celebrity) to help you plan the creative. Consider their motivations like these brands did in their Black Friday emails.

6. Adapt the bigger picture – while it’s important to make sure your marketing strategy is consistent across channels to make the customer experience as smooth as possible, keep in mind that some customers will interact with your brand using multiple channels and that they want to be inspired rather than presented with regurgitated content. Take advantage of the strengths and specifics of the email channel (like the fact that the audience is already interested in you) to tweak your copy and messaging. Make email the channel for exclusivity.

Depending on your business, there are other email aspects you’ll want to start keeping in check. For example, checking your customer lifecycle pools in publishing to identify the potential for early renewals for magazines. But the six tips above should give you a good start in the email planning process regardless of your sector.

Happy planning!

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