Christmas in…August – Email Thursday



It’s never too early to start planning for the holidays, and now is the perfect time to begin. The summer is slowly starting to wind down and the next big thing on your list is getting your business prepped and ready for the big holiday boom. Email is an essential part of this, so in order to get you started, I’ve crafted a short list of things to start reviewing before you begin organizing your campaign.

First thing’s first – Review your 2010 holiday campaign and get what you can from it. Evaluate your analytics, past purchase patterns, how you segmented your subscription list, etc. Come up with a list of what worked and what didn’t work and model your plan on that.
Create an email frequency plan. Check out the patterns of customers from last year’s holiday campaign as well as what you have from this year, and divide them based on certain qualifications. For example, segment based on purchasing frequency, open rates, and purchasing habits during holidays. For more active customers, you may want to ramp up the frequency of your emails a bit, while holiday emails to those who aren’t as active should be spaced out. You may even think about creating a special holiday campaign for those that are very active. Create a “12 Days of Christmas” campaign that includes special deals in the days leading up to the holiday. You can create a sense of urgency with this type of program, or offer special insider deals with ideas and special pricing on last minute gifts. Cross-marketing comes into play here. Did customers who bought one item frequently buy another product? Explore past purchases made by subscribers. This may shed some light on the buying behavior of your target market.

This is also a good time to talk about the subject line of the holiday emails you’re sending out. How are you going to stand out amidst all of the spammy emails people are getting in their inbox? Value propositions make excellent subject lines. Although you’ll need to personalize them based on what your store offers, lines like “Last Minute Gift Ideas + FREE Shipping,” “10 Great Gifts Under $100,” and “What Are You Going to Get Mom This Year?” are just a few ideas. Consumers like getting good deals, but don’t overload them with a ton of messages in their inbox. Studies show that most customers respond less when they’re flooded with emails from the same business.

After you’ve gotten the basic framework of what you’re going to do, you’ll need to update your template with some creative holiday graphics. Don’t be afraid to add a little tinsel and sparkle, but make sure your branding stays in place. Ensure that customers feel comfortable clicking through your email by making sure value propositions are in clear view. Customers love to save time and money – so offering free gift wrapping and shipping deals are excellent ways to entice them to click through. Make sure you keep the standards like return policy, gift card offerings and store locaters in your email…preferably at the bottom.

Finally, email just doesn’t end with email. Integrate your social networks with email to gain more subscribers. On your store’s Facebook page, you can offer a discount on first purchases for those that decide to sign up for email. Or offer a similar discount in an email to those who opt to follow or friend your company on Facebook.
You’ll have to tailor this advice to your own online business as well as your own holiday beliefs, but this post should help you get started on the right path. And good luck this holiday season!