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September 13, 2006

Prepare Holiday Email Campaigns Now!

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It won’t be long before the 2006 holiday season hits, and once it does, savvy marketers will be waiting. But capitalizing on holiday traffic takes work. Smart marketers know the time to prepare for the holiday rush is now.

Not planning in advance puts your company at greater risk for spending more money over the long term and having to hurriedly design a holiday email campaign that fails to convert. Early planning gives you the time you need to revitalize stale email campaigns and perform tweaks that will lead to higher conversions and increased ROI.

ClickZ’s Stefan Pollard highlighted emails viability and gave readers tips for successful email campaigning in his article Three Strategies Answer E-Mail’s New Challenges. He says, in part:

“In the coming holiday season, e-mail marketers will invest more time, money and effort in e-mail marketing than in other channels, according to a recent WebTrends report, including print, broadcast and search marketing.”

The WebTrends report that Stefan mentions ranked email marketing as “the most important demand-generation activity” for holiday success. It estimated that 52 percent of marketers would be increasing email spend this year.

Creating a captivating email campaign has become more important than ever before. To assist marketers, Stefan gives readers three tips for overcoming common email obstacles:

  • Put more value in the first line of the message copy
  • Dump the single, large image now!
  • Resurrect your text-message template or design a new one

Stefan’s first tip is a relative no-brainer, but I think the second two are very important.

Never rely on your image to convey the message of your email campaign. I can’t tell you how many email newsletters I receive daily that display huge graphics — graphics that by default don’t load and appear as white blobs or red X’s on my screen. Unless users change their email settings or opt to turn on your images, the message of your email will be lost. It’s a sizable problem for marketers given that 65 percent of American email users have encountered default image suppression.

There’s a second issue involved with using large images – they hinder readability. When you design your email campaign remember that many users will be viewing your email through a smaller preview pane. Preview panes won’t resize your images for you. Instead, all of your important copy will be scrunched up to one side, making it almost impossible to read. You want users to click through your email, not click out.

Tip number three talks about the importance of providing a text-message for users to go along with the HTML message of your email. This is important for two reasons. First, not everyone can or wants to read an HTML message. Some users simply prefer text. It’s your job to give them what they want. Unfortunately, this means you may have to create a unique text-based message. Simply copying and pasting the text from your HTML message likely won’t transfer well.

Second, by giving users a text format of your email, it allows for increased readability when being view through a PDA or other mobile device. Remember, you want your campaign to be as user-friendly as possible.

If you haven’t started thinking about your holiday email campaigns, let this be your reminder. By starting early and following the strategies developed by Stefan, marketers can lay the foundation needed to capitalize on the holiday traffic surge and increase conversions.

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