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November 16, 2006

Whip Email Campaigns into Shape For The Holidays

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Regardless whether you love ‘em, hate ‘em or live for ‘em, the holidays are coming. There’s no escaping it, next Thursday is Thanksgiving, which means while you’re suffering through forced family conversation and turkey (personally, I’ll be on a delightful mini-break), your customers will be talking about their holiday plans. And according to Advertising.com’s 2006 holiday survey, those plans include a lot of online shopping.

Shoppers are expected to hit the URLs early this year and spend even more than they did in 2005. With customers salivating with cash in hand, now might be a good time to remind them of your existence.

The holiday season offers marketers an unparallel opportunity to reach out to current and prospective customers. And one of the best ways to do that is by using holiday emails. If your holiday campaigns aren’t finished yet, you better stop eyeing that turkey leg and get to work. Here are some tips for creating awesome deck-the-hall-worthy holiday emails.

  • Personalize, Personalize, Personalize — We all get a little needier during the holidays (you feel that way too, right? Right??), so reach out to customers and show them you’ve been paying attention. Address them by name, offer products related to the ones they’ve already purchased, mention the city they live in, etc. Show them you know who they are – or at least pretend that you do.
  • Holiday Templates — Which email would put you in the holiday buying spirit – the same old generic template you’ve been seeing all year, or fresh and fun, high-impact holiday-inspired greeting card? I think we know the answer. Contact your email service provider to see what kind of holiday templates they offer. It’s likely they offer a wide-range of fun holiday templates for you to choose from.

    Or if you’re one of those folks with design skills, create your own! But be careful, avoid the smiling reindeers and frantic colored lights design, there’s a difference between embracing the holiday spirit and looking like a 3rd grader’s holiday sweater.

  • Give Those Heartstrings a Gentle Tug – It the holiday’s, darn it. If you can’t form an emotional connection with your customers today, when can you? Hint back to the days of yore and help give customers that sought after warm and fuzzy emotional aftertaste.

    To me, the absolute best example of this is Starbucks "Its Red Again" campaign. It’s Thursday and I’ve already been there three times this week. There’s just something about those red cups, yummy holiday flavors, and decked out store front that makes me keep coming back for more wonderfully overpriced coffee. [Gingerbread lattes are the real reason for the holiday season. --Susan]

  • Highlight Holiday Sales and Promotions – Whether it’s free shipping or 10 percent off their entire order, customers like feeling like they’re getting something a little extra. Offer incentives to encourage customers to explore the depth of your site.
  • Offer Gift ideas – Finding the perfect gift is never easy. Make your customers’ lives a little easier by offering them suggestions for special holiday gifts. Highlight the best products available for mom, dad, siblings, that special someone, and even that special I-think-I-like-you-but-we-haven’t-had-the-talk-yet person. Presenting them with a list of unique gift ideas gives you the chance to highlight some of your favorite products and it draws them in by catching their interest, encouraging them to click further into your site.
  • Present a Call to Action – Don’t get so caught up in setting the tone that you forget to tell customers what you want them to do. Invite them to explore your site or to come and visit your brick and mortar store. Don’t let your holiday emailing be confused with just another holiday greeting card.
  • Say Thank You! – You should be doing this anyway, but it’s even more important during the holidays. When a customer makes a purchase or completes some other action, offer a genuine thank you. Whether it’s a short email back or a surprise free gift with purchase, this will help reinforce a positive brand image, show your customers you’re a real person, and will encourage customers to make a return visit.

Don’t miss out on the holiday shopping season. It’s time to get that holiday email campaign finished up and start sending them out to customers. Following the tips above should ensure everyone has a most enjoyable fourth quarter.

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