Your Guide to Holiday Email Marketing

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In just three weeks, it’s going to be Turkey Day (aka Thanksgiving). And that means Black Friday (and to some extent now, Thanksgiving Day), Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are  just around the corner.

The National Retail Federation is predicting that, during the holiday shopping season of 2014, consumers will end up spending $616.9 billion or 4.1% more than last year. As an affiliate (or other) marketer, that means you can generate some major sales revenues through your email marketing campaigns. The caveat, however, is that you need to start now.

How to start your holiday email marketing- now

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by email marketing campaign planning. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time left in the calendar to divide your campaign strategy “action items” by the intervening weeks. So, without further ado…

November 6-13 (Week 1)

Create your goals

Whether you want to find new customers, increase your sales numbers or total revenue, or just create awareness about a new product, think about what goals you want to achieve this holiday season. Write down a few quick notes regarding each goal. That’s it.

Consider past marketing efforts

If you performed email marketing in the past, consider what worked and what didn’t. Don’t be afraid to replicate the efforts that led to your past successes, even while brainstorming new ideas now.

Brainstorm

Speaking of which, it’s never too early to brainstorm for marketing ideas. If you have fellow affiliate (or other) marketers who help work on your website, invite them to participate in a brainstorming session (maybe in exchange for a small gift card). Some immediate ideas include a customer appreciation event complete with special discounts, or a ‘try-before-you-buy’ free product trial.

Also, consider signing up at the American Express Small Business Saturday website for promotional materials and ideas. Then, create a promotion around that day. Even if your business is completely online, you can still get into the spirit of Small Business Saturday by announcing a percent discount for products purchased or service quotes generated that day, for example.

Small business Saturday

American Express is currently sending the following Small Business Saturday materials to interested business owners. The materials include tote bags, stickers, buttons and a doormat.

November 13-20 (Week 2)

Create an action plan

Now that you have your list of products or sales deals and some idea of how to promote them, sit down and create an action plan. Consider how many emails you want to send out that discuss the promotion/event, what materials will be needed, and what social media outlets will be involved. For example, you can create a set of three emails to announce a special sale occurring November 28th. To this end, you’d create the following emails:

1. The announcement email (we’re having a sale November 28th)

2. The description email (here are the products that will be on sale)

3. The landing page email (click here to get 25% off)

Segment your email list

You might have different segments in your email list; examples include customers that have previously purchased your products as well as recipients who have not opened or engaged with your emails for several months. For such diverse segments, a single email with the same message may not be the best strategy.

Consider generating different emails for different email list segments. Customers and repeat customers may be better served with an email that announces a special “members-only” deal on larger products or automated purchases. Recipients that haven’t opened your emails in a while may respond better to an email that states “We miss you!” and offers a significant discount on a small to medium size product.

Perform A/B split tests

If your audience is large enough, you may want to perform some A/B split testing using different headlines, discounts or promotional products. You could send 10% of your audience different versions of your emails and measure which version receives the most engagement. This will help you choose the best email for your entire audience or audience segment.

Use social media

Create announcements on your social media outlets that you’re about to hold a special event or sale for your email subscribers. This will hopefully increase your subscriber base and lead to more engagement overall on your Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts.

November 20-27/28 (Week 3)

Showtime!

Schedule your emails or get ready to hit “Send” when each pre-determined day arrives. Ideally, you want to space your emails out every two-three days, or at least warn your audience members that they are going to receive your next email the very next day. Sometimes, this can work in your favor if you’re about to announce an hours-only sale. Be careful that you don’t overwhelm your readers to the point that they opt to unsubscribe.

Take quick action on those email opens that result in a visit to your website but no sale or other action. You may wish to segment these visitors even further and send them a follow-up email with a message like, “Come back- and save an extra 10%.” Alternately, this might be a good time to ask them to fill out a survey about your website and its products in exchange for a freebie; receiving such feedback can help you improve your site and its sales.

Perform ad retargeting

An extra sales feature you may consider using is ad retargeting. In brief, this involves having your website visitors cookied so that, when they leave your website and go to other web pages, the ads that are served on those other pages include your products and/or website.

During the holiday season, when shoppers are unusually distracted by competitor sites and promotions, it helps to leave a helpful reminder about your own website and/or promotion. You can use ad networks like Google AdWords and Facebok to create a retargeting campaign.

November 29-December 24

If you don’t make it to the Thanksgiving deadline, don’t fret. You can always use this time to better prepare your emails and messaging for the oncoming Christmas shopping rush. With an extra month to prepare, you can fine-tune your message, graphics and promotional products.

Alternately, you can prepare a second email marketing campaign in the month of December that is similar in scope to the one you just ran in November.

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