You know, this happens every year; the holidays sneak up on me, and before I’ve worked out a Halloween costume I’m seeing signs of Christmas. You’d think, after years of paying attention to the mechanisms of marketing I’d have gotten used to this but… nope. So apparently, it’s almost time for winter-holiday-mania, and if you’re planning on utilizing your email newsletter for holiday-themed communications then you’d better start thinking about that now. Sorry, were you enjoying all the lovely fall colors and not ready to think about the future? That’s ok. Halloween is only just past and Thanksgiving is yet to come, so you (we) aren’t too late to the party!
Another sign that it’s time is that I’ve seen my first holiday marketing infographic. (That infographic was all about holiday social media marketing, by the way, courtesy of the fine folks at MarketingProfs.)
What not to do:
1. Overwhelm your readers with content. If you have a genius plan for sending extra content that will go well above and and beyond what you usually send, consider letting readers opt in to this genius plan. (Maybe they love your 12 Days of Holiday Gifts for The Entire Family series and maybe they are 100% Scrooge and would hate you forever if you did that to them. Or maybe they don’t celebrate Christmas and would just prefer to not be harassed! Let them decide.)
2. Alienate your readers. It’s not just about people who do or don’t want to receive holiday marketing, there’s also the fact that a lot of the winter holidays are religious holidays. For some companies, it will be totally appropriate to celebrate winter holidays with their subscribers and for others, it might just be weird. You should know your readership well enough to know where to go, content-wise.
3. Force holiday marketing where it doesn’t belong. There are some demographics in which holiday email marketing just doesn’t make sense. And there’s no reason that you NEED to engage with holidays. It’s fine if you don’t!
What to definitely do:
1. Find a way to be of help to your subscribers. Streamline your process, offer free shipping, create unique product packages, etc. The holidays can be stressful, so if your approach is to lower that stress, you’ll be more effective than if you are adding to it.
2. Have a plan. Decide what your holiday approach will be (hint: a plan involves knowing in advance what you are going to do. No last minute unplanned newsletters allowed! If it feels rushed, your readers will intuitively feel the stress of the season.
3. Plan beyond the holidays. Unless you are sitting pretty with three months of newsletter content planned, chances are that January newsletter content will need to be written in what is ostensibly the holiday zone. In a time of holidays and travel, it is always a good approach to plan January content well in advance so that you can ease into 2015 gently. Unless you’re really an over-achiever in which case you can also start January with some great new email marketing goals and ideas on how to implement them.