Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest entry from Molly Niendorf, content and social media manager for Emma, Social Media Explorer’s email marketing provider.
Oh, it’s almost December? You don’t say.
If you’re anything like me, this time of year is a whirlwind of deadlines and needs and responsibilities, and it can all feel a bit, well, un-festive. There’s nothing worse than thinking, Oh, shoot, I’ve got to send holiday emails to my customers on top of everything else I have to do? When framed as just another in a long list of tasks, crafting holiday emails can feel downright frightful.
Rest assured: you don’t have to do anything. Omit holiday emails from your list, and your subscribers likely won’t miss any sleep. (Your boss might be another story, if she’s depending on increased revenue from holiday sales.) But you will miss an opportunity to engage with your audience in a way you might not be able to do other times in the year.
So I’m encouraging you to embrace those looming holiday emails. Reframe them so they’re a task — nay, a treat — you look forward to. It’s easier than you think. Here are five tips for crafting brilliant holiday emails — with plenty of time left over for singing carols, shopping for gifts and sipping spiced punch.
1. Dream up a holiday story line.
What sort of story do you want to tell this holiday season? Find an angle or narrative that’s different than your normal messaging, and think about how your audience will experience your brand in new and unexpected ways. That might mean asking employees to share their favorite holiday memory, creating a gift guide (even if you’re in the service industry, not selling products) or organizing a giving back campaign that’s determined by how many folks share your email on social networks (“For every email shared, we’ll donate $1 to charity x.“). Pick a story line that surprises and delights you, and your audience is likely to feel the same.
2. Get social.
Speaking of social networks, make sure your subscribers have a quick way to share your emails with their friends and followers, and add easy-to-spot links to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages right on your email. The holidays are a great time to infuse whimsy in your email’s call-to-action button(Think “Go shopping!” rather than “Buy now”), and to customize your social pages with some holiday flair. Moreover, think about adjusting your messaging for the various channels — each channel has its own “DNA” — and running a couple channel-specific promotions or contests.
3. Design for mobile devices.
Did I mention folks are busy during the holidays? It’s your job to find creative ways to reach them on the go. Consider shortening the length of your holiday emails and keep image sizes — and the number of links — to a minimum. If you’re sending coupons or discounts, consider allowing subscribers to use them right from their mobile devices when they’re in-store.
4. Give as much as you’d like to receive.
The holidays are a great time to remind your customers that you appreciate their business. Instead of promoting your latest sale, make a point to reward your most loyal customers and fans. That could take the form of a discounted event ticket, special whitepaper or even an invitation to your holiday party. Showing your appreciation is an easy way to remind your subscribers why they follow and love you.
5. Be mindful of sending frequency and timing.
According to Experian, email volume increases 15-20% during the holidays, and volume is at its highest of the year during August – December. Response behavior, too, shows some interesting trends. Total clicks for Christmas emails peak one week after the holiday, possibly due to interest in post-holiday sales, while transactions peak three weeks prior. Keep this in mind as you plan your holiday email campaigns. Capitalizing on deal-focused subscribers after the holidays might serve you well, or you may want to plan campaigns during off-peak times. This is certainly good news if you’re running behind schedule. Sending that seasonal campaign in January might just be the ticket.
I’d love to hear how you’re preparing your emails for the holidays. And if you’ve received any emails from companies that are doing holiday campaigns and promotions particularly well. Let me know in the comments below. And here’s to sending off stylish holiday emails — with many hours left over for sippin’ cider.
Illustrations by the Emma design team
Molly Niendorf is Emma’s content and social media manager, working from the company’s Portland office. She dislikes rainy weather (go figure), loves color-coordinated office supplies and is an Honorary Member of the World’s Biggest Cheese Eaters Club (well, she would be, if that were a thing). Read more from Molly on the Emma blog, and try Emma for free at myemma.com.