Gearing up for the holiday season

Gearing up for the holiday season

The holiday season is the part of the year that we all look forward to as it is filled with festivities. Its major events include Halloween, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year's Eve/Day. Many marketers might wonder if holiday campaigns are different from any other campaigns sent throughout the year and if they need any special attention.

The answer is an astounding "YES".

During the holiday season, every marketer will be busy sending email campaigns for their businesses. Additionally, spammers will try to perform phishing and spoofing activities under the cover of the holiday season's heavy email activity. As a result, mailbox providers will receive a huge load of emails to validate and make inbox decisions. To outrun your competitors, safely pass through email filters deployed by mailbox providers, and achieve the desired conversions, you should meticulously plan your holiday campaign and implement hygienic email sending practices.

Let's dive deep and learn more about planning the holiday campaign.

Clean your mailing list

To get the best out of your holiday campaign, you should start growing your mailing list months ahead. This approach will give you ample time to nurture your contacts and prepare them for the holiday season. Sometimes, marketers may have a few mailing lists to which they only send emails during the holiday season. After the holiday season, they may set these aside and only pick up them up again during the next holiday season. If you follow this approach, you will be engaging with your contacts only once a year. If you don't frequently engage with your contacts,
  1. Contacts may not recognize your emails and leave them unopened.
  2. Your contacts may mark your emails as spam or may unsubscribe altogether.
  3. Sometimes, the email address provided by your contacts may expire and become spam traps.
Marketers will always want to target and reach all of their contacts. If 5 to 10% of the mailing list contains inactive contacts and invalid email addresses, marketers will be able to target only 90 to 95% of the contacts. This will directly reduce 5 to 10% of the total conversion. The loss in conversion is directly related to the percentage of inactive contacts and invalid email addresses in the mailing list.

To achieve maximum conversion, marketers must frequently clean their mailing lists. Let's learn a little more about cleaning your mailing lists and handling inactive contacts.

Use a list cleaning service

You can use a list cleaning service to identify invalid contacts and to remove spam traps. After validating your mailing lists you can focus on filtering inactive contacts and reengaging with them.

Filter inactive contacts

In Zoho Campaigns, you can assign scores to contacts when they open or respond to your emails and click the links in them. This technique is called contact scoring. Generally, inactive contacts won't open your emails, therefore their score will be low. If you've been using the contact scoring feature, you can filter inactive contacts based on their score. To prevent contacts who have signed up recently from getting filtered, you can use the "Added Time" criteria to set the time frame and filter contacts. You can also filter contacts based on how long they've been inactive.

In Zoho Campaigns, you can filter contacts who have been inactive for 1/3/6 months and 1/2/3 years. After identifying all the inactive contacts, you can either create a segment or even a new mailing list and add the inactive contacts to it.

Reengage with inactive contacts

After identifying inactive contacts, you must focus on winning them back. You can do this by using win-back campaigns. These are explicitly designed to bring inactive contacts back to an active state. When you're crafting a win-back campaign, use an attractive email design and eye-catching subject lines like "We miss you" or "We haven't seen you in a while." In the email message, you can gently remind your contacts that they had subscribed to receive your emails. You can persuade them to stay on the list by mentioning the benefits. As a goodwill gesture, you can also offer a discount on their next purchase.

In addition, you can offer them topics and ask your contacts to choose the ones on which they would like to receive emails. You can also use a poll or a survey to understand why they lost interest in your emails. After you send a win-back campaign, you can send a followup email to learn if they wish to stay on your mailing list or unsubscribe. You can let go of contacts who unsubscribe and move on to nurture contacts who chose to stay on your mailing list.

Click here to learn more about crafting a win-back campaign.

Authenticate your sender domain

During the holiday season, mailbox providers will receive a huge volume of emails that they will have to validate. Mailbox providers always consider domain authentication as a major factor to offer inbox placement. If you send emails without authenticating your sender domain, your emails may not land in the inbox. When you start preparing for the holiday season, you must ensure that:
  1. You use a business domain and not a public sender domain.
  2. You implement SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to achieve better email deliverability.
  3. You verify the list of sender domains that send emails on your behalf.
Click here to learn more about authenticating a sender domain.

Warm up your sender domain

Sometimes marketers may not have maintained a proper email frequency until the holiday season. If you've been sending very few emails before the holiday season and suddenly send a huge volume of emails on the eve of it, there will be a sudden spike in the emails from your sender domain. This will definitely lead to delivery issues as mailbox providers may consider the sudden increase in email volume to be suspicious and may flag your emails. To prevent this, you must warm up your sender domain.

You must start warming it up a few months before the holiday season to achieve better inbox placement. You can start the warm-up process by sending emails to active contacts first. This technique will ensure that all the emails you send are read and you earn a positive reputation from mailbox providers. After earning sufficient positive reputation, you can start sending emails to your remaining contacts. You can slowly increase your email volume till you reach the volume that you will be sending during the holiday season. If you face delivery issues during the warm-up process, you can pause sending emails and revisit your sending practices.

Click here to learn more about warming up a sender domain.

Can we use a new sender domain?

We do not recommend using a new sender domain to send your holiday campaigns as it will not guarantee conversions. This is because the new sender domain will have minimal or no reputation with mailbox providers. If you send a huge volume of emails from a new sender domain, mailbox providers may consider your emails to be suspicious and your emails may face delivery issues. If you decide to use a new sender domain, you should start warming up the sender domain at least a month before the holiday season to achieve better results.

Prepare the content and test it

After cleaning your mailing lists, authenticating your sender domain, and warming it up, you can start focusing on the email content for your holiday campaign. It is advisable to prepare the email content a few weeks before the festival/sale day and send it to your test account to identify missing data, broken links, etc. You can also use A/B testing to craft two versions of the campaign and send it to a small group of contacts. You can use the campaign that received the better response to understand the pulse of your contacts and effectively design your holiday campaign.

Create a holiday-themed campaign

The holiday season is all about celebration. If you send emails with a normal email design, it will definitely be boring for your contacts. We recommend you use a holiday-themed email design filled with vibrant colors and holiday symbols or icons to grab and keep the reader's attention. Also, you can use holiday-themed subject lines to engage your contacts from the very beginning. You can use jingle words and emojis wisely and craft compelling subject lines. This will not only add some holiday flavor to your campaigns but will also boost open rates and email engagement.

Spruce up your holiday campaign

Once you're done cleaning your mailing list, authenticating your sender domain, and preparing the content, you can focus on implementing the following strategies to get an edge over your competitors:

Create a holiday gift guide

During the holiday season, contacts will be on the hunt for the best gift they can give to their family and friends. However, they might not know where to look for the best deals. Design a holiday gift guide that lists the best deals across various categories and make your contact's last-minute purchases a breezy affair.

Reward referrals with giveaways

The holiday season is the best chance to grow your customer base. You can do this right before the festival/sale by announcing exciting giveaways for referrals. This technique will not only popularize your business but also build a solid customer base that you can cash in on during the holiday season.

Run a flash sale

A flash sale is an interesting strategy that you can implement a week or two before the festival/sale day. The flash sale will not only act as a promotional sale that creates sufficient hype but will also help you test your email content and establish a rapport with the mailbox providers.

Marketers must understand that for a holiday campaign to achieve the desired conversions, they must diligently plan and execute it to perfection. A healthy mailing list, engaging email content, a sender domain with a positive reputation, and hygienic sending practices are the secret ingredients for a successful holiday campaign.

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