7 Email marketing best practices for the holiday season

7 Email marketing best practices for the holiday season

While holidays spell fun and frolic for some, for others they mean more work. When it comes to email marketers, the holidays are a time to buckle up for increased marketing activity.

Every holiday season tests the nerves of email marketers. Their future can be decided based upon their capability to handle this sudden torrent of buyers. This is when the regular senders try to adapt to changes in the market while seasonal email marketers try to plunge in and tell a story in a short time.

All said and done, you'll have to make an extra, careful effort to ensure you reap success during the holidays. This blog will discuss methods to make the most of the holiday season and the various avenues you should explore to achieve higher email deliverability and maximum engagement.

Protect your reputation with domain authentication

This is a point that appears on almost all email marketing best practices lists. Holiday season or not, domain authentication is a necessity. As an email marketer, you should authenticate your domain before plunging into the sea of promotional emails and newsletters.

Domain authentication assures the receiving email service provider (ESP) that your domain is valid and safe. It guards your credibility and prevents you from being marked as a spammer. It's up to you as an email marketer to stay careful and attentive while sending email campaigns. Taking some time and checking the domain authentication process will increase your chances of making it to your contacts inbox during the holiday season.

This will demand you to begin your campaign well in advance but then it will also help you tread the safer path and continue your holiday email marketing.

Properly warm up your domain

The holiday season is not a great time to use a new domain. The rush of festivities won't allow a new domain to be warmed up properly, thus your emails would be more likely to get marked as spam.

If you have sufficient time before the actual campaign, indulge in some target marketing and pre-offer campaigns. Getting your subscribers to interact with these early emails will boost your brand's relevance and warm up your domain. 

Venturing forward with the old domain always saves some much-needed time as it typically has already been warmed up and proven safe. That said, using an old domain might prove problematic if you already face the issue of a negative domain reputation—say, if your domain has previously been flagged as spam. 

In cases like this, you'll have to send your campaign to receivers in batches. The best way to approach this is to divide a large list into smaller segments and engage with them consistently over a period. This method is cumbersome, but it will ensure the safety of your domain during this spell.

Segment and leverage your lists

Your lists will decide your reach and your reach will decide your lists.

The holiday season makes it tough for us to choose from the different lists we have. It's always better to go with the most active lists. Trying to re-engage with the inactive contacts will result in your emails landing up in unwanted inboxes. The holiday season leads to sudden inrush of many promotional and seasonal emails. This often forces people to ignore most of the emails or mark them as spam.

As an email marketer, you should always rely on segmentation to split your list contacts into appropriate groups. You can do this based on information provided by your contacts or their previous engagement and behavior. This will help you group (or regroup) similar contacts and reach out to them effortlessly.

Peak e-commerce days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday will flood every inbox with promotional emails. It's quite natural that you might face soft bounces because of your contacts inboxes being full. Working ahead of time and reaching them before the rest will offer better results.

The holiday season also means an influx of seasonal buyers. They arrive with the expectation of new discounts and depart when the holiday season ends. Letting them enter your lists via signup forms will allow you to interact with them with their consent. Continue to send downloadable to them even after the holiday season to retain them.

Craft compelling content

This is where an email marketers creativity and brevity is tested. Great content not only resonates with your contacts but induces them to crave more of that content.

To stay on the safer side, you should always begin with a proper senders name. Any machine like name will immediately be subjected to scrutiny and possible rejection by the receivers ESP. While sending emails, always add your name along with the brands name. This makes it easier for the ESPs to recognize the sender. For e.g. John from Zylker.

Your emails subject line will be visible in the receivers preview window. This part of the email plays the largest part in deciding whether the receiver opens the email and reads it, just ignores it, or marks it as spam. Always go for a short and crisp subject line. You should be careful to craft a subject line that gives only the most necessary information. Divulge just enough to increase curiosity. Most of all, be sure your subject line accurately reflects whats in the email. Misleading subject lines will irritate the reader and could lead to unsubscribes.

The holiday season also demands shorter email content. As its when all email marketers are most active, ensure your content is not lost in that flood. As a good email marketer, make your point clear to the receiver and direct them to action quickly.

Time your delivery just right

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are celebrated within four days. Hanukkah and Christmas also arrive every year around the same time. You will have to refrain from crafting similar campaigns owing to the proximity of each holiday.

An email marketers normal sending pattern might go out the window during this time of year. This is the extreme rush hour, so try to approach your contacts when the trafiic is low. Every festival has its own conducive time, and it would benefit you to research this information before scheduling your emails. For Black Friday and Cyber Monday daytime campaigns, 9am to 1pm is known to be an effective window. Thanksgiving emails on the other hand are found to be more successful if they are sent close to midnight.

It's always good to keep enough time at your disposal before the holiday season. Only then can you opt for the three-way email marketing. Under this method, you divide your campaigns into three phases: pre-offer campaign, offer campaign, and post-offer campaign.

You can begin the pre-offer campaign one or two weeks before the offer period. Try to generate curiosity by revealing some of the offers people can expect. In the second phase, offer campaign, you'll provide the offers as per your promises. In the post-offer campaign, you can strengthen your bond with contacts. Send them downloadable contents like pdf files, aiming to make them a part of your campaigns for the years to come.

Cater to your contacts

Contacts are heterogeneous and dynamic, they vary as per their age, preferences, location, etc—as an email marketer you have to grasp the differences between each of them. Make it a point to review every contact and include them as per your priorities. Provide your old advocates with early access discounts. As for the new customers, a never before offer will be fine.

While sending emails to your old contacts, always try to aim for cross-selling and suggestions based on their purchase history. Your suggestions should be accurate enough so that your emails are read during the holiday season. You can also conduct surveys so contacts can choose their engagement preference.

Target marketing is another method regular or seasonal email marketers can employ. It involves identifying contacts by their needs and tastes and promoting the products and services they're interested in. This can be followed by rigorous automated emails highlighting the benefits of the product or service. Create the demand and check for the results in their purchasing patterns.

Study reports and adjust appropriately

Reports tell the story of your performance and give a clear picture of what went right and what went wrong.

For example, say you put out a preview of your holiday season campaign a week prior to the offer period informing your contacts about the necessary details and things to look out for in your offers. You can then check the reports and plan your campaign based upon their engagement. This Include only the most active contacts in your plans, thus avoiding unnecessary complaints.

If you're planning to send bulk emails, do it only after evaluating reports on your past performance. Try to read the trend and then throttle emails to your receivers, a time-tested approach that might work wonders for you in a crammed market situation like the holidays.

Wrap up

Hopefully these points have been helpful. Try to implement them in your email marketing ventures and make this holiday season your best yet. Let us know how they turn out for you!

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