Do you plan to work during your summer vacation? Or at least check email and voicemail?
If so, you're not alone. Fifty percent of salespeople and 37 percent of information technology and financial services professionals check in with work while they're on vacation, CNN says. It's often just too tempting to check in when your iPhone or BlackBerry is in your beach bag next to your sunscreen, bottle of water and a bestselling novel on your Kindle.
But even though mobile technologies help keep us connected 24/7 from practically anywhere on the planet, it's important to find a balance between monitoring your business and disconnecting from the daily grind. With that in mind, here are seven ways you can put your engagement marketing campaigns on autopilot while you take a well-earned break:
1. Keep email newsletters brief. If you usually include two or three features in your e-newsletter, write just one. Or, if you publish a monthly newsletter, combine two months into one. Think of a topic related to your business or industry that will help your customers through the summer months and write your summer email newsletter in advance so you won't have to work on this as your vacation nears.
2. Pre-schedule your social media posts. You can pre-schedule your business's Twitter and Facebook posts by using a tool such as HootSuite. Just remember, if you're going to start a conversation on social media, someone has to be available to monitor and respond to feedback. Either pack your smartphone so you can respond to tweets from the beach, or assign a reliable employee to monitor the channels for you.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
That goes for anything you preschedule -- whether it's an email newsletter, a social media discussion or other form of customer engagement. Make sure there's someone there to respond when customers express interest.
3. Set an email auto-reply that says "we're open for business." Don't leave your customers hanging while you're off parasailing. If you're prescheduling your email newsletter, an event reminder or other marketing campaign, change your standard auto-reply email that says, "I'm currently out of the office" to something more fun and creative that lets customers know the business is still operating in your absence. Direct queries to whoever is covering for you so your customers won't have to wait too long to get the help they need.
4. Consolidate social media activity. If you just can't bring yourself to completely disconnect, consider using a free service like NutshellMail, which delivers your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media activity right to your email and smartphone.
5. Schedule "work time" on vacation and stick to it. Make a promise to yourself and your friends and family that you'll only check your email once in the morning and once again at night. That's it. Then leave your phone in your hotel room or turn it off and enjoy your day.
Related: What Summer Vacation?
6. Add new acquaintances to your mailing list. Admit it: You'll probably slip a few business cards into your beach tote, backpack or Bermuda shorts. Whether you meet new friends at a resort or on a cruise, or gather with old friends at a backyard barbecue, don't miss an opportunity to grow your connections. Ask your fellow summer celebrants if they'd like to join your mailing list or connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.
7. Clear your head. Sometimes creative brainstorms happen when you're not working at all. While you're soaking up the rays, reading by a lake or hiking up a mountain -- however you kick back -- take a moment to think about what's worked and what hasn't in this year's marketing campaigns. Muse about what would be important to retool or try, and put those items on your post-vacation to-do list.
If you plan ahead and use the tools and technologies at hand, you'll be able to relax and enjoy your vacation while also remaining productive.
Gail Goodman is the author of Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins In a Socially Connected World (Wiley, 2012) and CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based Constant Contact Inc., a provider of email marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, local deal and online survey tools and services for small businesses, associations and nonprofits.