E-Mail Marketing for the Holidays Use these creative e-mail marketing tactics to increase holiday sales or just let your customers know they're on your mind this holiday season.

By Gail Goodman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ready for the holidays? You still have plenty of time to purchase all your gifts. You can even do your shopping as late as December 24, if you dare. But when it comes to holiday communication from your business, now's the time to take action.

Sending holiday e-mail campaigns is an excellent way for you to stay connected with your customers, clients, investors and anyone else on your list. And we have some creative ways you can incorporate e-mail marketing into your holiday communication plan, whether you're looking to boost sales or just spread some holiday cheer.

E-Mails That Get Prospects to Buy
Perhaps the most obvious use of holiday-themed e-mail marketing is to encourage sales. You may already have plans to send holiday promotions to your customers to entice them to buy your products. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your communication mix:

  • Remind customers about gift cards.Whether you own a retail store, e-commerce site, restaurant or spa, you can use e-mail to promote your gift cards. You can also offer a discount or an added bonus to those who purchase gift cards from you. For example, a spa could offer a free manicure to the purchaser of a $100 gift card.
  • Offer gift ideas.Make your customers' lives easier by giving them great gift ideas. Everyone's trying to figure out what to buy their friends and family. Help your customers by highlighting gifts that would be great for dad, mom, brother, sister or the friend who has everything.
  • Offer a range of promotions.Don't just offer one promotion for the holidays; offer a range that speaks to different customers. For one person, free shipping might get them to buy; for another, incremental discounts might work better (spend $100, get 15 percent off; spend $200, get 20 percent off, etc).
  • Communicate about holiday hours.If you have a retail shop, you can send an e-mail announcing that you have special holiday hours for your customers' shopping convenience.
  • Invite customers to a special event.A great way to get people to come and shop with you is to hold a special event complete with holiday goodies, enticing discounts and free gift wrapping. A little live music is always a great addition. You can send out an e-mail invitation with all the details.

E-Mails That Maintain Client Relationships
Even if you aren't trying to get your clients to buy anything from you for the holidays, the season affords you the opportunity to show your gratitude and stay connected. Here are some ideas for making sure your customers know you're thinking of them:

  • Send a customized holiday e-card.A great way to connect with your customers or clients is to send a personalized holiday e-card. You can include a photo of your staff along with their signatures. You can also include a poignant thought, poem or short story that helps express the sentiments of the season.
  • Invite clients to a holiday party or open house.Planning a holiday get-together for your clients? Invite them with an e-mail invitation. You can also use e-mail to send holiday-themed event confirmations or updates after you've sent a paper invitation.
  • Make a charitable donation.Making a donation to a charity in the name of a customer or client is a great way to share the holiday spirit--and you can tell them about it in an e-card.

Including e-mail marketing in your holiday communication plan is a cost-effective way to make a personal connection with your customers. The best news is, you can create all your holiday e-mails now and schedule them to go out over the next few weeks, leaving you the time you need to get your gift shopping done way before December 24.

Wavy Line

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.

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