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Are You Ready For the Holidays? Here's Your Holiday Email Marketing Checklist. While shopping activity certainly ramps up during the "official" Black Friday/Cyber Monday kickoff, the companies that stand to benefit are those that prepare today.

By Michelena Howl Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • How to prepare and execute a successful holiday email marketing campaign

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Executing a successful holiday campaign requires close attention to detail, including strategizing your marketing approach to executing it across platforms. Whether you've already gotten started or are just thinking about it now, here are a few steps to consider as you look to maximize your visibility and engagement during the coming rush.

Prepare

Prior proper planning prevents poor performance, right? If you haven't already done so, be sure you've covered these initial steps first.

  • Communicate: Reach out to all mission-critical tech stack partners to make sure all bills are paid through the holiday timeframe, and communicate the expected volume, frequency and spikes in usage so they're ready to support you when the time comes.
  • Organize: Clean up your subscriber lists to improve your deliverability rates and ensure the right customers will see your message. Even the most meticulous email marketing campaigns can be disrupted by deliverability issues. So be sure to suppress your unengaged contacts or those who have a low-quality contact score.

  • Interact: Give customers a reason to engage with your brand and a clear value exchange in order to want to provide first- and zero-party data, as well as opt-in to marketing campaigns, with questionnaires, polls, quizzes, contests and social stories that incorporate reward mechanics.

  • Re-engage: It's far less expensive to retain or re-engage existing customers than to acquire new ones. So make the effort to win back less engaged customers with personalized questions, deals and offers.

  • Review: Take a look at last year's holiday performance to analyze what worked and what didn't to ID areas of strength and those that need improvement.

Related: It's Time to Target Those Holiday Shoppers. Ramp Up Your Email Marketing Efforts Now to Maximize Your Profits This Season.

Plan

Any campaign that involves more than just blasting a single message to your entire database needs a plan that takes into consideration the fact that customers are constantly evolving. Learning about them and maintaining relationships is a core function of a successful relationship marketing campaign.

  • Data: Identify the critical data needs your campaigns require, such as inventory levels, offer countdowns, expiration dates, etc., and ensure your tech stack is integrated with that information to update in real-time.

  • Profile: Use the zero-party data you've collected to create progressive profiles of your customers that account for their interests, preferences, motivations and desires.

  • Discount: Customers expect holiday discounts, so be sure you're giving them one. Just do so strategically, saving bigger discounts for less engaged customers and not over-discounting the engaged customers who don't require massive savings to make a purchase. Early/exclusive access, prizes, loyalty rewards and content are all valid drivers for a value exchange as well.

  • Warm-up: Get your ISP ready for the increased email volume to come with smaller batches before increasing the volume. ISPs expect consistency, so a sudden spike in email activity may result in a spam label.

  • Optimize: Make sure your website is ready for incoming traffic. That goes for mobile as well. Test and optimize email templates and subject lines for increased engagement and higher open rates.

Execute

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are typically the biggest email and SMS volume events of the year, resulting in a spike in transactions — but only when done right. Put that hard-earned first- and zero-party data to good use.

  • Schedule: Determine the best times to send your campaigns, and remember that a quarter of consumers report frustration when brands send communications at the wrong time of day.

  • Personalize: Go beyond first names in subject lines, and use the zero-party data you've collected to offer products customers have expressed an interest in that fit their declared budget and use keywords you know will elicit a response.

  • Mobile: It's a mobile world, so leverage both in-app messaging and text/SMS as distinct channels rather than simply reflecting the same content as your emails. This includes time-sensitive reminders as well as segmented discounts.

  • Engage: Drive more engagement with promotions that encourage early holiday shopping, exclusive offers and discounts. Make sure customers are taken care of with enhanced customer support.

Related: 6 Things to Consider for Putting Together Your Best Holiday Marketing Plan Yet

Evaluate and respond

It's not over yet. As the year winds down, there's still plenty to do to ensure the customers you gain/serve during the holidays remain loyal and satisfied into the new year, as well as capitalize on last-minute shoppers.

  • Assist: Be sure customers are aware of any last-chance sales or shipping dates, and be prepared to assist with additional options for purchasing and shipping.

  • Analyze: Evaluate, replicate and enhance the tactics that worked during Black Friday/Cyber Monday and use the same to capitalize on late-shopping efforts.

  • Inspire: Encourage customers to make last-minute purchases with exciting offers and a sense of urgency, such as countdown deals.

  • Appreciate: Remember to thank customers for choosing to shop with you. Emails with expressions of gratitude in the subject lines get higher open and click-through rates than industry benchmarks.

It seems that every year, the holiday promotions season starts earlier and earlier. But it's never too early to start thinking about and developing the marketing strategies, techniques and technology that will drive revenue and customer engagement for the busiest shopping period of the year.

Michelena Howl

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

COO of Marigold

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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