Holiday Email Marketing Q&A: Your Planning Questions Answered

This post, written by Kristen Dunleavy from our partner Movable Ink, is a webinar write-up not to be missed.

Need help planning your holiday email campaign? You’re not alone. In our recent webinar, How to Get Holiday Ready: Your Festive Email Plan, Matthew Potter, Regional VP EMEA at Movable Ink and Skip Fidura, Client Service Director at dotmailer, talked about developing an email campaign that has the stamina to last the full holiday season.

We received lots of questions from attendees about how to plan their festive campaigns – everything from when to send to which type of email content works best. Skip and Matthew kindly compiled them all into this blog post. Here are your holiday questions, answered!

Q – How important is it to integrate a Christmas campaign with non-Christmas related content in the build up?

Matthew: As ‘Christmas’ comes further forward it is really important to add non-Christmas content into it. Your first campaign may be in September, personally I’m still only just getting over summer and I’m not ready for Christmas, so whilst you can seed it into my head, I really don’t want to only hear about Christmas for the next four months.

You should also consider the diversity of your client base, its is very difficult to discern religion, ethnicity, age, gender, marital status and more from an email address and people choose or choose not to celebrate a number of holidays. Most people like a discount or an offer, but not everyone responds to specific imagery and wording for a variety of holiday events.

Skip: Unlike Matt, I have started thinking about Christmas, not in any specific way, but in a, “I must be better organized this year” way. Now is the time to reinforce the breadth of your product line. If you typically segment on previous purchase, relax those rules a bit to give me new ideas rather than just focussing on what I have bought for myself in the past.

Q – What was your favorite festive campaign EVER? And why?

Matthew: Across Black Friday in 2014 and 2015 a US client of ours, ‘RadioShack’, did a truly innovative campaign. Their email detailed 24 deals in 24 hours. On opening the email the deal of the current hour was displayed. A timer showed how long this deal had to run and when the next one was due.

Finally, using a provided clue, recipients could tweet what they thought the next product on offer was going to be for the chance to win it. Recipients of the email re-opened it multiple times to see what the next reveal was and the people who only opened once saw the very latest content.

Skip: Call me sentimental but I always like the campaigns that remind me that the holidays are about spending time with friends and family and not all about “BUY THIS! BUY NOW!” More than any other time of year, campaigns that make my life easier through better customer service, reinforce that message AND get me to buy.

Q – When do you recommend sending the first holiday email?

Matthew: You haven’t sent it already? What are you waiting for? I think it is important to consider the content, why are you looking to send the email? What are you hoping the recipient will do with it? How long is your average purchase cycle? How considered a purchase is one of your products? What is the lead-time on delivery? What is your returns policy? If you are asking people to keep an eye out for specific dates, bookmark events, arrange delivery slots etc… you should send now as well.

If you are selling lower value impulse purchases, you can wait some time yet. The answer to this question unfortunately is ‘it depends’. However, as Skip and I both said during the webinar, do make sure you don’t leave it too late; evidence suggests the inbox will not be any less crowded this year, so don’t get lost in the noise.

Skip: When my wife and I first moved to the UK she always did our Christmas cards really early. At first it was to ensure they got there in time but after a year or two we realized that some family member would come over at Thanksgiving and we could send the cards back in their suitcase and save the overseas postage. The result for the recipients was a bit of envy for “how could she be so organized” but it also served as a reminder for them to do their own Christmas cards.

In addition to not leave it too late, Matt and I also stressed in the webinar that you should not treat the Christmas period as a series of discrete events but as a journey. For existing customers this is just a continuation of the relationship you have already built. For new customers, this should be the start of a series of purchases; not just a one-off. You should probably have already started planting the Christmas seeds even if you have not sent an email featuring a jolly man in a bright red suit.

Q – Are these percentages specific to a certain country/market or they are global? Black Friday figures vary wildly depending on niche and country.

Matthew: They are UK and US centric numbers. I completely agree that they can vary wildly by geography and a number of other variables and should only be used as a guide. Trends however, can be taken, some obvious, some less so. If you appreciate that there is a minimum 12 week extended purchasing period across the holiday season and that people will be buying for themselves and others, they will be buying across mobile and to a lesser extent desktop and they will not hold to brand loyalty unless you can provide an exceptional service (or price) then you will be thinking the right way.

These questions were submitted during the live recording of How to Get Holiday Ready: Your Festive Email Plan. The full recording is available to watch now.