The Site Slinger Blog

Web Development, Design, and everything PSD to HTML
By Jeremy H.

10 Proven Tips for You to Get Prepared for Holiday Email Campaigns!

At this time, when holidays are coming, our main advice will be – do not try to just take from your customers (sell them something). Instead, give them as much as you can and your contacts will love you back. This approach pays off not only in Email marketing but also in life in general.

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#1 Don’t Just Sell – Investigate and Communicate

Yes, your contacts database is still a source for additional sales to you. But why limit yourself to just selling? These people can become a valuable source of information, insights, and inspiration for your business growth. Beta test your new products or services on them. Ask what they find good about your customer service and what could be improved, etc., etc.

If you focus on selling to your current contacts database too much, you will miss a more promising opportunity. Use these contacts to better learn about your potential customers in general, their preferences and fears. This knowledge will help you get more new customers and get a bigger market share.

Stimulate your current contacts’ feedback by offering rewards in various forms. Take criticism even more gladly than the praise.

#2 Use Permission-Based Lists Only

Never ever purchase any contact databases for Email marketing. If you are just starting your business it may look like an attractive opportunity. But in reality unsolicited Emails will more likely damage your reputation and not bring any sales.

People usually share their addresses with those who can provide some value to them. So offer this value in the form of educational materials, tips, hints or any other valuable pieces of information. It is surely easy to say but harder to do. But it is worth doing.

#3 Use Email Marketing Automation Software

Even if your contact database is small there are still several reasons to apply specific Email marketing automation software like Mailchimp, Act-on, etc. right from the start.

With this software you’ll be able to reduce the guesswork to a minimum as these solutions provide very valuable statistics regarding your campaigns (such as Open Rates, Click Rates, Unsubscribe Rates, Bounce Rates, etc.).

Another advantage of such solutions is that they use special technologies and methods to ensure the highest delivery rate. If you do it by yourself using your personal/corporate Email address, you are at much more risk to be blacklisted for mass mails (even if you use permission-based lists).

Yet another advantage is that Email marketing software allows you to manage targeting and timing of your messages, schedule campaigns, and automatically send out Emails at the specified time.

#4 Test, Test, Test

Before sending your message to your end consumers, try it on your own test accounts including Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and any account using Outlook client (especially if you have lots of corporate addresses in your list since many organizations still use Outlook as the default Email client). Check the layout of your Email message on your desktop, tablet, and cell phone.

You may also want to test some of your offers on a limited number of contacts from your database before sending them to the whole segment or a complete database.

If you want maximum efficiency, you can split one segment of your contact database into several sub-segments randomly and try several different messages to find the highest performing one (A/B testing).

#5 Use Responsive Email Template

Mobile Email usage statistics show that more than 50% of all Email opens occur on mobile devices nowadays. In some industries this ratio is up to 90%. So even if mobile traffic doesn’t take any significant share on your website according to your Google Analytics, you still need to make your Email responsive.
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For this reason the ability of your Email message to be properly displayed on mobile devices is a must. If you already have a PSD file with your template, The Site Slinger will slice it to a responsive HTML template to save your time and efforts.

If your Emails contain links to some landing pages on your website, don’t forget to make those landing pages responsive, too.

#6 Get the Length Right

The length of your subject line and the Email itself is critical. The main rule is the more frequent your Emails are, the shorter they should be. Of course there are always some exceptions, especially if content is the feature of your business and consumption of that content is the feature of your customers. However, keep the volume of messages to the minimum possible.

The same is valid for Email subject lines. General recommendation and best practice here is to keep your subject line length under 50 characters. Such Emails always have higher Open Rates and CTR. Besides, longer subject lines are cut off on the majority of mobile devices, which additionally decreases efficiency.

#7 Keep Your Messages Easy to Scan and Perceive

People get lazier about reading and tend to pay more attention to rich media containing images, audio and video. Statistics show that rich-media messages generate much higher response rates. But it doesn’t mean you don’t need a text version anymore. Bear in mind Tip #4 Test, Test, Test, and experiment on your audience segments.

Use paragraphs, bulleted item lists, font bolding, columns. This will make the life of your readers easier and let them quickly scan your message for key points without going too deep into detail.

#8 Keep Track of Your Competitors and Industry Best Practices

Your competitors may become a wonderful source for inspiration and insights. You need to monitor them to keep track on what they do and how they do it. Do not afraid of borrowing and adopting their best features and know-hows. Your competitors’ achievements and best practices may build a good ground for your own strategy.

Keeping an eye on your competitors often helps to learn from their mistakes and avoid these mistakes in your own campaigns.

Keep track of latest design and Email marketing industry trends. Use free modern templates if you feel they perfectly cover your current needs. But craft your own personal designs as well.

#9 Keep Your Active Email Lists Clean

Pay attention to your bouncebacks and clean your lists accordingly. Distinguish between so called soft bouncebacks and hard ones. Soft bouncebacks mean that the Email address is generally valid but unable to receive your message because of temporary problems on the recipient’s side. Hard bouncebacks usually mean that the addresses have typos or the mailbox no longer exists.

Do not hesitate to delete hard bouncebacks from your active lists permanently, but keep them in inactive lists just for statistics and for the history. Otherwise you have the risk to be blocked by your ISP.

General recommendation for soft bouncebacks would be to categorize them in a separate list and make several attempts to deliver the message to them as part of your next campaign. If it doesn’t help, you should also move them to your inactive list.

Such categorization may help you understand your customers’ turnover and your minimum need for new contacts in order to maintain your database.

#10 Find Your Own Way to Success

Do not take industry surveys, best practices, and all those industry-related statistics too seriously. Of course you should take them into account, but in the end they all are just reference points, some kind of milestones and not verdicts.

Avoid copycatting your competitors’ strategy blindly even if they are well ahead of you. If you want to outperform them, you need to stand out from the crowd and invent your own unique features and style.

Do not afraid of experimenting and A/B testing, as they are the only means to find out what will work best for your business.

And don’t forget to wish your contacts Happy Holidays!

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