Ho! Ho! Ho!

The holiday season is knocking hard on the door - soon sleigh bells will ring once again!

Continuously over the last two seasons, we have clearly noticed that email has been working amazingly well for most marketers followed by search.

With this, marketers are gearing up to make the most out of their campaigns and make this holiday season merrier than the last. Email Uplers bring to you influencers from the online world sharing their thoughts about holiday email priorities for 2015 and early 2016.

Samantha Iodice Email Marketing Expert

Founder – The Email Maven

Samantha Iodice is a certified Email Geek specializing in Email Strategic & Tactical Planning for both B2C and B2B clients. She is an industry best practice maven who knows the rules, but more importantly, knows when to break them.

Let the Data Do the Planning:

Last year, and likely for years before that, there have been holiday marketing plans. Some things worked, some things worked amazingly well, and many fell flat. Take the time to learn from the data and put it to good use. Look at Year-Over-Year (YOY) data and seek correlations, anomalies, but most importantly, see what worked and what did not. If you can't review the data in reference to your Loyal shoppers versus random or average shoppers, then you have a problem that needs fixing. In the end, Data will always tell you the truth - use that information to create a smart advantage.

Never Ever "Do the Same Thing As Last Year":

Why? Because it's stupid. Just because you may have had a great season last year, doesn't mean you go and do the same thing this year. It's been 365 days since that last campaign - do you think things haven't changed in shopper needs? Financial landscape? Hot products this year? - Think again. Be original and learn from #1 above, or you risk falling flat on your face, and no one likes a broken nose.

Treat Subscribers with Respect - SEGMENT:

Sure, you've created an amazing email plan and have some great emails being designed. But, do you think they'll work for everyone? No. Just like any other campaign, people are different. Let's not forget that a subscriber is a person who is different from another subscriber. Yes, this should seem an elementary concept, but seriously, so many brands need reminding. Speak to people appropriately at the right time. Consider utilizing real-time data efforts from vendors like SimpleRelevance, and truly engage your subscribers and convert them to shoppers.

Timing is Everything:

Subscribers are going to get A LOT of emails this holiday season - likely more than last season. Remember that with every single idea, plan, and campaign. Not only do you need to be seen above the clutter, you need to stand out and be the one email they feel like opening every single time. Send appropriate offers, entice without the B.S. of making something sound awesome that really is not at all, and don't annoy people. If you haven't performed email tolerance testing, i.e. how many emails can I send that are effective before being annoying, you'll want to get on that ASAP.

Remember The Season:

It's the holidays - don't forget that not everyone is Christian or Jewish - the holidays can be about more than Christmas and Hanukkah, or they can be deeply religious and spiritual. Respect that. Many brands just push and push the offer, and that works, but remember at the end of the day, through all the politically correct copy and design work, that there is a reason for the season, and it varies.

Tim Watson Email Consultant

Founder – Zettasphere

Over 10 years total focus on email marketing, an email consultant to brands with permission email volumes ranging from 500K to 25 million emails/month. He helps brands by identifying and prioritising improvements in email marketing strategy. Covering all elements of email from defining holistic contact strategies, robust optimisation processes, creating effective messaging through to measurement and evaluation.

With the holiday season comes new customers who are searching for perfect gifts, customers buying to prepare for their celebrations or even people just treating themselves. An extra order during the holidays is great but even better is orders in 2016 and beyond.

Make sure you’re email list growth strategy has all bases covered and is fully optimized. Have you also reviewed how you might reach out to the people receiving the gifts and encourage them to come back to you and give their email address?

Nate Goodman Email Marketing Influencer

Bestselling author and email software designer

Nate Goodman is a bestselling author and email software designer with 14 years in the email space. For a limited time, download his bestselling thriller, The Fourteenth Protocol, free at NathanAGoodman.com/fourteen.

ISPs don’t want to see massive spikes in email volume. Those large spikes look like spam. If you plan on sending a larger number of emails compared to what you normally send, ramp up your volume now to avoid email deliverability problems.

Re-evaluate your email list. Are you sure you need to send to all those subscribers, or are there a lot of them that aren't engaging with your emails? Thin down your email list now.

Create an incentive to engage with your emails. In the email body, create a contest, offer a coupon, offer a free download, ask readers to reply to your email. Do whatever it takes to get subscribers to engage. That goes a long way to prevent deliverability problems.

Must do:

Segment your list into those subscribers that are highly engaged, and those who are not. Send more emails to the engage subscribers and less to those whose engagement is lower. This will help your email deliverability by decreasing the percentage of unengaged emails that you send, and you'll actually be sending fewer emails overall.

Jeff Ginsberg Email Geek

CEO–The eMail Company

Jeff has over 16 years’ experience as an email marketer. Helping company maximise revenue and impact behavior @ The Inbox.

Planning is key. To do this create an editorial calendar. I use a shared calendar with my team in Outlook. The first thing I do is to have Outlook add in all of the holidays. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. Then I begin to add in all of the other moments we should be communicating to our clients. Don’t be afraid to get colourful and for sure add in lead and production time. This way, everyone can see what’s due when.

Be different. It’s very easy to send out the same crap ass email that says Happy Holidays from the team. Don’t do that!!! One of the best paper based cards I get every year is from an agency that sends me something completely different every year. One year it was a comic, the year before it was individual pics of everyone on a paper geodesic cardboard die that I had to cut out and assemble. The thing sat on my desk for over 8 months. Don’t be afraid to bring the same creativity to your emails. In fact, I challenge you to create something that forces your user to print it off and keep it around for a while, or, if you are a retailer make them bring it into the store to help you close the loop on conversion.

Procrastination kills creativity. You can’t do the cool stuff if you are not planning ahead. Refer to tip # 1 to stay on track.

Must do:

Make your subscribers your priority. Work at delighting and entertaining them @ The Inbox. After all, if you don’t someone else will.

Kath Pay Holistic Email Marketing

CEO & Founder, Holistic Email Marketing

Kath Pay is Founder and strategic email & digital marketing consultant, trainer and speaker with Holistic Email Marketing.

Re-market to abandoners

Ensure you implement a cart recovery solution in order to be able re-market to those who abandon the process. The lowest hanging fruit is at the end of the buying journey and cart recovery emails will assist with this, but other tactics such as Basket Reminders and Browse Abandonment emails are great solutions to add to ensure you’re re-marketing to all abandoners throughout the being journey.

Create a series of emails

Take advantage of this once a year opportunity and create a series of emails that work together - rather than just sending adhoc messages.

Increase frequency of emails

Not only do you need to increase frequency of your email offers for this festive period, but you also need to set expectations and let them know that you’re helping them to bring joy to their loved ones by sending them emails more frequently emails than usual.

Make the subject line memorable

Just because you’re ready for them to sell to them, doesn’t mean that they’re ready to buy from you. So ensure your subject line does more than just tickle their fancy for an immediate win and craft subject lines that are memorable, so that when they’re ready to buy, they’ll remember and come looking for your products.

Karen Talavera Email Geek

President - Synchronicity Marketing

Karen Talavera is Founder & President of Synchronicity Marketing, an email strategy, consulting & training firm that makes email marketing easier.

Keep your schedule flexible to accommodate flash sales, promote under-sold categories, etc.

Integrate content along with promotional messages to avoid “buy, buy, buy” overload.

Make it fun! People are often stressed and overwhelmed at the holidays. How can your email amuse, enliven or brighten their day?

Must do:

Start planning two seasons ahead – in June, July or even beforehand. You can’t begin too early!

Jeanne Jennings Email Expert

Managing Director, Digital Marketing

Jeanne is Managing Director of the Digital Marketing Practice at Digital Prism Advisors and a recognized expert in email marketing strategy; she is included on the Cision list of the World’s Top 50 Email Marketing Influencers as well as the Litmus list of Top Email Marketing and Design Thought-leaders on Twitter.

Less Isn’t Always More. I’ve had clients who dramatically increased their send frequencies on key days in the holiday period (read: Cyber Monday) and saw tremendous returns, without huge departures (opt-outs) from their list. Don’t shy away from increasing your send frequency – but do be smart about it and be sure that the content of your messages justifies and supports your being in your subscribers’ inboxes more often.

Don’t Stop Testing. Many organizations test before the holidays and then implement all they’ve learned during the holidays. And that’s not a bad thing. But suspending your testing for 2 or 3 months during the holidays – NOT! Continue testing and think not just in terms of learnings you can use next holiday season but in terms of what you can use post-holiday – January and beyond – to improve your performance.

Don’t Get on the ‘Just Get This Email Out’ Treadmill – too many organizations during the holiday season see success as just getting the email messages out – without focus on which creative/offers work, which frequency is most effective or even which email messages deliver the best conversion rates or the highest revenue. Don’t fall into this abyss! Be brutal in your tracking of ROI on EVERY message you sent – and use this information in a real-time manner to improve your email marketing performance.

Many companies suspend testing during the holiday period to optimize revenue; my advice to you is don’t. For most organizations send quantities are higher and sends are more frequent pre-holiday; leverage this to test tactics that will improve your performance in next year’s holiday season as well as some that will deliver benefits consistently beginning in January 1, 2016 (or sooner)

John Caldwell Email Marketing Leader

Principal & Founder - Red Pill Email

Red Pill Email founder, John Caldwell, is email marketing practitioner & expert. He is also named as one of the “50 Marketing Leaders over 50 You Should Know” in the May 2013 edition of Global CMO Magazine.

Start planning your holiday season by summer’s end.

Next would be owning your holiday mailing schedule and not letting it own you.

Don’t watch daily or day over day stats – doing so will just make you crazy (that’s really a year-round tip).

Test everything. Take deep breaths, keep calm and email on.

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