Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top 5 Email Tips for the Holidays

Sending excessive holiday emails isn't just bad behavior -- it shows a lack of strategy, and it's ineffective.  Nonstop discount emails teach consumers that they should wait to buy, and more importantly, they diminish brand loyalty.  That's not an effective way to drive holiday business. Too much holiday email erodes customers' trust, disrespects their inboxes, and drives them to either ignore the emails or click "unsubscribe."
 

How can you avoid the temptation to over-communicate? Here are five ideas for planning a successful holiday email marketing strategy:


1. Keep it short 'n' sweet. Recognize that when the holiday volume of email goes up, your communications need to be brief, carefully timed, and relevant. Speaking of which...

2. Create relevant content. Address your customers' needs and concerns heading into the holidays. Ask them what's on their minds, what challenges they're facing, and how you can help. Share your findings in a future email newsletter and your content will pop. That will build trust and earns customer loyalty, in good times and tough times too.

3. Get creative with promotions. Don't fall prey to the rapid discounting that the big-box businesses did last year. You can offer seasonal promotions that set your brand apart in a sustainable way, while supporting other local businesses and charitable organizations.

For example, Rothman's, a men's clothing store in New York, offered its own version of "cash for clunkers" to get the attention of its readers. The email promotion invited customers to turn in their old suits, which would be donated to charity, and the customer would get $100 toward a new suit. A similar concept can be used for many other businesses.


4. Offer "holiday special" cross-promotions with other businesses that complement yours, such as a bookstore that offers a package where the purchase of a certain cookbook includes an invitation to a special event dinner at a local restaurant.

5. Support your local economy. The Kitchen Outfitter, a store near my home, ran a great promotion last holiday season: The owner brought together other businesses in the strip mall where it's located and they all threw a party for customers. The owner also got the local music school involved for entertainment, adding to the holiday cheer. The businesses work together to drive a big audience, increase their holiday sales, and make it a memorable event. Email marketing is a central piece of the promotion: Each participant promotes the event in their communication, thus broadening each business' exposure.

As a small business owner, you have an advantage over big businesses because you can share your knowledge and passion for your business, and communicate with your customers on a more intimate level. Email marketing is your best tool to foster that communication and earn your customers' trust and loyalty -- now and through the holidays.
 

No one can say for sure how this holiday season will pan out. But if you plan a thoughtful holiday email marketing strategy now, you will set yourself up for success in the coming months and into the new year. Customers will appreciate you for handling the holidays with class, while respecting their inboxes.

Again, this valuable information was brought to you by our trusted partner, Constant Contact.  Click here to sign up for your Free 60 day trial today!

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