5 Tips To Take Your Holiday Emails From Naughty To Nice

— December 13, 2016

‘Tis the season to be jolly…..and send out holiday emails to your prospects.

If you’re like us, you’ve probably had your holiday email schedule locked and ready to go for some time now. But as you do your final checks and get ready to hit ‘Send’, it’s important to make sure you haven’t overlooked any key details.

So, in order to help you stay off of the naughty email list and avoid common pitfalls, I created this list of holiday email best practices (based off of some real mistakes I’ve seen marketers make throughout my career).

1) Give prospects the gift of personalized emails

As marketers, we all know the importance of personalizing our emails, after all, it’s what drives those pesky click-through rates up. But, just as important as knowing what you should send your prospects is knowing what you should NOT send them.

Early in my career, the marketing team I was a part off was emailing our prospects in Australia and Europe. Since this seemed like a fairly casual outreach, we built out several lists that matched our target audiences, created some copy, and deployed the emails for the holidays.

But we overlooked something important – we didn’t account for the local customs for our Australian and British recipients.

While this was a minor detail, it drastically affected our email engagement rates and even resulted in a high unsubscribe rate among those audiences.

So, as you get ready to email your prospects these holidays, be sure to research local customs and truly understand each segment of your audience. You never know what minor detail could be the difference between a jolly ol’ holiday email and a marketing snafu.

2) You can’t break rules if you want to be on the ‘nice’ list

This one is simple – you cannot bypass CAN spam laws or omit an unsubscribe option from your emails!

Now I know this may seem like a very straightforward one that literally every marketer should keep in mind, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen or heard of marketing teams that try to work they way around these rules.

Similarly, don’t use holiday emails as an excuse to volunteer ‘re-subscriptions’ i.e. send holiday emails to prospects that have unsubscribed in the past. It is not okay to overlook these rules and your company could get fined, or worse yet, lose the trust of your audience. So, don’t try to circumvent email regulations this holiday season.

3) Select your audience like you would your holiday greeting card list (with care)

It’s highly unlikely that you would send holiday greeting cards to people you haven’t spoken to in ages. Extend that same consideration to your email audience too.

Holiday emails are NOT an excuse to email everybody in your database. So don’t blindly email everyone you can think of. Instead, focus on prospects that have engaged with you in the past few months – people who clicked an email in the last 3 months, prospects that you have spoken to, or someone that visited your website recently.

4) Don’t go crazy on the eggnog, or the holiday references – keep it classy

Holiday emails don’t have to be a drag; it’s the perfect opportunity to get punny or unleash the creative side of your marketing. But there is a line.

For example, using a jib jab to create a fun video of your exec team is a great holiday idea. But, emails that promote religious events, contain defamatory language, or otherwise seem unprofessional will hurt your brand.

If you’re unsure about what could work with your brand identity, talk to your PR team, colleagues or even someone from the executive team. Get a sense of the company culture and find the holiday email sweet spot.

Remember, you don’t want to go viral for the wrong reasons!

5) Send your Sales and Customer Success teams the gift of advanced notice

Once you’ve identified the audience you want to target, notify your Sales and Customer Success teams prior to sending out any emails. It’s likely that someone from your organization is already talking to a prospect or customer that you’re planning to email, so give Sales and CSMs an opportunity to opt people out.

You want to make sure you’re not emailing the wrong prospects, or worse, targeting folks that are in a stage of the customer journey where generic emails aren’t relevant or valuable. Emailing such an audience or even multiple people from accounts that fall into this criteria could compromise your spam filter.

Note: It’s also crucial to give anyone reviewing the email list sufficient time to do so. Odds are your CSMs may not be able to review the entire list in one day. You don’t want to set impossible deadlines and potentially ruin your relationship with them.

Bonus Tip: Don’t put coal in your prospects’ stockings

If you are sending out holiday emails with offers or gifts, be sure to make them relevant to your audience. For example, prospects that work in the financial services space cannot accept gifts and may even end up returning them.

Take the time to personalize gifts that add value to your audience, don’t send them lumps of coal.

Wrapping It Up

Holiday emails are a great opportunity to build relationships with key portions of your audience, so put in the care and effort that you would for any other marketing campaign. Focus on driving value, keep it professional, and don’t be afraid to have some fun with it.

Use some of the best practices mentioned above to guide you, and make sure to use as many holiday puns as possible. Happy holidays!

In the spirit of sharing gifts, we wanted to give you another valuable piece of content about email best practices – the slides from our recent webinar “Stand Out In The Inbox: Best Practices For Unleashing Your Email Potential”. You can see the slides by clicking the banner below or you can watch the webinar recording to get the full scoop.


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