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20 tips to boost your holiday email success

20 tips to boost your holiday email success Zoe Beath

The holiday season is when email marketing really comes into its own.

Subscribers who may have tuned out earlier in the year suddenly become receptive to promotional emails again. And in turn, marketers up the ante by increasing their email volume by 50 percent, in hope of driving additional revenue.

This tactic clearly works as email marketing led the way last year after driving 20 percent of online sales over the holiday period.

The challenge for many marketers though, is creating a successful email campaign in what is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year. There's so much going on, not just within their own businesses, but also their customer's inboxes.

To help get noticed and stand out from the crowd, check out the list of tips below and you'll be well on your way to creating a successful holiday email campaign.

1. Plan ahead as much as you can
According to Litmus, only 20 percent of email marketers begin planning their Q4 email campaigns more than three months in advance. This is surprising given email marketing's key role in driving revenue over the holiday season.

2. Stay true to your brand
Now is not the time to go out on a limb and experiment with new brand concepts. So make sure your email design continues to represent your brand in a consistent way. Leverage your hard-fought brand reputation by sticking with your logo, color scheme, and font style.

3. Create a sense of urgency
Encourage customers to act now by adding a sense of urgency to your emails. Set a deadline to your promotion and use time-sensitive language in your subject lines, email content, and call to actions.

4. Add interactive content to your emails
Capture your customer's attention by adding interactive elements into your emails. Countdown timers (also great for adding urgency) and personalized images are both powerful and easy ways to do this. With NiftyImages you can create dynamic images that will display your customer's name when they open your email. This is a great way to innovate and truly personalize your holiday offers for customers. Learn more about interactive email content in this infographic.

5. Invest in beautiful images
Imagery plays a key role in showcasing products and driving website traffic. So make sure you invest time and effort into getting them right. If you don't have access to a designer, that's ok as there are plenty of free online image editors that will help you create beautiful images. Try to use big and bold images that are clickable. Just remember to compress their file size to reduce load times.

6. Use GIF animations
A great way to add some sparkle to your holiday email is with an animated GIF image. They're easy to create and their animation is supported in most email clients. Just keep the file size down and ensure the first frame makes sense in your email design. This is important as only the first frame will show if GIFs are not supported by the recipient's email client.

7. Create an irresistible call to action
Make sure your call to action really stands out and encourages your audience to click. Use persuasive copy, buttons, and contrasting colors to capture attention. People are especially time poor at this time of year, so minimize distractions and restrict your email to only one main call to action. Check out this article for further tips on creating irresistible call to actions.

8. Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly
It's crucial to design mobile-friendly emails for the holiday period. A whopping 48 percent of emails will be opened, and 30 percent of online sales will occur, on mobile devices over the holiday period. So design with smaller screens in mind, stick to a single column layout, use plenty of padding, and make your links easily touchable.

9. Leverage social media
Reach a wider audience by including interesting and share-worthy content in your holiday emails. Include social sharing links to make it easy for people to share. Consider giving social media followers a preview of your campaign, and encourage them to sign up to your emails to get deals delivered directly to their inbox.

10. Integrate email with other promotional activities
Email works best when integrated with other channels. So time your holiday emails to coincide with any social media, paid advertising, or content marketing campaigns you might also be running.

11. Shout out to loyal customers and say thanks
The holiday season is as much about giving as it is receiving. So say thanks to your loyal customers by giving them an exclusive offer. Discounts and free shipping are obvious choices, but also consider how you can provide value to customers in non-monetary ways, such as tips and "how to" guides.

12. Let your personality shine
The holidays are about people, so be human and add a personal touch to your content. Call people by their name, use humor, ask questions, tone down the sales speak, and use more of a conversational tone.

13. Invite customers to an in-store event
With the continuing rise of online shopping, many retailers have forgotten the importance to connect with email subscribers in person. But the holiday season actually provides the perfect excuse to invite subscribers to an in-store event, where they'll become more likely to make a purchase.

14. Use professional templates
Save yourself time and design a holiday email that truly shines by starting with a professionally designed email template. Look for templates that have been expertly designed and follow best practices to look great in your customer's inbox.

15. Send automated cart-abandonment emails
Did you know that on average, 68 percent of all online shopping carts get filled and then abandoned? This presents a huge opportunity to re-engage with those customers and attempt to recover the potentially lost sale. The best way to do this is with an automated cart-abandonment email that encourages the customer to come back to your site and complete their purchase.

16. Follow up with a reminder
Maximize the potential of your holiday email by following up your original campaign with a timely reminder. Your customers receive a lot of emails this time of year so there's a good chance your first email may have been missed. Just remember to mix up your subject line and add an extra sense of urgency to encourage more customers to take action.

17. Test before you send
It's kind of obvious, but you absolutely must test your email before sending it to customers. For most businesses, this is the best time of year to drive revenue from your email marketing, so you can't afford to make any mistakes. Have someone proof your email and check the spelling, prices, products, and links. And test your email across different email clients to ensure it displays properly.

18. Segment your database and use dynamic content
Relevancy is key to all types of email marketing. It's even more important over the holiday season due to the extra competition in your customer's inbox. Help combat this with dynamic content in your email that shows the most relevant content to each of your customers. For example, some parts of the world celebrate the holiday season in the sun, so design your email to dynamically display either the summer or winter version of your hero image, based on each recipient's location.

19. Personalize your offers
A great way to drive revenue from your holiday emails is to personalize your offers. Look at the information you already know about customers and consider how you might tailor offers accordingly. Consider where people live, how old they are, their purchase history, and how much they spent. You're really only limited by your data here, but even the most basic level of personalization is better than none.

20. Only you know what works best
There is no "one size fits all" approach to email marketing. What works well for one industry may not work well for another. It's important that you know what works best for your business and to learn from your previous email campaigns. Which subject lines resulted in the most open rates? Which call to actions led to the most clicks and conversions? Look at your reports and apply those findings to your holiday emails.

Zoe Beath is an experienced tech marketer with a strong background in B2B marketing. Zoe is the Head of Marketing at Vision6, a leading integrated marketing solution for email and marketing automation. At Vision6, she drives the company's marketing...

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