Holiday Emails in Hindsight

January 6th, 2011 | By Anthony Schneider | 1 Comment

Now that Christmas trees are trimmed and Santa is sober, we have the benefit of looking back to consider what went right and what went wrong with last year’s holiday emails. To be sure, it was a busy season for retailers, email marketers, just about everyone, and there are loads of lessons to be learned.

Tis the Season
We buy stuff for the holidays. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, free shipping, save on your favorite stuff, those great sales after Christmas… they’re all effective. That’s why marketers do them, and why consumers like them. So go ahead, throw your hat in the holiday shopping email promotion ring, but make sure your email competes creatively, is well targeted and differentiated, because there’s a lot of noise out there and we don’t just mean the carolers on the corner singing “Jingle Bells.”

Christmas Clutter
Some B2C marketers sent over 20 emails in three weeks to some recipients during the holiday season. If it’s the right list and the right offer, that might be a good idea. But be wary of list fatigue. Just because you want to sell products doesn’t mean your audience wants to get your email. Especially when inboxes are cluttered and time is scarce, your recipients may be more likely than usual to unsubscribe.

One Little Christmas Tree
The right email works. B2C marketers find that the free shipping and discounts work. Cyber Monday was a huge success, and many retailers saw strong results from their email marketing efforts at the end of the year. And they weren’t alone. We’ve seen successful campaigns from B2B marketers and organizations. Some of our nonprofit clients ran fundraising email campaigns and most boasted impressive results. One nonprofit, for example, saw a 45% increase in online donations over the previous year as a direct result of their email campaign.

Santa’s Spammers
One study reports that as much as 50% of “Seasons Greetings” email in 2010 were spam. This is the season where even email marketers send spam (at least two that we heard about). Holy rubber reindeer! When is it okay to send spam? Never.

Timing and Targeting Help
So you have to break through the clutter. Our successful clients did that by targeting emails and timing their transmissions. Some marketers see strong results after Christmas, while nonprofits and B2B companies try to beat the rush by getting their holiday email campaign out the door earlier. More time for eggnog and office parties. Be relevant, be different. Don’t be bad. See below.

Bad Santa
This is also the season when usually smart tasteful marketers decide to post that hilarious video of Aunt Agatha singing Christmas songs or a really bad Flash animation. No, now is not the time.

Happy New Year
Remember, the end of the year is just one part of your marketing plan. Make sure you’ve looked ahead to the new year, with a marketing plan that looks past Dick Clark and new year’s eve. Hopefully the successful holiday emails, new subscribers and happy customers will get you off to a good start for the new year. Happy 2011!

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