Published 08 December 2017 Category: Marketing, Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurs, Business Startups, SMEs

Taking Holiday Emails From Naughty To Nice

‘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, we created this list of holiday email best practices (based off of some real mistakes we’ve seen in the past).

1) Give prospects the gift of personalised emails
As marketers, we all know the importance of personalising 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.

Always, always…account for the local customs of your recipients.

For example, in Australia the Christmas holidays is primarily used in the context of taking a vacation, and greetings / salutations this time of year are usually “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” (unlike in North America where the norm is “Happy Holidays”). If you have an audience in say, England write your email copy based on British English. So common words like ‘favorite’ appeared to be misspelled to that audience (it’s spelled ‘favourite’ in British English).

While these are just minor details, it drastically affects your email engagement rates and will even result 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 muck-up.

2) You can’t break rules if you want to be on the ‘nice’ list
This one is simple – you cannot bypass spam laws or omit an unsubscribe option from your emails! We 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 we’ve witnessed marketing teams trying to work their 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 organisation 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 personalise 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!