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Using Email Marketing for the Holidays

In this article Gail Goodman offers some tips for including email in your holiday marketing mix:

Perhaps the most obvious use of holiday-themed email marketing is for retail. You may already have plans to send holiday promotions to your customer list via email. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your communication mix:

  • Remind them about gift cards - Whether you are a retail store, e-commerce site, restaurant, or spa, you can use email to promote your gift cards. You can also offer a discount or an added bonus to those who purchase them from you. For example, a spa could offer a free manicure to the purchaser of a $100 gift card.
  • Offer gift ideas - Make your customers lives easier by giving them great gift ideas. Everyone is trying to figure out what to buy for their friends and family. You can help your customers out by highlighting gifts that would be great for dad, mom, brother, sister, or the friend who has everything.
  • Offer a range of promotions - Don't just offer one promotion for the holidays. Offer a range that speaks to different customers. For one person, free shipping might get them to buy from you, for another, incremental discounts might work better (spend $100, get 15% off, spend $200, get 20% off, etc).
  • Communicate about holiday hours - If you have a retail shop, you can send an email announcing that you have special holiday hours for your customers' shopping convenience.
  • Invite customers to a special event - A great way to get people to come and shop with you is to hold a special event complete with holiday goodies, enticing discounts, and free wrapping. A little live music is always a great addition. You can send out a holiday email invitation with all the details.

In the B-to-B world, you aren't trying to get your clients to buy anything from you for the holidays, but the season affords the opportunity to show them your gratitude and stay connected. Here are some ideas for you:

  • Send a customized holiday e-card - A great way to connect with your customers or clients is to send a personalized holiday e-card. You can include a photo of your staff along with their signatures. You can also include a poignant thought, poem, or short story that helps to express the sentiments of the season.
  • Send an email invitation - Planning a holiday get-together for your clients or customers? Invite them with an email invitation. You can also use email to send holiday-themed event confirmation or updates in addition to paper invitations.
  • Make a charitable donation - Making a donation to a charity in the name of a customer or client is a great way to share the holiday spirit. You can tell them about it in a holiday-themed email card.

The holiday season (and tax planning) seems to help loosen purse strings. If you are a nonprofit, there is a good chance you are in campaign mode at this very moment and email marketing can play an important role. You can make it a part of your fundraising efforts during the holiday season (and year-round) by always linking back to your website's "donate now" page (or providing a physical address to send donations to). Here are some ideas for content you can include in a holiday email card or newsletter.

  • Remind them that they can give a donation as a gift - Remind your volunteers and donors that they can make a donation on behalf of friends and family members as a holiday gift. Let them know that you will send an email card in addition to a physical receipt to the person with news of the gift.
  • Tell a touching story - Send a short story about how your donors' funding makes a difference. Include a photograph of someone you are helping.
  • Share your goals - Thank donors and volunteers for their support during the past year and share your goals for the new year with them.
  • Send a newsletter with the year's accomplishments - There is something very powerful about seeing a list of successes that have come about after a year of hard work. Send a newsletter highlighting the year's brightest moments and include plenty of pictures (and don't forget the donation link at the bottom!).
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