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Start Thinkin’ Christmas… in July: Planning Your Holiday Sends (Early)

No one’s hangin’ stockin’s up,
No one’s bakin’ pie,
No one’s lookin’ up to see
A new star in the sky.
No one’s talkin’ brotherhood,
No one’s givin’ gifts,
And no one loves a Christmas tree
On March the twenty-fifth.
-Shel Silverstein

I know, it’s July, but the same sentiment here applies- why in the world am I writing about your holiday sending so far out of the actual season? There’s not even a hint of cold weather yet and stores haven’t gone so far as to start playing Christmas music on loop, so why do you need to be preparing now?

We all know July is generally a break for marketing and the holiday season is the busiest time for marketers, so there’s no better time than now to start thinking about your holiday campaigns and projects. It’s crucial to beat the rush and have your holiday email plan and at least some of your email copy already in place, so you aren’t racing around at the last minute and hoping your email makes it to the inbox. I’ve compiled some holiday sending tips below to help you get started!

Be creative

I cannot stress this enough. Throw out all your old subject lines, throw out all your old copy, and don’t even think about mentioning FREE SHIPPING, because Amazon Prime already does that for me. The inbox is a battlefield during the holiday season, so you need to kick it up with making your subject lines stand out and making your emails interesting and fun to read. I strongly recommend taking a look at Returnpath’s excellent Art and Science of Effective Subject Lines for some great research on subject lines and what makes a subject line great. Come up with a few non-holiday related subject lines and A/B test them! If you start tweaking your subject lines in July, you’ve got tons of time to test and really plan out your strategy down to the most minute detail. On that note…

Test, Test, Test. Also, test.

I don’t mean just A/B testing, you should also be making sure your rendering test is mobile-friendly. In 2015, according to PracticalEcommerce, “ Mobiles sales were estimated at 36 percent of all online sales…Email marketing was the primary channel driving online sales, accounting for 25 percent of transactions.” The role of mobile in retail holidays like Black Friday simply cannot be ignored anymore, so it’s important to be sure the email you are sending is mobile optimized. Nothing makes me more likely to ignore an email sent to me while I’m out and about than if I have to zoom in just to read the email. Be sure to leverage Pardot’s Advanced Email Analytics to run rendering tests on multiple devices to make sure your emails are as pretty as they can be!

Collect information

To further personalize your holiday email sending, make sure you’re gathering as much information on your prospects as possible. Are your forms optimized to collect data on what products they’re interested in? Do you have Pardot tracking code set up on your site to make sure you can follow their journey through your website? It’s important to make sure you’re collecting useful, relevant data on your prospects now so you can send them personalized, relevant emails later on.

Do some summer cleaning

Some of the worst issues I come up against as the email compliance manager for Pardot is clients who decide to send to their entire database without doing any cleaning….a week before Black Friday. On top of crushing their carefully built sending reputation over a few 20%+ bounce rates, a number of my clients experienced spam complaints galore from people who had no clue they’d opted in to receiving mail… 5 years ago.

If you want your holiday email campaign to be as seamless as possible, you definitely need to take the time to clean your old database. Verify email addresses by using a list cleaning provider, so you can keep your bounces as low as possible. Then, if you have any addresses that you haven’t reached out to in over a year, run a permission pass to make sure those prospects are still actively interested in receiving your email. The more you can do now to set yourself up for success later, the better!

Are there any tasks or projects you prefer to complete before the rush of the marketing season? Tweet to me @holobachgirl with your thoughts!