Email Marketing

Holiday Email Marketing: 3 Ways to Save Time

The busy holiday season is heating up. With it come increased marketing duties, such as creating and executing email campaigns, which take time. In this post, I’ll suggest three ways to streamline your ecommerce email marketing throughout the holiday season.

1. Set a Calendar

Establishing a visual calendar of all upcoming email deployments at least one month in advance — more than one month is even better — can greatly streamline the workload. Include the following information in your calendar.

  • Email theme and description
  • Promotion or offer, and expiration
  • Audience
  • Deployment size

Including the expiration dates of the offers will help see how your promotions correspond to other important dates — such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday — and when to send email reminders of expiring offers and promotions.

Take a few hours to set up the calendar for the upcoming month or months. It will save significant time later and it will help avoid a last-minute rush to get campaigns out the door.

2. Create Reusable Templates

Every email creative does not need to be designed from scratch. Create a handful of templates to reuse for certain types of deployments. It can save a lot of time. The key is to create a few different templates, so that the images, featured products, and links can be easily switched — without having to code fresh HTML.

Some easy templates to create and reuse include the following.

  • General promotion
  • New product arrival
  • Content-newsletter

The initial template will likely take time to design and code. Each template should be actionable on a mobile device. Design all templates so that updates to images, text, and links will not affect how they render across devices and email platforms.

A well-designed template, once used and initially tested, does not necessarily need to be retested for formatting and rendering issues in subsequent deployments. This will also save time.

This email template can be reused with only basic changes to the text, such as location and date of the event.

This email template can be reused with only basic changes to the text, such as location and date of the event.

Many email service providers offer templates to use and reuse. Be careful, however, when developing a template and editing with WYSIWYG editor. It does not, in my experience, always render correctly across all major email clients and browsers.

It is best to design your template in a program like Adobe Dreamweaver and test for rendering with platforms such as Email on Acid or Litmus before uploading to your email service provider.

Note, however, that most ESP platforms will add their own code to your HTML, to redirect links and host images. These templates will not always translate cleanly in a different platform, down the road.

3. Borrow from Past Promotions

When planning and scheduling campaigns, generating ideas for promotions and themes can be time consuming and difficult. One source of inspiration is previous campaigns that have worked well.

Start with campaigns that were deployed at the same time last year. You (and your email recipients) may have forgotten about past sales, events, or other campaigns from last year. This is especially true for campaigns around the holidays when email volume is high.

Consider making an especially creative theme or promotion an annual tradition, so that subscribers actually look forward to receiving those emails.

Food Network's "12 Days of Cookies" campaign in an annual tradition that recipients recognize and anticipate.

Food Network’s “12 Days of Cookies” campaign in an annual tradition that recipients recognize and anticipate.

Food Network has a good example of this with its “12 Days of Cookies” campaign, which starts in early December every year. It’s a daily newsletter featuring a favorite holiday cookie recipe by a celebrity chef. It also includes messages from advertisers and other content that links to the site, to generate traffic. The tactic is extremely effective. Recipients not only anticipate receiving the email, but they are also responsive to the promotion.

These and similar emails could be built and scheduled weeks or months in advance, leaving you free to focus on other tasks.

Carolyn Nye
Carolyn Nye
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