Now, granted, being Santa Claus does offer some inherent advantages -- such as flying reindeer access -- that your average marketer can't compete with. But the key to Santa's success (with all due respect to Mrs. Claus) is an adherence to best practices any successful email marketer would do well to emulate.
Avoid procrastination. Granted, Santa doesn't give himself very much time to actually deliver all of the world's presents, but the wheels for his big night are set in motion well in advance. With Christmas displays popping up in store windows as early as October these days, children are sending in wish lists earlier and earlier each year. Cross-referencing these lists against the Naughty/Nice metrics in his CBMS (Child Behavior Monitoring System) provides Santa with the precious data he needs in order to gauge inventory levels and plan in advance. If you've ever seen or heard about another marketer's fantastic email campaign and wondered how they had the time to plan something so complex, here's a hint: that planning didn't happen overnight.
Integrate with other channels. You name it -- movies, TV specials, all-Christmas radio, your neighbor's over-the-top light display -- Santa benefits from a variety of channels used to strengthen his message and broaden his reach. Aim for a similar level of creative integration with your own marketing efforts, such as directing email traffic to a custom microsite that delivers a new experience for your audience. Or, encourage sharing of email content through social media channels by including the type of content that recipients are most likely to redistribute, such as videos or special offers.
Target your efforts. If some email marketers ran Christmas, every child on the "Nice" list would get the same rocking horse under the tree. Santa, on the other hand, does not operate with this type of "blast" mentality. By taking the time to segment and personalize in order to ensure the satisfaction of his audience, Santa makes the most of his opportunity to connect. Suffice to say, this dedication has lead to a fairly effective bit of word-of-mouth marketing over the centuries.
With permission only: As much as Santa loves to give presents, he resists the urge to jump down the chimneys of homes into which he was not invited. He may be jolly, but he's no fool. This type of intrusion is as unbecoming of Santa as it is a respectable business. When a subscriber joins your email list, it's their way of leaving you milk and a plate of cookies. Filling up their inboxes with email they did not ask to receive is like sneaking through the back door and raiding the pantry.
Santa certainly has some advantages, but the gap isn't as wide as it would seem. Santa circles the globe in one night; your emails can reach thousands across the globe in a fraction of that time. Santa has scores of elves creating toys for every boy and girl; using dynamic content can automatically create personalized messages for all of your email recipients. And if you think it's cold where you are right now...
We can't all be marketing gurus on Santa's level, but we can all be better by following his lead. To leave you with one of Santa's most famous catchphrases: Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas! Wishing you all Happy Holidays!