More On Holiday Email Strategy

Last week, the Email Diva stressed the importance of defining goals, integrating with your entire organization's efforts, delving into last year's data and researching your competitors and best practices.  Now it's time to look at everything through the lens of the customer and fine-tune your process.

Retailers will be competing hard to stand out in the customer's holiday shopping consideration set and inbox this year. As my esteemed colleague and alternating Tuesday columnist Lisa Harmon wrote last week, "Show Me the Love and I'll Show You the Money."  Focus on how you can provide value to the customer by answering the age-old question: WIIFM (What's In It For Me)?  What does everyone want for holiday shopping?  Good ideas for special gifts at the lowest prices, plus that warm fuzzy holiday feeling -- or at least less stress.


Help customers with ideas. This is a great place to use Top X lists: Top 10 Gifts Under $50, Top 6 Ideas for the Impossible-to-Buy-For, Top Wish List Picks, Top Sellers, Top Customer-Rated Products.   Encourage site visitors to fill out wish lists to make life easy for buyers, particularly those not familiar with your products, such as men buying jewelry or women buying tools.  

Keep customers involved with holiday extras.  This is the time to think about lagniappe.  What can you add to your email as little thank-you gifts throughout the holiday season?  Think easily fulfilled digital goodies: wallpapers, gift tags, e-cards.  Add sparkle to your emails with a touch of animation.  Consider a continuity program that rewards customers for repeat activity.

Spread holiday cheer with charity.  Consumers have lots of choices of where to shop -- perhaps too many.  Stand out from the crowd by demonstrating your company's charitable spirit.  Given the choice between a company that is contributing a portion of its profits to good works and one that just wants to sell, sell, sell, most consumers will choose the former.  It helps give us that warm, fuzzy holiday feeling we crave.




Now is the time to make sure your development process is humming like a finely tuned machine.  If you're struggling making deadlines now, taking on additional holiday volume will cause quality and creativity to suffer.

Create a master schedule.  If you don't already have one, develop a master schedule that allows you to see the status of all projects in process.  A humble spreadsheet works just fine, so long as it includes all the START dates for steps in the process, not just the end dates.  Put one person in charge of keeping it up to date and it will become a valuable tool rather than an administrative burden.

Invest in a collaboration tool.  Check out products like Basecamp, Sharepoint and Wrike.  These tools enforce rigor on content submissions, yield a single up-to-date version of working documents, and facilitate communication of tasks, deadlines and updates.  Once you've used one, sending emails to discuss project details will seem like faxing.  They can be used out-of-the-box or tailored to your specific needs, and are particularly useful when many different companies are involved in email creation.  The reasonable monthly fee will yield big dividends in terms of time saved and errors avoided.

Tune up your templates.  Review the templates you're using.  Represent the eyeballs with heat mapping, the clicks with a click-map overlay (show percentages, not those strings of numbers, they are so not intuitive!) and the revenue.  What is consumer behavior telling you?  Develop some alternatives and test them now, while you have the luxury.

OK, you have integrated your efforts, done your research, delved into your data, tuned up your process and creative and considered how you can delight the customer this holiday season.  Now all you need is...

Good Luck!

The Email Diva

Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.

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