Top Tips: Planning a successful e-mail campaign for the holidays

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Holiday sales are more important than ever this year, as retailers gear up for the final quarter of this recession year. As marketers begin to plan their strategy for the holiday season, five seasoned e-mail marketing veterans share their tips on the best way to reach consumers through the inbox during the busy shopping season.

Joel Book, director of eMarketing and education, ExactTarget

Build your list

A great e-mail campaign means nothing without a robust list of subscribers. The key to building your subscriber list is to make customers feel like they're receiving an exclusive offer or preferential treatment through these e-mails. Don't limit customers to registering online. Retailers can use an in-store display with a giveaway prize to entice customers to text their e-mail address to a short-code while standing at the register. Once customers join your list, remember to welcome them. Less than 50% of retailers send a welcome message. Especially during the holidays, retailers need to start the relationship on the right foot.

Jeanniey Mullen, CMO, Zinio; founder of the Email Experience Council

Offer unanticipated rewards

You already know that every company will send lots of e-mails this holiday season. The volumes and free shipping offers alone will drown your readers. Think smarter and make your e-mails work for you with unique and special offers no one else can match, like coffee gift cards, digital books, holiday shopping personality quizzes, micropayment options, or even funny YouTube clips about the holiday season. Standing out in a crowded inbox will keep your e-mail at the top of the list.

Deirdre Baird, president and CEO, Pivotal Veracity

Optimize your e-mails for mobile

Nielsen recently reported a 72% year-over-year increase in consumer adoption of smartphones. Reaching customers anywhere anytime is an incredible opportunity to reach them while they are shopping for the holidays. Make sure you know who your mobile e-mail readers are and optimize your design and content to captivate them on the go.

Tony D'Anna, GM, Datran Media

Remarket to dormant customers

Leverage the upcoming holiday season as a high-touch opportunity to reintroduce your brand and win back former customers. To do this, make sure you treat former customers you haven't heard from in a while differently than your loyal, repeat customer base. Apply the rich information your former customers have provided to you to offer them something unique and special for the holidays. For example, if you haven't heard from buyers that may have first heard from you when they were expectant moms, win them back with a relevant offer to their family this season. Add personalization and multitouch messaging techniques to this prescription and you'll win back many customers.

Laura Saati, group director, global retail, e-Dialog

Engage one-time shoppers

Have you ever considered how many new customers are added to your e-mail list every holiday season, only to have them fade away into your inactive segment in the New Year? Don't settle for stocking stuffers when you could have the gift that keeps on giving. Create a special promotion designed to engage these chronic one-and-done purchasers immediately following the holiday season. If even a small fraction of them remain active after January 1, it could mean a substantial boost to your e-mail list and your bottom line.



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