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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Readers Blog: SHINE!

Top 5 Email Marketing Tips for the Holidays.

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Top 5 Email Marketing Tips for the Holidays.

In a recent discussion with a client struggling to define his email strategy for the holidays, I decided to share an article I had saved, which was titled: Top 5 Email Marketing Tips for the Holidays. He was initially gung-ho on a plan to discount just about everything and send a new "holiday special" email, every 2 or 3 days, from October through December. Are you doing something similar?

With my client, I had to carefully work with him in order to to maintain his enthusiasm while strongly encouraging a change in his strategy.

Lets break down a bad strategy versus an effective holiday email marketing plan.

Sending excessive holiday emails isn't just bad behavior, it also portrays a lack of strategy, while historically proven to be ineffective. Nonstop discount emails teach your consumers that they should wait to buy and will diminish the loyalty to your brand. That's not an effective way to drive in holiday business. Too much holiday email quickly erodes your customers' trust, disrespects their email in-boxes and ultimately they will ignore your emails or worse, click "unsubscribe."

How can you avoid the temptation to over-communicate?

Start With The Top 5 Email Marketing Tips for the Holidays

1. Keep it short ‘n' sweet.

Recognize that the volume of emails will increase for everyone during the holidays. So your strategy must be to make sure your communications are brief, carefully timed and relevant.

2. Create relevant content.

Address your customers' needs and concerns heading into the holidays. Ask them what's on their minds, what challenges they're facing and how you can help. Share your ideas or solutions in your email marketing and your content will truly pop. That will build trust and earns customer loyalty, key to maintaining your traffic flow in the good times and the tough times.

3. Get creative with promotions.

Don't fall prey to the rapid discounting that the big-box businesses did last year. You can offer seasonal promotions that set your brand apart in a sustainable way, while supporting other local businesses and charitable organizations.

For example, Rothman's, a men's clothing store in New York, offered its own version of "cash for clunkers" in their email marketing. It noticeably captured the attention of their subscribers. The email promotion invited customers to trade in their old suits, which they would donate to charity, and the customer would get $100 off a new suit purchase. A similar concept can be used for any business.

4. Offer "holiday special" cross-promotions

Cross-promotion marketing works most effectively when working with businesses that complement yours. For example, a bookstore could offer a package-promotion where if a customer purchases a certain cookbook they also receive invitation to a VIP dinner event at a nearby restaurant.

5. Support your local economy.

The Kitchen Outfitter ran a great promotion last holiday season that helped all of the businesses around them. The owner brought together those businesses and they all threw a party for their customers. The owner also got the local music school involved for entertainment which added to the holiday cheer. The businesses worked together to drive a big audience, increase their holiday sales and make it a very memorable event. Email marketing was a central piece of the promotion. Each participant promoted the event in their email marketing which broadened the exposure tenfold for all the businesses.

Advantage: You.

As a small business owner, you have an advantage over big businesses because you can share your knowledge and passion for your business. You get to communicate with your customers on a more intimate level. Email marketing is your best tool to foster that communication and earn your customers' trust and loyalty during the holidays and throughout the entire year.

No one can say for sure how this (or any) holiday season will pan out. But if you plan a thoughtful holiday email marketing strategy now, you will set yourself up for success in the coming months and into the new year. Your customers will appreciate you for respecting their in-boxes and communicating your holiday promotions with class.

By all means, contact me if you need help with any part of your marketing strategy. That's what I do and I promise to do all I can to help or get you the help you need.

Props to our trusted partner Constant Contact for contributing valuable information for this post.

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