Some people may wait until the very last minute to get their holiday shopping done, but email marketing campaign planning can’t be left off until December 24th. Even though the goblins and witches of Halloween have not yet visited our doorsteps, now is the time to start working on your holiday email marketing strategies.

The Best Guide to Christmas Future Is Christmas Past

The first aspect is to review what you did right (and wrong) last year. Did any particular aspect work well? Was there a particular subject line that resulted in higher open rates, or a specific product or service approach that translated into strong click-through rates and conversions? Chat with your finance department to analyze a report on which product offers or lines were the strongest sellers last season to determine any hidden areas of sales strength. Now take the time to review how your competitors approached their holiday campaigns. Are there any aspects that you can adopt for your benefit this time around?

If you start right now, you still have time to collect additional customer data to use for precisely focused targeting. Running a competition or a survey – with a magnetic data collection element that is widely promoted throughout your website and other touchpoints – can provide you with the time sensitive insights that can really boost your holiday results.

Your Holiday Cards Should Be Free of Marketing Ploys

Everyone loves to receive a holiday card, and your customers will react positively to yours if you don’t use it as a thinly veiled marketing attempt. You’re not trying to get an immediate conversion with the card; you’re building brand recognition and customer loyalty. Wish them a very happy holiday, and let it go at that.

Merry Christmas… er… Happy Holidays!

While on the subject of wishing “Happy Holidays,” the vast majority of email marketing campaign subscriber lists do not include any hint of a customer’s religion or race, thus the terms of “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” should always be applied rather than “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” or “Joyous Kwanzaa.”

Email Marketing Must Reflect the New Economic Realities

Economic realities must be taken into consideration in your holiday email marketing campaign plans. The 2009 holiday season may have been the most depressed in memory for millions of families: It’s difficult to get excited about the holidays when you’ve just lost your home to foreclosure. One year later, the situation has stabilized somewhat, but there are still wide swaths of economic misery around the nation. Various sections of South Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona, and California’s Inland Empire are in even worse shape than they were last year. Geographical targeting to isolate these regions for a differing marketing approach is problematic. Barely five miles separate the highest income vs. the lowest income areas in Las Vegas, Phoenix or Detroit. The average salary in Miami’s 33130 zip code is $15,992, while just less than 2 miles away in 33109, it’s $533,062! Past behavior can hold valuable keys to whether a particular customer managed to ride out the recession or not. If they were still spending healthily last year, chances are that they’ll be in the position to do the same this year.

Even though this will be at least the second holiday season marred by economic uncertainty, consumer confidence does not seem to have fallen significantly. U.S. consumer sentiment was at 68.2% at the end of September 2010, which is about the same level as it was during the previous autumn. The 96.9% levels celebrated in the halcyon days of 2007 may not return for this holiday season or even the next, but wise email marketers who are sensitive to the new economic realities can still manage to obtain competitive advantages.

Check out our full selection of holiday email templates.