With 2020 entering the final stretch before the holiday season, time is running out to prepare your holiday email subscriber list. To help you beat the deadline and end the year with a marketing bang, we’ve put together some tips to help you get your email list and email strategy ready.
7 steps to prep your email subscriber list for the holiday season
- Clean up your email subscriber list.
- Get new email subscribers.
- Gather all your subscribers in one place.
- Test your integrations and forms.
- Re-share your opt-in to encourage new subscribers.
- Pair up for a collaboration.
- Ask for referrals.
- Build new email segments.
- Update and fine-tune your automations.
- Superpower your transactional messages.
- Mark important dates on your calendar.
- Make a plan for the holiday season.
Ready? Let’s jump in.
Clean up your email subscriber list
The first thing to do to get your email list ready for holiday promotions is to clean up and remove inactive subscribers. Start by segmenting your list into people who haven’t opened in more than 90 days. If you haven’t emailed in more than 90 days, then you’ll need to start with people who haven’t opened in the 90 days before that.
Next, you’ll send that group of subscribers a special series of emails to ask if they still want to hear from you. These messages should be short and to the point. Your subject line is important for these messages. They can’t click to stay on the list if the subject line doesn’t get them to even open the email.
Communicate the benefits of staying on the list, whether that’s access to exclusive sales, notifications about new products, or never missing an episode of a podcast or blog post. Send at least three re-engagement messages to this segment of the list, removing anyone who did click to stay on the list from the segment.
After sending those three emails — if they don’t click to stay on the list, remove them.
Get new email subscribers
After you’ve said goodbye to some unengaged subscribers, it’s time to build your list back up. You’ll do that in a few different ways, including collecting up all the subscribers you have across multiple systems, testing your email subscription forms for any leaks, and running campaigns to get more subscribers.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these processes below.
Gather all your subscribers in one place
If you’re like most business owners, you’re collecting contact information from your customers in several different places, like your eCommerce system, your landing page software, your CRM, and even your social media accounts. Remember all those email addresses you collected when people wanted to join your Facebook group? Did those addresses make it to your email system?
Collect up all those email addresses that you have explicit permission to use and add them to your email list.
Test your integrations and forms
Next up, test your integrations and forms to ensure that the people who are joining your list are making it onto your list. A good way to test is to use a special email address so you can track each form individually.
Rather than create a bunch of free accounts, you can modify your existing Gmail email address, for example, and still check whether or not you receive your test messages. To illustrate this, your email address might be email@example.com. You can add a plus sign after the first half (before the @ symbol), and any words you want after, ending up with something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is handy if you’ve got several different lead magnets or signup forms to test. Examples of these test addresses might look like this:
Don’t forget to delete all those dummy subscribers after you’re done testing!
Re-share your opt-in to encourage new subscribers
Once you’re sure that your opt-in is running like a well-oiled machine, it’s time to share it with the world to get even more subscribers. Here are a few ways you can share your opt-in to get new subscribers.
Share on your social media profiles
This includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can share as a post as well as in your header image.
Post in related and appropriate Facebook Groups (as allowed)
If you’re a member of a Facebook group that allows promotions, share your free opt-in.
Update your website
If you’re already promoting your website on social channels and ad campaigns, make sure your opt-in lead magnet is easy to spot. If
Pair up for a collaboration
The holiday season is also a great time to partner up with other businesses that have similar client profiles. You can create a collaborative product, or simply promote each other’s products to your own lists.
It’s not a good idea to exchange email subscriber lists but you can certainly tell your customers how great the other person’s products and services are.
Another great option is to create a buyer’s guide that includes products from multiple businesses. You can create it once, and then have everyone share it because their products are featured!
Ask for referrals
Another easy way to build your email list is to ask your existing customers to invite their friends to shop with and buy from you. One of the best ways to encourage your customers to share is to give them something to give, and something to keep.
This can be a special offer for each of them, including a discount for their purchase, free shipping or even a gift with purchase.
Build new email segments
Now that your list is clean, and you’re beginning to grow your subscriber list, it’s time to dig into your email system and build new email segments. An email segment is a collection of people from your email list who meet certain criteria.
Here are some examples:
- Big spenders: These are the people who have purchased the most from you — often the top 5% to 10%. You can target these customers with new product releases and higher-priced products.
- New customers: New customers are the ones who have made their first purchase from you in the last 30 days. It’s nice to reward them for buying from you with a special offer on their next purchase.
- Churning customers: These are customers who have purchased from you more than once, but who haven’t purchased in an extended period — often 60 to 90 days. Verify these timeframes against your average customer buying behaviours. Use a win-back campaign with a special offer, like a free gift with purchase or free shipping, to get them back into buying.
- Frequent buyers: Frequent buyers might not always be big spenders. They’re often looking for something new or exciting, so send them your latest and greatest!
- Specific category buyers: Depending on what you’re selling, you may have categories that appeal to specific customer groups. A great example is a clothing retailer that sells for both men and women. You can segment people who purchase only one type or the other and target your promotions accordingly.
- Customers by region: When it comes to holiday-centred segments, it can be helpful to group customers into geographic areas, which is especially useful if you’re going to have shipping deadlines. This way, you can tailor your emails to warn of upcoming cut-off dates for holiday orders.
Of course, these don’t have to be the only segments you create! Your creativity is only limited by the capabilities of your email service provider.
Update and fine-tune your automations
This isn’t related to your list prep for holiday promotions, but it’s a really important element of your overall email marketing strategy. Set aside some time to review all your running automations and transactional messages to ensure that they’re up-to-date and helping to drive improved conversion rates.
Automations and funnels are a series of emails that are sent based on a customer’s activities on your website or in your email list. They’re triggered when someone takes those specific actions that you’ve defined.
A good example of an automation, or funnel, is your welcome series or an upsell series of emails after someone buys a smaller product. When you’re reviewing these, make sure they’ve got relevant dates and offers that align with your upcoming holiday promotions.
And don’t forget to check your links!
Before launching your holiday promotions is a great time to build upsell and cross-sell automated messages. Cross-sell products fit into the category of “People who bought this also bought,” while upsells are often accessories and services related to what they bought.
These messages help your customers fill their holiday gift bags and stockings with goodies from your store, based on what they already know and love.
Plus, those automated messages can help you sell more year-round!
Superpower your transactional messages
Transactional messages are also emails that are sent based on someone’s activity. The difference is that they’re related to their specific shopping and purchasing activities. Transactional emails include order confirmation messages, shipping confirmation, and delivery confirmation. It can also include abandoned cart emails.
And if you think your transactional emails have to be 100%-related to their current purchase, think again! In these messages, you can include cross-sells (other products that customers who have purchased this have also bought) and upsells (including accessories and services related to their new product purchase).
Your transactional messages are also a great place to remind your customers of deadlines, like the last day for ground shipping in time for holiday delivery.
Mark important dates on your calendar
Speaking of dates, the last thing you’ll need to do to get your email marketing strategy ready for the holiday season is to mark important dates on your calendar — including anything you need to do for those dates, like update messages in your automations and transactional messages.
As an example, in your abandoned cart email, you may a
dd some text or a graphic with your shipping deadlines for holiday delivery, simply as a gentle nudge to remind someone that they don’t have a lot of time if they’re planning on gift-giving.
After that initial deadline has passed, you’ll want to update that text and graphics to promote expedited shipping. And if all the shipping deadlines have passed, then you may want to promote a gift card instead.
And when the holidays are over, don’t forget to take all those mentions back out of your automated emails and transactional messages. Set a reminder now in your favourite task management system or on your calendar.
Make a plan for the holiday season
Tying into marking important dates on your calendar, planning for your holiday emails benefits both you and your subscriber list. You’ll be less stressed about meeting your deadlines, and your list will get well put-together emails with plenty of time to make their shopping deadlines.
Things to include in your plan:
One of the biggest challenges around the holidays is shipping deadlines. If your deadlines are too early in the season, you might miss some of those impulse buyers. On the other hand, if they’re too late, then you run the risk of a shipping delay ruining the customer’s holidays.
Sales and special offers
While most people are always bargain hunting, holiday shopping brings out the hunters in all of us. By planning your sales, you can encourage customers to purchase earlier in the holiday season — reducing your stress in processing orders and reaching your goals, and their stress in making sure that their gifts arrive on
Some of the most important dates in your holiday planning are the last chance to arrive for the holidays. You’ll need to factor in production time and shipping time for all your shipping methods.
Not sure where to get started? The email marketing component of GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing Digital Marketing Suite guides you through every step, from building your mailing list to creating a beautiful email to analysing the results. Most importantly, it ensures that everything you do is within the rules, so you won’t be labelled a spammer.