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Today's consumers expect to receive more special deals and offers during holiday seasons. Seasonal events drive consumer buying patterns. That's why marketers around the world take advantage of changes in season to create marketing campaigns that increase their revenues.

The beginning of the New Year is a good time to outline your 2012 marketing strategies and to decide which events and holidays are especially meaningful to your industry and sector.

For those who occasionally lack inspiration in their campaigns, the Promo Campaign Planner by GetResponse is a great source of ideas for every month of the year and will help keep your email marketing relevant and universal.

Campaign Strategy Do's and Don'ts

Once you've selected events for your seasonal campaigns, keep in mind various online campaign strategies for achieving maximum results.

The rule is simple: Connect your theme to whatever is going on out there in real life. Doing so will rapidly increase the level of individualization and relevancy.

Here are 10 essential tips for seasonal sale success.

1. From Online to Offline

Customers rarely abandon Main Street shopping completely, and a high percentage of email users are reluctant to make purchases online for many reasons. Encourage in-store visits via email, especially once you pass standard shipping times (and not just during Christmas season).

2. Be Selective

Each month brings opportunities for special deals. That doesn't mean you have to grab them all. Be selective. Collect data on when your industry's customers are most likely to shop. Then choose events that in some way relate to your business.

3. Not Just Sell, Sell, Sell

Apart from exceptional discounts and gifts, your audiences also expect an occasional "heart-warmer"—a noncommercial message aimed at building relationships. It's worthwhile to thank your customers for their loyalty and enthusiasm once in a while.

4. Segment and Treat Every Customer Individually

Although most of your contacts expect to receive more email deals immediately before events and celebrations, that doesn't mean they'll open and click through anything that drops into their mailbox.

Highly targeted messages are your chance to stand out in the crowd. However, they require a long-term strategy because you'll need some time and effort to collect personal and behavioral data. So don't wait till December; invest in preference centers and website-behavior tracking throughout the year.

5. Let Them Share

Social-share icons can increase email click-through rates (CTRs) up to 114%, according to the latest research from GetResponse. Just imagine how much buzz a single message can create during holidays and times of celebration, when the human tendency to share reaches its peak. Make your offer a "friends and family event," ensuring it resonates throughout the network.

6. Plan in Advance

Manage the timing, frequency, and overlapping of your messages carefully. Plan your top offers far enough in advance, allowing for your customers to receive delivery within standard shipping dates. If you've got some other follow-up cycles going, it might be worth deactivating them during the hottest periods.

7. Testing Makes Perfect

Take your time. Don't leave the success of your campaigns to luck if you want to avoid mistakes. Preview how messages render in various inboxes, review them with an objective eye, conduct split tests before sending your messages to all. Chunk or segment your lists, and send messages to each, in turn, to minimize the damage. Those simple procedures will help you sleep well—and they'll improve your results.

8. List Boosters

Use customers' festive moods and enthusiasm during holidays to help build your lists. Reward subscriptions during celebration periods—via blogs, Facebook, site Web forms, in-store checkout, and events.

9. Pre-plan

Events are self-propelled selling opportunities. Still, to maximize your success, carefully plan for events. You should know—in advance—what, when, and to whom you want to sell.

10. Review and Repurpose

Document your campaign results carefully, and treat them as points of reference for future campaigns. Try to not only repurpose the successful elements but also identify the weak sides of your promotions so you can eliminate them next time.

* * *

Download the Promo Campaign Planner, and use the handy tips in this article to make planning your campaigns more fun.

And I'm curious, which less-obvious holidays will you use as themes for your future campaigns, and which ones are the typical sales boosters in your industry?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hanna Andrzejewska is content marketing expert at GetResponse, an email marketing provider that serves more than 210,000 small and midsize customers around the world.