There's still plenty of autumn left, but you can already feel the holiday season approaching.

And while you might think that you still have plenty of time to launch your holiday email marketing campaign, the truth is that the time to prepare is now—at least if you want to get the most of this holiday season.

So, to help you out, we have compiled some of the best holiday email marketing tips from the experts that will help you make this year's holiday the best yet!

But Don't Forget 2016 Just Yet

Many businesses are afraid of seasonal promotions because they find it hard to come up with new strategies year after year. But the truth is that almost all of them already have the most important resource they need: data.

More specifically: data they collected during previous years.

Looking at past campaigns to see how well they performed is not only the easiest but also the most crucial step in your marketing strategy. Thoroughly analyzing it is vital for better executing your campaigns in 2017.

In fact, that sort of data might be the biggest advantage established businesses have against new ones.

Previous-year data helps to understand your customer's behavior; it shows what kind of holiday emails were the most successful and when they received the highest conversions. It will also help you understand where the traffic that led to conversions came from... and will likely come from again.

Understanding your data and being on point with current trends will not only save you time in planning but also help you make informed predictions about what will work best for this year's holiday season.

Focus on Grabbing Attention

The attention span of your customers is shrinking every year. And with the ever-increasing number of commercial messages that reach their inboxes, you can be sure they will be looking for even the slightest excuse to put your email in the trash bin as soon as possible.

That's why grabbing your customers' attention immediately is what you need to focus on most.

And the best opportunity for that is through an enticing subject line.

Your subject lines need to be eye-catching, but that doesn't always (or even usually) mean being the loudest or most prominent. In fact, your subject line strategy should be largely driven by what your competition is doing. Or, to be more specific, not doing.

If your goal is to be noticed in a sea of offers, usually the best approach is to simply be different.

Another way to make sure that your emails grab attention is to use interactive elements—GIFs, animations, and other visual elements—help to enhance your messages and make them more eye-catching.

If you're feeling adventurous, you could try inserting videos or interactive elements that could even become a centerpiece of the entire promotion.

The main thing to remember when trying to stand out is to keep looking for new ways to present your offers—because, in the end, it doesn't matter how good your offer is if no one ends up seeing it.

Keep It Exciting

It's hard to keep your audience reading if you can't generate any excitement about your emails.

Boring emails that do the same thing over and over again are doomed to fail eventually, no matter how successful the campaigns might have been initially.

Luckily, new ways of engaging your audience are becoming available each year. Just last holiday season, the snowman emoji in the subject line became an instant hit because it greatly increased open rates for numerous holiday email campaigns.

And though it probably won't be as effective this year, it serves to show that making your emails more exciting and fresh, even in minor ways, can help you stand out and form a more positive image in the eyes of your audience.

Something that has the potential to be big during this holiday season is the use of gamification in emails. Many marketers are already trying out various ways it could help improve campaign performance, with promising results.

What's gamification?

Basically, as the name implies, they are interactive games that encourage friendly competition within the email list members. Such games can help to not only skyrocket open rates but also generate buzz in the industry or even go viral.

With that kind of potential, it's something that will be hard to ignore, especially since even the slightest advantage is so important during the holiday season.

Understand Your Customer

It's easy to get so involved with your holiday email campaign that sometimes you'll forget the most important thing: your customer.

But no matter how exciting the gimmicks or interactive elements in your emails, if your core message doesn't resonate with your target audience... all that effort will go to waste.

That's why this year, next year, or even 10 years from now, the one golden rule for email marketing will remain this: Never develop an email marketing campaign without understanding your customer needs first.

Aesthetics are important, but even more important is delivering content that your subscribers want.

But how do you make your content relevant to your customers? Simple. You do it with personalized content.

You'd probably agree that the same email intended for someone in their 20s wouldn't work as well for someone in their 40s.

This is where personalization is needed.

You can personalize your emails by segmenting your email data by age or other demographics. You can also use various segmented groups based on their interests and purchase behavior.

By simply using the data you already have to sort your lists by various criteria, you can see a tremendous increase in the reach of each and every email you send out.

Follow Sound Marketing Principles

Holidays come... and pass quickly.

And considering how big of a business opportunity they present, it's absolutely essential that you give yourself plenty of time to prepare your marketing for that short window of opportunity.

You need to give yourself up to a couple of months to develop a marketing campaign.

You'll need time to analyze all the data you have accumulated through your past campaigns and then use it to polish your content and segment your lists in ways that makes the most sense.

However, don't throw away a marketing plan that's already working.

Businesses often have the urge to try something completely different during the holiday season; but, if you have a proven strategy, avoid spontaneous decisions and instead restrict yourself to small tune-ups to maximize your chances of success.

But if, for whatever reason, your holiday campaign isn't delivering the expected results, don't be afraid to change course mid-campaign, if needed. It's better to salvage part of the holiday season than to stick with something that's simply not working.

Say Thank You!

The holidays are a time of giving, so take the chance to put your campaigns aside and thank your customers for choosing to be with you.

Though it's easy to get immersed in data and metrics, behind every email address is an actual person with whom you have been sharing and interacting throughout the year.

So, it's always a good idea to take a moment to show your appreciation, especially during the holiday season.

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Holiday Email Marketing Trends and Tips for 2017 From the Experts

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image of Kevin George

Kevin George is the head of marketing at EmailMonks, an email design and coding company that specializes in crafting beautiful email templates, PSD-to-HTML email conversion, and free master email templates.

Twitter: @imkevin_monk

LinkedIn: Kevin George