While Black Friday (November 28) and Cyber Monday (December 1) mark the traditional start of the holiday season, a successful email marketing plan starts long before then. Now is the time to review past holiday marketing efforts to determine what worked and to decide what products or services you want to promote this season.

As the holidays approach, we’ve created some tips will help your business have a happy – and successful – holiday season:

1. Check your list twice. Early fall is the ideal time to get your email lists in tip top shape. Purge inactive subscribers, or better yet, create a re-activation campaign. Segment your email lists based on recipient interests, purchase history, age, or other demographics if you have the information, to help better target holiday emails.

2. Go mobile. Make sure your website is mobile friendly. According to Nielsen’s Digital Consumer Report, 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices for shopping. Don’t miss out on holiday sales because your site is not optimized for mobile devices. Check out our blog post for more tips: How to Optimize Your Business Website for the Mobile Era.

3. Check your reputation. Data from Nielson’s Digital Consumer Report also finds that up to 55% of mobile users check out reviews on their smartphones, and another 23% write reviews after their purchase. If you don’t know what your online reviews say about you, now is the time to check them out. Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zagat can drive customers to your business or send them scurrying away.

Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews. Monitor your reviews at least weekly. If there is a negative review and a site allows for a response, write a non-argumentative response that thanks the customer for the feedback, apologizes for any inconvenience and offers any brief explanation that might be necessary. And, if the option is available, be sure to claim your page, add business information, pictures and coupons.

4. Make sure you’re ready. Check your inventory levels, and place orders early to ensure product is on hand so there is no delay in fulfilling customer orders. Plan staffing and make sure your customer support staff is ready to handle increased phone calls and online orders.

5. Get ahead start with pre-holiday marketing. Even in October, you can and should send emails, write social posts, send postcards, and include flyers with every purchases including teasers about upcoming holiday specials. The example below shows a pre-holiday tweet from chef Jamie Oliver.

You might even plan a pre-holiday sale to catch early bird shoppers. Sweeten the deal by offering a “Black Friday Match” that promises to match the price if customers find a better deal on Black Friday.

6. Reward loyalty. Look for ways to generate repeat holiday business from existing customers. Offer special previews, secret sales, members-only pricing, or returning customer holiday discounts.

7. Get social. Use social media posts to highlight sales, encourage phone calls, or offer coupons and specials. Make posts shareable and fun. Consider sharing a short holiday video, a cute cartoon or a great offer. Post how-tos for your products or services, and include holiday season survival tips. If your business lends itself to images, consider some Pinterest posts. Create boards such as “Perfect Gifts for Dad’ or “Holiday Decorating” or “Ways to Celebrate the Season.” Tag pictures with a dollar amount and the pin will be automatically added to a gifts category.

For more useful holiday marketing tips, visit our Everything Holiday site and get our Complete Guide to Holiday Email Marketing.

You can get started with your email and social media for free using VerticalResponse.

This post contributed by Tonya McMurray, a freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. Her work includes news and feature articles for publications and websites in a variety of industries, including energy, education, marketing, healthcare and technology.

© 2014 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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