Why you need to plan your Christmas marketing now.

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7_128I was a little reticent to post this post so early in the year but then I awoke to another ‘glorious Glasgow morning’ and realised how apt it was…

Smith-Harmon recently published an email marketing report based on 4,700 emails from over 100 top online retailers in the last quarter of 2008. They had originally been publishing reports on a daily basis via their Retail Email Blog and on August, formed this into a downloadable guide for online retailers.

Their report found that on average, retailers began their Christmas email marketing on the 19th of October – a whopping 67 days before Xmas. So if you are reading this on the day it’s published (8th Sep), that gives you exactly 41 days to plan and prepare your campaign in preparation for launching on Oct the 19th.

Incidentally (and co-incidentally) we published out first Christmassy blog post of 2008 on October the 16th so we weren’t far off the average!

While September seems very early to begin thinking about Xmas, according to their report there was a start to Xmas emails from July and they really got into full swing come November. Obviously every retailer wants to be in there first with their Christmas ideas and offers but if you’re going to be that early with your marketing how do you keep momentum until the real Christmas shopping heats up and how do you advertise so early without sickening everyone of festive cheer?

You don’t have to start your marketing in July with all singing, all dancing Santa’s and animated snowmen. That would be enough to make me immediately delete a mail and I’m a die-hard Xmas fan. If you plan on sending out mails on a frequent basis in the run up to Xmas then consider having your first message of Xmas as a gentle and subtle reminder rather than an immediate ‘buy from me now’ message (plenty time for that later on).

As it gets closer to the festive season start to get more obvious and begin to employ all the usual trappings of Xmas advertising i.e Xmas colours, special offers and just a smattering of jingly bling.

Also, the closer it gets the more urgent your message can become and you can also afford to send out a few more emails than usual (just don’t overdo it unless you are looking for unsubscribers!). As it gets closer and people get more panicky they may welcome a straightforward and easy solution! Messages such as ‘only X shopping days left’, ‘order before X for guaranteed deliver’ will impart the urgency of the timing and remind customers of the following:

  • Key dates – Consider sending emails on or just before key seasonal dates. For example Boxing Day to keep your company in the readers mind just before known spending and key dates.
  • Postage – Keep your reader informed of postal deadlines as it gets closer to Christmas and always tell them the last shipping date available. It’s like the online equivalent of leaving the shopping to Xmas Eve and an amazing amount of people men will leave it ’till then 😉

I guess the key to this is timing, not too early that potential buyers think ‘what!?’ and not too late that they are thinking ‘yay, yet another Xmas email’

So much as I am a winter addict I realise you all may not be so apologies for this early post but like I said, only 41 planning days to go!

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