Holiday Emails Aren’t Just For Wishing Well Anymore
It’s that time of year again. Our inboxes are full of holiday emails. Consumer companies are flooding the airwaves with tons of offers and messages hoping to grab our attention.
If you’re a B2B marketer, you might be thinking it’s best to wait until the flurry of activity dies down in January and then pick up your email campaigns again.
However, smart marketers are using the holidays to continue their outreach, and they’re doing it in some creative ways. Instead of saying “happy holidays” or “buy now,” they’re using the holidays to tell their story in a more disruptive, emotional and compelling way.
Remember, this article won’t be about discounts, coupons or special holiday sales. Good marketing is never about discounting. It’s about educating, disrupting and getting your prospects back to your website, where you can continue to influence them in their buyer journey.
Here are some ideas for lead-generating and revenue-producing holiday emails.
1) Sneak Peeks
This is great for software companies, technology companies and companies that do product development. The holidays are a great time to give your customers and prospects a special gift, like a sneak peek at upcoming features or an opportunity to get an advanced look at what’s coming in 2020.
People give gifts this time of year, and you can give your audience the give of advanced notice. You can share new features, schedule a webinar where you unveil those features or offer pictures of new products only available to people with a special link and special credentials.
You could even create a waiting list by offering your prospects and customers special access to the waiting list if they sign up from your email.
People are constantly afraid of missing out, and fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real feeling. By creating a feeling of exclusivity, special privilege and advanced access, you can generate a high amount of leads during the holidays and ensure January gets off to a fast start.
2) Holiday-Themed Educational Content
OK, you have a more traditional business, and sneak peeks or product feature releases don’t work for you. No worries. Instead, take some of your normal educational content and give it a holiday spin.
For example, we have a whitepaper called 30 Must-Ask Questions To Ask Your Digital Agency Before You Hire Them. This could easily be reworked as 30 Questions Santa Asks Every Digital Agency Before He Visits Them For Christmas. The CTA and landing page could be spiced up to have a few holiday graphics, and the document can be delivered without doing any additional work.
Now you’re getting your educational content out in a fun and engaging way. There is a much better chance to catch someone in the holiday spirit with this type of offer than with any traditional content offer at this time of year.
3) Special Offers That Are NOT Discounts
I mentioned earlier this article wouldn’t be about discounts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide your audience with special offers during holiday times.
This could mean you offer them special services or special payment terms, like the chance to buy now and pay later. If you have extra capacity, you can offer access to teams or resources they would not normally have access to.
Perhaps a review, audit, assessment or extra consultation would interest them. Maybe you want to invite them to a special “office hours” session with your CEO where she can answer questions, talk about the industry and share insights on the future of your community.
It’s easy to turn these special offers into gifts that can be shared with your prospects and customers during the holiday season. These offers don’t simply give away revenue like discounts. Instead, they add value or engage your audience and continue to tell your story in a fun and creative way.
4) Special Holiday-Oriented EventsSpeaking of events, you can offer special holiday events as part of your holiday emails. Typically, B2B companies tone down their events calendar in December, limiting live events and pushing webinars into January. This might make it easier for you to attract attention to your event, especially if you package it for the holidays.
Instead of doing a traditional webinar titled How To Use Virtual Assistants To Find 10 Extra Hours Each Week, you could change that event into one titled How Virtual Assistants Saved The Holidays For Three High-Profile Business Leaders.
The content is going to be essentially the same. As we stated earlier, the graphics and design can pick up the holiday theme, but for little effort you can turn your ordinary webinar program into one designed specifically for execution during the holidays.
5) End-Of-Year Updates
The nice aspect of the holiday time of year is it’s not just about the traditional gift-giving holidays, it’s also the end of the year. This means your holiday emails can be just as much about the new year as anything else.
This gives you an opportunity to do a year-end wrap-up. You can remind customers of success stories from the past year that highlight services they many have never purchased. You can do a reminder email including all of the new features you added during the year, some of which they may not be taking full advantage of right now.
You can remind prospects of the successes other companies like theirs have had as a direct result of working with you. You can highlight awards your customers might have won due to your help and support. Making this about your customers is a great way to position your company as the source of their success and get your prospects to engage so they get the full benefits of your work.
6) 2020 Predictions
Instead of looking backward in 2019, look forward to 2020. What do you expect? How can you give your prospects and customers some helpful forward-looking advice and guidance in your email campaigns?
There could be some big events or conferences you’re planning or expecting to attend that you’d like them to consider. There might be some coming legislation that they need to be aware of in 2020, or you might know of some consolation or mergers on the horizon.
People appreciate a heads up, and this is a great time of year to show your knowledge and insight in a helpful way.
These don’t have to give away any secrets or jeopardize any confidences, but predictions and forward-looking projections have a way of sticking with people. If your products and services are uniquely positioned to help customers with your future-looking statements, all the better for you.
7) Naughty Or Nice Lists
People do love lists. This time of year, one of my favorites is the naughty or nice list. You can highlight companies in your industry, products in your industry and even popular industry leaders that are familiar to most people. You can do blogs, websites and educational content, too.
When we talk to clients about this, they often question why we would recommend that they promote competitors. The answer is based on data. These types of list always do well. People like them, they read them, they share them and they use them.
The secret is to include your stuff in a positive way. In most cases, your prospects are already aware of your competitors. You control who and what makes the list, so you already know why you’re better than everyone else on the list, and the list itself actually shows your superiority.
Here is an example of a list we did last year on the top revenue growth agencies. While all of the agencies are solid, we know we’re better and exactly how we’re different. The article points that out. This is one of our more popular blog articles and one of the top-shared articles, too.
8) Saying Thank You
Another nice idea for your holiday emails is to say thanks! We just did a thank-you note on our blog, thanking our clients, team members and partners. Today, businesses and your prospects are judging you on how you treat your stakeholders.
If it’s important to you to publicly thank the people who helped make 2019 a great year, then using your holiday emails to issue that thanks makes a lot of sense to me.
Additionally, you can merge that thank you into a special offer, and use two of our email marketing techniques for the holidays to drive even better results.
9) Focusing On Advocacy
Let’s shift gears a bit now and move toward using your holiday emails to drive advocacy. Remember, an advocate for your business is someone who will publicly comment positively about your business, even without you asking.
All businesses need to work harder to activate their advocates to help accelerate the revenue cycle. This means you can use your holiday email to remind your customers that their advocacy is important to you.
You can offer them incentives for their advocacy and point them in the direction of online reviews, directory sites that collect reviews, social media review tools and even sites like YouTube where happy customers could leave video reviews.
You could even do a year-end customer satisfaction email that attempts to get some advocacy data you can use as a benchmark for 2020. Do you know how happy your clients are? You should know exactly.
Use this time of year as an option for starting to collect this very important data.
10) Special Gifts For Customers
People like to give and get gifts at this time of year. Your customers are no different, and your holiday emails can offer your customers something special at holiday time. It could be as simple as swag, like promotional products with your logo. They don’t have to be expensive, but fun promotional items can be a nice way to say thank you and promote your brand.
You can circle back to some of the ideas from above and offer customer-only workshops, events or webinars. You can offer special feature packages, special incentives and maybe even special gifts for referrals or additional advocacy efforts on their part.
Try to make sure that what you’re giving them outweighs what you’re asking for. Remember, this is a special gift designed to say thank you. If you ask for too much or offer too little, you might just end up annoying your most important audience.
11) Holiday Announcements
You can use your holiday emails to handle some announcement content, too. You could share changes in holiday hours or that your office will be closed the day before Christmas.
You can provide information on how to handle support requests during the holidays or if your team will be working different hours as Christmas gets closer.
You can also announce your team’s charitable activities at this time of year. When our company gets together, we always do something charitable. While we don’t actively share it with our clients and prospects, this would make an excellent holiday email, one that focuses on our culture, core values and commitment to the community.
During the course of the year, individuals on your team have specific accomplishments that could also be included in this holiday update email, such as new certifications, new personal accomplishments and exciting professional recognition. This time of year is an excellent time to look back on your team’s accomplishments and share those with prospects and clients via your holiday email.
12) Team Video For Holiday Wishes
Video is a very popular vehicle for communication, and email is the perfect delivery channel for a new video. Get your team (or a portion of your team) together and make a short holiday video. This can be as quick or as complex as your team’s production skills.
I’ve seen down-and-dirty happy holidays videos, and I’ve seen well-produced short films that help people get to know the company in a more intimate way. Both are excellent for including in your holiday email marketing campaigns.
Keep in mind that you still want these videos to drive people back to your website. The emails still have to include links to key pages of your website, and those pages need to continue the story presented in the email.
Team videos or holiday wishes should be paired with team pages, culture pages or company pages so that while prospects are on these pages, they get to know, like and trust your company. When it’s time to do business, they will feel just a little bit safer.
13) Last-Minute Reminders
Holidays are a busy time of year. You can use a reminders approach, last-minute lists or tips on how to get more done when you’re handling family, friends and business commitments.
Try to weave your own story or message into the reminders. Perhaps some are business-related, like sharing that December 21 is the last day to get your order in if you want it delivered before the end of the year (and you can also include the last day to get FedEx to deliver a Christmas gift from Santa).
Again, make sure links are in the email to facilitate any orders, so that it’s easy for your customers.
14) Recognition Of Success
Like I mentioned earlier, this time of year is perfect for reflecting back on the previous 12 months. You can use holiday emails to recognize the success some of your customers have achieved over the past year.
You can even consider doing an award-type email, where customers are awarded and recognized for their accomplishments. By highlighting how they achieved that success and how you helped them, you are marketing to current customers and future customers through the successes of your customers. This can be very powerful.
I’d recommend working closely with the customers you’re recognizing. You don’t want to anger anyone by surprising them with their success story when they wanted to keep it quiet. This might turn into something you do year in and year out, something customers start looking forward to.
15) Sharing A Seasonal Story
Finally, you can share a seasonal story. You might have a customer who takes your products and services and at this time of year works with a specific charity or special program to do something remarkable. You might just have a great group of people connected to your business that you want to highlight.
At this time of year, the story is just as important as the email (and maybe even more important).
Consider a story that is compelling and positions your business as special. Even if it highlights just a few of your people, this might be the item that convinces a big prospect to do business with you.
15.5) Cross-Promotion With Social Media
In the article, we promised 15.5 tips on how to use email during the holiday season. Here is that all-important half tip. It’s only a half tip because it has more to do with social media and promotion than it does email, but it’s related.
Whatever email marketing approach you to consider, make sure you connect it with social media promotion. Create a series of social posts that can support your email communication.
You can focus on a particular platform for your promotions (this is what we typically recommend) instead of trying to run something across every platform. For every email, consider three to six social posts. Your social posts should drive back to the same website assets as your email marketing campaign to keep everything tight and align your campaign-tracking metrics.
Email marketing can be an effective campaign technique as long as it’s planned with its ultimate goal in mind, which is to get the email opened and then drive visitors back to your website via links.
This means the subject line has to be killer, the content has to be hot and the links have to be highly interactive. Take this approach, and your holiday email can wrap up 2019 with a major lift in website visitors and leads generated, plus a ton of sales opportunities for the sales team to make January your best month of the year.
Square 2 — Building The Agency You’ll LOVE!