SMB Email Marketing Strategies for the Upcoming Holiday Season
Recent research has shown that as many as 84% of consumers plan to shop at small businesses this holiday season. And if your small business is going to reach those consumers, email is going to be a critical part of your holiday marketing strategy. Even with the bevy of marketing tools and outlets available to small businesses nowadays, email marketing is an integral part of any larger campaign, especially a holiday-specific campaign.
When people think of holidays, they typically think of Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and so on. But for small business owners and marketers, the real holidays come with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, and any other last-minute shopping opportunities you can offer. Given the impact that marketing emails can have on eCommerce success and holiday sales, we’ve gathered a panel of UpCity partners and contributors who are experts at marketing strategy for small businesses, as well as social media and other marketing tools that can reach holiday shoppers and boost sales for your business.
Take a look at some of the small business email marketing strategies they offered specifically for the holiday shopping season, as well as tips and practices that make good sense for other special sales and special offers you might feature throughout the year.
Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns that Stand Out
Our experts agreed that one of the key features of a successful holistic email marketing strategy is to stand out from the crowd. Both your current customers and your potential customers are being bombarded with sales and limited-time offers during the holiday season, so small business owners must find ways to rise above all the noise and create email marketing that will drive open rates and conversion rates, and ultimately boost sales.
“The best way to make your mark is by getting creative and standing out from the pack. Depending on what you are selling, this may include strict segmentation of email campaigns, exciting discounts, and eye-catching subject lines, or simply a no-pressure email to check in on loyal customers or leads. Be sure to keep track of the results of each tactic you try so you have valuable data that can help you in the future.” – Asad Kausar, CEO of Dabaran Inc.
This advice applies to any business, of course, but small businesses especially can find tremendous benefits from developing unique email content and welcome emails that truly reflect your brand and your value proposition(s). Everything from email design to unique CTAs that are on-brand can help drive open rates, reduce unsubscribe rates, and ultimately lead to purchases either online or in-store.
While uniqueness is a huge benefit, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessary to reinvent the wheel each year. If you have examples of campaigns or holiday email subject lines that performed particularly well last year or further in the past, then our experts recommend utilizing those marketing ideas. As the expression goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“Revisit the messaging and offers that drove the most engagement from your email lists, customers, and prospects. Which subject lines drove the biggest open rates? Which offers in previous email newsletters drove the most clicks? Build on these successes and wrap them into a new campaign to celebrate the holiday season. Consider giveaway contests, holiday discounts, and campaigns where you can send a series of emails to capture interest. Contests can feature a daily check-in to increase chances to win that drive up engagement, increased social sharing, and increase email effectiveness.” –Colton De Vos, Marketing Specialist at Resolute Technology Solutions
Knowing your audience is key to any marketing efforts, but when it comes to email marketing (and especially to your holiday email marketing strategy), it’s incredibly valuable. Not only because it helps you tailor the right message to the right customer, but also because it helps you better build specialized holiday email templates, holiday gift guides, landing pages, and marketing automation processes that are effective.
“First, be sure to segment your lists. The more specific you can get with who your audience is, the more helpful you will be to them and the more sales you will make. Next, be sure to optimize your email campaigns for mobile. If your recipients aren’t able to correctly read your email from their phone, you are for sure missing out on clicks and sales!” – Nicole Denson, Marketing Manager at Big Leap
Segmenting your audience and knowing as much as possible about both your current and new customers will not only help you create messages that resonate with them but will also lead to better, more effective welcome email journeys and marketing automation, too. From targeted social media marketing about your holiday deals to gift idea recommendations and coupons they look forward to, there are countless benefits to continuing to study and learn from your target audience.
“Heading into the holiday season, B2B small businesses should prioritize creating a high-value welcome email and subsequent automation journey. Research shows that a welcome email can bring in 320% more revenue than other promo emails, which makes optimizing your welcome email especially critical as the holidays approach. Without a meaningful starting point in email marketing, the chance of success later on in the email lifecycle decreases dramatically.” –Sarah Walsh, Brand Strategist at Branch & Bramble
Another benefit of understanding your audience and then segmenting them is that it allows you to create holiday marketing emails that are more personalized and more authentic to your customer and brand. While it can be easy to think of your email subscribers as just one big group, taking the time to segment audiences and build specific messages and journeys for them will not only help with your holiday email metrics and performance but will allow you to capitalize on this information and personalization year round.
“This holiday season, make your B2B email marketing as personal and authentic as possible. Business leaders have had several impactful years, dealing with significant staffing growing pains. Your fellow business leaders need to know you care about them.” –Sarah Banowetz, Managing Partner at Banowetz Marketing
Finally, our panel of experts all agreed on one of the most important pieces of advice that apply to all marketing this time of the year – start planning early! The holidays are by far the busiest time of the year for small business owners and customers, and finding the time for family, vacations, and end-of-year sales drives is next to impossible. So whether your biggest holiday is Halloween or Record Store Day, it’s never too early to start planning the holiday marketing efforts and emails that will bring seasonal shoppers and regular customers alike to your store.
“My best tip for B2B small businesses approaching the 2022 holiday season is to start your planning early! And this is not exclusive to just making sure you know what emails you are sending out and when. In the months before the holidays, deploy your lead capture tools, optimize your segmentation, and perform some general list cleaning to ensure that your email database is up-to-date and is set up for success.” –Ashley Ismailovski, CRO Operations Manager at SmartSites
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More Holiday Email Marketing Strategy Resources
These are just a few of the dozens of holiday email marketing tips that our panelists offered, and just a sampling of the kind of expertise and consulting that is available from our partners and providers here at UpCity. Whether you’re aiming to launch a Black Friday email that stuns your customers or develop a gift guide-style webinar that engages your audience, there’s a wealth of advice and experience available to draw on.
From one-off campaigns to ongoing email and CRM efforts, our partners at UpCity understand the needs of small businesses and their customers. They stand ready to help businesses like yours with every element of the holiday marketing campaign, including visuals, workflows, data analysis, and much more. And not only for the holidays; several award-winning partners focus on developing robust email marketing campaigns and automation that drives everything from improved click-through rates to gift card sales.
So even if you are just starting to think about this year’s holiday campaigns or you’re planning to launch your first batch of holiday-specific messaging next year, don’t hesitate to reach out to one or more of the email marketing experts you can find through UpCity to begin a conversation. They can help you identify your needs, refine your goals, and build a robust marketing plan that helps your business grow and builds a solid foundation for the future.
About the author
Rebecca helps keep all things content running at UpCity. Prior to joining, she was a magazine editor at an agency for several award-winning publications based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and a content specialist for several brands within the SMB/B2B landscape. She also has significant experience in digital content creation, most notably targeting hunters and anglers (despite being a vegetarian) during her time at Gander Outdoors. Rebecca has also worked in PR, covering a diverse terrain of products and events, including the promotion of local musicians and music festivals and the latest craft beer offerings from local breweries.