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I hate to scare you (BOO!) but there’s 8 weeks until Christmas. It’s hard to comprehend what the holy happened to 2014. I’m still eating tired apologetic chocolate eggs. 8 weeks may seem like a long time, but from a content marketing perspective it’s not long enough. By August, consumers have already started thinking about Christmas. A holiday-themed digital strategy involves more than sending Santa-adorned newsletters to an unsegmented database. It’s a company-wide approach involving online and offline marketing, logistics, forecasting and the occasional eggnog. Competing for inbox real estate is challenging at the best of times. During the holiday season, we receive approximately 15% more marketing, making competition more intense. If there was ever a time to pay attention to your digital strategy - it’s now. As a digital strategist with a content obsession, I see a lot of half-baked strategies that have the bones of brilliance but an execution that falls short. The most important part of a strategy is planning. With T-minus 8 weeks till ‘ho ho ho’, it’s time to sit down and work through your customer touch points and look at how you can best optimize them to get the most out of your campaign. Here are a few to think about.  

1. Bringing the offline, online

Your online and offline marketing need to share a voice. If you’re sending out Christmas EDM’s that bear no resemblance to your Christmas cards, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Always look for a way to bring your offline customers online. If you’re sending them a card, include a personal coupon to bring them to your store.  Timing is crucial so work out how long postage takes. Leave your customer enough time to use the coupon and still have the goods delivered before Christmas.

2. Don’t be afraid to try new things

One of the biggest attractions of ecommerce is the freedom to shop at your leisure. One of the biggest complaints around Christmas is the lack of time.  Use this to your advantage and experiment with your email campaign times. Most retailers will extend their trading hours; people are up later and engaged more so try sending emails in off peak times like weekends and after dinner.

3. How do I know if my strategy is working?

Another advantage to kicking off your holiday campaign early is the ability to track and tweak as you go. Leverage your data to make the most of your campaign. Try sending emails at different times and monitor your click through rate. If Sundays convert higher - tweak your strategy. Keep an eye out for your open rates, transaction rates, average order values and bounce rates.

Digital strategies are not fixed decrees, they’re static and feedback is driven by data. Be open to last minute changes - your click through rates will let you know if it’s time to change things up.

4. Think Mobile

According to a recent U.N. report, six of the world’s seven billion people have mobile phones - but only 4.5 billion have a toilet. Holiday season is the time when people are out and about, rushing to buy gifts and stock up on feasting foods. There’s a 90% chance your audience will see your email on mobile before desktop. Given this, make sure you factor in the shorter character space your subject line will need to stand out.

Avoid cliché’s and outline the benefits of reading your email. Avoid blanket statements like ‘Christmas specials, click for more.’ Get creative, use your humour  ‘3 excuses to avoid awkward Chrissy conversations.’ Make sure you test your EDM for cross-browser and mobile compatibility. There’s a few great testing tools out there - try

The gift of Content

The holiday season is a time for family, eating and giving. If you ask someone how their Christmas was, they’re likely to regale you with tales of overeating, avoiding a creepy uncle or two and having a laugh with family and friends. Incorporate the human element into your strategy. Include unique recipes, a foodies guide to having a festive eating strategy, different traditions from all over the world and a few conversation starters. Remember, at the receiving end of every email is a person with sensitivities and a thirst for information. Online marketing is a loud land. Yelling and hoping someone hears you is not going to gain attention. Personalization and segmentation are what will get you heard.   Take the time to understand who you’re writing to. Most of all - be willing to share your personality and get merry with your content.  

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