A Holiday Marketing List You Will Want to Check Twice

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Here on the Mailchimp Partnerships team we believe in bringing your A-game, helping out wherever you’re needed, and the importance of having the best snacks in the office in order to create cross-functional goodwill.

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We also believe the holidays often bring out the best in our agency Partners. We see beautiful email designs, social ads with impressive ROI, sophisticated e-commerce setups, and great content every day. We realize September is only halfway over, and it may seem early, but we see especially high email volume during the holidays. It’s the most wonderful time of the year to drive sales, and now is the time to start planning.

We spoke with 2 MailChimp experts who have seen it all about their tips for making the most of the MailChimp marketing platform this holiday season. We talked about everything from feature updates you might have missed to the tips we hear most often from successful agencies. (To see everything we’ve released this year, check out What’s New.)

Our experts: Jocelyn Hardy, Marketing Associate, who specializes in Partner education Simone Shahdadi, Product Marketing Associate, who focuses on promoting MailChimp’s e-commerce features

Getting started

Be clear about your goals. “The most successful marketing campaigns have clear, actionable goals set from the start,” Jocelyn says. “Are your clients looking to acquire new customers, re-engage with the ones they already have, or drive revenue? By defining what’s most important, you can help them focus on the right combination of strategies and tactics to have a successful holiday season.”

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“We recommend different ways to use our features based on what customers are trying to accomplish,” Simone says. “For example, for growing an audience, we recommend using MailChimp to run a Facebook Ad to drive people to the site, and add a branded pop-up form to the site to capture their email address. If you have extra time, add a welcome automation to the mix to immediately welcome your new subscribers.”

Get into your data. “Use your reports to really dig into who your audience is,” Jocelyn says. “Look at your predicted demographics, subscriber purchase history, and their engagement.” These reports can give you a baseline for setting metrics with your clients on what success looks like for each of your goals—and can help guide your content creation and specific tactics.

You may also find a few surprises as to what it is your client’s audience actually responds to. “Look for trends in your list in purchase activity and how your contacts engage with you,” Simone says. “And then you can either lean in to those trends or try to encourage more of what it is you want. For example, if you’re finding a majority of your audience has never made a purchase, you could either decide to focus on those who have made a purchase in the past or focus on winning over those new customers.”

Take the time to turn reports into a story. If you’re not doing this already, creating a narrative with data can give you a boost with your clients. It might even lead to more work now or down the line. Adds Jocelyn, “We often hear from customers that they don’t really understand what’s important when they’re looking at reports. Is it the click-through rate they should care about? The open rate? The agencies who take the time to interpret that data for them, rather than just sending numbers, really make the most of that relationship. Train your clients on what results really look like.”

Now what?

You’ve looked at the data and set goals with your clients, but how do you plan to accomplish them? Here are some of the most successful strategies we’ve seen, as well as some tactics for executing these ideas in your client’s MailChimp accounts.

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Make the most of newbies. “Make sure you have a plan to continue engagement with new customers or new subscribers,” Simone says. “You don’t want to welcome them to the brand just for a season—we’re looking for lifetime value of customers. How do you keep them from becoming one-time purchasers or unengaged subscribers?”

  • Here’s how: Set up a re-engagement automation for 3 to 6 months ahead along with segmenting based on purchases and recommending complementary products. For new subscribers, make your clients’ welcome automation a pitch-perfect intro to the brand and its story.

Don’t let revenue get stuck in the cart. Research shows that 67% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes a sale, so make sure your clients are set up to capture that revenue.

  • Here’s how: Turn on abandoned cart automation. “It’s always one of the first things we tell e-commerce customers to do,” Jocelyn says. “It’s low-effort, high-reward. Some clients may worry about turning people off by over-emailing them, but that’s generally not the case. Often, people come back and do buy that item because you reminded them that they wanted it. And if they unsubscribe because of it, which is rare, that risk is outweighed by the return.”

Keep existing subscribers engaged. While you’re making sure that your client’s audience continues to grow, you can continue to experiment with ways to energize the subscribers you already have.

  • Here’s how: Play with promo codes. “Test! Try a discount versus a perk like free shipping versus dollars off,” Simone says. “Send 2 different versions to 2 different segments, look at the results in a week, and let them inform your strategy going forward.” Don’t just do one test, either—keep ‘em coming.
  • Here’s how: Make it personal. “Make any email you send even more tailored to your audience by using product recommendations,” says Simone. “Enhance any promotional or automated email by displaying smart and personalized recommendations based on each customer’s purchase behavior.”

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Make the jump from the inbox to the mailbox. No single marketing channel can work alone for a truly great holiday campaign. Direct mail can provide another touchpoint for keeping you top of mind. Cut through the noise while your client’s competitors are vying for attention.

  • Here’s how: “Follow up on a major announcement using MailChimp postcards, “ Jocelyn says. “You can use this as another way to reward loyal customers with a special thank you. Surprise new subscribers with a welcome message. Remind your clients that sending a postcard will take some time, so plan your message and delivery window accordingly.”

Reward your VIPs. “Focusing on the customers who bring you the most money, or the audience who engages with you the most, is especially smart during a time when they’re getting bombarded with emails,” Simone says.

  • __Here’s how:__ “We recommend a best customer automation paired with a promo code to make the most of your relationship with e-commerce customers,” she says. For non-e-commerce clients, you can still send them something extra, like a download, a discount on a museum membership, or personalized content.

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Getting to work

Create a content calendar. Jocelyn, who often works with content for Partners, stresses the importance of having one. “There are too many moving pieces. If you want everything to go smoothly, put in the time to make a calendar. Otherwise, it’s easy to let parts of the campaign sneak up on you and feel last-minute or have details get dropped.”

A content calendar will help you plan ahead for all the work you know is coming, plus add in some padding for those extra requests that inevitably show up along the way.

Build in time for flexibility. Even best laid plans, using all the data at your fingertips, don’t always provide the results we were hoping for. Build in time to try a variety of ideas.

“Stay agile and make adjustments when you need to. If you planned 5 Facebook ads and 2 of them tank, scrap the rest,” Simone says. “If you only planned on 1 and it does amazing, devote more time to that. Don’t just blindly stick to your plan. Experiment and pivot when you see an opportunity.”

Or, in the words of Jocelyn, “Don’t stop because it’s not poppin’. Keep it moving. Learn while you go.”

Stay tuned to your reports throughout the season. “I always tell people to download the mobile app to check reports on the go,” says Simone. “Tell your clients that, too. They can see reports in real time and get notifications every time a sale is made, which is super rewarding. You can even do a few things in fewer clicks than you would on your desktop, like resending a campaign to the non-openers.”