christmasYou might think the busy holiday shopping period is still a long way off, but if you want to take your share of this massive sales opportunity ($53.3 billion in 2014) you better start thinking about putting your plans into action now.

Email marketing is huge driver of revenues during the holiday season, responsible for some 16 percent of all online sales. To put a little perspective around that figure, that’s one percent higher than paid search and a lot more cost effective.

So if you are looking to find marketing success this holiday season, we’ve compiled the following tips to ensure you’ll be smiling well into the New Year.

  1. Build a Calendar: The holiday marketing period starts with Halloween on October 31 and ends with Valentine’s Day on February 14. Make sure you have campaigns planned around all the key dates in between these two events. Remember, competition is fierce during the holidays, so the earlier you start rolling out your campaigns, the more success you will see.
  2. Get Your Lists in Good Shape: Email marketing works at its very best when you send targeted campaigns based on previous purchases or engagements. This means you should take the time to segment your lists. The more granular you get with your list segmentation, the more success your campaigns will deliver. Always try to send the right message to the right person at the right time.
  3. Increase Your Frequency: If you are still just sending a monthly or weekly newsletter to your entire list during the holidays, you really are missing a trick. Now that you have segmented your lists, it’s time to increase your frequency. It may be possible to hit a different segment of your list every day (or even multiple times per day) without risking list fatigue.
  4. Build: As business picks up, make sure new subscribers are added to your segmented lists as quickly as possible. Remember, an email address has an average lifespan of only 18 months. This means the sooner you hit it, the more chance it will deliver success.
  5. Keep Going: The holidays don’t end with Christmas and New Year’s Day. January remains a buoyant sales period, presenting a great opportunity to clear stocks and move end-of-line items. So keep those campaigns rolling out and don’t think about taking a vacation until after your last Valentine’s Day campaign has been sent.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Photo: Luke Redmond