targeted email best practices

For the emails that you voluntarily opt-in to, you expect to see an increase during the high season for particular products and services. (So for the underwater basket-weaving travel tour—I’m OK with receiving a few reminders in the month of June.) But when the high season ends up being the same season as the holidays—in which your inbox is already flooded with reminders of all the gifts you need to get people, messages from your mother reminding you to bring a winter coat, and co-workers making (another!) jib-jab video—marketing emails can often be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

5 Tips to Keep Your Contacts Sane During the Holidays

If you know you’re sending your email during the high season, make sure to follow these simple steps to keep your message from becoming spammy or unbearable.

  1. Make the subject line stand out. Things that give users a sense of urgency are usually good motivators, like “24 hrs left!” “Limited Time!” or “Last Day!” But if your offers are more of the service-based nature, try something that highlights what problem your service solves without putting pressure on the user to buy now. Ex: “Top 5 ways to achieve ___ before the holiday season!” It’s also nice to include a tie-in to the current trends where it’s relevant. Don’t be afraid to mention the season, make a jest or be a bit punchy, but do it with the right audience in mind.
  2. Solve a problem. The solution for your audience might be a simple sale, trying to meet deadlines at work before going home for the holidays or figuring out what to make for dinner. Keep your offer focused on what you do best and how that can help your audience.
  3. Get colorful. Simple contrast colors can add a lot of vibrancy to your emails. White space is good (and often underused), but don’t rule out colors—just watch out for red/green combinations during the holidays if your email is not meant to be holiday-themed.
  4. Make it obvious. If a potential lead opens your email, don’t give them a lot of garbage to get through before finding the purpose. Make it easy—”click here” or “shop now”— to get the results you want.
  5. Know your audience. Before you do any of the above, make sure you’ve defined your audience, then make sure your message translates to that audience before you even begin writing the email.

Real Life Example

Below are three different emails I received from the same company—targeted age-demographics are slightly different for each brand it owns but they all normally run the same sales. I looked back through my inbox and realized I have received one email each day from all three of these brands since December 1; that’s 39 emails this month already!

coupon blog 1

coupon blog 2

coupon blog 3

So Naughty or Nice:

Nice, with just a small notation…

Nice: It was easy to understand what was inside each email when the subject line was so obvious: “24 hrs left! 30% off at our 3 must-shop brands!”

Nice: The messaging of these emails was easy to understand. Large numbers and easy-to-read fonts go a long way in design and click-through-rates. Even though I didn’t buy yet, I may have looked at some outfits that would be perfect for winter break…

Nice: The use of color and white space was admirable. The color isn’t overwhelming the proposed action.

Naughty: This one is for sending too many emails—39 emails in 13 days. It’s still not close enough to shopping deadlines, so I know the deals might get better than 30%. Knowing that loyal customers might be waiting for better deals is a good reason to segment your list and use different promo codes, as well.

We are sure your email inboxes are overflowing, too. Let us know who made your naughty vs. nice email marketing list this year in the comments below!.

photo credit: Mike Licht,

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