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What I Want from Email Marketers This Holiday Season

Regular Advisor

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, it's full-steam ahead on the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or something else (Festivus, anyone?), it's likely you're going to be buying and receiving lots of gifts over the course of the next month. You may even be buying a few today, given that it's the so-called Cyber Monday. I've already received a wish list from my niece and nephews, so I know I have my work cut out for me.


Of course, I have a wish list too — though I'm thinking an iPad isn't in the cards again this year. But that's not the purpose of this blog post. Instead, I'd like to share the list of things I'm hoping to get from email marketers this holiday season.


If you'll be sending any email messages between now and New Year's (and if you're reading this, then I'll bet you are), here are the 6 items on my wish list this year:


1. Respect for my inbox. Everyone is sending more email this year. I may have signed up for your mailing list, but I know I didn't ask for this many messages. If you're going to increase your sending frequency, I'd like a heads up like Zappos sent earlier this season that said instead of weekly emails, I'll be getting them three times every week until the new year. Yes, that's a bit excessive, but I don't mind as much because Zappos showed some respect for my inbox with that message, acknowledging that this frequency is above and beyond what I'm used to. Even better might be not increasing your email frequency, and instead, using Facebook or Twitter to communicate with me.


2. Unique offers. Everyone is giving me 20% or 30% off my purchase. Those offers and emails are so generic and plentiful that when I get one, I often just delete it. What I'd love is some creativity. Something unique. It doesn't even have to be a wild idea. For example, why not a random number off? If you're sending an email today, it could be 28%. Or maybe an offer that relates to a member of your team. (Is it someone's birthday between now and New Year's? How old is that person turning?) That adds a bit of unpredictability and surprise, and gets me more interested in what you have to offer.


3. Exclusive offers. What's the value of being on your email list if I'll get the same discount whether I'm on it or not? I'd love to get emails from you that give me a little something extra for being on your list, whether it's an additional percentage off (25% vs 20% for everyone else, for example) or special shopping hours when your business won't be as crowded. Make me feel valued and part of an exclusive club. Make it worth it for me to give you my email address.


4. Valuable information. Better yet, I'd love emails that de-emphasize a percentage off and instead give me some information I can use. Gift ideas, product usage tips, parking locales near your place of business ... something that I can learn and benefit from, and maybe even share with others. Word of mouth is so important, especially during the holiday season, and if you give me information that I think my Facebook friends and Twitter followers will also benefit from, then I'll gladly pass it along to them.


5. Short emails. Between the parties, the shopping, the work I have to do before taking time off, and other things I have to do between now and the end of the year, I have a lot going on right now. Now add in the emails you're sending. If you want me to read what you have to say, keep your messages short and to the point. There's no need to tell me everything. Just the important details. You can fill in the blanks on your website or on social media. This will be even more important considering I'll likely be reading your emails on my iPhone, when I'm on the go, and won't be able to read a long email very well.


6. Inclusive messaging. I like Christmas just as much as the next person, but officially, I celebrate Hanukkah. And I know I'm not alone. Remember, unless you're a religious organization, you're likely communicating to an audience that celebrates more than one holiday. This is especially important this year, given that Hanukkah and Christmas fall during the same week, and even overlap. The more you talk about "Great gifts for Christmas!" or wish me "Merry Christmas," the less interested I am in doing business with you. To be clear, I'm not saying get rid of Christmas messages. I'm just asking for consideration for those of us who don't celebrate that holiday, and some messaging that's more inclusive.


What would you like to see from email marketers this holiday season? Will you be giving me (and your other subscribers) any of the items on this list? Share your thoughts with us here or on our Facebook Page.


Martin Lieberman is Constant Contact's managing editor. He develops blog posts, articles, guides, and more about email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, and online survey best practices, as well as small business and engagement marketing trends. Martin has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing content for a variety of audiences. Martin's tips, ideas, and solutions help small businesses and organizations build successful customer and member relationships. Follow Martin on Twitter at @martinlieberman.