It’s Hallowe’en today and we’re heading straight into Chanukah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, not to mention Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Computer Security Day, and a spate of other holidays, traditional and commercial. It seems obvious that you should grab a festive template and take advantage of the holidays, right?
Some things to think about…
People might be offended. While it’s fair to assume that expressions of holiday cheer are always meant in the nicest possible way, that doesn’t keep people from being offended. Whether they think Hallowe’en is Satanic or resent stereotypes of witches, some people will be offended by your Hallowe’en newsletter (we’re not sending one). Religious holidays are a veritable minefield of potential offense.
Computer Security Day is probably safe.
The point is that your email might be connected in people’s minds with a joyful celebration they’re enjoying, but it might also raise their hackles. If your product can be bought as a holiday gift, you should be willing to raise a few hackles, but think twice before you feature a praying Santa.
Don’t push it… too far. I admit, I’ve written marketing copy suggesting that plastic surgery would make a great present for a guy to give his wife or girlfriend (it wouldn’t). I’m paid to do these things, and I’m willing to stretch a point if a client really wants me to. But the truth is, not every product or service makes a great Christmas gift. Nobody needs extra ink cartridges for the holidays, and a holiday special on industrial valves is silly.
If you can come up with a logical connection, go for it. For example, cyber security services don’t make a wonderful gift, but it makes sense to set up some remote backup for your office if you’ll be shutting down for the holidays. Bring up holiday security issues and leave Santa out of it.
If your goods and services don’t have a holiday connection, you can still use holiday graphics as design elements. You can certainly use seasonal images like snowflakes, autumn leaves, or lights without rocking the boat.
Here are some sources of free seasonal graphics:
- Patternhead offers free snowflake patterns.
- Free Christmas icons from Smashing Magazine
- Vector Jungle has Christmas-themed backgrounds suitable for emails
- Your email service will doubtless have free holiday templates — the one at the top of this post is from MailChimp.
Get the message clear. If you have good reasons for holiday emails, such as products people will want to buy for the holidays, make it easy for your customers. At this time of year, in-boxes are stuffed with holiday ads and yours won’t be opened or read if it doesn’t stand out. If you’re offering free shipping or guaranteed two-day delivery, say so. A subject line like, “Perfect gifts for men” or “Free delivery of your Thanksgiving dinner” will do a lot more than “Happy Holidays!”
Assume that you have just a few seconds to capture attention at this time of year, and that you have lots of competition.
Bear in mind, though, that one of the top reasons the ROI of email is so high is that email newsletters are cheap to produce. Make an investment in design and copywriting so you’ll have an appealing offer for your readers — and then be contented in the knowledge that you’re not paying printing or postage. You can expect somewhere between one fourth and one half of your recipients to open your emails and far fewer will actually click on your offer, but the price of gaining a customer through email marketing is still very modest.