Despite the overload your unread message alert may suggest, email remains one of the most effective ways to reach customers. However full your customers’ inboxes may be, there are effective strategies to implement to earn their attention.

To prepare for the upcoming holiday season, marketers should assess their strategy, research best practices, and test new concepts. Take advantage of the leadup to the holiday hustle to build a winning email marketing program that customers love. Here’s how to get started:

1. Clean Up Your Customer Data

List cleansing should be a regularly scheduled to-do list item, but before a hot season is even more imperative. Your list quality influences email deliverability across internet service providers (ISPs), whose requirements flex constantly.

Review your most recent deliverability statistics to see how you’re tracking in comparison to prior years. If your customers are more apt to hit the spam filter, ensure your unsubscribe option is visible. While you’d like to retain their subscription, an unsubscribe is better than a spam alert, which can damage overall deliverability.

Partner with experts in marketing to fine-tune your strategy and serve as an extension of your team. Outsourced CMO Hawke recommends a data-first approach, which enables your brand to connect and sell to engaged customers. Review customer data specifics, which can reveal opportunities for better engagement and relevant touchpoints.

2. Research Trends and Purchase History to Build Fresh Segments

Now that your customer data is clean, it’s time to dig into prior customer actions. Identify past engagement history, tracking clicks, purchases, and key actions. If your current segmentation is lacking, bounce your CRM data against your customer journey maps. Match up key steps in the buying journey with your email campaigns and personalized tracks.

Repeat customers deserve a journey unique to them, and purchase history should be included in their contact profile. New additions to your list may need a baseline education to engage and inspire interest in your products.

Create a welcome series that gives this contact type a unique experience, adding elements that add to their profiles. Collect email actions like clicks on certain pieces of content to build new profiles with data to support future campaigns. Use the range of email marketing tools and strategies to ensure you’re leveraging all the features of your account.

3. Refresh Templates and Copy for Readability

Your brand’s reputation and a catchy subject line may earn an open, but it’s the content that earns the sale. Most people pick up their mobile devices as an escape, so your emails should be designed to scratch that itch.

Take a cue from graphic design best practices and use fonts, white space, and graphics effectively. Readers’ eyes need a break from huge blocks of text, so approach email copy differently than other mediums. Simplify email copy to a fifth-grade level and stick to two-sentence paragraphs.

Use a sans-serif font that’s accessible across platforms. Break up sections with bold text on key messages, use italics as an aside, and offer buttons to drive actions. Review your bolded and italic sections; if your message is clear reading just this content, even email skimmers will understand your message.

4. Infuse Curiosity to Inspire Action

Just like the opening pages of a book earn or lose your attention, so too do the first lines of an email. Hook your reader within the first two sentences with sharp, snappy content that keeps them on the screen. Data, humor, and questions can keep them reading throughout your email.

Use open-ended questions within your subject line, sticking to six words to prevent truncating your message across devices. By shying away from a yes or no response, readers must open the email to learn more. Use imperative verbs like click, learn, and join within copy and on key areas like links and buttons. Be clear on what you want your customers to do to guide them through the buying journey.

Keep the customer’s needs at the forefront though, remembering that they’re thinking about your business goals. Use market data and customer feedback to influence topics, titles, and preheaders. If customer feedback or key search terms indicate that gift guides are in demand, use that as inspiration for campaigns.

5. Strike the Right Email Delivery Schedule

Your line of business will determine the right email frequency, but the onset of the holiday season may tempt otherwise. Generally, a weekly email is effective in maintaining an open flow of communication. However, if your business does its most sales during the holidays, it’ll require a seasonal touch.

First, determine the relevant schedule demands within your business. If you’re selling giftable items, you’ll need to consider your shipping schedules and how they relate to your offers. Use customer data to sync their geographic location with shipping turnaround. International customers may get a sales offer and alert of order cutoffs earlier than domestic residents.

Layer what you know about your customers and the inner workings of your business to ensure your message sticks.

Use automation to layer your strategies with customer engagement. Apply rules to customer actions that customize their journey, like delivering more content to those who indicate interest. If a customer clicks on a product link, schedule a follow-up email the next day to nudge a completed sale. For those who open your message but don’t take action, use automation to circle back with a more relevant message. This strategy segments your customers based on their engagement, which can boost sales and nurture relationships without email burnout.

Enter the Holiday Season With an Email Strategy that Drives Sales

Put your best email marketing strategy forward with a pre-holiday refresh. Test new concepts using A/B testing or focus new ideas with certain segments. Assign time to review, analyze, and discuss your results before full-scale changes are deployed. With a refreshed email marketing program, you’ll deliver relevant campaigns to customers ready to buy this holiday season.