Holiday Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts


Holiday email marketing to cannabis and hemp industry license holders can be extremely effective to boost end-of-year sales as well as to generate interest among prospects who are at the beginning of the buyer journey so you can nurture them in the future.

However, the appeal of holiday email marketing is so great that many businesses jump in quickly and make mistakes – mistakes that can cause return on investment to tank. You don’t want that to happen to your campaigns, so it’s important to develop a strategy that prioritizes the following holiday email marketing do’s and don’ts.

5 Holiday Email Marketing Do’s

There are many ways to improve your email marketing results, but some of the most important holiday email marketing do’s you should focus on include the following priorities:

1. Do Warm up Your Domain

When you suddenly increase the number of messages you send and how often you send them, email service providers (ESPs like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo – mailbox providers) see that activity and consider it to be unusual behavior. As a result, they’re likely to start sending more of your messages to the spam folder, and your domain reputation will go down.

In order to protect your domain reputation so ESPs view you as a good sender (not a spammer), you should warm up your domain before you increase your sending volume or frequency. Follow the link to learn more about doing a domain warmup, so your holiday messages get to the inbox.

2. Do Create a Plan and Schedule

If you want to get the best results, you need to have a holiday email marketing plan. Put together a schedule that outlines when you’ll send messages, who they’ll go to, and what they’ll say. Sending one message isn’t enough. You need to create a sequence of messages to move people to action – especially during the holidays when their inboxes are fuller than ever.

To determine the best day and time to send your holiday messages, it’s important to consider recipients’ behaviors. For example, in the Cannabiz Media License Database email tool, you can use the campaign optimization tools to find the best day and time to send your campaigns based on when recipients opened your messages in the past. It’s a quick and easy way to ensure each person gets your messages at the right times. Follow the link to learn more about holiday email campaign planning and schedules.

3. Do Personalize Your Content

The messages you send during the holiday and throughout the year should be personalized to the recipients so they receive the most relevant content possible. This includes personalizing your messages with first name and other demographic information when possible. For example, you can use merge tags in the Cannabiz Media License Database email tool to automatically personalize messages with each recipient’s name, state, and more.

In order to personalize your message content, you need to create buyer personas for your best customers, most valuable customers, and so on. Use those buyer personas to segment your email marketing lists and create hyper-relevant content for each segment. Follow the link to learn more about how to create buyer personas.

4. Do Test Your Messages

It’s easier to create a message and send it to your entire list, but that’s a recipe for poor results. Instead, you should take the time to test every message before you send it to ensure it will deliver the results you want and need. Test the subject line, message content, call-to-action (CTA), images, design, and more to see how different variations affect the open rate and click rate.

You can easily test your campaigns in the Cannabiz Media License Database email tool using the Select First 100 feature and custom tags. Create your list and campaign, use the Select First 100 feature to pick the first 100 people on the list, and give them a custom tag so you know they’re your test group. Send your test message to them and review the results.

You can create as many test groups as you want in order to test different variations of your messages. When you find the best performer, send that message to your full list. Just be sure to exclude the people you’ve already sent the message to during your tests. Follow the link to learn more about A/B testing using the Cannabiz Media License Database.

5. Do Make Sure Your Website Can Handle a Traffic Surge

When your holiday email marketing works, you’ll get a surge in traffic to your website. Make sure your website can handle the traffic. You don’t want to invest time and money into creating amazing email marketing campaigns only to have recipients who click the links in those messages and visit your website land on a page that can’t load or a site that’s down.

Check with your web host before you ramp up your holiday email marketing and make sure your site will be able to handle the additional traffic that will come from all of your holiday campaigns – email and other marketing channels.

5 Holiday Email Marketing Don’ts

What should you not do in holiday email marketing? Here are some of the key don’ts to avoid:

1. Don’t Send Generic Messages to Bulk Lists

Not only will sending generic messages to large lists cause ESPs to think you’re a spammer leading more of your messages to end up in spam folders due to lack of recipient engagement, but they’ll also lead to poor results among people who do get those messages in their inboxes.

The reason is simple, a lack of engagement with your messages tells ESPs you’re not sending messages that people want. To stay out of spam, you need to segment your lists and send personalized, relevant content to each buyer persona. This is also the only way to get great results from your email marketing investments. Follow the link to learn more about email marketing list segmentation.

2. Don’t Send Messages that Land in the Spam Folder

ESPs’ spam algorithms include thousands of criteria to determine whether senders are sending messages people actually want or they’re sending unwanted or blatantly spammy messages. Every time you send a message, their algorithms are updated, so your sending history plays a critical role in helping ESPs direct your messages to the inbox or spam folder.

The key to staying out of the spam folder and making it to the inbox is to avoid including elements in your messages or using tactics that are known spam triggers. Also, make sure you’re segmenting your lists and sending relevant, personalized content to increase engagement and show ESPs you’re truly sending messages people want.

For example, don’t send messages that include more images then text, and don’t send messages that include embedded forms, videos, or attachments. The list of known spam flags goes on and on. Follow the link to learn more about email marketing deliverability and spam triggers.

3. Don’t Just Send Sales Messages

Yes, your holiday email marketing messages should include special promotions, but that doesn’t mean you should only send self-promotional messages during the holiday season. It’s essential that you send useful content as well or you could look like a spammer. You don’t want people to mark your messages as spam, which will hurt your future email deliverability, meaning more of your messages will go to spam and fewer will go to the inbox.

As you create your holiday email marketing plan and schedule, strategize where useful content vs. promotional content fits in the sequences of messages you send to each buyer persona.

Also, don’t keep sending the same promotional messages to everyone or to the same people over and over. Not only could this hurt your future deliverability (if engagement with the message is low or someone marks it as spam), but if the message didn’t work the first one, two, three, or more times, it’s unlikely it will ever work. No one wants to get the same promotional message (or a similar message) multiple times.

4. Don’t Send Messages that Aren’t Mobile-Friendly

About 50% of all email messages are opened on mobile devices, so it’s crucial that your holiday email marketing messages (and all of your email marketing messages for that matter) load quickly and correctly on mobile devices.

That means you need to test every message you send to ensure it renders exactly how you want it to on both desktop and mobile devices before you send it. This is easy to do using the preview feature in the email marketing tool of the Cannabiz Media License Database.

5. Don’t Skip Tracking Results

If you don’t track your holiday email marketing results, you can’t improve your strategy and results for future holiday campaigns. That means you should be tracking who opens your messages, what links they click on, what they do when they get to your website or complete the call-to-action in your messages, and more.

In order to track and analyze your key performance indicators (KPIs), you may have to do some setup before you start sending your holiday messages. For example, you can set up UTM codes to track the links people click that send them to your website and what they do after they get to your site.

If you use the Cannabiz Media License Database, you can automatically track who opens your messages and what links they click from within your campaign performance data, which is available for every message you send.

When these campaign metrics are combined with the website-level data you can get from UTM codes and Google Analytics, you can drill deep and determine which campaigns worked best, which need to be tweaked for the next holiday, and which need to be scrapped entirely. You can follow the link to learn more about tracking email marketing results.

Key Takeaways about Holiday Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

Holiday email marketing can make a significant difference in a cannabis or cannabis-related company’s brand awareness, brand loyalty, and revenue. However, you need a plan, segmented lists, hyper-relevant content, and an understanding of what to avoid in order for your campaigns to be successful.

Want to see how the Cannabiz Media License Database can help you connect with cannabis and hemp license holders for targeted email marketing during the holidays and throughout the year? Schedule a demo!

Susan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius, Director of Email Marketing Strategy for Cannabiz Media, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her nearly 30-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. She has been working with clients in the cannabis industry since 2015. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business, Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.

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