What to Consider Before Sending Emails to Customers Over the Holidays

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It’s almost Halloween, and after that – Thanksgiving and beyond! So as a small business, a question that you might ask yourself is: should you send emails to your customers over the holidays? The answer is more complicated than you might think.

When deciding whether or not to send an email over the holidays, there are several factors to consider:

  • What type of email are you planning to send?
  • What goal are you trying to achieve with your email?
  • Do you have the time and resources to split test?
  • Who are the people on your distribution list?

Let’s examine these one at a time.

What type of email are you planning to send?

If you are a small business or retailer, you might want to consider not sending an email during the holidays, because tons of discount and “holiday deal” emails are sent during the holidays, and recipients tend to mark any as SPAM. Or worse, sometimes you’ll get unsubscribes just from sending an email on a certain date. A study by Inc. and Delphi showed that holiday greetings can have a five times higher chance of unsubscribe as opposed to other messages.

However, if you’re sending an email to keep top-of-mind, and wish your clients a happy holiday, these might not get unsubscribes, but they also might get a lower open rate.

What goal are you trying to achieve with your email?

Because many holidays fall on or around the weekend, it’s important to consider the difference between weekday and weekend email sends as you consider whether to send a holiday email.

According to a 2014 ExactTarget mobile behavior report, emails sent on Saturday and Sunday had the lowest volume rates, but the highest open and clickthrough rates. (17.8% for both days – the highest percentage of the week). What this means is that although the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened weekend emails were much more likely to engage and clickthrough.

Data from Harland Clarke corroborates this, as on Saturday, only 5.5% of total emails tracked were sent, yet they were viewed at 32.5%. So if the recipient chooses to open the email on the weekend, you have a higher ROI – but overall, open rates tend to be lower than weekdays.

This is a good argument for trying to send on a holiday, as you might be able to cut out some of your competition and engage with quality prospects – a good strategy, especially for start-ups or smaller businesses that might not have as many regular email marketing resources as larger businesses.

Do you have the time and resources to split test?

If you have the ability and resources to split test emails, you might want to consider doing this for the upcoming holiday. Try to test an unconventional time and holiday with a more traditional time, and see what results you get.

Who are the people on your distribution list?

During the holidays, many people might not be checking their emails, especially if you’re sending to an office or office manager’s work account. When they return, they’ll be inundated with emails, and those with a marketing or spam look to them will be deleted without a glance. Therefore, if you’re sending to work emails and offices, you might want to avoid sending emails during summer holiday season, around Christmas, or New Year’s. 

To help improve holiday email engagement rates, GoDaddy recommends brands avoid sending emails on Thanksgiving Day altogether. “On Thanksgiving Day, open rates hit their lowest rate for the entire month of November,” says GoDaddy.

So the general consensus seems to be: avoid sending email marketing over holidays, as the potential for unsubscribes outweighs the goodwill and recognition you might experience by sending out a Happy Holidays message. But then again, if you’re looking for an unconventional way to get an edge on your competitors, holiday emails might be a good test for your business.