7 tips for planning your charity Christmas email campaigns
Elizabeth Carter, Charity Digital Mail manager at Charity Digital, shares her best practice tips for getting ahead in your Christmas email campaigns now.
As autumn stretches into winter, it’s time for charities to start thinking about planning their Christmas email marketing campaigns.
Christmas is traditionally a time of warmth, sharing and support and that’s why it’s also a good time for non-for-profit organisations to ask for help.
It’s a good idea for charities to start their planning early and send emails well before the Christmas period, especially if they are using automated journeys and triggered emails – whatever your ask, there’s nothing worse than trying to get a campaign together at the last minute and sending it out too late to make a positive impact.
Here are some best practice tips for getting ahead early.
1. It’s all about timing
As with any email campaign, timing is crucial. Even though you can ask for support at any time of the year, email campaigns that are launched in December are key to nurturing relationships. Campaigns at this time should be well-timed requests for support and plotted out carefully around certain days and key events.
If you are starting your campaigns in November and you are not selling anything from your charity shop, you may wish to avoid sending emails running up to and on Black Friday as inboxes will be very noisy.
Don’t forget to make the most of #GivingTuesday at the beginning of December (this year’s is November 27th). Every year a wide range of fundraising campaigns are run in the non-profit sector around #GivingTuesday, which has turned into Britain’s biggest day for charities, raising millions for good causes.
Although viewing rates may be lower, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and News Year’s Day are days where your audience will be more in the festive spirit so a campaign on these days will be very well received and appreciated, especially from a charity they are volunteering for, following and/or supporting.
2. Make Christmas email content special
It’s no secret that Christmas can a stressful time. Find a balance of promoting your mission and taking a humorous or fun bent to your communications.
Be imaginative with content – include snippets of information, reflections and personal stories and think about using short, snappy videos (studies have shown that videos increase open rates). Make your supporters and donors feel special and keep them wanting to support you further by offering them an exclusive or seasonal surprise.
Other seasonal ideas include sharing your organisation’s or your staff’s resolutions and next year objectives, which can be a fun way to highlight your human side to your email audience and reach out to new supporters whilst sharing your serious social responsibilities and values.
Don’t be afraid to be a bit light hearted during the Christmas period and experiment. Did you know, for instance, that emails about cocktails have an 85% click-through rate on average during the last two weeks of December? How about including a few in your charity Christmas campaigns and tracking the results?
There are lots of ideas for email content out there – here are just a few to think about (they are mainly aimed at commercial organisations, but many can be reimagined in a charity context).
3. Be clever with automated journeys
Advent Calendar campaigns can be particularly helpful throughout December, or at least for the 20 days until Christmas Day, and can be a clever and fun way to lead people through automated email journeys. With this kind of content, you can encourage your email readers to engage with you and open up every email for their daily dose.
Creating a survey or online quiz in your advent calendar can be a fun and being interactive can engage and stimulate your readers, with a question a day.
4. Be inclusive and target appropriately
Christmas is a very busy time, meaning that your email recipients’ in-boxes will be busier than ever. Effective targeting could give a real advantage over less well-thought-out and mass mailing.
Be sure that you’re not excluding any of your audience at Christmas time, no matter how many data lists you may have. And use personalisation as much as you can to stand out from the other seasonal campaigns – it’ll help to build trust and also nurture the relationship with your email readers (some more on personalisation here).
5. Don’t forget to share
Be social at Christmas: connecting up your Christmas campaign to your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to boost your social presence is essential at this seasonal time. Use the share links in your campaigns to share your Christmas news, and make the most of the season to be more actively social.
6. Always think mobile
It’s really important that your emails display well on mobile devices and especially during the holiday season. Mobile open rates increase and computer opens decrease as people become on holiday and busier during November and December.
Here are some quick tips on optimising your emails for mobile.
7. Don’t get lost in spam filters
Last of all, but probably most importantly, is this: Christmas email campaigns can be blocked by spam filters and are on high alert over the festive period, when inboxes are flooded with promotions. However great your content or well-planned your automated journeys, you need to make sure your campaigns have a chance of getting through if they want to be seen.
Here are some things to avoid if you want avoid falling foul of spam filters:
- Always have a 50/50 text/image ratio, so don’t opt for a full image Christmas campaign.
- Avoid using spammy language in the subject title, especially the word ‘free’.
- Avoid using exclamations marks and all caps in the subject title as these are food for spam catchers.
- Following on from GDPR, only send to the people who have given their consent.