Is August too early to plan for Christmas?
With 4 paydays (5 if you are lucky), no chance of a ‘proper’ summer this August, the X Factor starting and Winter finally arriving in Game of Thrones (Spoiler!) we can safely say that before we know it, it will be Christmas. This week’s blog looks at how far ahead we should look when planning our campaigns.
Most people that I speak to plan a few weeks in advance, but there are some who have a quarter or two planned out and the odd 1 or two that have the next 12 months organised. It really depends on the type of business that you (the customer) run. For example, a University has key significant dates in the academic year; open days, registration, A level results, and clearing, pre term events, the official start date of the academic year, winter break, spring term, exams, and results. These dates generally do not change throughout the year, so they can be scheduled into their email marketing campaigns. The University may also need to add an additional email pack to their account to provide them the capacity to send these event triggered campaigns out.
So they have 9 events in the year, each needing a comfortable amount of additional emails and the facilities to track and react to these opens or click throughs. How does this apply to you? There are several significant dates across the year which will require fluctuations in your email marketing, certain events such as Christmas and the UK equivalent of Black Friday and Cyber Monday or the 8 (or more) bank holidays (NewZapp handy dates). You would also need to factor in annual leave from staff and colleagues as well as logistics (if you produce a physical product) and any other operations resources that may be required.
Is it really too early to talk about Christmas in August?
No! as Winston Churchill said “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential”, you may not know what you are going to be doing in December or what you have to say but having an idea of when your campaigns are going to go; the resources needed to plan, create and prepare these campaigns need to be allocated or you may have to coordinate with outside components such as office holiday closures for your email marketing provider (we are closed from the 22nd of December 2017 – January 2nd, 2018).
How do I start planning for my Christmas campaigns?
As someone who loves planning, I use Gantt charts, I have planned my next 3 months out using them. I can see what I need to do and when by, any resources I will need such as time with the Design Team or with the Account Managers to get my tasks or goals complete. As a student, a parent, and a full-time NewZapper I also use the GROW model as part of my planning too. I set the Goal (in this case – a successful Christmas campaign) and I look at the Reality (obstacles, resources, logistics and opinions for my campaign). Next I would define the Options (the template, the dates, the groups or segments for sending, and how many email credits I may need) and finally I Will commit to the Goal (ready to create, schedule and send my Christmas campaign).
Campaign templates and body
Once you have your schedule planned out, the Goal defined and set and commitment given; we need to start planning the layout of our Christmas campaign. You may already have a bespoke template designed by us which you want to use, or you may be thinking about using one of our seasonal templates or even creating one of your own. When you have decided your outline (template) for your campaign it’s time to layout the body. As I mentioned earlier on, you may not know what you have to say in your campaign and that’s OK, putting words on paper (as such) can be an easy or long winded approach but laying the foundations of the email body can be time-consuming. One of the ways that I will create my Christmas campaign is by using a tool called ‘Wireframing’. This is where I would draw by hand my header, footer, text boxes, image boxes, and social boxes. Luckily, on our Drag and Drop editor, we have pre-defined blocks that will allow you to Wireframe directly into your campaign.
Setting up the campaign can be done well in advance, to allow for edits to be made, proof tests to be sent, subject lines hammered out and rich content to be produced. There is no right or wrong way to plan a campaign, you may think that you don’t plan or plan well enough; but by reading this blog and signing up to NewZapp you have started your Email Marketing planning.
The next step after reading this blog is to look at the bigger picture, and think about where you want to be at Christmas in your Email Marketing ventures because “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else” Yogi Berra.
Email Marketing Executive at NewZapp