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Here comes Santa Claus, Part 3

In this final blog encouraging you to develop a strategic Christmas sales plan, it all comes down to communication with your customers. That assumes, of course, you’ve fine-tuned your timing, deals and delivery.

To get caught up on that, see Dealer Outlooks from Oct. 10 and Oct. 15.

While good old direct mail is always an option, email will probably be your choice because of its cost, immediacy and ease of implementation. Here, then, are some important things to consider when doing your Christmas gift promotion via email.

1. Just as you’re going to increase your email frequency to your customers and prospect list, so are other retailers. Everyone’s email volume picks up during the holiday season. Experts claim it will double - a competition for attention. So the game is to get your recipients to click.

2. You’ve only got about 45 characters on the email subject line to grab them before they go to “delete.” Be creative with this key line. Forget the direct, but understated, “Here’s our Christmas Specials.” Be more enticing, like “This Solves Your Gift Problem” or “We’re Almost Giving Stuff Away” Good humor can get attention, like “(Owners name) Thinks He’s Santa, He’s That Old,” or “Shiver Me Timbers and Ransom Great Gifts” Avoid anything that could trigger an email filter that sends your offer to spam, particularly using all caps or exclamation points.

3. When it comes to the body of the email, long won’t cut it. Short is best - get to the point - a paragraph, two at the most. You are trying to convey excitement, gift value and immediacy in a short summary. Emphasize how much this gift will be appreciated. Include whether the item(s) have to be picked up at the store or can be shipped. For the latter, note a shipping deadline. Always state the time limit to the special offer. And always make it an attractive price point.

4. “The picture is worth” . . . is absolutely true. People are drawn to images, especially if there are people in them. On the other hand, an email with text alone is flat. Whenever possible, a photo included in the email is important.

5. When is the best time to send such emails? There’s no absolute answer I can find. But it appears that many sources think Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are best and even find that sending between 8 to 10 a.m. or 4 to 6 p.m. improves the chances of being read.

6. Think smartphones, too. There’s an astronomical increase in the number of people who now access their email via their smartphone. In fact, most experts agree smartphones will soon replace the desktops as the most used vehicle to the Internet. Moreover, when you consider that our boating customers are using this technology frequently, it’s paramount to optimize your email promotion for mobile devices. To do this, avoid using any attachments or links and limit pictures. These will slow down receipt of your message and could cause your customer to forget waiting and just move on before seeing the offer.

7. Because many dealers, particularly in the North, reduce open hours in November and December, it important every email Christmas offer emphasize the current open days and store hours.

Finally, there’s a great opportunity immediately after Christmas Day to take one more shot at the market. Call it: “Our Get What You Really Wanted Sales.” Open with those mind-bending questions: “Didn’t Get What You Want?” or “Is There Still Something on Your Christmas Wish List?”

After all, we’ve all received a gift we can’t figure out. And it’s not likely we got everything we want. So “talk” to the email recipient with this post-Christmas email, offering a discount on a variety of items for New Years. The Christmas gifts might have been unwrapped, but the opportunity for some additional sales is still around after Christmas.

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