THE BLOG
09/26/2016 04:24 pm ET Updated Sep 27, 2017

Harvesting a Healthy Crop of Subscribers to Keep Campaigns Strong Through Winter

The air has a crisp bite to it, and leaves are beginning to turn. Autumn is now here, and winter isn't far behind it. For email marketers, this season is devoted to preparing for the busy seasonal sales ahead. In a way, they can take a cue from farmers by harvesting healthy contact lists from their fields of customer data and storing their most fruitful campaigns for future success.

Read on for email marketing best practices that you can use this fall to ensure strong campaigns throughout the winter.

Trim your contact lists
Winter for marketers means one thing: holidays. Email marketers in particular know that their holiday campaigns mean an uptick in messages distributed to their subscriber base. If email addresses on the receiving end of these messages bounce or filter emails to spam folders, marketers risk damaging their deliverability rate.

Before kicking off holiday campaigns, marketers should prune their contact lists to keep them focused on the most engaged contacts. Remove contacts who have shown weak engagement in the past, and let them lie fallow this upcoming season. Add contacts who show strong engagement, and focus on these targets as fertile ground for your next campaigns. When it's time to deliver your messages, make sure you have offers that are relevant, exciting and resonate with recipients so they aren't just delivered, but are opened and clicked-through.

Sow your subscriber base
As marketers move closer to winter and the holiday season, their priorities are steadily shifting from fortifying existing customer relationships to acquiring new customers and sales. Email marketers can use the autumn lull to build integrity and trust with customers by sending an upfront email notifying them of the coming holiday messages.

Prepare contacts with an explanation of the types of messages they're likely to receive in the next few months -- including promotions, company updates, one-time sales and newsletters. Give them the opportunity to select the types of content they'd like to receive and then use the information you collect to segment campaigns and adjust messaging accordingly throughout the winter.

Weed out ineffective campaigns
Creativity is a key component of holiday campaigns, and there are a number of creative elements -- humor, emojis and images -- that email marketers can use to capture the eyes of their subscribers. In the months leading up to the holidays, marketers should experiment with variations on their creative campaigns to find out which content will be most successful.

Seed messages with varied wording, images and length of text in your subject line and email body, and then A/B split test your campaigns. Monitor the results of these test campaigns to find out which of the messages you planted were the most fruitful. Keep a keen eye on the segments of your customer base where certain creative elements were most successful. Then, use the information from these tests to distribute the most targeted messages for your final campaigns.

While you batten down the hatches for the winter ahead, remember to prime your marketing campaigns so they stay strong throughout the season. Keep in mind these tips for success throughout the holidays and far beyond.