2020 Holiday Email Marketing Guide

Congratulations! You have made it nearly all the way through 2020, a year like none other! The holidays are now upon us and, you know what that means: turkey, gifts, and overflowing inboxes. As you prepare your year-end marketing, here are some tips on how Direct Mail can help you break through a crowded inbox, boost sales, and grow your customer base.

1. Check out our holiday-themed templates

Direct Mail comes ready to go with a number of holiday-themed templates. They look super-sharp on mobile devices and large screens, and are easy to customize (like all our templates).

You can find these templates in Direct Mail by clicking the “Choose Template” button and searching for Glimmer, Merry Pines, Slopes, or Quattro—or browse the other options available in the template gallery.

2. Stay on top of your holiday calendar

The end of the year is chock full of special occasions and opportunities to celebrate—more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas. Consider theming additional email campaigns around these upcoming holidays in November and December:

  • November 10: Marine Corps Birthday
  • November 11: Veterans Day
  • November 11: Remembrance Day 🇬🇧🇨🇦🇦🇺
  • November 11: Singles Day (i.e. World Shopping Day) 🇨🇳
  • November 13: World Kindness Day
  • November 19: International Men’s Day
  • November 19: Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
  • November 20: World Children’s Day
  • November 21: National Adoption Day
  • November 26: Thanksgiving
  • November 27: Black Friday
  • November 28: Small Business Saturday
  • November 30: Cyber Monday
  • December 1: Giving Tuesday
  • December 15: Free Shipping Day
  • December 22: First Day of Winter
  • December 24: Christmas Eve
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 26: Boxing Day 🇬🇧🇨🇦🇦🇺
  • December 31: New Years Eve
When should I start my campaigns?

Consider starting your campaigns a week in advance (or earlier, if your customers average time to purchase is longer) with a follow-up scheduled for the day of. You might also consider sending a thank you email post-holiday.

How much is too much?

It is possible to send too much email. Bombarding your subscribers can lead to unsubscribes or even spam complaints. A good rule of thumb is to not increase your typical email frequency by more than 3× during the holidays.

3. Write subject lines that are irresistible

It’s going to be a crowded inbox, so stay away from bland, generic (or spammy) subject lines. Here are some ideas:

Personalize

Adding a personal touch to the subject line almost always improves your open rate. Direct Mail makes this easy. If you want to include your recipient’s first name in the subject, just include the mail-merge tag “[first name]”. Like this:

You’re not limited to first names, of course. It can be any piece of information that you have stored in Direct Mail for a contact (e.g. occupation, city, last purchase, etc.)

Don’t get carried away

Aim for a ten words or less in your subject line, and limit the number of punctuation or special characters so it doesn’t appear spammy. Using an emoji can help, but try and stick to just one. Also, note that some devices can’t display emoji, so it’s best to use emoji as an enhancement, instead of a replacement for words.

Ask a question

Questions are naturally engaging. Consider using a question as the subject line in order to draw your subscribers into the content.

State your offer loud and clear

Featuring your offer prominently in the subject line can be a good way to stand out in a crowded inbox. According to NRF and IPC, online shoppers top considerations are:

  1. Free shipping, or clear shipping charges prior to purchase
  2. Simple, reliable, free returns
  3. Rapid response customer service
Try these on for size…

Here are some subject line examples for your inspiration:

  • Warm up to winter with us this Saturday 🔥
  • Our ultimate winter packing list
  • [first name], spread some cheer with us — open house sale!
  • We’re thankful for our customers: Coupon Inside!
  • Stuff yourself with savings 🍗
  • Early access to Black Friday deals
  • Celebrate Small Biz Sat with us: BOGO sale 🎉
  • See you on Small Business Saturday?
  • Ho Ho Ho (Spend Less Dough)
  • You’re Getting Warmer – Packages from $59
  • Meow-y Christmas! 5 holiday treats safe for your cat
  • We Like You a Latke!
  • Challah for These Chanukkah Deals
  • Let’s start this year right. 10% off throughout January
  • The holidays may be over, but the savings aren’t!
  • …check out more examples here

4. Include a “[Do It] Now” button

The easier you can make it for your subscribers to purchase (or take some kind of action), the better. After all, the holidays are just as busy for them as they are for you. Make your call-to-action prominent and easy to find. Direct Mail’s built-in buttons work great for this, and are available in a number of styles.

Here are some sample calls to action you might consider (and some interesting psychology behind it):

  • Shop now
  • Get it now
  • Act now
  • Subscribe now
  • Sign up now
  • Receive it now
  • Get access now
  • Do it now
  • Get your code now
  • Start spending now
  • Browse now

5. Get inspired!

Struggling to come up with ideas for your email campaigns? Get some inspiration from this gallery and the suggestions below.

  • Cyber Monday sale
  • Free shipping now available!
  • Gift card bonus (e.g. buy $100 in gift cards, get a bonus $25 for free!)
  • Holiday gift guide
  • Special coupon code
  • End-of-year update
  • Year-in-review or celebration of the year’s achievements
  • Holiday hours or holiday schedule update
  • Pre-sale or early-bird discount
  • Thank you for being our customer (and optionally include a referral code)
  • New product or service announcements
  • Share a holiday video
  • Promote a social media contest (e.g. photo contest)
  • Black Friday offers
  • Looking ahead to what’s coming in the new year
  • Last-minute deals or reminders
  • Shipping or ordering deadlines
  • Special gift packages
  • Small Business Saturday (it’s not just for brick and mortar!)
  • Share a story about how you celebrate the holidays
  • Giving Tuesday
  • Post-holiday specials

6. Check out these Direct Mail tech tips

Now that you’re ready to rock your campaigns, it’s time to put Direct Mail to work for you! Here are a couple of how-to articles to level-up your Direct Mail skills:

Sending Your Email Campaign at the Perfect Time. Learn how to schedule your campaigns to send even when your computer (or you!) are asleep, so that they arrive in your recipient’s inbox at the perfect time.

Search and Segment Like a Pro. Learn how to find and segment portions of your mailing list so that you an send targeted campaigns, or perform bulk editing operations.

Looking Forward to Apple Silicon and Big Sur

We love the Mac! From the very first version 18 years ago up until today, Direct Mail has always been designed as a Mac-first, Mac-only app. This focus allows us to create a seamless experience for our users that takes advantage of the power, productivity, and unique technology of macOS, instead of a lowest-common-denominator experience you might get with a cross-platform or web app. Today, we look forward to the next generation of great Macs, and what it means for Direct Mail.

Apple Silicon

Apple today announced brand new Macs that feature a custom processor that is incredibly fast and energy efficient: the M1. Part of the reason the M1 is so impressive is that it uses a chip architecture different than the Intel architecture that’s been used in generations past. This change means that app developers have some work to do to make their apps really fly on these new Macs, but the good news is that we’re on it! The current version of Direct Mail already runs great on the M1 chip (we’ve been testing it out for several months now), and we’ll be shipping an update soon that turns the speed and efficiency up to 11. We think you are going to love the extra battery life and time saved with these new improvements.

Big Sur

Along with the new Macs, Apple also introduced the latest update to macOS, named “Big Sur”. You’ll notice right away that the look and feel of Big Sur has been refreshed to be more consistent with iOS, iPadOS, and other Apple platforms. We’ve been running Big Sur for months and are happy to report that the current version of Direct Mail looks and runs great. We also look forward to sharing more details with you soon about the next big update to Direct Mail and how it will take advantage of Big Sur’s new features. As a reminder, updates to Direct Mail are always free for all our customers.

When the very first version of Direct Mail was released back in 2002, the best Macs were running on PowerPC architecture and “Mac OS X” 10.2 Jaguar. Over the years, Direct Mail has kept pace, making the transition to Intel and now Apple Silicon, as well as integrating advances from over 14 new versions of macOS. Along the way, our users have always benefited from our Mac-first, Mac-only focus, unlocking their productivity and creativity. We think this is just the beginning and look forward to sharing more with you soon!

Sending Your Email Campaign at the Perfect Time

You’ve spent all day perfecting your latest holiday email marketing campaign. The copy is perfect, the subject line irresistible. Now all that’s left is waking up at 4 AM to send it so that your subscribers across the country see it first thing in the morning. Wait, what?

Of course you don’t want to wake up early just to send an email. With Direct Mail, you don’t have to!

Scheduling your campaigns

You can schedule your campaign to send at any date and time, even if Direct Mail is closed or your computer is turned off when that time arrives. Here’s how:

  1. Click the send button in the toolbar
  2. Click the “Schedule” popup menu and select “Schedule for Later”
  3. Choose the date and time you want your campaign sent
  4. Click the Send button

After you click Send, Direct Mail will queue up your campaign to send at the time you specified. If you switch over to the Report tab, you’ll see your campaign waiting to send.

FAQ

What if I change my mind and want to cancel or reschedule?

No problem. In the Reports tab, just click the “Cancel Delivery” or “Reschedule Delivery” buttons.

What if someone subscribes to or unsubscribes from my mailing list before the campaign is sent?

If someone unsubscribes in between the time that you queue up the campaign and the delivery date, Direct Mail will automatically skip them when the campaign is sent.

If someone new subscribes to your list in between the time that you queue up the campaign and the delivery date, they will not receive the campaign (but will still be added to your list for the next campaign). For this reason, it’s best to not schedule campaigns too far in advance, especially if you are expecting a bunch of new subscribers.

What’s New in Direct Mail 5.7.2

Our latest update to Direct Mail includes expanded authentication options for customers sending email via their own company servers, as well as a number of bug fixes for all users, especially those running the latest version of macOS.

Expanded authentication options

Some of our customers use Direct Mail to send internal communications, or other email that needs to be sent via their company servers (as opposed to being sent via our built-in e3 Delivery Service). In the past, these customers would input their server and authentication details (including usernames and passwords) directly into Direct Mail. However, some companies are now opting for newer, more secure, forms of authentication that do not require the user to enter their password into a third-party application. This latest update to Direct Mail supports these modern authentication methods for Google G Suite, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft Office 365 accounts.

Bug fixes and additional improvements

This latest update also includes a number of fixes for user interface issues that were affecting users running macOS 10.15 Catalina, as well as more general improvements.

If you use Direct Mail alongside the Daylite app (a popular customer relationship management app for the Mac), you may be interested in trying out our preliminary support for syncing bounce information back to Daylite. Please contact our customer support for details.

How to update

If you downloaded Direct Mail from our website, then your copy of Direct Mail is most likely already up-to-date (you can choose “Direct Mail > Check for Software Update” from the menu bar at the top of your screen to be sure). If you downloaded Direct Mail from the Mac App Store, then your copy of Direct Mail should update automatically update within a few days.

What’s New in Direct Mail 5.7

Our latest update to Direct Mail, version 5.7, is now available, and it includes some great new improvements that we’re excited to share with you. This release features several new template designs, full support for Apple’s forthcoming macOS 10.15 Catalina, faster cloud performance, improved undo and redo support, and new enterprise options.

New template designs

Direct Mail 5.7 introduces several new templates designs that work great for a variety of occasions. As we approach the holiday season, you may want to take a look the “Glimmer”, “Merry Pines”, and “Slopes” templates for inspiration. The new “Quattro” and “Silicon” templates are great for showing off new products and services to your fan base. You can find these new templates by opening Direct Mail and clicking the “Choose Template” button (in the Messages tab).

Ready for macOS 10.15 Catalina

Direct Mail is fully compatible with the new version of macOS coming out later this month. We recommend updating Direct Mail (and making sure you have a good backup of all your files) before you begin the macOS update process.

Faster cloud syncing

Direct Mail’s built-in cloud sync feature lets you access your data from any device, as well as collaboratively edit your messages, mailing lists, and more. In this month’s update, we are taking advantage of some network routing improvements to bring you even faster uploads and downloads, especially for our customers located outside of the United States. You should notice that changes sync across your devices a bit faster now. Of course, results may vary depending on your connection to the internet.

Improved undo and redo

You may have noticed that, in the past, it was possible to find yourself in a state where Direct Mail was no longer able to correctly undo or redo some edits you had made to your message—which could be a very frustrating experience. In this update, we have improved our undo and redo support so that you will always be able to edit with confidence, knowing the changes you make can be undone or re-done at any time.

Enterprise-level features

Direct Mail 5.7 introduces a number of new features designed to meet the needs of our customers in larger companies, including:

  • Support for single sign-on (SSO). Sign in to your Direct Mail account using your company’s existing SSO provider, instead of using a separate email and password.
  • Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 integration. Send emails using your company’s existing Exchange or Office 365 infrastructure. Import contacts from your company’s distribution groups.
  • G Suite integration. Send email using your company’s existing G Suite account.
  • Template sharing. Create and share templates via the cloud with everyone in your organization.
  • Policy enforcement. Manage settings that apply to all users in your organization (e.g. disabling unsubscribe links).

Please get in touch with our support team if you are interested in more information or a demo.

How to update

Direct Mail 5.7 is a free update for all users. For most users, the update will be downloaded and installed automatically the next time you open Direct Mail. If you want, you can update immediately by choosing “Direct Mail > Check for Software Update” from the menu bar at the top of your screen.

Customers who downloaded Direct Mail from the Mac App Store will need just a bit more patience, as we wait for Apple to approve and distribute the update.

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