No man is an iland

Latest posts | Feed | marketing advice by Mark Brownlow

Archive for September, 2011


wishlistOpen rates, are you rising?
Fewer folks, unsubscribing
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight,
Walking in an email wonderland.

It’s that time of year again…the 5th annual collection of articles and reports that help you plan and implement a winning holiday email marketing strategy.

Christmas and Kwanzaa occupy their traditional dates on the calendar (no surprises there), while Hanukkah begins this year on December 20th.

The following resources are all new for 2011. Below them you’ll find collections from previous years, which are obviously still worth exploring. Got suggestions for other resources? Just use the comments.

Happy Holidays. And keep this bookmarked: I’ll be adding new resources as they come online.

  • Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season 2011: the big 51 page report from Chad White…full of information on what top retailers did last year, plus advice on how to approach timing, frequency and an array of seasonal email tactics.
  • 6 tips and 6 sources of inspiration: big collection of links to sources of design and campaign inspiration, supplemented by a few tips on squeezing more out of the days leading up to December 25th.
  • Planning for the holidays: a long list of questions to ask when reviewing what you did last time…thus laying the foundation for this season’s campaigns.
  • Holidays ahead of time: advice for (small) business on what might go into holiday emails, with an emphasis on standing out from the typical “X%-off” promotions.
  • Holiday retail email ideas: tips, suggestions and warnings on how to ramp up your email marketing in time for Q4 and then make more use of the seasonal opportunity.
  • Top 10 steps: ideas for planning and preparing campaigns in advance of the holiday season.
  • Top 12 dates: list of key dates and events around which to plan appropriate holiday messaging.
  • A holiday marketing story: access a 10-page download outlining specific tactics and approaches to follow to get the most out of seasonal email campaigns.
  • Here come the holidays: suggests you get optimization and testing done before the holiday rush.
  • Holiday preparedness: 4 tips to help ensure seasonal success isn’t hampered by delivery issues.
  • Holiday season will be bigger: brief tips on the overall approach to take to Q4.
  • Retail email campaign planner: access a free and cute .pdf holiday campaign calendar off this (sales) page.
  • Holiday email trends: offers predictions on the tactics retailers will favor and/or should take a closer look at.
  • Holiday opt-ins: reviews all the places you should be promoting your email list to take advantage of increased interest in the holiday season.
  • Ten steps: another collection of tips and suggestions.
  • Everything holiday: a collection of resources for holiday email campaigns, such as clip art, templates, useful dates, downloadable guides, etc.
  • Prepare for the holiday season: an eclectic mix of tips on strategy, design, copy approaches, etc.
  • 7 holiday predictions: um…very detailed predictions of how holiday email marketing will pan out. Not just interesting in their own right, but also including optimization advice and tips.
  • 12 days of Christmas: 12-part series on how to best exploit Q4 with email, with accompanying tip sheet. The link takes you to Part 1.
  • The early emails: examples of the kind of emails that you might send to kick off the long holiday season.
  • Interview with Linda Bustos: the e-commerce expert offers advice on a slew of topics, including timing, incentives, mobile, post-holiday messaging and much more.
  • Tis the season to email?: Q&A feature covering themes like frequency, timing, “holiday value” and more.
  • Holiday inbox planning: example of one company’s standalone “add us to your address list” campaigns, possibly designed to ensure good delivery rates over the critical shopping season.
  • Ten email marketing tips: …for the holiday season. The title is a bit of a giveaway.
  • B2C success: highlights a few key trends for the season and offers a few tips on what to offer, when and how.
  • Festive foul-up or seasonal success: advice on strategy, design, frequency, use of data and much more. Includes a few animated examples of festive campaigns as well.
  • Now is the time: …to increase volume. Lots of interesting ideas on extra emails you can send before the holiday season gets into full swing.
  • Christmas email marketing: whitepaper with the results of a survey of consumers on their online Xmas shopping habits and email preferences. Also includes lots of tips on optimizing your Christmas email campaigns.
  • 5 quick wins: as the title suggests, some quick tips to keep you on course over December.
  • Top 5 tips: ditto, covering seasonal behavior, pricing preferences and more.
  • Getting the most…: lots of advice and suggestions for how to answer a key question…just how do you differentiate your messages from all the other seasonal emails out there?
  • Black Friday /Cyber Monday: how to prepare you and your team to get the most out of the email opportunity.
  • Holiday copywriting and content: tips on ideas, structure and style for both email and social media.
  • Christmas lookbook: 50 examples of seasonal emails, plus advice…nice!
  • Holiday checklist: lists 12 things you need to have covered before you can send out that holiday email campaign and design.
  • 7 weeks and counting: gives important dates and deadlines in November and December, while tying them into email campaign ideas.
  • Understanding seasonality: suggests the topics and issues you need to cover when reviewing your holiday efforts in 2011, so you can do an even better job next year.
  • Advice for the email marketer: a little different this one, since it offers tips on how to prepare for stressful holiday-related situations, such as email mistakes and unrealistic demands from senior management.

Previous “Holiday email marketing” editions:

The first four editions:

In 2008, I also interviewed various retail email experts for their specific advice:

Find related articles:

Permalink | September 23rd, 2011 | 11 Comments »
Get posts like this: RSS feed | via email | via Twitter | via G+

medalsNo man is an iland (no S), and I owe a constant debt of gratitude to those resources that keep me up-to-date with email marketing advice, wisdom and insight.

Each year, I publish a new list of my personal favorites – the people and places who’ve proved their value as an email marketing resource.

It’s a personal list, not an exhaustive one: there are many other wonderful resources out there, particularly for specialist niches. So please feel free to add to my suggestions through the comments.

Media sites

After a few years howling in the media wilderness, email has slipped past the bouncer and is back dancing with the cool kids in the marketing nightclub. Everyone is writing about it.

medalMediaPost’s Email Insider still ranks as a big favorite, largely because of the top notch columnists there, especially Loren McDonald. Loren’s also the top email personality to follow on G+

medalClickZ and me go back well over a decade. It was there I first read about the killer app (yep, email was once the hot new marketing thing). They have six solid columns now.

A special shout out goes to those by Derek Harding, Jeanne Jennings, Mike Hotz and the great Simms Jenkins.

Other media & membership sites I go back to regularly are:

The latter is worth joining to get access to the back catalog of case studies with real campaign numbers (some of which I even wrote, back when I used to freelance for them).

Finally, a special mention also for SmartInsights, which features email articles by digital marketing Überguru Dave Chaffey and Tim Watson, who always impresses me with his critical analysis and thinking. (Disclaimer: I write there, too).

Blogs, newsletters, etc.

Phew…the number of email marketing blogs and newsletters is somewhere in the four figures by now. Everyone has their personal favorites. Here are mine:

medalThe Retail Email Blog is the go-to place for keeping up with trends in, well, retail email marketing.

Author Chad White also produces regular reports and throws in his own wise insights with his coverage of the sector.

medalPay close attention to anything you see by Dela Quist and colleagues at Alchemy Worx (newsletter).

It’s hard to find the correct word to describe their insights, so I’ll put it like this: nobody has made me think harder about email and my own assumptions and ideas than Dela.

medalThe folk at Bronto have kept up a high standard of practical posts for a long time now. Also especially good for retailers to read.

The email design world is blessed with some excellent resources and I’ve already highlighted 22 sources for design inspiration elsewhere. But a quick extra mention for:

The deliverability world also has some fine blogs. My favorite is Word to the Wise by Laura and Steve Atkins. You’ll also get a lot of useful information and studies out of Return Path.

Good aggregators for those short of time are the Email Guide and the Email Institute. Special shoutouts also to:

  • WhatCounts (particularly articles by Christopher Penn, who comes at email from many different and innovative angles)
  • The DMA EMC blog (featuring a lot of top UK talent)
  • MailChimp (recently the blog has been more service oriented, but check out the article backlog and resource guides)

Statistics, studies and background data

I have separate posts covering sources of numbers and studies you might need for background or presentations. For example:

Community sites

medalI recently joined the Only Influencers member site and email marketing discussion list.

I’m largely a lurker, due to time issues, but have learnt an enormous amount through the willingness of some very clever people (vendors and marketers alike) to share their expertise, results and practical know-how with others.

It’s invitation-only, so contact Bill McCloskey (it’s his brainchild) to see if you would qualify for an invite.

Another public discussion community is the Email Marketers Club run by the delightful Tamara Gielen.

Twitter accounts

Recommending top Twitter accounts to follow is a hopeless task: there are so many good ones. I am annoyingly selective about who I follow, so most of those that I do are going to give you value for your time. Most of the resources mentioned in this post also have associated Twitter accounts.

Special shout outs to:

medalAndy Thorpe, Jordie van Rijn and Remy Bergsma: all master sharers of email links and insight. Also check the blogs associated with their accounts.

Some other names to watch for: top sharers and/or fountains of insight on Twitter and elsewhere:

Those getting started, particularly in small businesses

These are email marketing services whose blogs and other content is well suited to small business, often going well beyond email in the topics they address.

medalMichael Katz’s newsletter is the only one on this planet I find myself reading every issue, even if I don’t have the time to do so. How does he do that?

These ESPs are also well-tuned in to the needs of the smaller email sender:

Bonus people

These are not all email focused, but a few other folk I’ve found struck a chord with me in one fashion or another.

  • DJ Waldow, whose monumental enthusiasm and embracement of all things email and social is like having your own personal trainer.
  • J-P De Clerck, whose prodigious content output is equally inspiring. More importantly, he has very independent, ethical and forward-thinking views on marketing online.
  • Ken Magill, whose coverage of the industry reveals the incalculable value of style, personality and writing skills in creating reader loyalty.
  • Jim Ducharme, a top sharer and a writer on email/social media issues with a heart and mind in the right place.
  • Robin C Kennedy, the top commenter on this blog…many of his comments deserve their own post. Thanks Robin!
  • Kevin Hillstrom, whose blog has taught me more about analysis and measuring the true value of email than I even knew I needed to know.

Author’s note: A couple of the people or organizations mentioned above are also sponsors or clients. A couple are former sponsors or clients. Many I’ve had personal contact with. Many don’t even know I exist. None have bought me a beer.


One or two have sent me t-shirts (I’m a sucker for t-shirts) or chocolate (ditto). All are listed solely on merit and my (inevitably subjective, UK and US-biased) evaluation. Please do add your resource suggestions below!

Find related articles:

Permalink | September 9th, 2011 | 28 Comments »
Get posts like this: RSS feed | via email | via Twitter | via G+