Apr 29, 2009

Timing your email marketing around holidays

calendar-holidaysKaren Gedney’s written a great article on Clickz called "Sych your email calendar." The basic idea is to take a long hard look at when you’re scheduling your emails so that you don’t have conflicts with holidays and world events (when your recipients will likely be offline). In other words, you might not want to schedule a big promotional campaign to go out on Good Friday. Less obvious might be US Inauguration Day.

Sounds like common sense, but a lot of small business owners burn the candle at both ends, and holidays are just like any other day for them. I’ve sent my fair share of campaigns on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, not realizing I was the only loser still at the office. Those were the days. Now, I’m a little more tuned in to major holidays.

But what if you have lots of international subscribers? How do you avoid conflicts with all their holidays too? Here’s how you can use MailChimp’s iCal tool and Google Calendar to prevent that.

For example, here’s the opens geomap for my MonkeyWrench email list:

opens-map

I look at the map all the time, and I know that 1/3 of my opens come from the UK. I also have a pretty big audience in Australia and Canada, and I’m sorta big in Japan (har har). That’s a lot of holidays to track.

Luckily, I can use Google Calendar and MailChimp’s iCal integration.

In Google Calendar, there’s an option to "add public calendar."

add-calendar

On the next screen, you can add all the public holiday calendars you want:

holiday-calendars

For my calendar, I’ve added Canada, UK, and Australia. So now I can see all their holidays.

Now, to mash them up with my scheduled MailChimp campaigns.

In MailChimp, every list comes with its own iCal URL, which you can synch with Apple’s iCal or Google Calendar (here’s a tutorial). It’s a nice way to see where all your scheduled and sent campaigns are in calendar format, so you can easily spot conflicts.

For example, I’ve got a MonkeyWrench campaign scheduled for June 12th, 2009.

holiday-calendars-june

It should be plenty of time after Australia’s "Queen’s Birthday." I do see a US holiday on the following Monday, which might be risky since some people could take 3-day weekends, but I’ve never personally celebrated Flag Day. I’m sure there’s a Hallmark Card for it, but I’ve never taken that day off.

I think the campaign’s safe to send that day.

This isn’t just handy for avoiding holidays. You could also use the calendar view to spot email marketing opportunities, too.

For example, if one of my campaigns fell on July 1st (Canada Day), instead of re-scheduling, I could just run with it. My introductory paragraph could say, "Happy Canada Day to my neighbors up north" or something like that. I’d also link over to the Wikipedia page, so that my recipients in other countries will know what the heck I’m talking about.

It’s a nice little touch that tells the members of your list how worldly you are. Even if you’re just a loser that works all day in the office.