Fall is officially upon us and with it, the onslaught of reminders for local businesses to start focusing on the holiday season. While this may feel

automated campaigns

premature, October does kick off a series of national holidays important to many SMB’s calendars, including Columbus Day, Halloween, and Veteran’s Day before heading into the winter holiday season and madness that comes with it!

We figured that this period of calm before the flurry of holidays would be the best time to get some prep out of the way. By setting up and creating scheduled campaigns now, you can ensure that you stay on track during the ensuing busy season. Below, find 5 different types of email campaigns you can schedule now, and will continue to generate results that will help you achieve your business goals, and finish 2017 strong!

1. Celebrating traditional (and nontraditional) holidays

As we already mentioned, there are no lack of official holidays to choose from if you’re looking to run a seasonal promotion. Columbus Day sales have long been favored by retailers, but all sorts of industries can find fun or inventive angles from the host of fall options. If you’re a dentist, why not run a special for children’s teeth cleaning for the first week of November, following Halloween candy binges?

You can also use this opportunity to think about and organize your winter holiday strategy. By setting up a few email blasts prior to November, you can concentrate more on your customers, without having to hurriedly draft them after long, busy days when you’re exhausted and no longer have the luxury of optimizing send time.

Don’t forget about the lesser-known, untraditional national “holidays” that have recently enjoyed a huge rise in popularity. According to one source, there are such diverse opportunities to choose from in October, alone such as, National Pasta Day, National No Beard Day (for Salons, perhaps?), World Smile Day, and National Golf Day (among dozens of others to choose from). Create a dedicated blast that is fun and reflective of the national day of your choosing, and find a way to relate it back to your services or products. You can also couple it with a special event to drive even more awareness and interest, which takes us to…

2. Ensure a successful, promotional event

One of the best ways to cut through the noise of the impending holidays is to plan an on-location event. Holding it ahead of Thanksgiving weekend can help increase turnout, and set a good tone going into the season. Regardless of how you choose to handle and organize, it’s important to decide on a date, time, and location, as well as a theme or way to tie the promotion into your offerings.

Next, you can create a campaign for the initial invitation to customers and prospects that includes all the pertinent information, as well as the type of festivities they can expect. Don’t forget to list any giveaways, contests, food or beverages you’ll have on hand. For example, if you’re a salon sponsoring a Bring a Friend event in order to get more referrals, make sure state somewhere on the invite that customers who bring a friend are eligible for two-for-one manicure pricing.

Make sure to determine the best steps for followup reminders as well. If you’re asking clients to RSVP, you can segment your list into two groups. Those that already RSVP’d might receive a reminder 24 hours in advance of the event, to make sure they don’t forget to show up. You can continue to send a couple follow ups to those who have not taken any action a few days prior, as well as the day before in order to attract those who prefer to wait to make plans. Do take care to strike the right balance. Receiving too many emails about an event that customers might not be able to attend will only end up frustrating them. When in doubt, best to err on the side of caution, and allow the results to inform future approaches. Best practice is to send two weeks in advance, and then to follow up a day or two before.

If you’re looking for some ideas for events to host during the holidays, read more about holiday ideas for your loyalty program, events your business can hold in honor of Giving Tuesday, and making the most out of Small Business Saturday.

3. Drive opt-ins to your SMS lists and engagement across channels

It’s no secret that SMS marketing drives 8x more engagement than email. Despite the proven ROI of the tactic, growing SMS subscriber lists continues to be a challenge for SMB’s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, customers are much more likely to submit their email info for updates and promotions than they are to fork over their private cell phone number. Fortunately, the two are not mutually exclusive and you can even use a recurring email campaign to drive more opt-ins for your text message marketing program.

Try sending out periodic, automated blasts with simple instructions on how they can join your SMS list. This typically requires texting a code in order to opt-in. Make sure you convey the value that they’ll get from being a text subscriber, such as exclusive promotions and contests. Here’s a list of different promotions you can use to grow your SMS lists. Try employing some of these techniques or incentives to drive subscriptions!

4. Generate feedback to help identify advocates and opportunities

A best practice for any customer-facing business, it’s essential to follow up with patrons to learn more about their experience. By automating feedback requests, you can ensure that you never miss a beat, or opportunity to grow and improve. It also frees you up to accomplish other tasks, instead of sending out a batch of emails to new customers manually every day, week, or month.

Whether you opt to utilize an existing satisfaction gauging tool (like NPS or CSAT), or simply ask for them to share anecdotal feedback about their interaction with your business and its representatives, it can help inform future decisions and goals. It also enables you to keep a finger to the pulse of your business, and know what your customers are loving, and where your strengths and differentiation are.

Finally, this process can aid in the identification of potential promoters. As discussed in a recent post, identifying and activating advocates compounds customer marketing efforts. Those who respond enthusiastically can be followed up with in order to request a testimonial for your site, social pages, and promotional materials, and be encouraged to share their feelings in a review on Yelp or Google.

5. Boost referrals

Similarly, setting up recurring email blasts to current happy customers with the goal of boosting referrals is a great way to expand your customer base. It’s easy to see why referrals are often considered the holy grail of sales. They’re credited with 65% of all new business, and most consumers report they’d refer a business to family and friends following a positive experience. However, they often forget to followup, and it would appear that once your business is out of sight, it soon thereafter falls out of mind.

These recurring reminders (as long as you don’t send too frequently or to the same individuals over and over) help close that gap, by nudging them to spread the word to friends. Try employing some of these techniques to drive more referrals via email.