One does not simply holiday shop. No, no. Going into a store and blindly buying a present without forethought is for amateurs. There is an art, a science to choosing the perfect gift for everyone on your list – it involves months of subtle hint dropping and taking mental notes of needs and interests.

I start planning (obsessing) around Halloween, always adding items and ideas to a list I keep on my phone. When the stores start decorating with poinsettias and pumping Bing Crosby through the PA system, it’s on. I want to have options, I want to save money, and I want to see those it’s-perfect looks on everyone’s faces on Christmas morning.

As I discovered when I started in marketing – everything at work applies outside of work. Holiday shopping being no different, here are five lessons that gift buying taught me about email marketing:

  1. Design a plan of attack: It takes more than one marketer to deploy an email campaign. The most successful campaigns have help from writers, designers, and editors so everyone can contribute ideas from their skill set.
    • When only one person is involved it can feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. This is also a great argument for shopping with help – shop with a friend, make a list of stores to check out, and always check that you have enough wrapping paper!
  2. Don’t procrastinate: Don’t design your email’s message and graphics at the last minute, as it will look like the afterthought it is. Give yourself and your design team enough time to test banners, length, tone, layout, etc with at least two weeks from conception to deployment.
    • Last minute emails are like Christmas Eve shoppers – they’ll buy anything to take home and wrap. Not caring enough about the thought behind the present.
  3. Expand on a winner: Did a particular campaign bring back record-breaking statistics? Make it the first in a series! Maybe you’ve introduced a fun character to educate customers about your product or held a webinar for a packed crowd.
    • Every year I buy my little brother a calendar for Christmas. I know I’m buying one, he knows he’s getting one. But the theme changes every year based on whatever is the cool thing with teenagers that week.
  4. Ditch a loser: If a particular email campaign bombed (hey, it happens) with low open rates, even lower click rates and pitiful follow up engagement, don’t send it again. You might think this is an obvious point, but when it’s crunch time and an old campaign is sitting in your marketing automation software, sometimes laziness takes over.
    • Is one of your Christmas presents sitting on a friend’s shelf collecting dust? Then it probably wasn’t a big hit. Don’t take it personally and remember it’s the thought that counts, but now you’ll know what to avoid for the next holiday season.
  5. Remember what really matters: Your email content should be interesting, relevant, and desired by your recipients. Keep their wants and needs in mind when choosing a theme, design and tone for any and all email campaigns.
    • Just like I pay attention to what gifts friends and family would appreciate most, we should also pay attention to what content customers and prospects would appreciate most.

As an adult, the holidays can seem a little less magical and a little more stressful. You may want to throw a tantrum on the kitchen floor when another ornament breaks, the cookies are burned, or the snow causes flight delays. Try employing your same organized, calculated marketing strategies outside of work and remember, it’s about family, friends, celebration, and appreciation.