With all of the bustle and activities during the Holiday season, sending holiday e-mail campaigns is an excellent (and cost-effective) way to stay connected with your customers, clients, prospects, investors, departments you work frequently with, and anyone else on your list. The holiday season is a golden time to connect with people emotionally about what you do, what your business or department offers, and what plans may be developing for the new year. Holidays are a social time and businesses can and should capitalize on that dynamic.

Of course, timing is crucial! People are typically inundated during the holidays with both business and personal obligations, parties, and plans. In fact, Experian data reveals a 17.5 percent increase in overall email volume – on par with its projections of a 15 to 20 percent rise. To ensure your messaging doesn’t get “lost” due to the sheer volume of correspondence at this time of year, try sending your e-mails after “rush hours” – rush hours typically take place before 9 a.m. Try sending materials later in the day. Experian data shows a 15 percent increase in open and click-through rates if messages are deployed between noon and 8 p.m. Also, make sure there’s an offer included in your holiday e-mail and not just a generic message of good tidings. Lastly, plan to follow-up on any call-to-action to ensure your professional relationship stays on track.

Here are some ideas that may help you plan a strategy to match your individual needs:

Offer a seasonal promotion

Most holiday messages offer discounts—a percentage off, free shipping or gift-with-purchase deals. In fact, according to Experian CheetahMail research, percentage-off messaging has already increased year-over-year. Last year, 27% of messages that went out during the holiday season were percentage-off. This year, 32% of emails are expected to contain such offers. If you offer promotions, don’t just offer one promotion for the holidays; offer a range that speaks to different customers. Smaller businesses and even large enterprise customers use the end-of-the-year to begin planning for the next quarter. Many companies raise their prices with the new year. Capitalize on this by offering a specialized discount or promotion to help drive them to spend now.

Time-sensitive offers

Surveys show that people respond to deadlines. The end of the year is an ideal time to build those deadlines into your service or product offering. The end of the year is a natural time to communicate to your prospects: for example, prices are going up next year so now is the time to sign-up and buy. You can offer holiday discounts and include wording that reflects the urgency of signing up prior to the holidays to receive steeper discounting or receive special offers.

“End-of-the-Year” emails

Tell your constituents, clients, and business partners what is coming up in the new year – include any new products or product updates you are working on, communicate what you’ve accomplished over the year (with their help!), and how you intend to build on that, new workshops or webinars planned for the new year, add-on services you’ll be offering, or maybe a strategic alliance or new direction you’d like to announce.

Communicate about holiday hours

If you have special holiday hours, or close your offices between Christmas and the New Year, you should send an e-mail announcing your holiday hours for your clients’ convenience and to keep them up-to-date on how to continue to receive quality service if your hours will change. Keeping customers “in-the-loop” can help drive higher customer satisfaction, and maintain the importance of the relationships you have worked hard over the year to build.

Send E-Mails That Maintain Client Relationships

Even if you aren’t trying to get your clients to buy anything from you for the holidays, the season affords you the opportunity to show your gratitude and stay connected.

Send a customized holiday e-card

A great way to connect with your customers, partners, and professional constituents is to send a personalized holiday e-card. You could include a photo of your staff along with their signatures. You can also include a poignant thought, poem, short story, or artwork that helps express the sentiments of the season.

Invite clients, partners, and prospects to a holiday party or open house

Planning a holiday get-together for your clients is a great way to foster solid relationships. Invite them to join you with an e-mail invitation. You can also use e-mail to send holiday-themed event confirmations or updates if you’ve sent a paper invitation. Be sure to customize and personalize your messaging to make each recipient feel special and honored.

Make a charitable donation

Making a donation to a charity in the name of a customer, partner, or cross-functional team is a great way to share the holiday spirit – and you can tell them about it in an e-card. For example, a donation to the Giving Tree or a child- or pet-oriented charity shows your commitment to the betterment of your community, and fosters continued confidence in your business and relationships.

Including e-mail marketing in your holiday communications planning is a cost-effective way to make and reinforce a personal connection with your customers (or co-workers) and spread the Holiday spirit.

Happy Holidays!