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What will make your B2B emails sparkle during the holiday season? There’s plenty of advice out there for other industries, but the conversation about B2B has been quieter. Of course, B2B customers have their own distinctive needs, so it follows that they need a different approach at Christmas, too.

What makes for successful B2B email marketing during the holiday season? Read on to discover how you can plan and execute B2B campaigns that will keep you on the Nice List.

1. Change your questions

Think about how the holiday season ties in with your brand or service. Don’t focus on why you want people to buy from you at this time of year – that’s the wrong question. You should be considering what you have to offer.

Remember, you didn’t invent Christmas and it’s not breaking news that it happens in December. So if your underlying message is: “It’s Christmas! Give us your money!” that just isn’t going to cut it.

How is your business useful and relevant at this time of year? It can be fun to talk about a seasonal scenario, such as employment rights for elves or booking corporate hotel rooms to avoid a ‘no room at the inn’ scenario. But don’t force the Christmas context if it doesn’t come naturally.

2. Keep leads warm

Always keep an automated lead nurture program running in the background so you stay top of mind. You might be tempted to suspend this until January to avoid all those out-of-office notifications, but that would be a mistake. Why? Because you’ll fail to nurture prospects who are researching the purchases they plan to make in the new year.

Remember to view this year’s emails as a valuable source of data. Use them to inform the timing of future campaigns, as they’ll give you information about when your prospects are active. It can be especially useful to note which subscribers are engaging with all or the majority of your emails – consider segmenting them for more targeted activity as their interest level is high

2015-Subject-Line-Report3. Stand out for the right reasons

Your subject line needs to work even harder at this time of year, as email volume rises. Don’t just plump for any old turkey – arbitrary festive vocabulary won’t bring guaranteed click-throughs.

As Adestra’s 2015 Subject Line Analysis report shows, the wording in your subject lines can affect unsubscribe rates as well as opens. Check your proposed wording using the Adestra subject line checker and remember to split-test different options. Test your designs, too. You might find your subscribers appreciate a touch of festive decoration, but check what brings you more conversions rather than making assumptions.

4. ‘Tis the season… or is it?

Know what this period actually means for your prospects. Do they celebrate Christmas? Think about end of year – do they operate by financial year or calendar year? Check and tailor your communications accordingly.

Many businesses use the calendar year for end of reporting, but some don’t. Different countries have different conventions and of course it varies between businesses. Some choose to end the fiscal year in January or February because December is such an untypical month.

If your prospects are likely to spend at Christmas, don’t try to force their hands. That kind of blatant opportunism will get you relegated to the Naughty List. It’s also a mistake to pressurise leads that simply need to be kept warm until after New Year. Focus on nurturing the relationship.

5. And the next step is…

 Christmas emails don’t happen in a vacuum. Like any marketing activity, they’re just one part of your overall strategy – and relationship-building is especially important for B2B, where sales cycles tend to be longer.

So don’t just think about what you’re sending right now. Look at the results from what you sent this Christmas and during the past year, identify ways to improve and consider how you’ll keep the momentum going in the new year.

For example, you could:

As you’ve seen in these tips, it’s all about offering your prospects something relevant and valuable. Well, they do say Christmas is a time of giving to receive.