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Every year my inbox gets inundated with retail Halloween emails.

They all have the same subject line (some variation on “spooktacular,” one of the most overused words ever) and the same message: telling me how to dress up my kids in the latest cute/clever/creepy costumes.

There’s only one problem: I don’t have children.

I like Halloween as much as anybody, but these emails are a poignant annual reminder that many companies I buy from don’t know me. It all adds up to wasted opportunity and messaging, when just a little work up front could have resulted in an email that gave me genuine value and a reason to open it.

The National Retail Federation estimates 179 million Americans will spend about $9.1 billion on Halloween merchandise in 2017, and it isn’t all going just to pint-sized princess and action hero outfits.

Your Halloween message strategy needs two elements to market effectively:

1.Data on children in the home

This is one of the most wanted and commonly available data points requested from third-party data providers. The presence of children in the home will tell you whether your email promoting children’s costumes will get read or deleted.

Once you know which customers have children at home, break it down into gender and age groups if you can. Just knowing kids are still at home won’t tell you whether you’re dealing with 8-year-olds or 28-year-olds. Then, customize your content to reflect those ages.

No kids at home, or kids ages 18+? Suggest appropriate costumes and other content to appeal to SINKs and DINKs (single-income no kids and double-income no kids).

2. Advice for a successful Halloween

Halloween shoppers are hungry for advice and inspiration. Online and in-store shopping are their top sources, along with family and friends, social media, pop culture, current events and email.

You have a highly motivated audience. So, give them advice to help both parents and non-parents have the best Halloween ever. Adding content beyond promotions gives your customers reasons to keep opening your messages.

Offer first-time and younger parents some practical tips for stress-free trick-or-treating.
Tell oldsters what kinds of candy today’s kids want to see in their treat bags.
Depending on your customer household data, suggest budget-friendly or over-the-top party and decorating ideas. Even if you don’t sell these products, your content marketing efforts might prompt your customers to keep your emails around longer in the inbox. A subject line that reflects this different content will also stand out better in the inbox.

Wrapping up

Halloween is a fun time, whether you dress up in costume and stalk the streets with a band of urchins in your wake, or lurk in your doorway handing out candy.

I will be on the premises with a bowl full of Starburst, Reese’s Cups and Almond Joys, (the most popular candy in Texas, or so says which is the tribute I pay to the neighborhood kids to leave my house alone.

When I see a Halloween email that speaks to me as an adult without children, I respect that brand a little more. We make up a potentially substantial segment of the audience. Marketing to us is just as important as addressing parents of little ones.