Gamifying your holiday content calendar planning

Jump start your holiday content and lower your stress levels by planning your calendar early. Here are five steps to get you started.

Hermes is running behind a turkey



While cleaning the other day, I dusted off an old original Game Boy and lo and behold, what did I come across? Tetris. For memory’s sake I turned on the console and gave the puzzle game a play. More than half an hour later of dragging, dropping and re-organizing shapes I remembered the pull of this simple but oh-so-addicting concept. Why is that? Psychology suggests that we’re wired to want to keep things tidy. According to the Zeigarnik Effect, “incomplete tasks stick in memory” - which is why Tetris is so captivating, because it presents both an incomplete problem of falling blocks and an immediate solution of rearranging them.

Planning your holiday email strategy can be just as exciting as tetris. Gamify your campaigns and lower your stress levels by tidying up your content into a calendar. Reach your customers with the right message at the right time. Let’s get started.

Piecing together your goals

We started off our holiday series by talking about how to determine your goals for the season and how to brainstorm content topics. Now that you’ve got all the content blocks laid out, it’s just about dropping them into place.

Remember, goals can vary a lot depending on the nature of your business. But no matter your goal, let’s take a look back at your historical data to review where you found success last year. For example, if you’re looking at conversion, see how many touch points your customers or prospects have needed in the past before converting. This will give you a sense of how many times to email about that white paper download or outerwear sale.

Rotating your resources

Be real with yourself and your team. It can be tempting to fill your calendar to the brim - but remember, quality over quantity. Avoid burnout by building out enough buffer time between email sends to accommodate for technical or design work. Visualizing your content calendar earlier will help you better manage workflow and keep everyone accountable throughout the season. It’ll also help you anticipate any additional resources you might need. If your goals really require another set of infographics, videos or greater send frequency and you’re short on staff, look for freelancers to help lighten the load. Tools like Crew and CloudPeeps can help connect you to designers, developers and marketing talent.

Sliding around key dates  

By now, you probably have a solid understanding of who your customers are and what type of content they’re most engaged with. But do you know where they’re from? It can be easy to forget to account for various regional holidays - which means a lost opportunity to impress and convert. You might want to get a leg up on your competitors by promoting a preview sale or exclusive content days leading up to the holidays. Couple this with social media shares and an easy opt-in form on your landing page to boost your list for the season.

Get started by checking out our handy list of key holidays on our Holiday Email Toolkit timeline.

Instead of one-way interruption, web marketing is about delivering useful content at precisely the right moment when a buyer needs it.

David Meerman Scott, Author, The New Rules of Marketing and PR

Controlling your speed

Just as a really fast drop speed in Tetris turns most average players off, your contacts will have a hard time keeping up with your content if you send too frequently. As you’re building out your calendar, incorporate segmentation to send more to the right people at the right time. Craft up special content for your most engaged contacts or an extra holiday onboarding series for new subscribers.

We recommend taking a page from social’s 30/60/10 ratio to plan out how frequently you message certain types of content to your lists. The ratio suggests that brands should share 30% of the content they create, 60% curated content from other influencers or related brands and 10% call-to-action content. This is especially important to consider during the holiday season when consumers are constantly being hit over the head with offers, deals and other promotional content. Stand out by providing value - whether that’s a funny video, educational infographic or a gift planning guide. Win your customers over by being so good, they can’t ignore you.

We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in & be what people are interested in.

Craig Davis, Founder of Brandkarma and former Chief Creative Officer of J. Walter Thompson

Schedule, line by line

Wrap things up by finalizing your calendar using Google Sheets, or tools like CoSchedule or Kapost.

As you being to fill in your calendar, you’ll see content gaps or opportunities across channels. Supplementing your email content with re-targeted Twitter or Facebook ads served to addresses from your contact list. Or, repurpose your content to capture your audiences’ attention and make the most of your resources. Share email content across other channels such as social, blog posts, presentations and guides.

Taking out a few hours to plan your holiday calendar will be well worth it, we promise. Your stress levels will thank you for organizing your content. You might even get addicted to planning! What tips or tools have you found helpful in the past when planning your email calendar? Share with us below!

Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet's Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing.


The ultimate guide to holiday email marketing

Check out our ultimate guide to holiday email marketing and win the battle of the inbox this holiday season.

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