The last quarter of the year, particularly the time over Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks, brings the highest volumes of marketing emails and text messages from retailers annually. While this period is critical for reaching year-end goals and is a time that many consumers plan to shop, crafting an impactful strategy that you know will cut through the clutter can feel daunting. As you complete your last holiday preparations and finalize your cross-channel calendar, here are six critical reminders from your friends at Listrak that can ensure an effective strategy.

1. Avoid Sending Marketing Communications at the Top of the Hour

Many brands (we'd argue most brands) typically schedule their email and SMS broadcast campaigns to send at the top of the hour.

Expert Tip: For the 2023 holiday season, consider planning your sends for 15 to 10 minutes before the hour when there's less overall activity. This will help you stand out from your competitors and beat the rush to the inbox. Similarly, consider sending 5 to 10 minutes after the start of the hour so your messages are at the top of the inbox when your customers start opening.

We all know there will be a lot of email and text traffic, so set yourself up for success and offset your broadcast send times a bit.

2. Remember Text Message Marketing Quiet Hours and Remain Compliant

As you set your send calendar with those staggered send times, remember that you cannot send any SMS marketing campaigns during what are known as Quiet Hours – Regulated times set by federal and state law. While you can schedule your email campaigns to deploy at any hour of the day, your text campaigns must be sent to all consumers between 8 AM and 8 PM local time.

Expert Tip: Listrak recommends targeting your SMS broadcast campaigns between 10 AM and 5 PM local time (again, off the top of the hour) to ensure you're not reaching into Quiet Hours territory. Plus always toggle on Time Zone Optimization, so your messages are delivered based on the time zone for the area codes in your contacts' subscribed phone numbers.

3. Keep a Consistent Schedule

The holiday season is NOT the time to slow down your marketing efforts, which includes your email and SMS frequency.

Expert Tip: At this time of year, you should send two weekly broadcasts to both your complete email list and subscribed SMS list. While campaigns in between can and should be segmented based on KPIs like engagement and purchase recency, consumers expect to shop and hear from you at this time of year.

Broadcasts to your full lists ensure you're reaching seasonal buyers, subscribers ready to be re-engaged, your most loyal customers, and everyone in between.

4. Consider Using a 'Bookend' Strategy for Your Best Promotions

For those broadcasts to your complete lists, use a 'bookend' strategy with your best promotions, deals, and discounts.

Expert Tip: Let everyone know when you've gone live with a launch broadcast and when just a few hours remain. Sends in between can go to smaller segments based on how they're engaging, but keep everyone in the know otherwise.

This helps build brand and program loyalty, delivering key messaging promised upfront at the time of opt-in.

5. Continue Triggering Your Automated Campaigns

It is tempting to want to manage your automated campaigns a bit more during the holiday season when your broadcast frequency goes up. But these 1:1 retargeting strategies should NOT be turned off or modified for the last quarter of the year.

Expert Tip: Automated campaigns earn more engagement and revenue than traditional broadcasts, and should be left on to directly communicate with your recent subscribers, abandoners, and purchasers. While you can make some design and copy changes to align your discounting strategy and personalize for the holidays, your automated campaigns should continue to go as normal across email and SMS.

6. Don't Lose Focus on List Growth and Acquisition Strategies

Similarly, remember to grow your lists while planning a more aggressive campaign calendar. Email and SMS programs can only thrive with engaged subscribers, so now's the time to promote your most compelling acquisition incentives, enable more Calls to Action across channels, and plug your holiday messaging plans ahead of time.

Expert Tip: Consumers want to know what you plan on offering for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond, so use that to your advantage with your acquisition strategies and encourage signups to be alerted first. Plus ensure your onsite popup has an SMS signup step alongside email, your checkout process includes a CTA, and promote keyword signup through social and affiliate channels.

Remember, text message marketing compliance rules dictate opt-in must be explicit. You can collect and subscribe email addresses from anywhere you find them, but only those who take the time to give proper consent may receive your SMS marketing campaigns.

Visit Listrak's Holiday Resource Center for even more planning strategies, tips, and tools! Happy Holidays!

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