As a consumer, I have a Love/Hate relationship with email marketing this time of year. I admit it, I love a good deal and many of my favorite retailers promote some pretty good offers. I also like hearing from smaller, independent retailers and makers that do the bulk of their business at the holidays.The amount of emails I receive does get a bit overwhelming, so I do take the opportunity to unsubscribe from a lot of companies I no longer care to hear from or send too many emails.

There is an insurance company in my town that sends an email at every holiday throughout the year. That is the only time I ever hear from them. Mind you, I am not their client, and I never signed up to receive emails from them. Why don’t I unsubscribe? Simply because I am a marketer and I want to see if they ever change their behavior. So far, they haven’t. Their emails have no call to action or any useful information. Just a simple Happy <insert holiday name here>. You could make an argument for branding, but I bet they have a fairly high unsubscribe rate with each email and probably have turned many people off due to adding people to their list with no permission.

Why bring this up? Because I want you to be smarter with your email marketing and I’m going to give you 5 tips as we head into prime email marketing time.

1. Remember that your email list subscribers are your most important group. Don’t overload or annoy them. Treat them special and give them something you don’t give to anyone else. This may be a special promotion, an exclusive offer or useful information that you don’t share any where else. Your readers have given you permission into their busy inbox. Respect that relationship and make it worth it for both parties.

2. Keep mobile in mind. People are on the go all the time and even more so during the holidays, so they are checking email from their tablets and phones. Keep this in mind when you are designing your email. Use a responsive design template which will make your email look good no matter what device it is read from. Limit the number of images you include in your email since some people will be using their data service which is often slower than WiFi. Some people prefer not to download images included in emails, so you want to make sure that your images complement your message and are not central to the message. This way you don’t require people to download the images to see the promotion or information.

3. Collect emails onsite. If you are a maker or artisan participating in shows or open houses this holiday season consider collecting emails at those events. I have done this in the past at shows and found it to be successful. I used the app MC Subscribe from Mail Chimp on my iPad to collect email addresses from people that purchased our soaps or stopped by our table. The beauty of the app is that you don’t have to worry about deciphering handwriting and saves you time of entering them in by hand. No problem if the location doesn’t have WiFi, the app will collect the addresses and synch with your MailChimp account once you are connected to WiFi.

4. Timing. If you are going to do a series of emails throughout the holidays, it is a good idea to get out your calendar. If you are a product company and have deadlines for shipping or delivery, you need to make sure your emails are communicating that and giving your readers enough time to act upon that information. Look at your calendar and write in your deadlines. Now back out the dates to give your readers time to act. This will also allow you to write those promotions ahead of time and schedule them with your email marketing tool. You are going to get busy, so the more you can plan ahead and schedule tasks, the better.

5. Reintroduce yourself. If you are a service company that has not been consistent with sending emails, now is the time to restart your email marketing effort. Take this time to reintroduce yourself and tell your subscribers what they can expect from you in the future. Give people permission to unsubscribe. I just did this and did have some unsubscribe. You know what. It didn’t bother me because I want people on my list that want to be there and interact with me.  Conversations and conversions mean much more to me that how big my list is.

My advice is to take 20 minutes this week and create a quick plan of how you want to either reintroduce yourself to your subscribers or how you are going to promote your product/service this holiday season including dates and content ideas. That 20 minutes will go a long way to making the most of your email marketing relationships.