I realized just how close the holiday season actually was when I ran into a life size mummy in a department store on Saturday. Yes. I ran into a life size mummy. That aside, Halloween means that the Holiday shopping season basically started yesterday. The end of the year is approaching and (for some) that means an evaluation of  email marketing and strategy.

I wanted to compile a list that gives you a basic breakdown of what you should be focusing for the 2012-2013 marketing season.

  1. Convey Clear Value. It is not enough to slap forms or icons on your website homepage; they must be accompanied by copy and creative that communicates the reason for consumers to engage. Communicate value effectively, and your email subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and other social audiences will grow.
  2. Simplify Your Opt-In Form. Don’t collect consumer data unless you plan to use it. Asking too many questions during email opt-in will reduce form completion, so only stick to those that you leverage for message personalization or optimization.
  3. Promote Social Brand Engagement. Consumers engage with brands on social networks in large part because they want to become part of a community with similar interests. If your brand lends itself to strong communities of this nature, find creative ways to showcase the community and its members on your site. To put it another way, pull back the curtain on how you’re interacting with fans in order to attract more fans.
  4. Encourage All Types of Social Sharing. As detailed in our 2012 Channel Preference Survey, email, Facebook, and Twitter are the two primary ways consumers share information online. Both Google+ and Pinterest have also quickly become must- have sharing links. If space isn’t an issue, offer sharing links not only on your homepage, but also at the individual product page level. Each time a user shares content, it’s a chance to draw new visitors to your site and increase sales—and isn’t that why we’re all here?
  5. Supercharge the Welcome Email. When sent in a timely fashion after subscription, the welcome email will produce your email program’s highest opens and click- through rates. Optimize the content to orient new subscribers, reaffirm your brand promises, and give new subscribers a sense of exclusivity. And don’t batch welcome emails—automate them so each subscriber receives your welcome message in close proximity to opt-in.
  6. Tie Frequency to Consumer Expectations. The first 30 days after opt-in are critical to establishing your sender reputation with a subscriber. Don’t drown them in promotions. Find the balance appropriate to your brand and product offering and then test different content and cadence to find your sweet spot with new subscribers.
  7. Use the Data You Collect. Segment and personalize email content based on the consumer data you collect. If you don’t leverage the data, then don’t collect it. After all, a shorter opt-in form will likely translate into more subscribers.
  8. Reengage Everyone. If a consumer has purchased from you, then ask them via email to review your products. If a consumer has left their cart before completing the sale, then build an abandonment program that gives them good reason to purchase. Reengagement is for everyone.
  9. Know Your Channel. Know your audience. Facebook fans love to interact with their peers and have their stories shared by brands they love. Pinterest users love highly visual content that inspires them. Twitter followers want to be the first-to-know information about your brand so they can share it with their followers. And YouTube subscribers want to be entertained and informed by your brand. You build these different audiences precisely because they are different. Therefore, don’t blast them with content that isn’t channel-appropriate.
  10. Embrace Cross-Channel Promotion. Not every Facebook fan is an email subscriber and vice versa. Give your audiences the ability to hear from you through multiple channels by occasionally promoting other channels within your social networks. Consumers who use each channel for very different purposes may very well take you up on the offer, and your bottom line may improve as a result.