Ready or not, the holidays are upon us once again! It is a time for celebrating, spending time with loved ones, and resting in preparation for the New Year that will soon be here.

For marketers, however, the holidays represent something else: opportunity. The holiday season is crucial for all types of businesses with an online presence, especially in Australia: did you know that some Aussie retailers depend on the holiday season for as much as 25% of their total online sales for the entire year?

One of the best ways to boost your sales during the holiday season is through an effective email marketing campaign. According to marketing specialist Wolfgang Jaegel, the ROI of email marketing is astounding: he reported earlier this year that for every $1 spent on e-mail marketing, companies can expect an average return of $44.25.

If you are looking to shape up your email marketing to prepare for the upcoming holiday season, here are four ways to create more effective email campaigns that result in more leads and more sales.

1. Start Early

If you haven’t already started planning out your e-mail marketing campaigns, now is the time to get to it. The best marketers often begin crafting their holiday marketing strategies months in advance, sometimes as early as August or July.

Even if you haven’t been able to get started very early, there is still time to plan your campaign. The best marketing campaigns build up gradually to their deals: first they tease the reader with a taste of special deals and offers to come, then they build excitement when those deals are close, and finally they announce that the deals are here. The more time you put into planning your email marketing efforts, the more success you will likely have.

2. Segment your Prospect Base

Last year, Australian email marketing firm Vision 6 released a study that included email marketing statistics that revealed an interesting trend: the more recipients a piece of email marketing is sent to, the less likely it is that the email will be opened.

This statistic highlights the importance of segmentation. It is important that you make an effort to divide up your customer and prospect base. Deciding exactly how you want to make these divisions depends on your particular industry and target demographic, but in general the more targeted your email marketing is, the better it will perform.

3. Create an Aggressive Offer

In the U.S. it’s Black Friday, in China they have Singles Day, and in Australia we have Boxing Day. Even though holiday sales take place on different days throughout the world, one marketing concept remains consistent: businesses save their best deals for the holiday season.

If you want to be competitive with others in your field, you must do the same. Whether it is a large percentage discount, a free trial, or a valuable coupon, it is important that your email marketing includes a holiday offer that is one of your best for the entire year. This will satisfy the expectations of your consumers, who are on the look out for great deals during the holidays, while giving them more of a reason to open your emails and check out your web site.

4. Make Sure Your Emails are Responsive

This holiday season is projected to be a big one for mobile sales in Australia. Adobe has predicted that this year, mobile online holiday sales from smartphones and tablets will be greater than 15% of total holiday sales revenue. This projection puts Australia at fifth in the entire world when it comes to countries with the largest mobile share of holiday sales online.

Not only are sales going up, holiday email marketing is becoming more popular around the world as well. Email marketing statistics from global marketing company Email Monks shows that in the last two quarters of 2011, 27% of emails sent to mobile devices were opened. Two years later in 2013, that number shot up to 48%. If you want to get as large of a response as possible from your marketing emails, make sure they can be opened on all types of smartphones and tablets.

With these tips you will be well on your way to crafting effective email marketing correspondence that provides value to your audience and helps make your holiday season a more profitable one.