This post was written by our friends at Constant Contact and originally appeared on Constant Contact’s blog. To receive more holiday hints and tips, visit Constant Contact’s Holiday HQ.

The holidays are a busy time for your business.

And with so much to do, you may be wondering how you’re going to keep up with your growing list of marketing responsibilities, while also keeping your business running smoothly.

When it comes to your email marketing, one of the best ways to save time while still driving important results is by automating the emails you’re sending out.

Here’s how email automation works.

With a tool like Constant Contact’s Autoresponder feature, you can set up a series of emails to automatically send to subscribers when they are added to an email list. For example, you can create an autoresponder series designed to turn prospects into customers, customers into repeat buyers, and to address frequently asked questions from other groups of contacts such as donors and volunteers.

Best of all, once set up, an autoresponder series works on autopilot so you can focus on other areas of your business.

Think automation can fit into your holiday marketing plans? Here are three ideas to get started:

Welcome New Subscribers

Hopefully you’re collecting new contacts and growing your email list during the holiday season. When someone subscribes to your mailing list, you want to welcome them by first thanking them for subscribing and then providing them with information about who you are and what you do.

Make a good first impression by sending them a welcome email immediately after they subscribe to your mailing list.

Let them know that you will treat their email address with respect and remind them that they can unsubscribe at any time.

Give Them a Gift

Remember, this is a time when your new subscribers are newly engaged with you. Giving away something small may be the first step to developing long-lasting relationships.

Depending on the nature of your business you could offer an introductory discount or coupon, or you might want to provide an informational video or instructional how-to resource. If you offer services, you could break up these resources into a short educational series.

Treat each email as an installment in the series so that your new subscribers can get comfortable with your material and become more accustomed to your services and expertise. This type of approach is slow and steady and works to familiarize your new subscribers with your brand.

The key here is to offer something valuable and memorable during the holiday season to keep your business fresh in their minds and bring them back in the New Year.

Send Thanks to Your Loyal Subscribers

While much of your effort during the holidays will be to attract new customers, don’t forget about the people who know and support your business already.

Take your most active, engaged contacts that open your emails often and create a special holiday promotion contact list to add them to. These contacts can stay in their existing lists as well, but by assigning them to a holiday promotion list, you can create an autoresponder for just your most loyal customers.

Come up with a few VIP discounts to send them then create autoresponder emails for different offerings, and space the offers out over the course of the holiday season.

For example, schedule one ‘preview’ email to send a few days before Thanksgiving briefly detailing your forthcoming offers or donation requests. Tell them to ‘watch their inbox’ for more to come, and follow up with two or three timely messages between then and the end of the year.

Want to get started? Create your first autoresponder series with Constant Contact. Start your free trial today!