The holidays are a busy time for a small business.

And figuring out how to fit your marketing into your busy schedule isn’t always easy.

That’s why it’s important to start preparing now, so you can get the most out of this busy time of year and spend more time focused on running your business.

This week on Periscope, we discussed five things you can do to prepare your email marketing for the holiday season.

You can watch the recording of our broadcast and read a recap of the discussion below:

(Having trouble viewing the video? Watch it here.)

1. Get your contacts organized

If you’re already using email marketing, you have a database of email contacts. For a lot of people, that database is made up of one list that they send to on a regular basis.

But you can also take that list and organize it into different groups of contacts. This allows you to speak to you audiences differently and provide content and offers that are more relevant to them.

With the holidays coming up, think about how you could organize your contacts and deliver different holiday messages. Maybe you could create a list of people based off of past purchasing behavior and then send them information about products or special offers. If you’re a nonprofit, you can create separate lists for donors and volunteers.

You may have a list of people who have signed up for your emails since last holiday season, and you can create a list to let them know about all the great stuff you have planned for the holidays.

A lot of times, you may be sending a similar email to these different lists but you’re making small changes — like a tweak to the subject line or email copy to make it more relevant to your different audiences.

Sending more targeted messages will improve the effectiveness of your emails and can have a significant impact on email open rates. A recent analysis of Constant Contact customer emails found that campaigns sent to 35 subscribers or less, suggesting more personalized content, saw open rates at an average of 55 percent. Meanwhile, campaigns sent to more than 7,500 subscribers, suggesting low personalization, averaged about a 14 percent open rate.

2. Find the right email templates

If you’re a Constant Contact customer, you have access to our holiday email templates. These templates make it easy to create great-looking holiday emails that match your brand and stand out in the inbox.

We have templates for the major holidays — like Christmas, Hanukah, Thanksgiving, and more. We also have templates for the big shopping and giving days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and #GivingTuesday.

Even if you don’t have big plans for these days yet, all it takes is a quick offer or special information that you want to send out for the holidays and you can easily create an email with these templates.

3. Set up your list-building tools

The holidays are the perfect time to grow your email list. This is especially true for businesses and organizations that rely on the increased traffic around the holidays to reach their goals for the year.

There are a number of tools you can use to grow your email list in-person and online.

For some businesses, a simple email sign-up sheet will be an easy way to encourage people to join your list. There are also tools like Constant Contact’s text-to-join tool or mobile app which allows you to seamlessly add new contacts.

If you have a website, make sure to add an email-sign up form so that visitors can easily join your list. Make sure your sign-up form is visible on your homepage and on other pages of your website so that people can easily find it.

A great way to build your list during the holidays is to create a holiday offer for new subscribers. For retail businesses, offering a coupon is a great way to grow your list and generate additional sales during the holidays and into the New Year.

4. Automate your emails

As you’re growing your email list, you’ll also want to think about how you can follow up with new subscribers.

A great way to do that is with email automation. With tools like Constant Contact’s Autoresponder feature you can set up a series of emails that will send automatically, over a set period of time, to a specific email list.

If you’re a Constant Contact customer, you also have the ability to set up a welcome email, which is an automated email that goes out to new subscribers when they are added to your list. The holidays are a great time to revisit your welcome email to make sure that information is up-to-date and that it’s providing new subscribers with the information that they need. You can also use your welcome email as a way to reward new subscribers with a holiday coupon or another type of offer.

Using your welcome email, along with an autoresponder series, is a great way to follow up with new subscribers during the holidays and into the New Year. You can use your autoresponder series to follow up after a sale or event, or if you are a nonprofit, use it as a way to stay in touch with donors and volunteers in 2016.

5. Set up a holiday schedule

Even if you’re not ready to start sending holiday emails, you can still start planning your emails based on the different things you have going on.

Think about the big holidays and how you can reach out to your different audiences to celebrate these days. Think about the big shopping days earlier in the season and how you can take advantage of these days. And think about how often you need to reach out to your different audiences over the next couple months.

When you’re ready, you can schedule these emails in advance in your Constant Contact account.

Put these tips to work.

Take some time to start preparing your email marketing for the holiday season. Even if you’re just creating your first new list or adding one new tool to grow your email list — these small changes can have a big impact on your results this holiday season.

Have a topic you’d like to see us cover on Periscope? Let us know in the comments below.