The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year for marketers and businesses. It’s the busiest sales period, with customers actively looking for gifting options and deals.
Holiday shopping usually starts around Thanksgiving and goes all the way until after Christmas sales.
Email marketing can play a huge role in driving holiday sales for your business.
Studies show that ROI from email campaigns increases by 76% during the holiday season.
But simply sending product promotions or discounts may not be enough anymore.
In this article, we’ll look at tips, strategies, and best practices to create festive, engaging, and high-converting holiday email campaigns.
Let’s get started!
Some of the images are from freepik
Why Holiday Email Marketing is Important
Here are some key reasons why holiday campaigns should be a crucial part of your email marketing:
- Increased sales: Holiday shopping spikes up sales during Nov-Dec. Email campaigns can turn this seasonal traffic into customers.
- Higher engagement: Customers are more receptive to marketing messages during the holidays. Open and click-through rates also increase.
- Opportunity to reconnect: Holiday emails are a good way to reconnect with dormant subscribers and turn them into loyal customers.
- Brand awareness: Festive campaigns help reinforce brand image and personality around the holidays.
- Promote seasonal products/offers: Email is ideal for promoting holiday-specific products, discounts, and deals.
- Builds holiday momentum: Well-timed and relevant emails can turn subscriber interest into sales.
Planning Your Holiday Email Campaigns
The holiday sales season usually spans over two months.
Here are some steps to plan your seasonal email campaigns:
Be clear about what you want to achieve from the campaigns – sales, brand awareness, engagement, etc. This will shape your strategies.
Analyze past performance
Look at open, click-through, and conversion rates for your last year’s holiday campaigns. See what worked and optimize based on lessons learned.
Create an editorial calendar
Plan the campaign schedule – when each email will be sent out and what it will focus on. Coordinate emails with holiday occasions like Christmas, New Year, etc.
Define segments and lists
Create relevant subscriber segments to target based on past purchases, interests, demographics, etc. Avoid sending everyone the same blanket emails.
Establish success metrics
Define metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, revenue, and ROI to benchmark your holiday campaign performance.
Thorough planning and strategizing based on past data and performance will set you up for holiday email success.
Now let’s look at tips to create high-converting holiday emails.
Craft Engaging and Festive Email Subject Lines
The subject line is the first touchpoint to get your emails opened. With inboxes flooded during the holidays, crafting compelling subjects becomes even more important.
Here are some creative ideas and tactics for holiday email subjects:
Leverage the holiday names and themes:
Sprinkle holiday names like Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, etc. into subject lines. E.g. “Merry Christmas from [Brand]”. To make it more appealing and to boost the conversion rate.
Offer a holiday discount or deal:
It is good to offer holiday discounts or deals to your email subscribers or when building your email lists during the holiday periods.
Subjects highlighting savings work well. E.g. “20% off Holiday Offer Just for You!”
Create urgency or scarcity:
When planning and executing your email campaigns during the holidays, it is more productive to imbue the email or product you are promoting in the campaign with a sense of urgency.
Use words like “24-hour sale”, “ending soon” or “limited stock” to encourage faster action.
Share gift ideas or tips
In addition to the product you are promoting in your email campaigns, endeavor to offer your email subscribers pertinent tips and ideas for the holiday season.
“10 Unique Gifts for Him under $30” or “Hosting a Holiday Party? Get Ready in 2 Hours”. Use phrases or titles like those to provide relevant value.
Personalize based on location
It is very important to be very specific and personalized in the emails you send during those holidays because it can build personal trust between your subscribers and you.
“Here’s a Christmas Gift Guide for Seattle Shoppers”. Add local city or state names.
Leverage emojis and seasonal icons
It is very important to use emojis and special icons that match the season that you are currently running an email campaign.
Wreaths, gift boxes(🎁), Christmas trees(🎄), champagne glasses(🥂🍾), etc. used in your emails help grab attention.
A/B test subjects
Try multiple subject line versions to identify which gets more opens and clicks.
Test different emails and subject lines to see which email works better or which email has low conversion rates.
Follow-up on previous emails
Ensure to always be active and follow up on previous emails to ensure email subscriber retention.
“Your Cart is Still Waiting for You” is a reminder of abandoned carts.
Announce shipping deadlines
Ensure to put your email subscribers on their toes by announcing shipping deadlines or product sales endings.
“Order by 12/18 for Christmas Delivery”. Create urgency close to holidays.
Segment and personalize
Ensure that you personalize each email that you send to an individual email subscriber to build trust and the same time improve conversion rates.
“David, you left these in your cart” or “Jude, we picked gifts you might like”are good examples of personalized subject lines.
The subject line sets the tone for your entire holiday email. A/B tests different options and analyzes open rates to find the best-performing subjects.
Design Festive and Seasonal Email Templates
Email design and visual appearance also impact engagement and conversions.
Here are some tips for creating festive templates:
Use holiday color schemes:
Red, green, gold, and silver are colors associated with Christmas and winter. Try light blue and silver for Hanukkah.
Incorporate seasonal graphics and illustrations:
Snowflakes, mistletoe, reindeer, candles, ornaments, etc. evoke the holiday spirit.
Show imagery of gifts and seasonal products:
Display your actual holiday-themed products or gift box illustrations.
Add holiday backgrounds and borders:
Subtle snowfall backgrounds or minimal holly borders work for holiday branding.
Use festive fonts and typography:
Cursive, handwritten, or all-caps fonts imply the celebratory nature.
Keep critical elements consistent:
Retain the brand logo, header, footer, etc. in the usual position for familiarity.
Ensure mobile responsiveness:
Test on mobile screens and allow easy reading and navigation.
Follow best practices for layout:
Single column, relevant imagery, clear call-to-actions, optimal paragraph spacing, etc.
Test and optimize:
A/B test template variations to identify the top performer before finalizing.
Email design should balance festive holiday elements with brand consistency and readability.
Avoid going over the top as it may distract or overwhelm readers.
Offer Holiday Discounts and Promotions
The holidays are a peak sales season. Use promotional emails to offer:
20-25% off entire purchases or categories. “Get 50% off Holiday Decor till Dec 29.
“Buy 2 Sweaters and get the 3rd Free”. Encourage higher order value.
Waive shipping costs for purchases over a threshold amount. Give free shipping during these holiday times.
BOGO and flash deals:
“Buy-one-get-four Free on games” or “48-hr Flash Sale on Gifts”.
Loyalty rewards and coupons:
Exclusive holiday coupons for subscribed members only.
Contests and sweepstakes:
“Win a $500 Holiday Shopping Spree”. Increase email subscriber engagement.
Gift with purchase:
“Get a Free Holiday Gift Pack with $100 Purchase”.
Promote holiday-specific items like advent calendars, Christmas trees, holiday baked goods, etc.
Gift finder tools
Help visitors browse for gifts based on age groups, relationships, hobbies, etc.
Gift cards and e-gift cards
Promote gift cards to send gifts easily. Also, allow e-gift cards for faster digital delivery.
Donations and charity
Support a charity and donate part of holiday sales proceeds to social causes.
The key is providing real value via deals, offers, and incentives for your subscribers during the season.
Drive Urgency with Limited-Time Offers
Urgency and scarcity prompt customers to act faster so they don’t miss time-limited promotions.
Some ways to create urgency:
- Mark calendars and highlight closing dates for offers and sales.
- Use countdown timers to indicate time running out.
- Share specific end dates/times for deals, e.g. Valid only till 25th 11:59 pm PST.
- Note remaining inventory or product quantities to highlight scarcity.
- Use wording like “last day”, “final hours”, and “ending soon”.
- Limit flash sales to 24 hours only and highlight one-day exclusivity.
- For gift suggestions, remind them of shipping deadlines to receive items on time.
- Offer early access to sales and promotions for subscribed members.
- Send reminder emails to those who haven’t completed carts with deadline alerts.
- For in-demand products, nudge them to order early before stocks run out.
- Reward fast action by offering extra discounts or perks for quick purchases.
The fear of missing out due to limited validity or scarcity compels visitors to buy sooner. But avoid excessive hype or unrealistic pressure tactics.
Schedule Holiday Emails Strategically
While increased frequency helps during the holidays, too many emails at once can also backfire and cause unsubscribes.
Here are some tips for scheduling holiday campaigns:
- Start campaigns after Thanksgiving and intensify through peak Christmas shopping days.
- Ensure proper spacing between emails instead of bombarding inboxes.
- Reduce frequency significantly right after Christmas to avoid annoying subscribers.
- Drive urgency in early December with “last minute deals” messaging.
- Promote gift cards and e-gifts closer to Christmas for procrastinators.
- Send thoughtful messages on Christmas Eve/Day just to connect, not sell.
- Share year-end summaries, thanks, and future plans in late December.
- Announce post-holiday sales to clear excess inventory.
- Remind subscribers of season-specific cancellations or delays after holidays.
- Follow-up in January with personalized recaps of their holiday purchases.
- Continue holiday themes into early January with New Year messaging.
Plan your schedule around key holidays, occasions, days, and dates for optimal timing. Give importance to both frequency and relevance.
Segment and Personalize Holiday Emails
Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach by tailoring holiday emails to different audiences depending on:
- Demographics – Age, gender, location, etc.
- Purchase history – Recent orders, repeat purchases, past spending
- Preferences and interests – Product likes, categories browsed
- Subscribe date – Tenure and relationship with brand
- Behavior – Abandoned carts, website activity, email engagement
- Contact details – Email, phone, location for personalization
Ways to segment and customize holiday emails:
- Send targeted product recommendations based on past purchases and interests.
- Highlight top deals suited to their buying patterns.
- Remind subscribers about items still left in their carts.
- Create tiered loyalty rewards, coupons, and offers based on customer value.
- Personalize by including first name, location-specific content, etc.
- Make unsubscribe and preference center easily accessible.
Granular segmentation and personalization ensure each subscriber gets the most relevant messaging and deals.
This not only improves open and click rates but also conversions.
- The Pros and Cons of PPC Advertising: What You Should Consider In 2023
- How to Create a Lead Magnet Template That Drives Email Subscribers
Follow Holiday Email Best Practices
Some final tips for your seasonal campaigns:
- Ensure compliance with spam, CAN-SPAM, and GDPR regulations in your region.
- Get opt-in consent before sending holiday newsletters or promotions.
- Add postal mail unsubscribe options along with email unsubscribes.
- Honor unsubscribe requests promptly and stop contacts from future emails.
- Provide the option to change preferences and allow list removal anytime.
- Ensure the subject line, preview text, and content are consistent.
- Keep important links and buttons above the fold on mobile screens.
- Check proof carefully to avoid errors before sending.
- Test emails thoroughly across clients before final distribution.
- Track opens, clicks, bounces, and unsubscribes to optimize future efforts.
- Analyze performance based on objective metrics set during planning.
- Continue testing and improving based on insights from each campaign sent out.
Focus on relevance, utility value, and list hygiene while maximizing campaign ROI. This will build customer trust for future holiday seasons.
Make the Most of Holiday Email Opportunities
The holiday shopping rush offers fantastic opportunities to engage customers, promote seasonal deals, and boost your end-of-year revenue.
Apply the tips and strategies shared above to create campaigns that spread holiday cheer as well as drive sales.
Run split tests, analyze data, and continuously optimize your email approach.
Customize campaigns for segmented groups to send the most relevant content to each subscriber. Time your emails strategically across the holiday season.
With a bit of creativity and planning, you can have very merry campaigns and happy holidays this season!