7 Tips for Better Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns

The holiday season is already here, and so is the opportunity to boost online sales before the New Year. The trend rolls ever upward, and 2017 is no exception. This year’s holiday eCommerce sales are projected to grow 10% over last year’s holiday season.

There are a lot of ways to spread holiday cheer and encourage people to buy online: social media, the blogosphere, paid advertisements, you name it. But nothing speaks better to audiences than email. In fact, 66% of marketers say email is the most effective holiday marketing channel.

If you’re ready to start maximizing your email marketing power this holiday season, here are 7 tips that can help:

1. Think Beyond the ​Big Holidays

If you only focus on the big 3 holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas), you’re missing out on a lot of marketing power in the holiday season. There are plenty of other holidays towards the end of the year that give people an excuse to spend money. Some are more official than others:

  • Columbus Day (October 9th)
  • Veteran’s Day (November 11th)
  • Black Friday (November 24th)
  • Small Business Saturday (November 25th)
  • Cyber Monday (November 27th)
  • Green Monday (December 11th)
  • Free Shipping Day (December 15th)
  • Super Saturday (December 23rd)

Haven’t heard of some of these “holidays”? Well, don’t underestimate their power to drive sales. According to comScore insights, Green Monday online desktop spending is up 15% year-over-year to $1.62 billion, making it the 5th heaviest spending day of the holiday season.

holiday ideas email marketing

2. Work Harder to Make Holiday Emails Stand Out in Inboxes

If you’re going to enter the holiday email marketing melee, use everything in your arsenal to stand out from the crowd. According to a 2016 study by IBM, it’s actually harder to get people to open your emails between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, compared to other times of the year.

The reason?


Companies send way more marketing emails during the holiday season, making it extra difficult to get noticed in inboxes.

Start by increasing the number of marketing emails you send out during the holiday season. Klaviyo researched the problem and found the optimum amount of holiday-related marketing emails for eCommerce companies ranges from 21-30.

Next, do anything else you can to ensure your subject lines stand out and get clicks. Seasonal emojis are a great idea:

email marketing for the holidays

3. Remember Who They’re Buying For

Convincing your audience they need your products is the main goal of your marketing strategy all year long. But when Christmas comes around, everything changes. Now you’re trying to show your audience why they should buy your products for someone else.

Your marketing message should reflect this shift. People might be lost on what to buy their family and friends. That’s a new pain point you can help with.

​Gift cards are of course the simplest solution. And more than half of people say they want to receive gift cards during the holiday season. Moment made the most of this in their holiday emails:

holiday campaign idea

You should also re-imagine your products through the eyes of someone shopping for others.

Canopy did a nice job of this by categorizing their products by who you’re shopping for:

holiday promotions

​4. Eliminate Barriers to Purchase

According to a Deloitte study, roughly one in five gift purchases made during the holiday season will be unplanned impulse buys:

holiday marketing campaigns

This holiday shopping mentality is something email marketers can take advantage of.

Here’s an example of this in action: TigerDirect’s Christmas marketing emails included discounted 2nd day air for last minute shopping, and buy buttons right from email.

holiday marketing ideas

Encourage your audience to act on their impulses by eliminating barriers to purchase. In other words, put buy buttons right in your emails.

5. Remind Them the Holidays are ​Creeping Up

Creating a “sense of urgency” in your emails is marketing mantra if you want to encourage people to act. Your holiday emails are no exception.

The holidays always creep up on people faster than they’d expect, and it’s your job to remind them of this. A countdown to Christmas is one great way to inject a sense of urgency in your emails.

Amazon, for example, did a countdown to Black Friday in their holiday email campaign by offering a new deal every day:

holiday marketing

Whenever you send a holiday marketing email, give readers a reason why they should act now, not later.

6. Email Last Minute Deals for Last Minute Shoppers

Even if you’ve been sending out holiday marketing emails since October, don’t give up when the week of Christmas finally rolls around. In fact, the two biggest shopping days of the holiday season are December 17th and 23rd.

That’s probably because most of us are procrastinators, and finish our shopping in a flurry in the days before Christmas.

In a final push to drive sales, always send some last-minute deals for last-minute shoppers, like PearTree did with their Christmas card deal:

email marketing holiday ideas

7. Think Outside the Retail Box

If you run a service-based business or SaaS company, you might not think there’s much use in holiday email marketing. Who buys their mom a marketing automation tool for Christmas, right?

Even if your products aren’t “gift worthy,” you can still take advantage of these holidays for email marketing.

CoSchedule, for example, took advantage of Cyber Monday to promote a free trial:

holiday email

Configure.IT also got in the Christmas spirit by gifting 50% off on subscriptions for a year:

holiday email marketing

Holiday marketing emails don’t have to be about Christmas gifts. You can use holiday cheer to drive all sorts of marketing goals.

Case-in-point: This veterinary hospital that uses the holiday season to promote content and engage with their clients:

holiday day sale marketing

Wrapping Up Holiday Email Marketing Tips

Some may call it “dead,” but email marketing still drives more conversions than any other marketing channel. And when the season of giving comes around, it’s just another great opportunity to boost sales (and work towards many other marketing goals) with your holiday email messages.

Remember these tips, get creative with your email messages, and you’ll start seeing the marketing magic the holiday season brings. Don’t forget to track and analyze your efforts! 

Courtney Danyel

Courtney Danyel is a freelance business writer specializing in digital marketing, SaaS, and online business strategies. She's on Twitter @danyeltravels.

  • Rachael says:

    Loved reading this! I do not have any of my own products to sell just yet but I will keep this in mind for when I do. Going to try to get my first affiliate sale this coming season with some of these tips!

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