Do you have your holiday email marketing strategy already in place?
Don’t procrastinate until December before you start creating holiday email messages. The best time to start is now.
For many businesses, the holiday period, spanning from early November to early January, is one of the most profitable of the year.
This period is especially important for retail. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales account for 20% of all retail sales. In November and December 2017 alone, those sales accounted for $691.9 billion!
Not in retail? Don’t worry! All businesses benefit from a seasonal lift in sales.
When people are searching the web for Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail offers, the holidays are a great opportunity for any business to offer deals that entice customers to stick around and keep that income flowing in all year round.
Why You Need Holiday Email Marketing
Holiday email marketing is a big driver of the seasonal sales boom. According to Mailcharts, email marketing is responsible for 20% of holiday sales. If you do the math that means email marketing alone brings in billions of dollars in revenue for businesses each year.
The Black Friday to Cyber Monday period is particularly lucrative. That’s why Mailcharts’ stats show 60% of all marketing emails sent over that weekend are promotional:
Even outside the holiday period, email marketing plays a key role in lead generation and customer acquisition, so it makes sense to craft holiday email messages to capitalize on this peak sales period.
In this guide, you’ll get holiday email marketing tips that’ll help you make the most of the most important buying season. We’ll also include holiday email marketing examples you can use to inspire your own campaigns.
1. Know Your Holidays
Every country’s got its major holidays, which often coincide with peak sales times.
If you’re in the US, the most important holiday season runs from early November to early January, a two-month promotional window that fuels profits for the whole year.
Wherever you’re located, our first holiday email marketing tip is to collect a list of key holidays and integrate them into your email marketing calendar.
Almost any event is a good peg for a marketing campaign, so don’t be afraid to include unusual events, like:
• The first day of fall
• The winter solstice
• An eclipse
Here’s an example from King’s Flower and Garden:
2. Start Early
For the US holiday season, GoDaddy recommends you start your holiday email marketing campaigns between November 1st and 15th. That’s when most people open your holiday marketing emails; after that, open rates drop.
It’s not just your email campaigns you should plan in advance, either. If you want to have somebody to market to, you’ll need to grow your email list early, too.
We always recommend starting to build your email list when you start your business, even before you launch it formally. And if you have an established business, you should be building your list all through the year.
3. Create Holiday-Themed Campaigns
Many websites change colors and themes to signal the holiday season. You can do the same with holiday email marketing campaigns. Let’s face it; if your emails always look the same, your subscribers will soon get bored.
Switch things up with some holiday email templates, and you’ll get much more attention for your marketing campaigns.
4. Create a Holiday Gift Guide
One great holiday marketing idea is to create a holiday gift guide.
This is a resource for email subscribers and web visitors that showcases gifts that match their interests. Here’s an example:
You can create your own holiday gift guide by creating a new page or blog post on your website that showcases relevant products.
Include different sections in your guide, so your subscribers can easily find the things that interest them most. For example, some guides divide their featured products:
• By gender, showcasing gifts for men and gifts for women
• By age, such as gifts for kids
• By price
• By interests, such as gifts for gadget lovers or dog owners
If you know your buyer personas, it’ll be easy to decide on how to segment your products or services.
Shopify’s tips on creating a gift guide include:
• Curating products around a theme and using influencers as guest curators where appropriate.
• Making it mobile-friendly, so subscribers can reach key products in a couple of clicks or taps.
For best results, link to your gift guide in every holiday email message, so it can keep promoting your products and services all through the holiday season.
5. Launch Exclusive Holiday Sales
If you’re looking to wow your subscribers with holiday email marketing, try offering exclusive offers for those who are already on your list.
Not only is it good to get something for nothing, but being an insider makes your subscribers feel great. In fact, offering discounts can help you make more sales.
Insider deals are also a great incentive for people to sign up for your email list.
One example of a Christmas-themed campaign is “naughty or nice” messaging, used by a number of companies. Here’s an example from Canon.
Have a little fun with this concept, by seeing what could be naughty or nice in your own niche, and incorporating that into your holiday email messaging.
You can also build a relationship with subscribers throughout the holidays, by tempting them with more and more relevant offers each time they visit your site.
6. Use Urgency
Using urgency is a great way to boost sales with your holiday email marketing campaign. A time-limited holiday offer encourages visitors to take action now because nobody likes to miss out.
You can also leverage urgency by:
• Promoting early bird pricing for some of your products and services.
• Including last order and last shipping dates in all your emails so subscribers know exactly to order so they get their stuff on time.
• Displaying holiday discount codes with a countdown timer.
7. Create an Online Advent Calendar
One innovative idea for holiday email marketing is to create an online advent calendar. This is a great way to maintain interest in your business and increase engagement throughout the holiday season.
Time-tracking software provider Freckle has done this couple of times, creating Freelancember, an online advent calendar for freelancers. They send daily emails reminding subscribers to click on today’s date and uncover what’s inside.
One of the most appealing things about this strategy is that most of the items are non-promotional, designed to raise awareness of their product by providing useful tips for their target audience.
But you can also use an online advent calendar to highlight daily special offers or to showcase fun holiday-themed contests, quizzes, polls, videos, images, and articles.
8. Theme Your Subject Lines
If you want subscribers to open your holiday marketing emails, your email subject line has to be right. That’s why one of our top tips for improving holiday email marketing is to tap into that holiday feeling with your subject lines.
Next time you send a holiday email, try including a seasonal emoji. The research shows that using emoji in subject lines gets attention, and results in 56% more opens.
If you think about it, wouldn’t you pay more attention to an email subject line with a turkey, a Christmas tree, or a snowman? We know we would!
Emoji aside, you can get more attention by referring explicitly to the holidays or your holiday offers in your emails. Here are a few examples we liked:
• Chronicle Books: “Put Some Boo in Your Next Book Order”
• Dell: “It’s Cyber Monday All Week!”
• Fortnum & Mason: “Making Christmas merrier since 1707”
• Just Give: “Gifts that do good…and feel good”
• Kathryn Aragon: “Christmas in July”
• Monoprice: “Holiday Gift Guide – Headphones & Earphones Starting Under $10”
• Nordstrom: “Black Friday Is Here Early”
• Pottery Barn Kids: “[gift emoji] The BEST gift: 20% OFF anything (TODAY ONLY!)”
• Shutterfly: “We’re feeling very merry. Get 50% off your order”
• Sports Authority: “Hurry, Only Hours Left for Cyber Monday Savings!”
• Story Bistro: “Thanks, Giving, and a Little Bit of Getting”
• theSkimm: “Winter is (officially) coming”
Don’t forget to make the email preview text holiday-themed as well. Email preview text is like a second subject line that’ll pique your subscribers’ interest so they want to open your emails. Here’s how you edit preview text in Mailchimp.
9. Don’t Forget the Footer
Here’s another smart holiday email marketing tip: don’t neglect the footer of your email as a place to woo your customers and make sales. It’s easy to neglect the footer once you set up your email template, but that’s a mistake. In fact, the footer’s a great place to promote:
• Your holiday gift guide (tip #5)
• Gift cards and other gift services
• Last order and last shipping dates
10. Optimize for Mobile
Mailchart’s Holiday Email Marketing Guide reveals that 63% of emails are opened on mobile devices. However, only 40% of emails are mobile optimized. That’s a big problem.
The data shows that more and more sales happen on mobile devices each year. In fact, research from GoMoxie shows 65% increase in sales on smartphones between 2015 and 2016.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that your holiday email marketing campaigns, and your marketing campaigns in general, are mobile optimized.
Optimizing holiday email marketing for mobile devices means:
• Using responsive templates which resize for different screens while keeping the most important content visible.
• Optimizing images so they look good and load quickly because slow loading content drives mobile users away.
• Writing short subject lines, or making sure the key information is at the start, so subscribers aren’t mystified by missing information.
Finally, one of the best ways to test your holiday email marketing campaigns is to see how it looks on your own mobile device or the mobile devices your customers are using.