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The holidays are almost here, and with them comes a significant influx of online spending. Whether you have a holiday marketing plan in place or are creating one now, you don’t want to miss out.

The days from Black Friday to Christmas generate 50–100% more revenue than other shopping days throughout the rest of the year, and each year, holiday e-commerce sales increase by about 10%. The National Retail Federation announced that it expects holiday retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline, and restaurants – to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year. And, this year, Christmas falls 32 days after Thanksgiving and is on a Monday instead of Sunday, giving consumers an extra weekend day to complete their shopping.

There are several ways for brands to connect with customers to drive sales during this busy time of year, but email marketing has consistently proven to be one of the most effective. After all, email marketing brings in an ROI of $44 for every $1 spent. Additionally, email marketing accounted for a quarter of online sales from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday in 2015.

This post will cover trends for the 2017 holiday season, important dates, and steps for holiday email marketing success.

Trends for 2017

Updates in technology continue to influence how we market to our customers. To keep up, it’s important to review the data, understand shifting trends, and plan your holiday email marketing campaigns accordingly.

To help you out, here are a few expected trends for 2017:

Email marketing reaches consumers where they are

Email marketing is a highly effective method to reach people this holiday season. With 57% of email subscribers spending 10-60 minutes browsing marketing emails during the week, you’re likely to reach people no matter where they are.

On Black Friday, email marketing generated the most sales with 25.1% of the share. Organic search drove 21.1% while CPC (paid search) came in third with 16.6% of sales. Social media was only responsible for a mere 1.6% of sales on Black Friday. Cyber Monday was no different with 1.5% of sales.

Go mobile or go home

This season, brands can’t afford to miss out on mobile. 76% of Black Friday emails and 63% of Cyber Monday emails were opened on a mobile device in 2015 according to Movable Ink.

Furthermore, 56% of searches during the holiday season were conducted on a mobile device. Not to mention, for six days holiday traffic from mobile devices surpassed that of traffic from desktops.

If you are looking to engage your subscribers this holiday season, give them the gift of mobile-friendly emails. Remember, Campaign Monitor makes it easy with our new drag-and-drop mobile-friendly email templates.

Expect shoppers to browse early

Alongside the rise of online and mobile shopping comes early shopping. More than half of holiday shoppers in 2016 started researching potential purchases in October or earlier, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

However, just because shoppers are browsing before Halloween doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make purchases. Roughly two-thirds of those surveyed by the NRF said they didn’t make most of their purchases until November.

Thankfully, this gives you a nice window for persuading interested customers to shop with you. By leveraging savvy trigger-based emails, as well as personalization, you can make sure you’re targeting browsers with the right info at the right time. If you have a good strategy, you’ll convert shoppers into customers.

Blending of digital and in-store efforts

In the past few years, marketers have talked about how much holiday shopping is done online. Indeed, many have foregone going to the mall in favor of finding gifts on e-commerce sites.

However, many shoppers continue to go to physical stores to get inspiration. According to the NRF, 47% of holiday shoppers say they go to stores to get ideas and inspiration on what to buy.

In this landscape, we expect that brick-and-mortar retailers will marry their in-store efforts with their digital experiences.

Free shipping is important to consumers, and so are return policies

If you are stumped and can’t seem to find the perfect holiday promotion, look to statistics to help guide you. Nearly 85% of online shoppers wait five days for delivery. However, 47% of consumers say free shipping was one of the most important factors during the holiday season.

See the gap you can fill? If email marketing is the most successful method for holiday conversions, and people wait for free shipping deals, you can create a free shipping email promotion, and your customers will love you.

Consumers are also looking for good return policies, especially since they’re buying gifts for other people. According to the NRF, 75% of shoppers checked return policies before making a purchase, and 22% backed out of a purchase because they weren’t into the policy.

Ensure you allow enough time for consumers to make returns. Narvar found a 30-day window for returns is the magic number. In fact, they found that 51% of shoppers said that a short time limit for returns would prevent them from making a purchase, but 53% said that a 30-day window is fair.

Notable dates during the holiday season

Here are this season’s most notable holidays to plan your email campaigns around:

  • Halloween – Tuesday, October 31
  • Veterans Day – Saturday, November 11
  • Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 23
  • Black Friday – Friday, November 24
  • Small Business Saturday – Saturday, November 25
  • Cyber Monday – Monday, November 27
  • Giving Tuesday –  Tuesday, November 28
  • Green Monday – Monday, December 11
  • Hanukkah begins – Tuesday, December 12
  • Free Shipping Day – Friday, December 15
  • Winter Solstice – Thursday, December 21
  • Christmas Eve – Sunday, December 24
  • Christmas Day- Monday, December 25
  • Boxing Day – Tuesday, December 26
  • Kwanzaa – Begins Tuesday, December 26
  • New Year’s Eve – Sunday, December 31
  • New Year’s Day– Monday, January 1

Steps to holiday email marketing success

Now that you know what is trending this holiday season, it’s time to decide how it all fits into your email marketing strategy. Here are some steps to help you create the engaging email marketing campaigns to drive massive revenue and delight your subscribers all season long.

Step 1: Pick your promotions

Each company has success with different types of promotions. The promotions that will be more effective will often depend on what products and services you offer.

The holidays you decide to celebrate and promote are largely up to you. You can use past data about open rates to tell you what your customers respond to best.

Step 2: Create a holiday promotion schedule

This holiday season, you want balanced communication. That means keeping in touch with your customers without sending them with too many messages. For your holiday email marketing efforts to work, you need to create a detailed holiday promotion schedule.

Sit down and think about how many emails you’ll need to send out to be successful this season. For example, if you want to create an email campaign encouraging people to visit your site on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, think carefully about how many emails you’ll need, as well as when it makes sense to send them.

Step 3: Break down tasks

The holiday season is notoriously busy, so it’s essential to make sure your team is organized. Who will write the copy? Who will segment the lists? These are decisions you need to make now before the season gets too hectic.

Step 4: Decide on success metrics

No email marketing campaign is successful without the measurement of metrics. Before you start sending emails, think about how you’ll measure success. Do you want engagement rates that are higher than average, or will you be happy if your holiday emails see the same rates as emails sent out at other times of the year? Our reporting on lists & segments makes it super easy to see how parts of your list are performing so you can make improvements as you go.

Step 5: Execute

All hands on deck! Time to execute. This one is self-explanatory, but it’s an important step that involves good copywriting, seamless design, and thoughtful organization.

To craft perfect emails, these resources can help:

Step 6: Analyze

You’ll need to analyze your performance metrics throughout the season. How do they compare to last year’s holiday season? How did they compare to similar metrics at other times of the year? It’s only through analysis that you’ll be able to understand how you did, and where you can improve and shape your strategy for next year.

Tips for holiday success

  • Send save the date emails for any live events. If you’re holding a live event, send a save the date email before providing formal details. This will ensure that people put the date into their calendars. The holiday season is incredibly busy with many parties and festivities, so send save the dates before calendars get filled.
  • Consider the latest trends. Online and mobile shopping are trends that are here to stay, and they’re worth paying attention to this holiday season. Make sure emails look good on any device, and that people can engage with your site from their mobile phones.
  • Make your campaigns cross-platform. You may be focusing on email marketing, but the most effective campaigns are cross-platform. If you’re announcing a sale via email, make sure to share the same information on social media, as well.
  • Personalize your campaigns. This season, retailers will do everything they can to gain the attention of their subscribers. To compete, make sure your campaigns are as personalized as possible, targeting your audience with the right messages to make them take action.

Wrap up

There you have it– the holiday marketing trends, dates, and tips that will help you create compelling email campaigns this season.

Using the information in this blog post and your skills as a savvy marketer, you’ll have the power to make it an awesome holiday season with email marketing.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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