Resources Hub » Blog » 4 Email Marketing Tips for the Holidays

Article first published September 2015, updated January 2020

Have you started sending holiday emails yet? If not, now’s the perfect time to start, as more and more retailers begin their marketing push as early as September. Considering the high volume of sales that take place between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, getting your holiday email marketing ready now is a smart move.

The average holiday shopper will spend about $1,047.83 during the holidays. That’s up 4% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. To ensure your holiday emails are merry and bright, we have 4 email marketing tips for the holidays.

1. Forget delivery by sleigh—focus on mobile.

Last year, retailers reported that mobile’s share of traffic reached an average of 40% on Thanksgiving 2018, while Cyber Monday saw 28% more traffic coming from mobile devices. With an increasing number of shoppers using tablets and smartphones to consume email, it’s more important than ever to make sure your holiday email is mobile-friendly.

Here are a few tips to optimize your emails for mobile:

Use a mobile-friendly email template.

How do your emails look on mobile devices? Make sure you use a mobile-friendly email template, like the ones offered by Campaign Monitor, and go the extra mile to ensure success by using our inbox preview feature to see how your emails appear in over 25 different email clients, so you know your email looks fantastic in every inbox.

Be fussy about fonts.

Everything is smaller on mobile devices. Subscribers shouldn’t need magnifying glasses to read your email, so make sure you select a web-friendly font like Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, or Georgia. You’ll also want to increase the size of your font for easy viewing.

Keep it brief.

On a small screen, five or six sentences can look like a novel. You don’t want to overwhelm your subscribers. Keep your email messages short and consumable and link to longer or more detailed content on your website or blog.

2. Deck your subject lines with holiday cheer.

Subject lines can make or break your email. About 33% of subscribers decide whether or not to open your email based on the subject line alone. With email volumes increasing exponentially around the holidays, your subject line needs to convince subscribers to open your email and take action.

Here are a few types of email subject lines you can use during the holidays:

The explainer

Tell recipients exactly what’s in the email. Are you offering a deal? What kind of deal is it? How long is it available? Provide specifics, so recipients know what’s in it for them.

The question

Use a question in your subject line to intrigue subscribers. Try something like, “Ready to knock out your holiday shopping?” or “What will you do with your 50% off holiday coupon?”

The holiday connection

Use popular holiday traditions in your subject lines as a clever way to entice readers to open your message. You can reference holiday foods like cookies, latkes, or traditions like trimming the tree, opening an advent calendar, or lighting a menorah, or winter-related themes like snowmen and sleigh rides.

The urgent deadline

Is a sale or event about to end? Remind customers about this pending deadline in an email, and be sure to put the urgent information right up front in the subject line. Use urgent language like, “Limited-time offer,” “Sale ends today,” “Only 4 hours left,” or “Doorbusters till noon only.”

The open-inducing holiday emoji or symbol

There’s an emoji for everything these days, and the holiday season is a great time to spice up your subject lines with some festive flair like a snowflake, a tree, or the open-inducing snowman. Subject lines with icons had a higher unique open rate for 56% of brands, according to an Experian report.

3. Offer deals even St. Nick can’t pass up.

Shoppers can’t pass up a good deal during the holidays. Make it easy for customers to shop by offering a can’t-resist promotion.

The deals customers really want

The top three promotions that can tip the holiday scales in your favor include cashback, product discounts, and free shipping. Here’s an example from Campaign Monitor customer Sephora which has a festive holiday look and a compelling product discount.

Compelling holiday discount email example

Last-minute deals

Every shopper procrastinates. Help those last-minute shoppers out with a deal. In the example below, Campaign Monitor customer Birchbox sent out a deal right before Christmas, but you can use these deals before Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday too.

Last-minute deal email example

Add a discount to your welcome email.

During the holidays, why not switch up your usual welcome email for one with a holiday theme and limited-time promotion? Welcome emails with offers have a 2.5 times higher transaction rate than those without, according to a report by Experian. That’s a holiday deal everyone benefits from. You can save time by creating a holiday welcome email now and automating it. That way, when new customers sign up during the holiday season, you can maximize your reach and earning potential.

Add an incentive to abandoned cart reminders.

Last year, brands lost an estimated $8.6 billion due to abandoned carts from mobile shoppers. To get customers to complete their orders, send an email that reminds them about the items that are waiting for them. You might consider offering an incentive too. Try something like, “In the spirit of the holidays, we’ll give you 10% off the items in your cart when you complete your order.” You can easily send transactional emails like this with Campaign Monitor’s transactional email feature.

4. Avoid too many promotional emails.

If you send too many promotional emails during the holidays, they might get lost in inboxes, never to be touched. Here are a few non-salesy emails that can engage and inspire subscribers during the holidays.

”Celebrate the season” email

When a holiday rolls around, send an email to celebrate the holiday with your subscribers. Rather than sending a coupon, try something like Campaign Monitor customer Harley-Davidson did. Send a note that celebrates the holiday and ask readers to follow your business on social media.

Celebrate the Season email example

Holiday tips and how-tos

Help your customers create a stress-free holiday by sending tips and how-to articles that can relieve some of the craziness. Make sure the articles are connected to your brand. For example, a cosmetic company could offer tips to create the perfect look for the office holiday party. A photographer could write an article that offers tips to capture crisp photos on Christmas morning.

Holiday guides

Help customers narrow down their gift ideas by creating a few holiday gift guides. Break guides up by category, like “10 gifts under $10” or “5 fabulous gifts for him.” Create these guides and post them to your blog, website, and even Pinterest. Send an email that highlights a few of the gifts and a link to check out the full guide on your blog or website. Include pictures, descriptions, prices, and, of course, any relevant ordering deadlines.

Our favorite holiday email examples

Even with our helpful tips, finding the inspiration to get your holiday emails ready can be a little overwhelming. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and collected a few holiday email examples that we love and have shared them with you below.

PlayStation: Happy Holidays from the PlayStation team

This holiday email example from PlayStation stood out to us for several reasons. The primary reason is, besides a cheerful holiday greeting, they offered their subscribers a special gift to celebrate their membership.

An email example with a holiday greeting and included holiday gift offer

Source: Really Good Emails

While email subscribers always appreciate the holiday greetings, that extra special “gift” tells them that you genuinely appreciate them. This is also a great way to urge those who are yet to become paying customers. How? It shows them that you appreciate them enough to celebrate with them, and offering “freebies” is always a great way to encourage conversions.

Michaels: It’s your last weekend to shop! ? Dash in for up to 70% off!

Arts and crafts brand Michaels does a wonderful job of keeping their subscribers in the loop during the holiday season, and this email example is no different.

With only a few days left to shop before the Christmas holiday, they remind their subscribers that there are only a few days left to shop. To help their audience find exactly what they may be looking for, they also include multiple examples of doorbuster deals in the body of their message.

Holiday email examples of exclusive, last-minute deals

This is great for those who don’t want to head over to the website. These shoppers can quickly browse through items and even make instant purchases, since each department is covered within the full live message.

Rifle Paper Co: Black Friday: 30% Off Everything!

We enjoyed this Black Friday email example for a few reasons. Not only does it speak to a wide audience, but it also makes some clever use of language throughout.
For instance, in the header image, instead of addressing one reader, they use an inclusive language to bring everyone together.

“All we want for Christmas is…”

Rifle Paper Co also gets creative with their CTA. Instead of using a traditional CTA, they used wordplay. Instead of Santa’s “ho, ho, ho!” they opted for, “Go, Go, Go!”

Black Friday holiday email example

Source: Really Good Emails

Tovala: Stress Less. Celebrate More. 4+ Free Festive Recipes. ?

Who doesn’t want to stress less and celebrate more during the holiday season? This holiday email example from Tovala does a wonderful job of encouraging a purchase and provides helpful holiday tips and tricks for their readers to help them survive the chaotic season.

Holiday email example with helpful seasonal recipes

Source: Really Good Emails

Their first CTA invites subscribers to view menus that are available to purchase, but they didn’t stop there. They also added free recipes that their subscribers can try on their own.

Wrap up

When done carefully, you can make the most of the holiday season emails, starting now. Simply keep in mind the tips and tricks outlined above:

  • Focus on mobile opens
  • Find a balance between sharing information, promotions, and holiday greetings
  • When you do include deals, make sure they’re catering to your audience’s needs
  • Get creative with your email subject lines

Ready to take your holiday campaigns to the next level? Then schedule your demo with Campaign Monitor today!

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