Resources Hub » Blog » 5 Tips to Improve Your Email Performance During the Holidays

Getting your emails seen and acted on is your biggest challenge during the email-drenched holiday season. It’s the toughest period of the year because every other brand is doing exactly what you are: ramping up email volume and working hard to make those messages stand out in the inbox.

How to make it happen? Send emails that deliver what others don’t: an experience that communicates its value quickly and can be acted on effortlessly.

This might sound like an impossible quest, but our five tips will help you break through the clutter and generate more opens, clicks and conversions.

Performance begins in the inbox. Before you get to the message, you have to consider what your email looks like in the inbox, where it’s surrounded by dozens—or hundreds—of competing messages:

  • Use a sender name that tells your recipients exactly who’s emailing them. Don’t make them guess! Include your brand or email list name. Use a person’s name only if it’s key to the brand. Never show an email address in the sender name.
  • Create a subject line that gives the viewer a reason to open the message. Add specifics, like a date for a deadline-driven email, the exact discount or any other information that could compel an open.
  • Add a preheader that augments or reinforces the subject line.

Now you’re on your way!

5 performance-enhancing tips for the holiday (and all year long)

These five tips will help your messages break through the noise, drive more sales, build engagement and give your customers a reason to keep coming back long after the holidays.

Note: With one exception, I won’t suggest tactics you should already be using, such as using personalization, segmentation and targeting to make your messages more relevant. For more about this, check out this post from the Campaign Monitor Blog: How to Incorporate Personalization Into the Customer Journey for Massive Relevance.

1. Optimize for mobile viewing and action.

Here’s that obvious tactic I mentioned. People have been talking about mobile optimization since forever, it seems, but now it’s more important than ever. Reports of mobile open rates vary, but they ranged from 46% to 59% in 2018, and 75% of consumers use their smartphones most often to check email.


Subject line: Wishing you a merry Christmas
Preheader: Wishing you a very merry Christmas

Alpkit Christmas Email Example


The image on the left is the desktop version. The mobile one is on the right.

Why this email? This classic “Merry Christmas” email scored high on MailCharts’ Email Score for both mobile optimization and a Gmail-friendly image weight. That’s pretty remarkable considering how many images Alpkit packs into the message.

This email makes it easy to view all the key information and tap the call-to-action buttons. The responsive design stacks the content sections on top of each other for easier scrolling.


2. Help customers succeed.

That’s the name of the game for holiday shoppers. Customers remember the brands that help them solve problems and answer questions.

Your emails are your virtual salespeople and customer reps. They must be memorable.

Give customers all the information they need to make good decisions, especially on hard-to-buy products like electronics, high-end clothing and sports equipment. Notify them well in advance about shipping deadlines, customer service hours and policies like exchanges or returns and gift-card or promo redemptions.

Sock Club

Subject line: ? Christmas Morning. 7:30am. We’ve Got You Covered. ?
Preheader: Sock Club – The Best Last Minute Christmas Gift

Why this email? This email, sent on Christmas Eve, calls out its Christmas Day delivery and customer assistance right in the subject line and uses a clever animation (click the image to view it) to reassure the harried last-minute customer.



Subject line: A Very Good Christmas Guide.
Preheader: Order by 10am on Friday to guarantee Saturday UK delivery before Christmas.

Why this email? Starting with the subject line, this email is full of information to help last-minute shoppers who might just be entering panic mode. The email highlights the shipping deadline at the top of the message and organizes key info like store hours and gift vouchers for easy discovery.


3. Animate with purpose

Animation adds interest to your emails and lets your creative team exercise its imagination, but you can put it to good use, too, in the pressure-cooker weeks before Christmas. They can add or call attention to key information or clarify details without adding copy. These make your messages more scannable, more engaging as people watch the animation over and over, and faster to comprehend.


Subject line: WIN: Broadsheet’s 12 Trays of Christmas


Why this email? It’s a great way to illustrate a series of products (perfect for the “12 Days of Christmas” theme many retailers embrace this time of year). Here, the customer can see all the 12 prizes offered in the email without scrolling through a long list of static images.


Effortless Skin

Subject line: Our Black Friday Sale Ends Tonight at 10pm!
Preheader: Last Few Hours Remaining

Why we chose it: The countdown clock adds real-time urgency to a limited-time sale, whether you use it to count down to the start or end of an event. The counter refreshes every time your user opens the email so it stays current. Most email clients support animated GIFs (used to power the countdown clock), but you should have a good default to use in clients that don’t render animation.


4. Break up the steady stream of promotions with “thank you” emails.

Most marketers send more email during the holiday season (and subscribers expect it now) but that doesn’t mean every email has to say “Buy this” as its primary message. Give your subscribers a little relief—along with a reason for showing up in their inboxes—with “feel good” emails.

Although not designed directly to sell, these emails build engagement and let your customers know you appreciate their business. Give your creative team a little room to roam with this email so they can come up with a memorable design.

This email thanks customers and reminds them quietly about the brand’s value prop. The “most popular color” feature lets customers compare their purchases to everybody else’s.

Pret A Manger

Subject line: Merry Christmas and thank you from Pret

Why this email? It’s charming and has a spot-on brand message with its subtly animated image using fresh ingredients like those that show up in its foods. The links to recipes are a bonus. They can inspire customers to keep the email in the inbox and give them a reason to keep opening it after the holidays are over.


5. Create a mini-series.

This tactic also helps you break up the steady procession of discounts and promotions that fill inboxes as the weeks wear on. Your merchandisers can exercise a little creativity, too, and the email itself gives customers something to anticipate.


Subject line: The Ultimate Holiday Dinner Party Guide: Recipes, Tips and MORE!

Why this email? Christmas cookies are a huge part of the holidays, what with office and home cookie exchanges, baking for family and for gifts. This series delivers one recipe a day and is sent separately from the brand’s broadcast emails, giving it a clear identity in the inbox. It also has a strong call to action: “Let the countdown begin!”

Wrap up

All five of the tips I shared here will help your emails deliver something extra for your customers and subscribers in the coming weeks. Most of them require little effort to produce. They also allow you and your team to unleash your creative urges to create memorable messages.

Yes, promotion-driven emails have a key place in your holiday strategy. But, the messages I shared with you will help you elevate your messaging and stand out in your customers’ inboxes.

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About the Author Carl Sednaoui
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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