7 proven holiday email marketing ideas

Do you need holiday email marketing ideas for upcoming fall and winter campaigns? If you’re a full-time email marketer, there’s a good chance you’re already working on these.

The holidays may seem far away, but many digital marketers are already preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. The last quarter of the year is an important time for businesses, big or small, as it’s traditionally a season for shopping.

Looking for tips and tricks on how to execute effective Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas retail email campaigns? We’re here to help.

What makes holiday email marketing ideas so important?

Email marketing is the online old reliable, even when it’s not the holiday season. 

In fact, email is more effective at attracting customers and driving conversions than social channels, and for good reason. The average person checks their email on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. We’re likely to be on social media more often, but we’re also less likely to pay close attention to our social feeds the way we do when we check what’s in our inboxes.

Holiday sales in the U.S. have increased every year since 2009. This means businesses are likely to experience an uptick in spending between November to December. Right after Thanksgiving is the peak period for profits, due to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

We already know that email marketing works. It makes sense to capitalize on the historical trend of holiday spending booms. Email campaigns are an affordable way to increase profits and visibility. 

4 holiday email marketing ideas to inspire you

As an email marketer, you may already have all these ideas in your toolbox. Let’s go through them together and see how standard email marketing techniques can be transformed for the holidays.

1. Come out with holiday gift guides.

Sending online sale announcements for Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a given. These emails will likely have high open rates and click-throughs but will be yesterday’s news by the time December hits.

On the other hand, email subscribers will appreciate anything that helps them with Christmas shopping.

You can add a link to a page or blog on your website that displays a full and comprehensive guide. Show only the most relevant products in your email in an attractive collage format.

The holiday gift guide can be one of the early components of your seasonal campaign⁠⁠—sent even before Thanksgiving⁠. The website link to it can appear at the footer of all your emails until Christmas to maximize its promotional effect.

The holiday gift guide can be one of the early components of your seasonal campaign⁠⁠—sent even before Thanksgiving⁠. The website link to it can appear at the footer of all your emails until Christmas to maximize its promotional effect.

Source: Pinterest

You may also consider segmenting your email list to send specific holiday guide guides for separate audiences. The targeted approach shows a personal touch and also allows you to showcase more items to email subscribers that are more likely to be interested.

2. Send out exclusive and targeted holiday offers.

Deals that are exclusively for your email subscribers make them feel special and help create a sense of community. You may do several rounds of these, for both post-Thanksgiving shopping and the spending rush leading up to Christmas. 

Deals that are exclusively for your email subscribers make them feel special and help create a sense of community. You may do several rounds of these, for both post-Thanksgiving shopping and the spending rush leading up to Christmas.

Source: Pinterest

Here are some examples of holiday email marketing ideas along these lines:

  • Offers for new subscribers: Show people who weren’t around for last year’s holiday email marketing campaign how you can help them find what they’re looking for. Offer something exclusive, like a discount on a specific item or a free promotional product with their first purchase. 

  • An opt-in series of flash sales for insiders: Create a set of emails, each promoting a heavily discounted item only available online for a limited time—a day, or even just a few hours. Give subscribers a way to opt into the targeted list that receives these emails. It could be anything from a specific purchase to sending out a referral link. 

  • Exclusive deals based on customer behavior: Look at your click-through data and do some trigger-based marketing. For example, if you sent out a comprehensive holiday gift guide with specific sections, you may send a follow-up email containing a discount on children’s toys to subscribers that clicked through the “for kids” section.

  • VIP access for loyal customers: Early access to an online sale or in-store event can be a great reward for your most faithful and devoted subscribers.

On top of generating more sales, your holiday email marketing campaign is a way to build your brand’s identity. Strengthen your relationship with your audience by showing them the value of being part of your email list.

3. Offer deals and services that make gift-giving easier.

Sometimes, a customer can’t decide what to buy as a gift. It could be worth your effort to create products to address this uncertainty.

Sometimes, a customer can’t decide what to buy as a gift. It could be worth your effort to create products to address this uncertainty.

Source: Really Good Emails

You can come out with special holiday items, such as:

  • Gift cards: These make good last-minute presents, so keep that in mind when scheduling emails near Christmas. Additionally, you can use gift cards or gift certificates as bonus items you can send to customers along with receipts of purchases of a certain amount. 

  • Curated gift packages: Make these as general or as detailed as you want. Gift packages can range from a set of sample-size products to themed collections—such as “for mom” or “for dad” options. 

  • Free gift wrapping: Offering to send purchases already gift-wrapped can be a blessing for busy customers. This is an especially attractive add-on if you also allow purchases to be sent to a location other than their billing address. 

The examples above are all holiday email marketing ideas that count on purchasing actions. What about subscribers or customers that haven’t bought anything in a while? Coupons may be useful.

You may include coupons in all your holiday emails, or go the extra mile and send unique coupons to targeted segments of your list to increase the likelihood of improved engagement.

4. Help out last-minute shoppers with reminders and shipping options.

Have you ever put off your Christmas shopping until the last minute? It happens to the best of us, and it will happen to some of your email subscribers.

Have you ever put off your Christmas shopping until the last minute? It happens to the best of us, and it will happen to some of your email subscribers.

Source: Really Good Emails

Your holiday emails throughout the two weeks before Christmas are the absolute best for:

  • Reminding customers of your shipping deadlines: Make sure your customers know when the last day is for them to order something online and have it arrive on their doorstep before December 25.

  • Last-minute gift suggestions: These can include your gift cards and curated gift packages. 

  • Promoting extra shipping solutions: If you can offer free, overnight or expedited shipping, even for only a limited time, this is when you should promote them.

Not all small businesses may be able to afford convenient shipping options for all their customers. 

If this sounds like you, sending targeted emails to offer free shipping only to certain locations could be something to consider. You may offer reduced shipping costs for big purchases, as well.

You may offset the loss of profits from free or reduced shipping by offering expedited shipping for a fee. 

3 things to keep in mind when creating your holiday email campaign 

When crafting your fall and winter email campaigns inspired by the holiday email marketing ideas above, don’t forget to lean on the industry basics that make emails engaging and effective.

1. Remember your best practices.

These include embedding links to your product pages or sale announcements in your email’s content and sending your emails out at specific times based on subscribers’ behavior.

In particular, you should spend time and effort crafting perfect subject lines. The holiday season will increase the number of retail emails in your target audience’s inboxes, so yours need to stand out more than ever. 

2. Resist the urge to overdo it.

You may be tempted to do everything—gift guides, exclusive offers, last chance deals, etc.—but be careful not to bombard your subscribers with too many emails. Take note, especially, of email subscribers getting your targeted emails. You may have some of your customers on more than one segmented list.

Too many deals at once can tire out even your most loyal customers and can be too much for some. You don’t want to end up with people unsubscribing.

3. Focus on customers using mobile devices. 

Over half of all brand emails are read on smartphones and tablets, and online shopping on these mobile devices is becoming more and more common every year. 

Be conscious of these trends and make sure that your holiday emails are laid out using templates that are mobile responsive. Because mobile device screens are smaller, it may also benefit your campaign to be straight to the point. Don’t overload your emails with walls of text and dozens of images, and focus on one strong call to action.

Integrating social media marketing into your emails is a solid way to boost the effectiveness of your holiday email marketing ideas while ensuring your campaign is mobile-friendly. Most social channels—like Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest—are browsed primarily through smartphone apps.

Wrap up 

Holiday email marketing ideas are only valuable if they’re transformed—with creativity and inspiration—into executable and timely holiday email campaigns. As a digital marketer, you should start your holiday planning early to avoid delays that can lead to less effective emails.

Add creativity to standard email marketing techniques and you will find that holiday emails are easier to plan out than you think. Buying guides, subscriber-only offers, last-minute reminders, and special services for a limited time all work well for holiday-themed campaigns. Stick to best practices to maximize email engagement, too.

Finally, remember that holiday emails are not solely for boosting sales. They’re also an easy way to help out and connect with your subscribers during a joyful time.

Holiday email campaigns keep on bringing in revenue way after Christmas and the New Year. Send out post-holiday emails to maintain the interest of your new leads and customers.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. Unlike other email providers, Emma puts their customers first. It's email marketing that works for you.

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