Guide to Holiday Email Marketing

The holiday season is one of the busiest and most lucrative times of the year for many businesses. With more people buying online, holiday shopping starts earlier and earlier. Start planning your holiday email marketing now to take advantage of this trend.

If you want your holiday sales season to be profitable, you’ll need a solid email marketing plan. Fortunately, Market 2 All has you covered with this Guide to Holiday Email Marketing.

Why email makes the best holiday marketing tool

Emails are made for our mobile world

In 2015, 48% of traffic came from mobile devices. In addition, a whopping 76 percent of Black Friday emails and 63 percent of Cyber Monday emails were opened on a mobile device according to Movable Ink.

Emails offer instant buying options

Research shows 41% of retailers will use “Buy Now” buttons in their email marketing, making it extremely simple for subscribers to make a purchase. By using a button, or call to action button, in your email, you can highlight a gift, a special offer or even an event that a subscriber can buy in a matter of a couple of clicks.

Email content ideas are abundant

Businesses can use email to promote sales, invite subscribers to holiday events, showcase unique gift ideas or even gift guides – the list is endless. It allows business owners to reach out to customers on a regular basis and stimulate sales throughout the season.

Automation makes email more effective and efficient

The holidays are beyond busy in every way so put marketing automation to use by automating a variety of your email campaigns from welcome emails to offers and reminders. Check out these 9 inspiring examples that use marketing automation.

Write great holiday subject lines

Use power words

[su_list icon=”icon: check-square”]

  • Sales-driven: Hot deal, promotion, discount, savings, free shipping
  • Timeliness: Order now, limited-time, today-only, last minute, Open Now, Exclusive
  • Holiday: Good cheer, 12 Deals of Christmas, Season’s Greetings
  • Words of gratitude: Thank you, appreciation, your support


Personalize your subject line

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.

Consider adding emoji ⛄

Add a holiday snowman, stars, or a tree to your subject line to grab attention. Brands using emoji in their subject lines have seen a 45% increase in their unique open rates. Did you know the snowman emoji drives the highest open rates?

Ask a question

Questions are automatically engaging, which is why they’re great for subject lines. Try something like, “Need some gift ideas?” or “Want your gifts wrapped and delivered to your front door?”

Put your offer front and center

Feature your offer prominently in your subject line to capture their attention and get them to open and read the rest of your email. If you offer free shipping, you’ll be off to a good start as the importance of free shipping to holiday shoppers jumped from 34% to 42% in 2015.

Holiday email examples to inspire

Just because

McCarthy Insurance of New York just wanted to let their clients know they appreciate them. No sales pitch, which is okay.

McCarthy Insurance

Promote your Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale

According to data from RJ Metrics, the days from Black Friday to Christmas generate 50–100% more revenue than other shopping days throughout the rest of the year. NikkiDesigns sent subscribers a Black Friday offer a day early which seems to be the current trend with offers going out earlier and earlier each year.

Nikki Designs

Send a holiday gift guide

One of the biggest reasons shoppers wait until the last minute is because they aren’t sure what to buy. With just two weeks left in the holiday shopping season last year, 44.8% of shoppers said they were still weighing gift options.

If inspiration is what your customers need – give it to them. Create a gift guide that gives subscribers some ideas.

You can send more than one gift guide throughout the season by breaking them into categories. For instance, send a guide that has gifts under $10, or gifts for moms. Here are a few categories you can use:

[su_list icon=”icon: check-circle”]

  • Price point
  • Title (Mom, Dad, Boss, Teacher, etc)
  • Hobbies or interests
  • Age group (Gifts for teens, seniors, etc.)
  • Stocking stuffers
  • Color
  • Product type (Electronics, clothes)


Give a gift for referring a friend

You can use the holidays to grow your customer base. How? By encouraging referrals. Give current subscribers a deal if they refer a friend, or pay for a subscription as a gift. Birchbox gives its subscribers deluxe samples when they buy a friend a one-year subscription.

Birchbox Giveaway Email for Referrals

Birchbox giveaway email for referrals

Send last minute deals

There are always last minute shoppers. In 2015, the average shopper had only completed 53% of their shopping list two weeks before Christmas. De Beers sent subscribers this email to market to last minute shoppers.

De Beers mobile email

De Beers mobile email

Send post-holiday emails

When the holidays are over, it doesn’t mean you should stop sending emails. Consider sending a few “post-holiday” deals to your subscribers to nab a few more sales and get shoppers who received gift cards to start using them. Sephora sent this email to subscribers in early January:

Sephora post holiday email

Sephora post holiday email

Tips to create a gift-wrapped call to action

Use a button

Subscribers shouldn’t have to search for a call to action – it should be obvious. Subscribers can skim right over hyperlinked text, but it’s next to impossible to do that with a button. Golden Touch Craps had a 56% click rate off their sale button.

Golden Touch Craps

Golden Touch Craps

Keep the text short

Your call to action message should be short and to the point, as in two or three words like, Shop Now, Buy Now, Get the Deal, Save 40%, See the deals, Download the Guide. The Town of Ladysmith has a clear button, which works well for their needs.

Town of Ladysmith

CTA should lead to a landing page or purchase page

When subscribers click on your call to action, where do they go? Traffic should be directed to a landing page or a page where they can purchase the item of service that matches your email offer. The landing page reassures subscribers that they’re in the right place and makes a direct connection to the specific deal that you’re offering. Sending subscribers to your home page or to a random spot on your website could cost you a sale.

Wrap up

By using this holiday email marketing guide, you’ll be on your way to creating and sending emails that resonate with your subscribers. Remember, planning is everything, so don’t wait. Get started on your holiday email marketing now.

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Paul Mycroft

Having emigrated from south London, England, Paul has moved between cities in North America, building a loyal following since starting the business back in 2002. Many US and Canadian clients are with him today who were there from day one.