All Articles
41 holiday email marketing tips and strategies to drive sales [with examples]

41 holiday email marketing tips and strategies to drive sales [with examples]

min read

For businesses, the holiday season is not just a time of cheer and celebration, but also a golden opportunity to ramp up lead generation and sales through savvy email marketing campaigns.

With recent data continuing to suggest more impressive returns on email marketing investments, there’s no better time to refine your strategy. With an average ROI of $36 for every $1 spent, which can sometimes reach as high as $45 per dollar for industries like retail, ecommerce, and consumer goods, it's a marketing strategy you certainly want to take advantage of.

In this updated guide, we dive deep into the most effective techniques for holiday email marketing. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting out, our guide is packed with fresh ideas and proven strategies to make your brand shine bright this holiday season.

Let’s unwrap these strategies and give your holiday email campaigns the boost they deserve!

<a href="#holiday-campaign-schedule" class="anchor-link">Holiday campaign schedule</a>

<a href="#segment-audience" class="anchor-link">Segment your audience</a>

<a href="#offer-perks" class="anchor-link">Offer free shipping, discounts, and other perks</a>

<a href="#create-urgency" class="anchor-link">Create a sense of urgency</a>

<a href="#improve-open-rates" class="anchor-link">Optimize subject lines to improve open rates</a>

<a href="#leverage-retargeting" class="anchor-link">Leverage retargeting tactics</a>

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="holiday-campaign-schedule" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Prepare a holiday email marketing campaign schedule

Creating a detailed holiday email marketing schedule involves more than just marking dates on a calendar. It requires a strategic approach to timing, content, and audience engagement. Here’s how you can enhance your campaign schedule for maximum impact.

1. Analyze past campaign performance

Before you start planning this year's campaign, review the performance of your previous holiday email campaigns. Identify which strategies yielded the best open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. Use these insights to inform your current strategy.

2. Tailor content to key shopping dates‍

Differentiate your email content based on specific holiday shopping dates. For instance, create tailored content for Black Friday, Hanukkah, and Christmas, each with unique offers or messages that resonate with the spirit of these occasions.

3. Coordinate your campaign across various channels

Align your email marketing schedule with your overall digital marketing strategy. This includes synchronizing with your social media posts, blog content, and any special events or webinars you plan to host during the holiday season.

4. Plan for A/B testing‍

Allocate time in your schedule for A/B testing different elements of your email campaigns, such as subject lines, email layouts, and call-to-action buttons. This helps in understanding what resonates best with your audience.

5. Schedule reminder emails‍

Incorporate reminder emails in your schedule. For example, send an automated follow-up email a few days before a major sale ends or a special offer expires. This helps to create a sense of urgency and can boost conversions.

6. Leverage automation wisely‍

While automating email sequences is efficient, ensure each email feels personalized and relevant. Use dynamic content or a mail merge tool that changes based on the recipient’s profile or past interactions with your brand.

7. Prepare for Post-Holiday Engagement‍

Your email marketing schedule shouldn’t end with the New Year. Plan follow-up emails for the post-holiday season to continue the engagement, perhaps offering tips on how to use new products or special offers to start the new year.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="segment-audience" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Segment your audience

Effective audience segmentation in your holiday email marketing campaign is crucial for sending the right message to the right people during the festive season. Why? Because segmented, personalized automated email messages have an average 46% higher open rate than traditional marketing messages, boosting your chances of generating leads.

Segmenting your audience gives you the best chance of sending relevant information at scale. Here’s how to deepen your segmentation strategy specifically for holiday email marketing:

8. Behavioral segmentation for holiday preferences‍

Segment your audience based on their interactions with your holiday-themed emails and website content. For example, group users who showed interest in Black Friday deals or Christmas items separately from those who engaged with Cyber Monday or Giving Tuesday content.

9. User intent segmentation‍

Understand your audience's holiday-related interests and intents. For example, segment users into those who are interested in holiday recipes versus those looking for gift ideas, providing content that resonates with their holiday preferences. Although this time of year is typically a high-driver of sales and revenues for businesses, it's also great for building brand recognition and loyalty that could translate to sales down the road.

10. Purchase history in past holiday seasons‍

Look at your audience's purchase history during previous holiday seasons and sales. Send targeted emails with products or services that complement their past holiday purchases, such as suggesting new holiday decor for someone who bought decorations last year.

11. Customer journey and lifecycle segmentation‍

Segment your audience based on their stage in the customer journey specifically for holiday shopping. New subscribers might receive introductory holiday offers, while long-time subscribers could get exclusive loyalty rewards or early access to holiday sales.

12. User device segmentation

Segment your audience based on the type of device they typically use to read your emails or visit your site. Mobile users might appreciate quick, festive-themed offers, while desktop users could engage better with more detailed holiday gift guides.

13. Lead scoring for holiday campaigns‍

Utilize lead scoring to trigger holiday-specific automated emails. For example, a lead who checks out holiday gift guides on your site could receive a targeted email with exclusive holiday shopping discounts.

14. Regularly update your holiday email marketing segments‍

As the holiday season progresses, regularly update your segments based on evolving user behavior and preferences to ensure your holiday campaign remains relevant and effective.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="offer-perks" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Offer free shipping, discounts, and other perks

Who doesn't love a coupon code or free same-day delivery? In fact, according to a 2023 State of Shipping Report, 62% of consumers say they won't purchase with a retailer who doesn't offer free shipping and 75% of consumers scour their inboxes hoping to find relevant discount codes.

But that doesn't mean you have to devalue your product or service, or take a huge hit on shipping costs. As a retailer, shipping costs and operations can be a challenge. Here are some effective strategies to increase purchases with discounts and shipping offers: 

15. Tiered discount structure‍

Implement a tiered discount system where the discount value increases with the order amount. This encourages customers to add more items to their cart to reach the higher discount threshold.

16. Limited-time offers‍

Create a sense of urgency by offering time-limited discounts. For instance, “24-hour flash sales” or “weekend only” deals can spur quick decision-making and purchases.

17. Exclusive offers for subscribers‍

Provide exclusive discounts or perks for your email subscribers. This not only rewards loyalty but also incentivizes others to sign up for your email list.

18. Bundled products offers‍

Encourage higher order values by offering discounts on bundled products. For example, “Buy one, get one 50% off” or “Save 20% when you buy a complete set.”

19. Loyalty points or rewards‍

Integrate a loyalty program where customers earn points for purchases, which can be redeemed for discounts on future purchases. This encourages repeat business and customer loyalty.

20. Personalized discounts‍

Use customer data to offer personalized discounts based on their shopping behavior or preferences. For example, if a customer frequently buys children’s toys, offer them a special discount on kids' products.

21. Gift with purchase‍

Offer a free gift with a purchase over a certain amount. This can be a great way to clear out old inventory while also providing an additional incentive for customers to buy more.

22. Shipping upgrades‍

In addition to free shipping, consider offering discounted expedited shipping options during the holidays, as many customers are shopping for time-sensitive gifts.

An email template of an early access sale for the holiday season plus offers of free shipping and discounts

23. Early access to sales‍

Give your email subscribers early access to holiday sales. This makes your subscribers feel valued and can lead to early spikes in holiday sales.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="create-urgency" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Create a sense of urgency with your messaging

There's a reason companies use urgency in their messaging: it works. Urgency helps you create a sense of scarcity and importance with whatever it is that you are offering. Plus, it can spark FOMO in most consumers.

The key is to avoid sounding spammy or gimmicky when creating a sense of urgency in your holiday email marketing campaigns. Try some of these tips to create urgency without turning off your recipients.

24. Countdown timers‍

Include a countdown timer in your emails for limited-time offers. This visual element can increase the sense of urgency, reminding customers how much time they have left to take advantage of a special deal.

a holiday email marketing campaign with a deadline to order

25. Exclusive early access‍

Offer your email subscribers exclusive early access to sales or special products. This not only creates urgency but also makes the subscribers feel valued and exclusive.

26. Stock availability alerts‍

Inform customers when stock levels are low for popular items. Phrases like "Only a few left!" can motivate customers to act quickly to avoid missing out.

27. Appeal to the procrastinator

We've all been there before. You thought you had plenty of time, but now you're left scrambling to check everything off of your gift list. Structure offers and deals that can help procrastinators. Be sure to include shipping deadlines, ready-to-gift items, and gift cards to make it easier for all the procrastinating holiday shoppers out there.

28. Limited edition products‍

Offer limited edition holiday products that are only available during the season or in limited quantities. This exclusivity can motivate customers to purchase before they miss the opportunity.

29. Bundle offers for a limited time‍

Create special bundle offers that are only available for a limited period. This can encourage customers to make more significant purchases to take advantage of the special deal.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="improve-open-rates" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Optimize subject lines to improve open rates

Crafting compelling subject lines is crucial in a holiday email marketing campaign, as they significantly influence open rates. Research shows that 69% of email recipients determine whether an email is spammy or not by reading the subject line. You need to show recipients that you're providing value in just a few words of your subject line.

To optimize your subject lines for holiday email marketing campaigns:

30. Personalize your subject line‍

Include the recipient’s name or references to their preferences. For example, "Emma, discover your exclusive holiday deals!"

Since many email users have become used to seeing their first name in a subject line, you can use data from your segmentation to further customize your message. Mention their previous loyalty or purchase history, or refer to a specific product or service that aligns with their demographic or segment.

31. Mobile optimization‍

With many users checking emails on mobile devices, it’s crucial to ensure subject lines are optimized for shorter screens. Place the most compelling part of your message at the beginning of the subject line to ensure it's visible on mobile devices. Use a tool like Zurb or your email marketing tool to preview how your subject line will appear on a mobile screen.

32. Segmentation‍

Use different subject lines for different segments of your audience, based on their previous interactions, demographics, or purchase history. For example, a subject line for repeat customers could be "Our Holiday Gift to Our Valued Customers" while new subscribers could receive "Welcome to Exclusive Holiday Savings!"

33. Include dates and deadlines‍

When relevant, include dates or deadlines in your subject lines to add urgency. For instance, "Order by Dec 20 for Guaranteed Christmas Delivery" informs and prompts action.

a screenshot of a subject line with the cutoff date for holiday delivery

34. Evoke emotions‍

The holiday season is emotional for many, so subject lines that evoke feelings of joy, nostalgia, or excitement can be effective. Some brands also acknowledge that the holidays can be stressful and difficult for people. Examples could include "Bring Joy with Our Handpicked Gifts," "Rekindle Holiday Memories with Our Exclusive Offers," or "50% off to get through the holiday season."

screenshot of a holiday email subject line that acknowledges emotion

35. Avoid spam triggers‍

Steer clear of phrases and formatting that might trigger spam filters. Avoid excessive use of caps, overly promotional phrases, and multiple exclamation marks.

Make sure the subject line accurately reflects the email content to maintain trust and engagement. Misleading subject lines may increase open rates initially, but they harm trust and engagement in the long run.

36. A/B test your subject lines‍

Once you've come up with subject line ideas for your holiday email campaign, prove your theory by A/B testing different subject lines. Send two variants to a small audience segment and analyze which yields higher open rates. Once you have a winner, send that version to the remaining audience.

Test elements like tone, emoji use, and personalization. For instance, compare 'Hurry, Holiday Sale Ends Soon!' with 'Your Personal Holiday Discount Awaits.' This approach helps identify the most engaging subject lines, crucial for standing out in busy holiday inboxes.

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="leverage-retargeting" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

Leverage retargeting tactics

People search high and low for the perfect gift for their loved ones during the holiday season.

Despite high engagement, only a small fraction of first-time website visitors make a purchase. In fact, only 2% of online shoppers convert during their first visit, according to AdRoll.

Retargeting is an effective way to re-engage these potential customers. Here's how you can incorporate retargeting into your holiday email campaigns:

37. Collect data on site visits and engagement‍

Utilize a customer data platform like Google Analytics to gather more nuanced data about visitor interactions. For example, track not just the pages visited but also the time spent and actions taken on your website. This data can inform more personalized retargeting strategies.

38. Segment retargeting campaigns‍

Segment your retargeting campaigns based on user behavior. For instance, differentiate between users who abandoned their cart and those who browsed but didn’t add anything to the cart. Tailor your emails accordingly with specific messages and offers.

39. Timing and frequency of retargeting emails‍

Optimize the timing and frequency of your retargeting emails. For holiday campaigns, consider sending timely reminders for last-minute gift purchases or special holiday offers.

40. Personalize your offer and message‍

Use the collected data to personalize the retargeting emails. If a visitor showed interest in holiday events in Tulum, personalize the email with their name, details about the events they viewed, and a personalized offer for an upcoming trip.

41. Value-added offers‍

Since the recipient has already seen some of your products or services on your site, your retargeting should Include value-added offers such as exclusive discounts, bundled deals, or limited-time free shipping, especially relevant during the holiday shopping rush. You need to continue to entice them beyond their initial interest in your product.

By sending the right offer at the right time (for something they're already familiar with), there's a 70% chance that they'll buy from you over your competition.

Wrapping it up (with a bow)

By focusing on a structured campaign schedule, detailed audience segmentation, and effective retargeting, your business is poised to connect more meaningfully with your audience.

Holiday email marketing campaigns can be a highly cost-effective way to automate and send personalized content to the appropriate audience during the busiest time of the year. Implementing these tactics will not only boost engagement but also drive conversions, helping your brand stand out in a busy marketplace.

Remember, the core of successful email marketing lies in understanding and resonating with your audience - it's about creating a conversation, not just a conversion. Here's to a holiday season filled with meaningful connections and successful campaigns!

We're hiring

Come build something great with us.