How to Nail Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaign

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Ahh…the holiday season. A time of stress and anxiety for millions of retailers worldwide.

Well maybe not for the big businesses… I expect their holiday game plan to be a walk in the park. For the rest of you however, the last couple of months of the year can be the deciding factor in whether you have a good year or a bad year (financially speaking), especially true for small businesses.

Each year we’re finding more opportunities to sell to customers are seeping into our inbox; especially here in Australia where the traditional post-Christmas sales are becoming overshadowed by more popular events like Black Friday, Click Frenzy or Vogue Online Shopping Night.

So considering how important email marketing is for making sales, it’s absolutely crucial that you devise a well thought out strategy for these periods!

1. Personalise & Get Into The Spirit

There’s nothing worse than an email that screams desperation. You want people to feel relaxed for the holiday season, even if you don’t.

Send your subscribers some holiday cheer!

Holiday time is time to prey on people’s emotions (that doesn't sound wrong, does it?). Instead of sending newsletters or back in stock notifications why not wish them happy holidays and thank them for a wonderful year? Sending commitment free emails will ensure your subscribers remember you later (even if they don’t open the email).

Important dates

You can also use this opportunity to notify your customers of specific dates including when your store will be closed (if you also operate a bricks & mortar) or when you plan to take a brief hiatus from online orders.

2. Remind Customers of Deadlines

Pre-sale time means people are purchasing gifts in preparation for Christmas so it’s vitally important to ensure your customers are aware of shipping deadlines specific to your store.


You should try to keep it as easy as possible for your customers to be see your shipping polices, they’re shopping fast and you’re bound to lose a sale if they need to go through the checkout process to learn this important information.

Keep in mind that it’s helpful to build a sense of urgency when your advertising these dates to your customers. Make sure to display it prominently.

It’s a fantastic idea to offer free express shipping close to Christmas for those last minute shoppers searching for a gift.


Offering an extended period for returns after Christmas ensures your customers have peace of mind knowing that they can easily return an unwanted gift.

3. Remind Customers of your Most Popular Products

Got a Best selling product or 2? Now’s the prime time to advertise them. Your most popular products are most likely to be your best selling gifts too.

4. Ensure Your Best Customers Feel Extra Special

By segmenting your email lists by purchase activity throughout the year you can see who your most valued customers are. Wouldn’t it be nice to send them an extra special discount or just simply thank them for a wonderful year?

5. Plan Sale Dates

Do you want pissed off customers contacting you because their sale code didn’t go through or they can’t understand why a product is on sale? No? I didn’t thinks so…

Your sale period isn't necessarily going to be the same as everyone else so you’ll need to keep in mind that your customers are probably juggling many other dates in relation to sales happening on other sites. Make sure you prominently display when your sale is ending.

6. Don’t Spam People With Bad Subject Lines

According to MailChimp research, Telling NOT Selling is the key to your customers opening your emails. “Don’t write your subject lines like advertisements”, if you need to advertise a sale try something along the lines of “Upcoming Sale!” or “Black Friday Sale”.

This article is great advice for the entire year, well worth a read.

7. Be Sensible With Your Email Layout

Think carefully about how you design your emails for this period. People aren’t interested in newsletters, they have a bazillion other emails to read and they want to know what you have to say quickly.

You can see that most of the examples I’ve provided in this article have similar attributes:

Point of focus & Call to Actions - there’s minimal text and you know immediately what the email is about and where to click.

Colour - most have a maximum of 3 colours limiting distraction from the overall message

Imagery - enough said

If you’re having a little trouble with your email design check out MailChimp’s Design Guide.

8. Send Your Emails at the Right Moment


Be aware that your customers may not want to receive extra emails from you over this period. If it’s necessary, try not to send any more than 1 a week than you usually do. Overall we suggest sending 2 a week.


The best time to send emails will of course vary but we generally recommend sending them before customers start work, at the beginning and end of the week. People are on their phones (or desktops) trying to avoid thinking about starting their day or dreaming about the weekend.

Review Last Years Results

If this isn't your first holiday period try looking at your overall results from the previous year. By analysing your campaign reports you can understand how people responded to your email campaigns.