Ecommerce insights on the go
Tune in to the Make it Big Podcast — our thought leadership audio series for retailers, entrepreneurs and ecommerce professionals. You'll get expert insights, strategies and tactics to help grow your business.
Effective Holiday Email Marketing Tips to Help Spread Cheer This Season
Get The Print Version
Tired of scrolling? Download a PDF version for easier offline reading and sharing with coworkers.
A link to download the PDF will arrive in your inbox shortly.
The holiday season is a special time of the year and it’s an opportunity for email marketers to really shine.
Whether your customers and subscribers shop on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or scramble for that last-minute Christmas gift, holiday email marketing can be an impactful way to help increase holiday sales and maximize revenue before the new year.
”Email marketing is table-stakes for any ecommerce brand. What makes it so valuable, especially during the holidays, is that it is an opt-in channel. That means consumers choose to receive brand communications and look to it for holiday deals and product discovery.”
— Tracy Puckett, Content Marketing Manager, Omnisend
The best part? It’s never too early or too late to get involved.
If you’re looking for holiday email marketing tips or trying to drill down your holiday email marketing strategy, you’ve come to the right place.
Email marketing can receive a bad reputation for being an oversaturated solution. However, the secret to email marketing success lies in your email content.
No matter if you’re an established company or a small business, emails must be part of your greater marketing plan. Alone, they don’t have the power to convert your customers overnight.
Whether you want to promote sales and Early Bird specials, invite email subscribers to holiday-themed events or showcase that perfect gift idea, use your email newsletter to further engage your customers.
Here are some keys to success:
The holidays are a busy time for your customers and convenience is key. Plus, a sense of urgency helps incentivize customers to purchase. It’s important to share your promotions in an exciting way.
Consider adding “buy now” buttons to your Black Friday emails and Cyber Monday emails that feature limited time deals and take customers directly to landing pages and products.
This streamlines the purchasing journey while delighting your customers during their holiday shopping.
Shoppers have never been more distracted, so it’s important to communicate with your customers when they’re listening.
Dive into your customer insights and metrics to learn when they are most active and which emails have the highest open and click-through rates. Identify what those emails have in common, whether it’s send day, time or overall messaging, and then send targeted communication based on that data.
Gone are the days of looking at email marketing campaigns with a “set it and forget it” mentality.
To ensure your campaigns are effective, you need to consider your audiences, your goals and your possible return on investment (ROI). You also need to track these results to help you improve each and every campaign.
As your content marketing team prepares for the holiday season, take the time to review and update these three key holiday email templates:
With traditionally higher open rates, it’s clear that welcome emails are a vital marketing tool.
For starters, a season’s greetings or Merry Christmas email helps you to kick-off the personal connection with your customer, which in turn will have an impact on their customer lifetime value (CLV).
They’re also an opportunity for you to coax your customers back to your ecommerce store through loyalty program reminders, product updates, special offers and recommendations.
Plus, when your customers open your emails, it’s a signal to their email service provider (ESP) that you’re a welcomed sender and won’t end up in the spam folder.
Here are a few quick tactics you can implement to optimize your welcome emails:
Send it immediately, usually from the moment they have made their first purchase with you.
Make sure it’s recognizable — a simple, high-resolution logo placed at the top reminds your customers of exactly who is contacting them.
Ask your customers to engage. Think small. For example, product recommendations with a “continue shopping” at the bottom prompts them to redirect to your store.
Give the recipient an incentive to engage with your email. Coupon codes and limited time offers are a great way to initiate this.
A bonus during the holiday season is to give estimated shipping times or, better yet, tracked shipping and real-time shipping updates.
Give your holiday shoppers insights and set expectations on what promotions you’re running during the holiday shopping season.
Here are a few things to include in your promotional emails to subscribers:
Shipping information (including final delivery dates).
Gift card services.
Gift wrapping options.
Customer service contact details.
An abandoned cart is the last thing you want.
Usually, it means that something was wrong with or missing from the customers’ shopping experience.
Imagine what proportion of these you could convert just by setting up a compelling and automated abandoned cart email flow.
“A key strategy that is often overlooked is targeting your abandoned carts. Take some time to make a campaign plan to amend these emails to be relevant from November onwards to commence right from the Cyber 5 up to the January Sales. Make sure they are linked to the relevant URL. Maybe offer discount codes, promote payment services, let them know they can collect in store and try on, immediate delivery options if available or easy returns process if not right.”
— Alan Moore, Group Managing Director, RANDEMRETAIL
During the holidays, here are three of the main reasons people abandon their carts (and what your email needs to answer to solve for them):
Shipping costs: Is it feasible for you to offer free shipping? Do you track parcels?
Better deal elsewhere: Tempt customers back with price, sales and emotional cues.
Out-of-stock: How can you capitalize once your products become available again?
For these customers, it’s crucial that you trigger automatic and instant abandoned cart follow up emails that address their needs.
Let’s take a look at some holiday campaign strategies and tactics you can implement during this holiday season:
Why reinvent the wheel? Instead, start with what worked last year. There have been some noteworthy email marketing trends over the years, including holiday gift guides, winback emails, mobile-friendly content and holiday-centric themes and imagery.
Holiday Gift Guides
Holiday gift guides are the perfect opportunity to showcase your best sellers and top-rated products for your target audience.
Using dynamic content, you can create digital gift guides that show relevant products to specific audiences that can help you cross-sell and upsell based on a user’s price sensitivity, demographic and personal interest.
For example, if part of your audience celebrates Christmas Day, then sending them a Santa-themed gift guide may engender a positive response.
Winback email campaigns target customers who previously showed an interest in purchasing from your store, but some time has passed since they’ve engaged with you.
These campaigns are the perfect way to re-engage. Remind these customers why they were interested in you in the first place and even introduce something, such as a countdown timer.
The email should focus on:
Reminding them about your brand.
Reminding them why they initially showed interest in purchasing from you.
Showing what product or related products they viewed.
Focus on getting the basics right:
Clear, high-quality images that have been compressed to allow for fast loading.
Concise content that grabs the customer’s attention and entices them to engage.
CTAs that invite customers to your store.
Website compatibility on mobile devices is core to the success of this. If completing an order on your store is a nightmare with a smartphone, don’t bank on any of the above.
Adding GIFs and emojis to your email design can add a nice touch as well, but they aren’t necessary.
Holiday-Centric Themes and Imagery
This is a simple one. Get your customers in the holiday spirit with themed content, just as long as it’s on brand.
It’s never too early to start planning when it comes to the holiday season. For many business owners and marketers, that even means before Halloween.
Planning your holiday email marketing strategy and teasing it out is important so your customers know what offers they might expect.
By planning out in advance you are able to:
Create the various pieces of content necessary to improve conversions.
Review your content and strategies that led to high conversions in the past and implement them.
Ensure you’re tracking important micro- and macro-conversion points for post-holiday data analysis.
Segmenting your email list is crucial.
Break out your email list into various segments that allow you to show relevant products to each segment. This can be a big job with a lot of factors to consider, but some email marketing apps like Marsello do the organization for you.
Customer segmentation creates an opportunity to cross-sell and upsell your customers, but it goes beyond that. You can use these groups to create lead campaigns and even use the same lists with your social media marketing.
“Treat your best customers extra nice this holiday season by giving them access to exclusive promotions and collections before the rest of the public. Tailor your offers via email and on-site to lock down which customers can access what deals.”
— Francis Pilon, Head of Global Partnerships, LimeSpot
Holiday email marketing segments to consider are:
High average order value customers.
High total transaction customers.
Subscribers who have not made a purchase.
Customers who haven’t bought recently: 30 days, 90 days and 180 days ago.
Demographics: age, location, income.
Creating targeted messaging for each of these customer segments can improve your conversion rate compared to a generic, cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all email.
Here are some useful third-party app and service integrations available with BigCommerce.
Use these to build better campaigns both on-site before visitors become subscribers and when you’re sending those important holiday emails.
With Klaviyo, you can:
Use Klaviyo’s Flow Builder to automate touch points across the entire customer journey and use the pre-built templates to get started quickly before further targeting and personalizing every message.
Seamlessly sync customer lists and segments to Facebook and Instagram in order to target the right audience on social media to help grow your business.
Build emails using pre-made templates or create your own with HTML. Pull in product recommendations and other dynamic data to personalize each message. Ensure every campaign is maximized by targeting it to the perfect audience.
Here are just a few of the things Omnisend offers:
Welcome emails: Greet your shoppers and introduce your brand right after signup
Combine email, SMS and push notification in your workflows to build consistent, omnichannel messaging.
Email templates: Save time with beautiful, out-of-the box newsletter templates that convert. Customize as you wish.
Signup boxes: Place an always-visible and non-intrusive signup widget so that your visitors can opt-in at any time.
Segmentation: Improve your targeting by segmenting your contacts based on their shopping activity and more properties.
With MailChimp, you can:
Use key automations to keep the communication ongoing with your customers. Once these emails are set up, they will automatically deploy based on your criteria.
Create and publish ads that recapture your potential customers’ attention and increase conversion with customers who were once engaged with your products and brand.
Use the predictive insights tool to look at patterns in return customer behavior and can help you understand their likelihood of purchasing again.
With dotdigital Engagement Cloud (formerly dotmailer), you can:
Sync contact and subscriber data to grow your addressable audience and build out like-minded segments for retargeting.
Use a drag & drop automation builder to craft omnichannel marketing programs.
Send your transactional email marketing through Engagement Cloud for better reporting and a consistent customer experience with your brand.
Here are just a few of the things JustUno offers:
Add exit intent pop ups to your site to capture emails before your visitor leaves.
Engage and convert mobile traffic with mobile-specific pop ups.
Prevent cart abandonment with targeted offers proven to convert shoppers into customers.
Add the emails you capture to any list from MailChimp, Bronto, Klaviyo, Hubspot, Constant Contact, Rejoiner and more.
Email marketing is irrefutably important and can be a high-converting traffic channel for your business, especially during the holiday season.
Optimize key emails to drive conversions and ensure you account for mobile compatibility. Plan and strategize for the holiday season far in advance. Select the right email marketing tools for your business. Create captivating email subject lines. Let the data help generate other marketing ideas. Delight your customers with your holiday marketing ideas.
It’s time to start working on optimizing your holiday email marketing strategy and making sure it’s geared to get the results you want. There are countless email examples and ways to help your business spread the holiday cheer to your customers.
Dennis Anderson is a Content Marketing Writer at BigCommerce, where he specializes in SEO content strategy, writing and research. He holds dual degrees in English Literature and Humanities from Florida State University. Prior to joining BigCommerce, he worked on marketing teams spanning industries, from film production to telecom and utilities.