Is your holiday email marketing strategy already in place? Don’t wait until November before you start creating your holiday email messages. The best time to start is now.
For many businesses, the holiday period is one of the most profitable of the year. So if you don’t get your marketing right for the holidays, then the financial health of your business could be at risk.
Who wants to lose money, right?
This period is especially important for retail. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales account for 20% of all retail sales. In November and December 2018 alone, those sales accounted for $707.5 billion!
Not in retail? Don’t worry! All businesses benefit from a seasonal lift in sales.
When people are scouring the web for Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail offers, the holidays are a great opportunity for any business to offer deals that entice customers to stick around and keep that income flowing in all year round.
As you’ll see, we practice what we preach, and run holiday marketing campaigns right here at OptinMonster.
Why You Need Holiday Email Marketing
Holiday email marketing is a big driver of the seasonal sales boom. According to Shopify, email marketing was responsible for 24% of holiday sales during the 2018 holiday eCommerce season. In other words, email marketing alone brought in $169.8 billion dollars in revenue for businesses during just the last 2 months of 2018.
The Black Friday to Cyber Monday period is particularly lucrative but even outside the holiday period, email marketing plays a key role in lead generation and customer acquisition. It just makes sense to craft holiday email messages to capitalize on this peak sales period and boost your income.
In this guide, you’ll get holiday email marketing tips that’ll help you make the most of the most important buying season so you can set yourself up for a profitable year. We’ll also include holiday email marketing examples you can use to inspire your own campaigns.
1. Know Your Holidays
Every country’s got its major holidays, which often coincide with peak sales times.
If you’re in the United States, the most important holiday season runs from early November to early January, a two-month promotional window that fuels profits for the whole year.
Wherever you’re located, our first holiday email marketing tip is to integrate your list of key holidays into your email marketing calendar.
If you’ve been in business for a while, use analytics data to figure out which ones usually bring in the most revenue. Here’s a guide on how to track your eCommerce revenue in Google Analytics. Analytics data will be a good starting point for holiday email messages.
Almost any event is a good peg for a marketing campaign, so don’t be afraid to include unusual events, like:
- The first day of fall
- The winter solstice
- An eclipse
- National Dog Day
Here’s an example from Merrell:
2. Start Early
If you celebrate winter holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Las Posadas, or others, GoDaddy recommends you start your holiday email marketing campaigns between November 1st and 15th. That’s when most people open your holiday marketing emails; after that, open rates drop.
If you have a long internal approval process, that means you need to create any holiday email marketing campaigns at least a couple months before, so everything’s ready to go by the target date.
It’s not just your email campaigns you should plan in advance, either. If you want to have somebody to market to, you’ll need to grow your email list early, too.
We always recommend starting to build your email list when you start your business, even before you launch it formally. And if you have an established business, you should be building your list all through the year.
3. Segment Your List
There’s no point in marketing to the wrong people. That’s why one of the best things you can do to improve your holiday email marketing is to segment your list.
Email list segmentation allows you to send more relevant and targeted emails to people who are truly interested in what you have to offer.
One way to achieve this is to segment subscribers as they subscribe. Let’s assume you already have email lists set up for people interested in different groups of holiday gifts so you can send them appropriate offers. You also know how to create an OptinMonster marketing campaign.
You can use OptinMonster’s Yes/No view to get people to opt in to the right list on their own.
After enabling the Yes/No view, you would edit the Yes button for one of your segments. In our example, we’re going to segment between cat people and dog people.
Change the Yes redirect URL to the landing page for cat-specific products.
Use the same method to edit the No button for your other segment and change the redirect URL to that landing page.
When visitors arrive at the appropriate landing page, you can then use OptinMonster to show a new offer, encouraging them to subscribe in exchange for a coupon. Here’s how you create a popup coupon in OptinMonster.
This method allows your visitors to segment themselves so you can send them more relevant promotions. OptinMonster customers have successfully used yes/no optins to:
- Increase pageviews: Olyplant increased pageviews 157%
- Improve lead generation: ChinaImportal increased leads 18%
- Boost sales: Stays.net increased monthly sales by 10%
4. Create Holiday-Themed Campaigns
Many websites change colors and themes to signal the holiday season. You can do the same with holiday email marketing campaigns. Let’s face it; if your emails always look the same, your subscribers will soon get bored.
Switch things up with some holiday email templates, and you’ll get much more attention for your marketing campaigns. One OptinMonster customer, Cloudways, used holiday marketing to get a 120% increase in free trial signups.
5. Create a Holiday Gift Guide
One great holiday marketing idea is to create a holiday gift guide.
This is a resource for email subscribers and web visitors that showcases gifts that match their interests. Here’s an example from tokyobike:
You can create your own holiday gift guide right in your email or by creating a new page or blog post on your website that showcases relevant products.
Include different sections in your guide, so your subscribers can easily find the things that interest them most. For example, some guides divide their featured products by:
- Age, such as gifts for kids
- Interests, such as gifts for gadget lovers or dog owners
If you know your buyer personas, it’ll be easy to decide on how to segment your products or services.
Shopify’s tips on creating a gift guide include:
- Creating collages of your best products. You can do basic collages yourself with Canva or Pixlr, or hire a designer with Photoshop skills for more advanced requirements.
- Curating products around a theme and using influencers as guest curators where appropriate.
- Making it mobile-friendly, so subscribers can reach key products in a couple of clicks or taps.
For best results, link to your gift guide in every holiday email message, so it can keep promoting your products and services all through the holiday season.
6. Launch Exclusive Holiday Sales
If you’re looking to wow your subscribers with holiday email marketing, try offering exclusive offers for those who are already on your list.
Not only is it a great feeling to get something for nothing, but being an insider makes your subscribers feel great. In fact, offering discounts can help you make more sales.
Insider deals are also a great incentive for people to sign up for your email list, as in the campaign from EatTreat below:
Check out our guide to optimizing your site for the holiday eCommerce season to learn how to create your own!
One example of a Christmas-themed campaign is “naughty or nice” messaging, used by a number of companies. Here’s an example from Canon.
Have a little fun with this concept by finding out what could be naughty or nice in your own niche, and incorporating that into your holiday email messaging.
You can also build a relationship with subscribers throughout the holidays, by tempting them with more and more relevant offers each time they visit your site using OptinMonster follow-up campaigns.
7. Use Urgency
Using urgency is a great way to boost sales with your holiday email marketing campaign. A time-limited holiday offer encourages visitors to take action now because nobody likes to miss out.
Here’s an example of a non-retail business using holiday marketing from WPForms. This uses OptinMonster’s Countdown theme for an urgency-based campaign that encourages visitors to grab a huge discount before the sale ends. Those who do get emails from the company.
If you use this strategy for your own company, you can also segment your audience according to the package they buy so you can send appropriate offers their way.
You can also leverage urgency by:
- Promoting early bird pricing for some of your products and services.
- Including last order and last shipping dates in all your emails so subscribers know exactly to order so they get their stuff on time.
- Displaying holiday discount codes with a countdown timer. That’s easy to do with OptinMonster’s Spooktacular theme:
8. Create an Online Advent Calendar
One innovative idea for holiday email marketing is to create an online advent calendar. This is a great way to maintain interest in your business and increase engagement throughout the holiday season.
Time-tracking software provider Freckle has done this couple of times, creating Freelancember, an online advent calendar for freelancers. They send daily emails reminding subscribers to click on today’s date and uncover what’s inside.
One of the most appealing things about this strategy is that most of the items are non-promotional, designed to raise awareness of their product by providing useful tips for their target audience.
But you can also use an online advent calendar to highlight daily special offers or to showcase fun holiday-themed contests, quizzes, polls, videos, images, and articles.
9. Run an Online Contest
Online contests are a great way to increase website traffic, grow your email list, boost social media followers, and generate targeted leads. You can easily create, manage, and run an online contest with RafflePress.
RafflePress is a powerful and easy-to-use WordPress giveaway plugin with a drag and drop builder that makes it ridiculously easy to build a stunning contest landing page or giveaway widget in no time.
With RafflePress and its impressive list of features, you can easily increase social media follows, drive website traffic, and grow your email list. And, there’s even a FREE RafflePress Lite plugin available in the WordPress plugin repository!
10. Theme Your Subject Lines
If you want subscribers to open your holiday marketing emails, your email subject line has to be right. That’s why one of our top tips for improving holiday email marketing is to tap into that holiday feeling with your subject lines.
Next time you send a holiday email, try including a seasonal emoji. The research shows that using emoji in subject lines gets attention, and results in 56% more opens.
If you think about it, wouldn’t you pay more attention to an email subject line with a turkey, a Christmas tree, or a snowman? We sure would!
Emoji aside, you can get more attention by referring explicitly to the holidays or your holiday offers in your emails. Here are a few examples we liked:
- Chronicle Books: “Put Some Boo in Your Next Book Order”
- Dell: “It’s Cyber Monday All Week!”
- Fortnum & Mason: “Making Christmas merrier since 1707”
- Just Give: “Gifts that do good…and feel good”
- Kathryn Aragon: “Christmas in July”
- Monoprice: “Holiday Gift Guide – Headphones & Earphones Starting Under $10”
- Nordstrom: “Black Friday Is Here Early”
- Pottery Barn Kids: “[gift emoji] The BEST gift: 20% OFF anything (TODAY ONLY!)”
- Shutterfly: “We’re feeling very merry. Get 50% off your order”
- Sports Authority: “Hurry, Only Hours Left for Cyber Monday Savings!”
- Story Bistro: “Thanks, Giving, and a Little Bit of Getting”
- theSkimm: “Winter is (officially) coming”
Don’t forget to make the email preview text holiday-themed as well. Email preview text is like a second subject line that’ll pique your subscribers’ interest so they want to open your emails.
You can also carry the theme over to your campaigns, as in this example from Cloudways:
Here’s another smart holiday email marketing tip: don’t neglect the footer of your email as a place to woo your customers and make sales. It’s easy to neglect the footer once you set up your email template, but that’s a mistake. In fact, the footer’s a great place to promote:
- Your holiday gift guide (tip #5)
- Gift cards and other gift services
- Last order and last shipping dates
Here’s part of Fossil’s holiday email footer:
Fossil includes links to several things that are of interest to holiday shoppers—gift cards and gift-wrapping services—as well as links to gifts at various price points. Having that information in the footer keeps it handy when subscribers need it.
12. Optimize for Mobile
Roughly half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. But, if you’re not optimizing for mobile you could be losing nearly 85% of your audience.
The data shows that more and more sales happen on mobile devices each year. In fact, for the 2018 holiday eCommerce season, mobile accounted for 60% of online shopping traffic and 40% of online holiday sales.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that your holiday email marketing campaigns, and your marketing campaigns in general, are mobile optimized.
Optimizing holiday email marketing for mobile devices means:
- Using responsive templates which resize for different screens while keeping the most important content visible.
- Optimizing images so they look good and load quickly because slow loading content drives mobile users away.
- Writing short subject lines, or making sure the key information is at the start, so subscribers aren’t mystified by missing information.
Finally, one of the best ways to test your holiday email marketing campaigns is to see how it looks on your own mobile device or the mobile devices your customers are using.
13. Add Social Proof to Your Site
Did you know that 92% of online shoppers look at a product review before making a purchase? They want to know that other folks are happy about the product they’re considering. Seriously, nobody wants to spend money on something that isn’t great.
Adding TrustPulse is an easy way to add social proof to your site (and get an instant lift in conversions of up to 15%).
TrustPulse shows your most recent site activity in a small but eye-catching popup.
You can show any verified site activity—purchases, registrations, signups—and even do these cool “on fire” notifications for your really popular items. These notifications are great for leveraging FOMO on landing pages and checkouts.
Plus, TrustPulse takes about 3 minutes to set up—from signup to live and running on your site.
14. Test Your Campaigns
You don’t have to wait until the holidays to test your email marketing campaigns. Instead, get a preview of what your subscribers like with a Christmas in July campaign. This lets you figure out which products, services, and campaign types will get the most response when the holidays start.
Here’s an example from Godiva:
15. Test and Measure
Finally, improve your email marketing campaigns by testing campaign types, to see what works. Two places to check your stats are the OptinMonster dashboard, for conversion analytics, and reports from your email marketing provider.
To find your holiday email marketing stats in OptinMonster, go to your campaign dashboard and choose the campaign you want to track from the campaign list. Then, click the little graph above the campaign preview.
You’ll see a graph of recent conversions.
Another way to figure out what works with holiday email marketing is to split test your campaign. This is a key tool for many OptinMonster customers. For example, Escola EDTI used it to boost conversions by 500%, and Logic Inbound increased conversions by 1500% with split testing.
Split testing helps you work out which messaging and call to action works best for enticing visitors to become subscribers and customers.
With these holiday email marketing tips, you’re all set for a very merry holiday season. Next, check out our list of sales promotions examples you can copy to lift your revenue year-round. Seal the deal by learning how to write the perfect call to action so your visitors want to subscribe, engage, and shop!
Don’t use OptinMonster yet? No time like the present 🎁 😂 (oh, holiday humor)… Join us today!