Crafting Holiday Email Campaigns That Customers Actually Open

  •    Freelance writer focused on web development, email marketing and baseball. He lives in Los Angeles, but wishes he lived in Tokyo.

There's no time of the year when customers are more ready to spend money than right after Halloween and right before Christmas. It's also the time of year where companies are blasting those customers with more and more emails.

It's important that you put yourself in front of your potential customers, but how can you craft winning email campaigns that stand out from the glut of messages everyone is receiving?

Consider Timing

Conventional wisdom says email should go out during weekdays, when a high percentage of people are chained to a desk with only Facebook and various marketing emails to entertain them in-between work projects. As a result, only 11% of marketing email is sent on Saturday, with 10% going out on Sunday.

While some research shows it's better to send email during the week, plenty of other research suggests that engagement (opens and clicks) to be roughly the same on the weekend as on weekdays and that conversion rates (subscribers taking action with the email to make a purchase) can be twice as high on the weekends. Since there is notably less email going out on those weekend days, it's worth testing weekend days to see if you can stand out.

That said, the biggest online shopping days in 2015 were: Cyber Monday, the Tuesday following it, Black Friday, the second Friday of December, and Green Monday (the second Monday of December). What does this tell us?

That the biggest shopping days are right after Thanksgiving and right when people start to think "oh no, I'm running out of time!" So you may want to target these days as part of your strategy.

Consider Topics

Gift Guides

Sending out guides like "Ten Great Gifts Under $25" or "Best Gifts for Your Bestie" will see results since customers want to surprise their friends and relatives with nice presents and are often looking for guidance to do so. These lists can all be products from your own store or could also include a few products from businesses belonging to friends and partners (who could in turn make their own lists and include some of your products too).

Sales

If it wasn't for the relatively more important notions of family, faith, and friends, the Holidays would mean nothing but bargains. People expect sales. People want sales. People go looking for sales. Give them sales.

Don't just send someone a 10% off coupon and forget it. Try different approaches. Send an announcement email that you'll be running day long pop-up sales five times between Thanksgiving and Christmas so customers will be on the lookout for your messages. Then run five different pop-up sales. Build campaigns around these sales days.

Last-Minute Shoppers

Last-minute shoppers represent a great opportunity. Calculate the last day someone could order from you to receive a package via USPS Priority, Fed-Ex Two Day, Next Day, and include these countdowns in your December messages. Then you can send emails to announce there's "one day left to receive your order with standard shipping" by Christmas Eve and so on from there.

Season's Greetings

Sending a "Happy Holidays" or a "Merry Christmas" message can't hurt from a brand building perspective. You could use this as an opportunity to link to a blog post sharing a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Customers will remember a personal connection far longer than a 10% off coupon.

Consider Content


How your content is laid out is enormously important in ensuring readers take action. Your email should be cleanly laid out, with easy-to-spot clickable links and buttons that lead readers back to your site.

The great news is that Weebly Promote's flexible templates already match best practices for how an email should be laid out. Choose a template, drag on some product elements, and adjust the colors or images to match your own brand. Then you're done.

Consider Your Subject Lines

​There are a million different guides to subject lines: Be clever! Be direct! Use numbers! Don't use numbers!

Does any of the really matter? Just look at this collection of mails from several hours early this morning:

Screenshot of inbox

Are any of those really better than the others?

What you want from an email subject line is that it be visually interesting enough to break up the monotony of a reader's inbox so they'll notice it, and that is compelling enough to make them want to look at it. One way to do that is to either write really short subject lines or to break a longer subject up into shorter sentences.

"Ten hours left. You can still get 25% off our entire shop."

"Panic! Christmas is coming fast. Thankfully our shipping is faster."

"Got time for a 10% off sale?"

"Shopping for mom? Here's five products she'll love."

Longer sentences blur together and won't stand out against the rest of the messages.

Plan It All Out

No matter what sales you run or lists you create, plan it all out in a calendar. Make a strategy for when you're going to write and what those emails will be about. The more you think ahead, the better response you're going to see.​