Holiday Email Marketing Dos and Don’ts

The holiday season is a golden opportunity for businesses to connect with their audience, boost sales, and spread a little festive cheer. One of the most powerful tools in your holiday marketing toolkit is email. When harnessed effectively, holiday email marketing can drive engagement and revenue like no other channel. 

However, threading the needle between engaging content and an inbox full of spam can be tricky. The pressure to boost holiday sales can sometimes lead to misguided email campaigns that hurt more than they help. To navigate this strategy successfully, there are clear dos and don’ts to keep in mind. In this blog, we’ll dive into actionable tips that will ensure your holiday email campaigns not only stand out but also drive real success.

The DOs

 1. Personalization Matters

DO: Tailor your emails to your audience’s preferences and behaviors such as browsing or purchase history. Address your subscribers by their first name and segment your list to send relevant offers. Personalized subject lines and content lead to higher open and click-through rates.

Subject Line: “Sarah, Discover Your Perfect Holiday Gifts 🎁”*

Content: “Hi Sarah, we noticed you’ve shown interest in our home decor items. Here are some exquisite holiday decor picks just for you…”

Include images of home decor products that align with Sarah’s previous interactions with your website.

 2. Timing is Crucial

DO: Plan your email schedule well in advance. Send a series of emails leading up to major holidays or events. Send reminders about holiday promotions, shipping deadlines, and last-minute deals. A well-timed email can make all the difference.

Example Email Schedule:

  • Two weeks before Black Friday: “Sneak Peek: Black Friday Deals Coming Soon!”
  • One week before Christmas: “Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Procrastinators 🎅”
  • Post-Christmas: “New Year, New Arrivals: Unwrap the Latest Trends 🎉”

Ensure each email highlights relevant products and includes clear calls to action.

3. Mobile Optimization is a Must

DO: Ensure your emails are mobile-responsive. Many recipients check their emails on smartphones. Make sure that all product images and descriptions are optimized across devices. A seamless mobile experience is essential for capturing attention and driving conversions. 

An email from LEGO leading up to Halloween showing off their spookiest set with large images and a cohesive theme.

Create a responsive email template that showcases your products in a visually appealing and easily scrollable format for mobile users. Notice how in the LEGO Halloween newsletter each section is large and the images do the talking with only short headlines preset. Large sections with appropriate sized text elements that split up the email will encourage the customer to scroll and stay engaged.

4. Craft Engaging Subject Lines

DO: Write compelling subject lines that spark curiosity or convey the value of your offer. Keep them concise and action-oriented. Experiment with emojis, but use them sparingly.

Subject Line: “Deck the Halls with Savings: Up to 50% Off Holiday Decor!”

This subject line conveys the value (savings) and the product category (holiday decor) succinctly. 

An email from Jamba Juice showing their new fall products are back.

Short headlines are often overlooked in favor of word stuffing and spamming emojis. In this example the headline is short and to the point with one emoji which helps support the fall aesthetic of their email marketing campaign. The image you see is also animated in the actual email which adds the perfect touch.

5. Test, Learn, and Optimize

DO: Continuously test different elements in your product-focused emails and analyze results.

Test two versions of an email—one with product images as the main focus and another with lifestyle images featuring the products in use. Analyze which version generates more clicks and conversions, then optimize future campaigns based on the findings. Try experimenting with other elements of your emails, such as subject lines, images, and CTAs. The last quarter of the year is packed with different holidays. While crafting your campaigns for each new holiday be sure to continuously refine your strategies based on what you learn.

These specific examples demonstrate how to apply the “DOs” of email marketing to promote products effectively during the holiday season. Personalization, timing, mobile optimization, engaging subject lines, and ongoing testing are key strategies to drive product sales through email campaigns.

The DON’Ts

1. Overload with Promotions

DON’T: Send daily promotional emails with a barrage of product offers. Avoid the temptation to overwhelm your subscribers with daily promotional emails. Instead, focus on providing value and solutions to their holiday needs. Here is a great example of what NOT to do:

ONE email every. single. day… Don’t be Kohl’s! Sending multiple emails every day with different product discounts can overwhelm subscribers and lead to email fatigue, causing them to unsubscribe or ignore your messages. This is especially important to remember during the holidays! Be strategic with your email campaigns by focusing on the appropriate timing and frequency. It’s important to step into the customer’s POV when you are revising your marketing campaigns.

2. Neglect Mobile Users

DON’T: Neglect the mobile experience. If your emails aren’t mobile-friendly, you risk losing a significant portion of your audience. Test your emails on various devices to ensure they look great everywhere.

In this example the email may appear optimized but there’s definitely some work to be done! The sale is on toys and treats yet fails to show any products on sale. It could also use larger graphics, more headlines, and the text should be broken up with more images. With everything laid out this small you have no reason to scroll, just to squint. Imagine your emails as multi-page trifold brochures instead of a 1 page print out.

3. Ignore Segmentation

DON’T: Send the same email to your entire list. Neglecting segmentation can result in subscribers receiving irrelevant content. Segment your list based on preferences, purchase history, or location for better results. 

Sending a holiday email featuring a wide range of products without considering the recipient’s preferences or purchase history can result in low engagement and missed sales opportunities. In the example with Kohl’s they should have strategically sent their different emails and sales promotions to the appropriate segments and optimized the contents instead of sending every email to every customer.

4. Forget About Accessibility

DON’T: Neglect accessibility. Accessibility is crucial. Ensure your emails are readable for everyone, including individuals with disabilities or visual impairments. Use alt text for images, choose accessible fonts, and maintain a good contrast ratio. Don’t overlook an important portion of your audience. The Mud Bay example from earlier also suffers from poor contrast and small fonts. Making your holiday email marketing campaigns mobile friendly can directly improve accessibility.

5. Underestimate Post-Holiday Engagement

DON’T: End your relationship with subscribers after the holidays. Nobody wants to get ghosted after the holidays, so don’t do it to your customers! Continue engaging with them by sending post-holiday thank-you emails, requesting feedback, and offering promotions for the new year.

Avoiding these specific “DON’Ts” of email marketing will help you prevent common pitfalls and ensure that your holiday email campaigns are effective, well-received, and contribute to increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Remember, successful holiday email marketing is not just about selling—it’s about building and nurturing relationships. By following these dos and don’ts, you can create email campaigns that resonate with your audience, drive conversions, and leave a positive and lasting impression during the festive season.

Running short on time or need expert guidance for your holiday email marketing? Our team is here to help you shine this season. Contact us today to discuss your unique needs and let us take the stress out of your holiday marketing efforts.

Happy holidays and happy emailing!