Our 2017 Guide to Holiday Email Marketing

You know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday, collectively known as “BFCM,” are just a few short weeks away.

So here’s the big question: Are you ready?

Last year was huge. Sales for 2016’s Cyber Monday broke the record for the biggest day in the history of U.S. ecommerce, with sales surpassing $3.45 billion online.

According to Forbes, between 2005 and 2015, Cyber Monday has grown at a 16.8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate). In recent years, the rate has risen even faster (24.7% between 2010 and 2015).

With significant year over year growth, 2017 is heating up to be even bigger. And that’s just Cyber Monday! It’s truly an exciting time to be an ecommerce marketer.

At Klaviyo, we know there are only so many hours in the day and that running an ecommerce store (or its marketing team) usually entails a never-ending list of to-dos. That’s why we’ve created this guide to getting the most out of your holiday email marketing and advertising strategy.

Get strategic with holiday buyer personas

Batch-and-blast emails are so 2000s. We dug into mountains of email marketing data from the 2016 holiday season to see the value of embracing targeted segmentation.

In other words, sending relevant content to specific audiences works.

So when you think about dividing up your list, which personas do you think about sending to?

I’d be willing to bet you have at least one buyer persona in mind — that shopper who’s in your sweet spot for behavior and purchasing. But what about all of the other kinds of shoppers who show up specifically for the holiday season?

In fact, there are likely a whole host of different buyer personas that your store will interact with during the holiday season.

By identifying them in advance and sending them timely and targeted messages, you’re more likely to cut through the holiday inbox noise and drive sales.

Each holiday buyer (or hopeful buyer) has different behaviors that inform how you should reach out to them. For example, what about those who only buy during the holidays?

By utilizing the data you already have from last year, you have a better chance of re-engaging these subscribers.

Take what they purchased and send them a campaign that recommends a similar product. Maybe up the ante by offering a discount. You could also segment based on their average holiday order value and recommend products within this price range.

Want to learn more about holiday buyer personas? Check out the seven ecommerce buyer personas to target during the holidays.

Beyond email: Segmenting on social during the holidays

Unsure about the power of the one-two punch of using social and email targeting together? Facebook reports that 22% of purchasers are more likely to buy after seeing a social ad and a brand email simultaneously.

Shoppers have also shifted their buying behavior in the last few years. Last year’s Black Friday was the first day to generate more than billion dollars in onlines sales from mobile devices.

So not only will you want to reach your shoppers on social media, but you’ll want to make extra-sure that your ads look great on mobile.

Don’t worry — we took the guesswork out of social targeting. Cover your bases with Klaviyo’s comprehensive guide to the Facebook and Instagram segments you should be targeting during the holidays.

What types of emails convert best during the holidays?

Not all holidays emails are created equal. Earlier in the season, I analyzed the top-performing emails that were sent during the 2016 holiday season.

I found that a mere 0.14% of all emails sent during the holidays convert. But there’s an upside: a few specific types of emails that saw conversions rates as high as 12% — and some, even 41%!

Spoiler alert: Those high-performing emails were for back-in-stock products, purchasing gift cards, sending to VIP customers, and apology emails.

(Hopefully you won’t need to send out apology emails this holiday season, but it never hurts to be prepared. And if you don’t have a strategy for proactively targeting your VIPs yet, you’ll want to move it to the top of your list!)

Don’t worry — you don’t have to start from scratch with any of those emails. Get some inspiration from our roundup of real-life examples of successful holiday emails.

How many emails should you send during the holidays?

We’re huge advocates of sending timely, relevant email messages to carefully targeted audiences. Across the board, we see this approach leading to higher revenue per recipient, fewer unsubscribes, and better email deliverability.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to be stingy with how many emails you send out, especially during the biggest shopping season of the year.

So what does that really boil down to during the holidays? Just how many emails should you be sending?

In my analysis, I found that more than half of the ecommerce companies I looked at — 55.6% — sent holiday campaigns with 1–10 emails total.

But when it came to generating the most revenue, turns out the sweet spot for four key industries is actually between 21 and 30 emails. Take a closer look at the numbers and see if your store’s industry is on the list.

The bottom line

Preparing for the biggest ecommerce weekend is a lot of work, but preparation really pays off.

Plus, with data on your side, you can make more informed decisions around segmentation, email content, and even how many emails to send.

Here’s to a strategic and profitable holiday season!


Take your win-back emails to the next level with these resources



Understanding (and improving) subscriber engagement



The power of abandoned cart discounts: How to choose the right one


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