Email marketing campaigns: The holiday edition

woman wrapping a present

Cyber Weekend may be in the past, but that doesn’t mean that the season of spending is over. The winter holidays—Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve—are just around the corner, so there’s still time to finish the year strong. 

Fulfillment and shipping delays are still frustrating retailers across the country, which means that communicating authentically—and with empathy—to your customers should be a top priority. When you strike a balance between transparency and jollity in your holiday marketing campaigns, you’ll create a message that will be well-received—and more likely to generate engagement.

Seven holiday email marketing campaign tips to help you connect on your owned channels 

The 2021 holiday season comes on the heels of another difficult year for many families around the world. While people may celebrate differently, most holiday themes are universal. Get into the spirit of the season with your marketing campaigns—and demonstrate why people should shop with your online brand this year.  

1 | Find a way to share good news with your community

Instead of making your products the focus of your campaign, try something that surprises your audience—in a good way. It’s fair to say that people are craving positivity right now, so use your holiday marketing campaign as a way to deliver uplifting news. 

Brand example: Wellness and skincare brand DECIEM partnered with positive news media company, Good Good Good, to bring a special print and digital issue to their subscribers. The newspaper highlights “the goodest of the good” from the past year—and shares hopes for a better 2022. 

The email doesn’t advertise any of DECIEM’s products directly, but it does show what the company values while recognizing that customer connections aren’t solely built through sales.

newspaper cuttings at the top with a description of the digital issue below

2 | Share educational content with your customers 

Another way you can connect with your audience on a personal level is to share content that teaches them something related to your products. 

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the holiday season falls during winter—and the current bone-chilling temperatures may affect how your customers use your products. This is an opportunity to share information about your product that may be relevant to the colder weather.

Brand example: Huron, a brand that sells body care products for men, sent out an email in the style of a PSA about dry skin to their subscribers. The email explained how winter weather can affect skin and provided a list of actions their subscribers could take for self-care. Huron focused on a real problem that their products can solve—which is an effective tactic to build brand awareness along with customer trust.

man with hands on his face and tips for dry skin below

3 | Keep your language plain and your images simple 

Don’t stuff a ton of content in your message—keep it straightforward and fuss-free. To make it easier for your audience to shop from an email or text message, less is always more. 

Brand example: noissue, a global packaging brand, found major success by designing a clean and simple holiday email. A curated list of noissue’s best-selling products appeared at the top of the email, and featured two new items at the footer.

Paige Parrino, an email marketing manager at noissue, explained why the email was so impactful: 

“By using a collection of clean product images, our subscribers spent less time browsing the site, so they were able to shop more efficiently. We also reminded them that they needed to place their orders now if they wanted it to arrive in time for the holidays. This sense of urgency combined with a simple design made this email a massive success.” 

noissue's most popular products and two new products

4 | Explicitly state shipping deadlines 

Recent shipping delays have affected many online brands, making the high volume of orders during the holidays a tricky situation to manage. One way to ease your customers’ worries and set realistic expectations from the beginning is to state shipping deadlines in your holiday marketing campaigns.

Brand example: Jewelry brand Alexis Russel included a Christmas delivery deadline calendar at the bottom of their holiday email—and even noted the international deadline date for high-priority items.

shipping deadlines calendar

Brand example: UK-based apparel brand, cyberjammies, placed the shipping deadline notice at the very top of their email before the body copy and call-to-action (CTA). Not wanting to leave anything up to chance, cyberjammies included the last day and hour that subscribers could safely make their purchase by in order to ensure a delivery before Christmas.

girl opening a present at the top and a family holding packages in the bottom

5 | Use gift guides to streamline the buying process

Gift guides are a phenomenal way to help your customers cut down on their browsing time and skip ahead to checkout. The easier you can make it for subscribers to browse, select, and buy your product—the more grateful they’ll feel towards your brand for providing a hassle-free customer experience.

Brand example: Sous Chef, a UK-based kitchenware brand, created an effective gift guide in their email to subscribers. The founder included a personal note that explained why she personally chose the items on the list. All of the product images were numbered and neatly nestled together at the top of the email. Finally, the product images also clearly stated the name of the product, the product number, and the price. 

Customers could easily find a product they liked on Sous Chef’s website, and they weren’t going to be surprised by the price of the item. This effectively removes a potential buying roadblock.

product images in an email gift guide with a note from sous chef's founder

Brand example: Travel brand BABOON TO THE MOON focuses on cost-conscious consumers. All of the items listed on their gift guide are under $50, making their suggestions accessible to most of their subscribers. For indecisive shoppers, BABOON TO THE MOON also included an option for a digital $50 gift card. They also clearly stated the shipping cutoff date so that shoppers could plan ahead.

product images followed by a digital gift card, with a shipping deadline notice at the bottom

6 | Speak about the holidays in a broad sense

Instead of tying your brand to a specific holiday—and a smaller segment of your audience—share a holiday message of inclusivity. There are many different celebrations in December, so use language that will appeal to a diverse range of subscribers. 

Brand example: Charlotte Stone Shoes focused their year-end email on dressing for the occasion—for whatever occasion their subscribers may be celebrating. The team at Charlotte Stone Shoes encouraged their subscribers to get a little fancy, while never mentioning a specific holiday. They also added a fun, product-themed pun to tie the message together: Happy Heel-idays.

product images of shoes in all colors with a note about the holiday sale

Bonus tip for SMS campaigns | In the spirit of giving, share something with your subscribers for free

If someone subscribed to your email or text list, then they care enough about your brand to willingly receive marketing communications from you. Show your customers that you care in return by offering them something for free. 

Whether it’s a product sample or a free gift with purchase, it’s a creative way to let your customers sample items that they might not have otherwise considered. It also shows your customers that you’re willing to go the extra mile for them.

Brand example: Photographer Gray Malin launched a text message campaign that shared free holiday phone backgrounds with his subscribers. The backgrounds were holiday-themed, so it was a great way to build awareness of the Gray Malin brand while deepening the relationships with his customers.

christmas tree as a mobile phone background with an SMS below

Bring cheer to your customers’ inbox with your holiday marketing campaign  

You’ve probably put a lot of effort into your Cyber Weekend marketing campaign. But it’s still important to invest as much effort into the year-end holidays by creating marketing campaigns with thoughtfulness, imagination, and authenticity.

Embrace what the holidays are about by sending the kind of email or text that you, as a human being, would like to receive. And with that bit of genuine communication, you can help this season truly feel the most wonderful time of the year. 

Need a little holiday inventory pick-me-up? Find out how an out-of-stock signup form can save the day.  

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