Email marketing campaigns: the holiday edition

Profile photo of author Emily Riedy
Emily Riedy
8min read
Email marketing
December 9, 2021
woman wrapping a present

Cyber Weekend may be in the past, but that doesn’t mean the season of spending is over.

The winter holidays—Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve—are just around the corner, and with people looking for last-minute gift ideas, 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 email marketing campaigns, you’ll create a message that will be well-received—and more likely to increase open rates, generate engagement and, ultimately, boost sales.

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

Here’s a list of seven of our absolute favorite ecommerce email examples that helped these brands surprise existing and new customers with holiday offers that included the perfect gift ideas for their loved ones.

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 target audience—in a good way. It’s fair to say that people are craving positivity right now, so use your holiday email 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 email 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.

text email with newsletter clippings

2. Share educational content with your customers 

Another way you can connect with your audience on a personal level is to share email 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 his hands on his face in front of a blue background

3. Keep your language plain and your visuals simple 

Don’t stuff a ton of content in your promotional email—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 template. 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 email design made this email a massive success.” 

packing options for the holidays

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 offer.

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.

holiday calendar with shipping date cut off

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 email subscribers could safely make their purchase in order to ensure delivery before Christmas.

girl in red pjs opening a christmas present

5. Use holiday 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 holiday 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.

kitchen items for an email gift guide

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.

baboon to the moon gift guide

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 email 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.

multi-colored shoes

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

If someone subscribed to your email 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 in addition to your holiday sales offer. 

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.

mobile phone with a picture of christmas tree

Bring cheer to your customers’ inbox with your holiday email marketing strategy  

You’ve probably put a lot of effort into your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing campaigns. But it’s still important to invest as much effort into the year-end holidays leading up to the new year 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 see those click-through rates soar. And with that bit of genuine communication, you can help this shopping season truly feel the most wonderful time of the year. 

Build your own holiday email and SMS campaigns today.
Try Klaviyo
Emily Riedy
Emily Riedy
Content marketing manager
Emily Riedy is a content marketing manager at Klaviyo where she works to publish content to educate and inspire online businesses owners and email marketers. Owned marketing channels are a means to building a substantial customer base for the long-term, and the content Emily is most passionate about helps business operators create strong business foundations in owned marketing principles. Before Klaviyo, Emily worked at a paid ads agency helping businesses transform their approach to digital advertising. When she's not strategizing marketing content, she is running around the streets of Boston training for whatever race is next up on the docket. She lives in the South End with her 2 year-old basenji Fig and frequents (probably too regularly) the local Spanish tapas spot.