According to the National Retail Federation, online sales for the 2016 holiday season hit $655.8 billion! Cyber Monday alone is worth more than $2 billion.

The period between Black Friday to Cyber Monday (just four days!) is especially active for email marketing. Mailchart’s research shows that 60 percent of all emails sent during that long weekend are promotional.

2018 holiday email marketing campaign

Fortunately, not only are people happy to receive holiday promotional emails–they actually want them. It’s a time of year when nearly everyone looks forward to hearing from brands. Why? Because those emails usually include discounts, deals, and specials. It’s also a key time of year for companies to release new products, and shoppers always want to be the first to try out the latest and greatest new items.

As an email marketer for an eCommerce brand, you can’t ignore the holiday season. You don’t have to offer a discount, but it’s smart to do something unique, even if it’s just a new way to explore products on your website. There’s too much potential to make money during the holidays to sit idly by.

The holiday season is upon us! If you haven’t set up your 2018 holiday email marketing campaign, now’s the time. Click To Tweet

Here are some ways to maximize sales with your 2018 holiday email marketing campaign.

Create a holiday gift guide

Keep in mind that during the holiday season, many of your shoppers won’t be purchasing items for themselves, but gifts for other people. This means your customers might not know what to buy. If you make some recommendations, you could convince them to buy from you rather than someone else.

A holiday gift guide is a group of curated products for your subscribers to purchase for other people. It’s a resource to give them inspiration and exposes them to products they wouldn’t normally explore themselves.

Promoting a gift guide is one of the rare instances where you disregard customer segmentation and send the email to everyone on your list. You don’t know who your customers might be buying for. A sporting good store should still send their fly fishing enthusiasts segment information about a gift guide that has sections for other gifts because you never know if those fly fishers have baseball playing nephews or soccer player nieces who they might be shopping for.

Keep in mind that during the holiday season, many of your shoppers won’t be purchasing gifts for themselves, but for other people. #eCommerce Click To Tweet

If you only have a few products, throw them all right in your email. But if you have a wide selection of products, build the gift guide on your website. Include different sections so your subscribers can navigate based on who they’re buying for. Make sure to match your copy and images to your buyer personas.

Here’s a great example of a holiday gift guide. In their email, Rip Curl links to two sections of their guide: Gifts for guys and gifts for girls.

2018 holiday email marketing campaign

For best results, give your gift guide a holiday feel so your subscribers know that it’s relevant to the current season.

Bonus: Do you use WooCommerce? We just published a very detailed guest post over on the official WooCommerce blog about how to set up a gift guide in WooCommerce using attributes.

Give ‘em a good deal

eCommerce customers expect deals during the holiday season, so make sure your shop delivers. Click To Tweet

Ideally, your deal should be impossible to ignore. But that doesn’t mean it has to come with a steep discount. It just has to provide enough value to your customer that they actually worry about missing their chance to get it.

Don’t be afraid to try something unique, like…

  • Creating an exclusive product that’s only available during the holiday season.
  • Offering gift cards worth more than their face value, but only if they’re redeemed in January.
  • Including a warranty or return policy that you don’t typically offer.
  • Bundling products together into useful, gift-friendly packages.
  • Offering services you normally don’t, like gift-wrapping or handwritten notes.

Hosting a sale or giving out a coupon is easy, but how you promote your offer through your 2018 holiday email marketing campaign is where you can maximize sales.

“It all comes down to messaging,” says Scott Ginsberg, Head of Content at Metric Digital. Instead of simply blasting out a promotional email, Scott recommends teasing the deal before Thanksgiving or offering a mini-deal to prime your customers for the holiday season, making them more likely to buy your big deal. (This is called a tripwire and it’s a useful marketing tool.)

If you can create enough hype for your 2018 holiday campaigns before the campaign is actually available, your customers will appreciate it as more than an opportunity. It will be something they’ve waited for.

Lean on season’s natural sense of urgency

Urgency is a powerful technique that marketers have been using for ages to drive more sales. It’s based on the fear of missing out. This is why most brands clearly communicate the end dates of their promotions. It lets customers know, “You’ll miss your chance if you don’t buy before this date!”

The holiday season comes with some built-in urgency that you can leverage. Shoppers need to make their purchases before they meet with their families and friends. They also need to order so there’s enough time for shipping.

The holiday season comes with some built-in urgency that you can leverage in your email marketing. Click To Tweet

Here are some ideas for you to leverage that pre-existing urgency:

  • Putting an end date on your sales and promotions.
  • Offering early bird pricing for people who buy their gifts early.
  • Include the dates of the last chance to order so customers can receive items by the holiday, or last days to take advantage of different shipping tiers.

Optimize your subject lines for the holidays

We’ve spoken a lot about the importance of using compelling subject lines throughout your email marketing. Other than your “from” name, the subject line is the only piece of information your subscribers have to decide whether they’ll open your email, so it’s critically important that you get it right.

When Vertical Response researched holiday subject lines, they discovered this list of the top 20 most effective words.

2018 holiday email marketing campaign

Notice how nearly all of those words indicate a special offer or deal. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Even customers who aren’t persuaded by sales during the rest of the year expect discounts during the holidays.

Oh, and sprinkle in some emojis, especially holiday-related ones. According to Campaign Monitor, 56 percent of brands say they get higher open rates when they use emojis in their subject lines. (But remember not to replace words with emojis–your subject line still need to be understandable by recipients who have images turn off in their email client or that lack emoji support.)

Optimize your lifecycle campaigns

Lifecycle campaigns are emails (or series of emails) that touch your customers during different phases of their relationship with your brand. You send them based on triggers. You might send a welcome campaign when they subscribe, a replenishment campaign when they run out of a product, or an abandoned cart campaign when they leave your site with a full cart before checking out.

Optimize your lifecycle email marketing campaigns for the holidays to make sure every customer is aware of your promotions. Click To Tweet

You should tailor these campaigns for the holiday season.

For example, let’s say you send win-back campaigns to customers who haven’t made a purchase or visited your site in some time, and one of the campaign’s emails includes a coupon. You might swap out that coupon for your current holiday-themed discount. Or, if one of the emails in your welcome series introduces your customer to some of your popular products, you might exchange that content for your holiday gift guide.

Make sure to save the old content of your lifecycle campaigns so you can swap them back after the holiday season (or pause your existing campaigns and create new ones to run only during the holiday season).

Oh, by the way, if you haven’t set up any of these email campaigns yet, now’s the time. Your traffic and email list are sure to spike during the holidays, so it’s best to be ready as early as possible.

A few more 2018 holiday email marketing campaign best practices

Here are a few more tips to make your 2018 campaigns effective.

  • Optimize your emails for mobile. According to Movable Ink, 76 percent of Black Friday emails and 63 percent of Cyber Monday emails are opened on a mobile device. (Jilt emails are responsive by default and look great on mobile!)
  • Use email to support your other campaigns. You could, for instance, promote your holiday Facebook contest or your YouTube gift-wrapping guide.
  • Make your offer obvious. Your subscribers are going to read a lot of holiday campaigns this year, so don’t make them search for your deal. (Not sure what to offer? If you don’t already, give out free shipping. 74 percent of consumers say free shipping is one of the most important features when buying online.)
  • Test your emails in multiple clients, on multiple devices, and at multiple sizes before sending out your list to make sure they render properly.
  • Include “buy now” or “shop now” calls-to-actions in your emails. 41 percent of buyers use them.

8 holiday promotional emails and why we think they’re great

Need inspiration for your holiday email marketing campaigns? Checkout the eight emails below, along with why we think they’re great (and sometimes, what they could improve).

1. Boloco

We like this email because the promotion is fun.

Even though there’s a lot of gift-giving during the holidays, many people use holiday deals to buy for themselves. This promotion acknowledges that in a fun way.

It also adds a bit of urgency at the bottom with “Decide how you’re ‘feeling’ by…

2. Sugaree’s Bakery

Sample packs are great gift-giving items because it ensures the gift giver will buy something the recipient likes. They don’t have to like every item in the pack–even if they only enjoy one of the samples, it’s still a successful gift. And your chances of buying something they like goes up because there’s more than one item for them to try.

If you have sample packages (or other exploratory products that help introduce new customers to your brand), promote them during the holidays in your email marketing campaigns.

3. Taza Chocolate

This is a good email because it leverages urgency well with copy like “last minute gifts,” “procrastinator alert,” and “free shipping ends friday.”

Urgency is a good play here because they sell chocolate, which is a gift most people would enjoy.

If you’re late on your shopping and don’t have time to make a decision, chocolate is a good choice.

4. William Roam

We like this email because it’s simple and straightforward. It also offers one of the most powerful incentives for eCommerce customers: Free shipping.

However, it could use a stronger call-to-action.

5. Prezo

We like this email because the offer is unique and compelling. It’s not a coupon or flat discount on a certain category of items. It feels like you’re getting straight cash when you buy a gift card.

There’s also some good urgency language: “For this week only.” And they recommend how you could give the gift being promoted (as a stocking stuffer–which is a perfect use for gift cards, and something people have a hard time filling).

6. Uncommon Goods

Instead of trying to hard-sell its products, Uncommon Goods take a different approach. They’ve put together lists of gift ideas for different people in your family. If you’re unsure what to buy, this is exactly the type of content you’d want to explore.

This type of email is a great way to add value to your subscriber’s life without resorting to a sale or coupon. The design is also fun and whimsical, which matches their brand.

7. Birchbox

Birchbox breaks the mold here by offering a Black Friday deal before Black Friday. This might help them get ahead of the rush and make some sales before other brands capture those holiday budgets.

Also, those colors are absolutely captivating.

8. Sephora

First, this is a really well designed email. It’s simple, but still stylish and it conveys the brand’s personality.

The “sale on sale” is a nice touch too. This feels like an extra opportunity to get a bigger discount on already cheap items, even though it’s probably a way for the store to liquidate leftover holiday merchandise. (So it’s a win-win for everyone, which is the best kind of promotion.)

Start your 2018 holiday email marketing early!

Don’t wait until the last minute to create your 2018 holiday email marketing campaigns. If you haven’t thought about your plans until now, you’re already behind. Starting early is especially important if you have a long internal process at your company.

GoDaddy recommends that you start sending your holiday campaigns between November 1st and 15th. Their research shows that’s when most people open holiday emails.

We’ve given you a few ways to squeeze more value out of your 2018 holiday email marketing campaigns. Use these techniques to maximize your sales and grow your customer base. Happy holidays!

About the Author Max Rice

Max is our co-founder and CEO at Jilt. He focuses on ensuring our app and integration plugins are top-notch while also working with merchants to get the most out of Jilt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *