Ilma from MailerLite

Ilma23 min readTips and resourcesNovember 3, 2020

Your merriest guide to Christmas email marketing

Your merriest guide to Christmas email marketing

It’s the day after Halloween. You walk into a shopping center and then you hear it: Christmas music streaming from a loudspeaker. “Really? Already?” you think.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Christmas, without a doubt, is one of the best times of the year for businesses around the world.

Your customers are already primed to buy during the holidays and all you have to do is set up the right strategy to turn their interest into sales.

There's no better way to win new customers than through email marketing. 2019 marked the first year where more than 1 trillion USD were spent in retail sales. With this number expected to rise in 2020, it's time to kick off your Christmas email marketing campaign right.

In this post, we're going to show you how to create a Christmas email marketing strategy to tap into that joyful holiday revenue stream.


Start by analyzing email campaigns of Christmas past

Before you create your Christmas email campaign, you first need to analyze past campaign data. The goal here is to learn as much as possible from past successes and failures so you can achieve greater results this year.

Looking at data from your previous holiday campaigns should reveal:

  • What products drove the most revenue last Christmas? You may want to offer them to your subscribers again this year.
  • Which promotions were most successful? Consider running something similar again.
  • Which customer groups brought in the most sales? Align your campaign to focus more on these groups.
  • Which Christmas campaign ideas failed? You might avoid using them this year or attempt to rework them if they seem viable or more relevant now.
  • What were customers’ purchasing habits during Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year? This could give you a heads up on what to expect for the rest of the holiday shopping season. 

The answers to these questions will better inform this year's marketing decisions and increase your campaign’s chance of success.

Take note of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s shopping habits over the past year. Our MailerLite data shows that the average number of orders per e-shop has increased by a whopping 67.34% since February 2020… and it looks like the numbers are still rising! This may be because more and more people are avoiding the physical shops, in favor of making purchases online.

Average orders per e-shop graphic rising blue bar - MailerLite

With online shopping stronger than ever, many of your competitors will be offering deals and discounts. So this Christmas time, you’ll need to get creative to stand out from the crowd! 


Why successful Christmas email marketing campaigns are a year-long effort

Email marketing runs on the quality of the relationship you've built with your subscribers. If you have an email list with a million subscribers, yet you haven’t formed a meaningful relationship with them, then it doesn't matter how big your list is.

You shouldn't wait until Christmas to reach out to your subscribers. That's a recipe for disaster because so many other brands are trying to get attention during that period.

To give your Christmas email campaign the best chance for success, you have to start early.

Your subscribers won't buy from the very first email you send them, but you can be top of mind so when they are ready to buy, they remember you. The more rapport you build with your subscribers before Christmas, the more successful your campaign will be.


Get the most out of the holidays by dividing your Christmas email campaign into three stages:

  1. Pre-Christmas: A few weeks before the Christmas period.
  2. Christmas: Christmas and the days surrounding it.
  3. Post-Christmas: A few weeks after Christmas.

Pre-Christmas email campaign

Christmas shopping can start early. GoDaddy even recommends the first and second week of November as the best time to start sending your Christmas email campaigns. The pre-Christmas emails are a subtle way of keeping your brand and products at the top of your subscribers’ minds. You're trying to warm them up for what's coming on Christmas.

Pre-Christmas emails are usually in the form of:

Wishlists: A great way to gently hint at the upcoming holiday is to show your customers products they might be interested in so they can add it to their wish list for when Christmas arrives.

Here's an example of a wishlist from Hunting For George.

pre-christmas newsletter example hunting for george wishlist

Gift guides: Pre-Christmas emails can also come in the form of gift guides. If you have a comprehensive understanding of who your customers are, then you can offer relevant product suggestions that match their interests.

Here's a Christmas email template with a gift guide from Canopy.

Christmas gift guide email example canopy kid drawing

Christmas email campaign

The season has finally arrived and if you started nurturing your subscribers with pre-Christmas emails then the next step is fairly straightforward. In fact, since you acted early and used personalized content to show your subscribers products that they're interested in, they most likely already have some of your products on their minds. This is when you go in for the sale.

One way to do this is by simply offering discounts. Discounts are synonymous with holiday promotions and you can bet all of your competitors are offering them too. Providing your customers with Christmas discounts on products they've already shown interest in is an easy way to encourage them to buy. And don’t forget to give them a chance to share these discounts with friends and family members.

Here is an example of a big Christmas discount offered by Configure IT.

christmas discount email example early gift box with discount

Post-Christmas email campaign

Christmas might be over, but that doesn't mean your campaign is. The new year can also be profitable and you should take advantage of it. What you do in January can even set the pace for the rest of the year.

Start your post-Christmas emails with:

Discounts: Give even more discounts to consumers who purchased during your Christmas promotions. They might have liked a product or service enough to purchase it again. Or maybe there is something they had their eye on, but never bought or received as a gift. With the commotion of Christmas over, people have more ability to focus on items/services that would benefit them. Without your email reminder, they might have otherwise forgotten about them.

Here's an enticing post-Christmas email template including a discount from Leesa.

post-Christmas discount email example leesa mattress light blue background offer

Show appreciation: Remember what we said about email marketing and relationships? Thank your customers for their support and tell them what your company has planned for the year. You may even want to offer them a gift to show how much you appreciate them.

christmas customer appreciation email example readdle thank you

Share useful content: Don't just drop off until the next holiday season. Keep providing your subscribers with helpful content that delivers value: keep them updated on the latest developments in your company, share articles and even video content that can make their lives better.

Prezi does an excellent job of engaging their subscribers with a post-Christmas gift.

post-christmas gift email example prezi present wrap blue background

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There's one incredibly important part of your email to focus on and that's your email subject line.

Subject lines get people to open your email in the first place and if you fail here, then the rest of your email doesn't matter.

Remember that Christmas is competitive. Not only are your subscribers receiving a lot more marketing emails, but their inboxes are also filled with emails from friends and family.

You can almost say that the fate of your email campaign rests on your subject line. Your Christmas subject lines should intrigue your subscribers either by invoking curiosity, highlighting a real benefit or being drastically different. 

You can also experiment with emojis to catch the reader's eye. Emojis have the power to increase your open rate. You can test your subject line with an A/B split testing, where one subject line includes an emoji (or several) and the other doesn't. 

We've gone to the other side of the Internet and back to find some effective Christmas-themed subject lines to give you an idea of what works.

Gift subject lines

Configure IT - We’ve got an early gift for you

LEGO - NEW LEGO® Star Wars™ sets and a free GIFT!

1973 - Here’s a gift just for you…

Taco Bell - Happy Holidays! We made you a game! Want to play?

Prezi - Our little gift to you

Norm Thompson - 🎁 Our gift to you - $50 of $100

Avon UK - P is for Personalised gifts…

Seafolly - All she wants for Christmas is S E A F O L L Y

Birchbox - Free boxes. Ohh Yeah.

Old Navy - Merry 🎄 - We got you a gift

Minted - Find a gift for everyone on your list

Promotional subject lines

Tailor Brands - FREE Month of Unlimited Brand Design!

Frank Body - Babe, free shipping this holiday season

Vertical Response - Are your holiday cards in the mail yet? Get 60% off!

World Market - Ho-Ho-WHOA! 50% off Wine Gift Baskets + Holiday Food and Decor.

UberEATS - Brr – warm up with some free hot chocolate.

Free People - 50% off ⚡ The Season’s Greetings Flash Sale

Porter Airlines - A songbook of savings!

Extended Stay Hotels - Jingle All the Way with 35% off!

AshleyStewart.com - Day 1 of 12 Christmas Deals!

J. Crew - It’s ok to have seconds (or thirds) of this sale

Macy’s - Extra 20% off? Our After Christmas Sale is on

Holland & Barrett - Email Exclusive | Get 15% off this Christmas Eve

Topical subject lines

TWO - XmasHTreeMaiL

BarkBox - Dog people give the best gifts

Francis Lofts and Bunks - How many bunk beds can fit in Santa’s sleigh?

Shutterstock - Hand-picked images for the holidays

Apple - Give iPad. And put some fun under the tree.

The Showpo Team - SLAY your winter vacay! 🎄🎁

JOY - Just in time for Christmas Jumper Day!

Backcountry.com - For the person that has everything

Papa Murphy’s - Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle… let us help with dinner!

Gift guides/lists subject lines

Eero - The Most WonderFi Guide of the Year

Trello - 12 Presents To Make You More Productive These Holidays

Tory Burch - Presenting: Tory’s Gift Guide

UGmonk - Find the Perfect Gift for Everyone on Your List

Finish Line - The Holiday Gift Guide is here. Game on for gift giving.

MAC Cosmetics Online - Trending now: Glitter ✨ + 5 Free Samples & Makeup Bag!

Printivo - Four Cheap but Tangible Gifts to give this Christmas

Sony - Looking for last-minute gifts? 🎁

Laura Ashley - Shop our Christmas Gift Guide by price


Now that you know the overall strategy your Christmas email campaigns should follow, here are some excellent tips for getting the most out of every email you send.

1. Offer free shipping

You're not the only one trying to get your subscribers to buy during Christmas. The holidays are competitive for marketers, so you have to reduce every friction point that can stop consumers from buying—and shipping costs are a big one. 

If you sell physical products, offer free shipping, just like Frank Body did in their Christmas newsletter below.

Frank Body Christmas newsletter example rose and white background

2. Take advantage of segmentation 

Email segmentation helps your emails perform much better than non-segmented emails because the content your subscribers receive will be more relevant to them. Increased relevance leads to better performing email campaigns. You can choose to segment your subscribers based on gender, interests and even purchase history.

Resy takes this to another level, using their holiday newsletter to look back on their customer’s journey with them so far.

Resy Christmas newsletter example smiles year in review graphics

3. Write captivating email copy

Remember that people see tons of marketing messages during Christmas. The usual newsletter copy won't do it here; you need to go the extra mile with your Christmas email copy. The value you offer must be noticeable within the first few seconds. 

Coffee company Goat Story immediately grabs your attention with the line, ‘Hey! It’s almost Christmas!’ in their email newsletter, before asking whether you’ve found gifts for your loved ones, yet. This creates a sense of urgency around last-minute gifts, and encourages the reader to take action straight away.

Goat Story Christmas newsletter example coffee beans dark background

4. Optimize your emails for mobile

People are opening more emails on mobile phones than ever before. Nowadays, 85% of people use mobiles to access email, and according to Statista 2020, 52% of all online traffic is conducted on smartphones.

You have to ensure that your emails are mobile responsive, so your subscribers get a smooth experience no matter what device they use.

If you use MailerLite, your email design is automatically responsive, and it will format correctly regardless of the device your subscribers are using, just like this Christmas newsletter by SKAF, below. 

SKAF Christmas newsletter example cars offers white background

5. Add sharing buttons

An easy way to get more exposure for your Christmas campaign is to let your customers become your promoters. Add a simple share button to every email so customers can tell other people about your offers. But, don't overwhelm them with too many options. Pick 3-4 platforms your subscribers are most active on and add social sharing buttons for those. 

In this holiday email by Rosyth Estate House, they include links to their social media profiles, so that subscribers can connect and share their content. 

Rosyth Estate House Christmas newsletter example red background

6. Split test your campaign

One of the fastest ways to grow is through continuous experimentation. Testing your Christmas emails let you discover what works best and what doesn't so you can improve. You can A/B test everything from your subject line, headline, and even email content to see which variation performs better.

If you run your campaigns with MailerLite, you can test different parts of your email with ease. Our A/B testing feature will automatically detect the change that drives the most engagement and send that email to the rest of your subscribers.

7. Add urgency

Do you know what drives even more sales than a discount? A discount with a time limit. Most of us delay. We think we'll have time to buy something later, we might even bookmark the page, but then it's forgotten as soon as we close our browsers. Adding urgency to your email campaigns incentivizes people to take action quickly.

In this email, Harry's adds urgency by indicating that free holiday shipping ends in 2 days.

holiday email urgency example email marketing red background
👉 Tip

You can easily add a countdown timer like this to your email using MailerLite's simple drag & drop editor.

8. Add GIFs

Use these animated images to make your Christmas newsletter pop! You have nanoseconds to catch your subscribers’ eye, and a GIF is the perfect way to do that. 

A perfect example of GIFs well done is this email newsletter by Brit+Co, in which flashing images promote different gift ideas. Eye-catching and effective (we’re especially big fans of the Christmas tree glasses)!

Brit + Co Christmas newsletter example animated collage white elephant
👉 Tip

Check out our guide on using GIFs in emails to find out the correct file size to use, how to display them correctly and how they can benefit your email campaign!

9. Create a powerful CTA

You want people to respond to your email, right? A good CTA will tell your audience what to do, and motivate them to go ahead and do it! Here are a couple of techniques you can use to create a CTA that stands out:

  • Keep it clear and tell your subscribers exactly what to do
  • Use a command verb to inspire action
  • Add power words that provoke emotion and/or enthusiasm
  • Create urgency
  • Show the value of what you’re offering
  • Take a look at our ultimate guide on how to create an email CTA that works

Rifle Paper Co. promoted their Christmas sale with a simple but powerful CTA: ‘GO, GO, GO!’ to build a sense of urgency.

Rifle Paper Co Christmas newsletter example santa riding sleight offer

10. Use emojis

To emoji, or not to emoji? It depends on your target audience, but emojis can be a fun way to add some character to your email newsletter. Just make sure they’re relevant. If they don’t match your brand or campaign, it’s better not to use them. But if they do, then great! Get creative and play around with different emojis, keeping your target audience in mind. 

For example, the Social SideKick uses quite a few emojis in their email below—which their audience probably resonates with! Experiment with your own emails to see how people react, and adjust the amount of emoji accordingly (you might find out no emojis at all is best).

Social SideKick Christmas newsletter example rose call to action button white background - MailerLite
👉 Tip

Did you know that emojis are particularly effective in subject lines? Take a look at our guide to using email emojis in subject lines, to find out more!

11. Tap into the last-minute gifts market

We’re all guilty of some last-minute shopping here and there! Some smart email marketers have tapped into this trend, and created favorable deals for last-minute shoppers. To do the same, you could send a reminder email with a countdown timer for orders to be made and delivered on time before Christmas. Or you could offer express shipping, for people who have left it too late. 

Take Fleur & Bee, for example, who offer ‘a last minute gift that doesn’t feel last minute’, with free priority shipping. 

Fleur & Bee Christmas newsletter example box with bottles products light purple

Or you could take inspiration from Everlane, who take the panic out of last-minute holiday shopping with their line ‘some of the best gifts are bought at the last minute’. 

Everlane Christmas newsletter example mint background winter accessories

12. Use Christmas colors in your email design

Go for bold holiday colors or opt for soft festive tones. It’s completely up to you! But just like a Christmas card, your email design needs to have a festive color scheme to mark the season. Whether that's a hint of red, or an email template that goes all-out, like in this holiday newsletter by MerrySale.

MerrySale Christmas newsletter example red background

Or you can keep it soft and minimalist, like in this Christmas newsletter by Rewined. 

Rewined Christmas newsletter example white background

13. Be funny

‘Tis the season of good cheer, after all! Add a touch of humor to your Christmas newsletter to make it memorable. We love this ‘go ahead, do a little happy dance’ slogan!

Joy Christmas newsletter example animated pine cones blue background

You could also take this as an opportunity to use all those Christmas puns you’ve been saving! Here are three of our favorites, starting with this one from J.Crew. 

J. Crew Christmas newsletter example green background red bird

And here’s another funny Christmas holiday greeting from J.Crew Factory. Someone in their team must have been loving the Christmas puns in their email campaign last year!

J. Crew Christmas newsletter example mint car carrying a pine tree

And in case you needed one more, check out this Christmas newsletter from American Eagle Outfitters! 

American Eagle Outfitters Christmas newsletter example red and white

14. Give something back

Christmas is about giving, so what better time to share a little something with your subscribers? A discount code, free delivery or even a freebie could make their day! We love this creative email newsletter from LevelUp, with different gifts that subscribers can ‘unwrap’. 

Levelup Christmas newsletter example orange present wraps green background

15. Make a family newsletter 

Do you send Christmas cards every year? A family newsletter is pretty similar, and it adds a nice personal touch to your email campaign. It could be anything from showing a portrait of your family sharing in the Christmas spirit, to inviting your audience to do something as a family during the holidays. We love this invitation to a PJs and pancakes party with Santa, in the family newsletter below!

Coffee Creek Church Christmas newsletter example will ferrell elf movie gif

So far we've talked about the importance of planning, and we've even given you some guidelines for making successful email campaigns.

Now, it’s time to share some examples of Christmas newsletters, for each of the stages that we mentioned earlier. Whether you’re prepping your pre-Christmas campaign, or thinking about what to send after the holidays, we have some email inspiration for every part of your holiday timeline. Happy emailing! 

Pre-Christmas email examples

Equa shows us how to get pre-Christmas emails right with this gift buying guide they send to their subscribers.

pre-christmas newsletter example sophisticated bottle minimalist white background

Christmas email examples

In this email, Tuleste uses a Christmas themed, interactive email plus a compelling discount to stay in line with the holiday spirit and remain relevant.

christmas interactive email example christmas tree rose background

MAINGEAR goes all in on their Christmas discounts to give more value to their subscribers for less.

christmas discount email example

Sometimes all you have to do is say thank you. That's what AviationCV did for all of their subscribers in this Christmas email.

christmas thank you email example red helicopter letter

Post-Christmas email examples

Christmas might have been over, but Fandango kept the season of giving alive when presenting subscribers with a money-saving offer.

new year email example fandango yellow background

In this email, Postable shows how much they appreciate their subscribers by giving them 20% off of their next purchase.

post-holiday email example pink background postable christmas cards

When you create your Christmas campaign, you don't need to start from scratch. Instead, you can pick one of the Christmas email templates and customize it to meet your marketing needs.

You can find the Christmas email templates when creating a new campaign in your account. Click on the tab labeled Template gallery and search for Christmas. 

And if you need some fresh inspiration, take a look at our holiday newsletter examples.

christmas email templates - MailerLite soft purple pastel colors

We’ve told you about the three stages of Christmas email marketing. Our early Christmas gift to you is: you don’t need to manually set up and send out each campaign. With an automated workflow, you can create your Christmas series, turn on the workflow and let our software take care of the rest.

Bring the Christmas spirit into your emails by using one of the Christmas templates from our template gallery. In the editor, you can adjust the template to your liking.

In this example, we’ll show you an e-commerce automation workflow example including 4 Christmas email campaigns.

DateCampaignDescription
Mid-NovemberWishlist or gift guideGift recommendations
3 weeks before ChristmasEarly giftDiscount or free shipping
1 week before ChristmasOn-time delivery reminderDeadline to purchase gifts with countdown
1 week after ChristmasEnd of yearSay thanks, recap the year or offer a discount
Automated Christmas email workflow - MailerLite

Final thoughts on your Christmas email marketing campaign

The Christmas season can be more than just merry and bright. It can be positively profitable when you approach it with a carefully thought-out strategy.

Just remember these key steps:

  • Start building interest early
  • Give your subscribers an offer they can't refuse
  • Thank and reward them

We'd love to know what you have planned for your subscribers this holiday season, so leave a comment below and enlighten us all! And finally, we wish y'all a very Merry Christmas!

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Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated with new insights and examples for Christmas 2020.

Ilma Nausedaite

I’m Ilma, COO at MailerLite. I love seeing our customers succeed. When they win, we win (like being named one of the top 5 fastest growing SaaS companies). Email is my passion, although I took a rather unusual path. Before MailerLite, I worked in finance and art, which turned out to be the perfect mix for marketing.