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Your merriest guide to Christmas email marketing

· 30 min read · Email marketing · Nov 30, 2023
Developer, João, getting festive in Istanbul

Guess who's coming to town? It's time to deck your email campaigns with boughs of holly and turn that holiday cheer into Santa-sized revenue growth!

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is, without a doubt, the most wonderful time 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. With 2023 holiday season e-commerce sales expected to be over 10% higher than last year, it's time to start thinking about your Christmas newsletter ideas.

Strap into that sleigh and get your elves in a row—we're going to show you how to create a Christmas email marketing strategy to tap into that joyful holiday revenue stream.

Before you give your season’s greetings and create a new Christmas email campaign, analyze the data from campaigns of Christmas past. The goal here is to learn as much as possible from previous successes and failures so you can achieve greater results this year.

Looking at data from your past holiday campaigns will reveal:

  • Which products drove the most revenue last Christmas? You may want to offer them to your email list again this year.

  • Which promotions were most successful? Consider running something similar.

  • 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. Find the relevant data in the performance reports section of your MailerLite dashboard. 

What to include in a Christmas email?

Beyond the Christmas theme, emails sent at this time of year will often include factors like offers and discounts, gifting guides, Christmas-related graphics and images, festive messages, and year-end reviews. Just choose content relevant to your business and customers. 

Don’t forget about deliverability

Make the most of the sales opportunity by optimizing deliverability so your holiday emails are more likely to land in the inbox. Get it right and you'll increase your open rate and get more eyes on your campaigns. 

Following email marketing best practices such as authenticating your domain, choosing an ESP with a good reputation like MailerLite, and avoiding sending spam content is a good way to start improving your deliverability.

But you can take optimization a step further by using a dedicated tool to clean your email list and analyze your content to discover ways to reduce your spam score. 

Read our guide to avoiding spam filters to find out more about the steps you can take to improve deliverability.  

Many brands start sending Christmas emails once they’re finished with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This allows you to get maximum benefit from both of these shopping seasons, while still providing plenty of time to promote your products before Christmas. 

Other brands have some crossover between the two events. This ensures that people looking for Christmas gifts can take advantage of Black Friday offers. 

Whichever option you choose, don’t leave it too late! People start shopping for Christmas early and you don’t want to miss out on potential sales due to potential customers having already bought their gifts. 

Send multiple Christmas emails 

Sending several Christmas emails during the period will increase the visibility of your products and special offers. Start with product guides, wish lists, and gifting ideas to show people that your products will make great presents. Consider adding offers or discounts to encourage people to buy. 

Be sure to keep sending your emails after Christmas day. Many people continue shopping until the New Year so contacting your subscribers during this time will provide more opportunities for sales. 

If you want to reduce your workload this period, schedule your emails in advance and set them to go out at your chosen time. This will allow you to focus on fulfilling all the orders your emails bring in. 

Create your Christmas email campaign now!

Sign up for MailerLite to access all you need to send impactful Christmas emails. Get customizable holiday season email templates, connect to your e-commerce store, and create sales-focused automations. Try it out with a 30-day free trial today! 

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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, so finding the right one should be your top priority.

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

Your Christmas subject lines should intrigue your subscribers either by invoking curiosity, highlighting a benefit or being drastically different. 

Here are some tips to make your subject lines stand out:

  • Experiment with emojis to catch the reader's eye

  • Use A/B split testing to discover the subject line that generates the most opens

  • Use personalization to add the subscriber’s name to the subject line

  • Add numbers, we found that using numbers increases opens in some industries

  • Keep your subject lines under 40 characters so they are displayed in full on mobile devices

  • Use our AI subject line tool to generate ideas at speed

You can read about these tips and more in our guide to writing subject lines that boost engagement. The article also includes a list of keywords to add and avoid when writing subject lines. 

For further inspiration, check out this list of Christmas subject line examples. These should give you a good idea of what works.

Gift-themed Christmas subject lines

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

Victoria’s Secret - Your FREE holiday gift awaits (but not for long)

Moment - Get All Your Gifts Yet?

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

Prezi - Our little gift to you

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.

Minted - Find a gift for everyone on your list

Promotional Christmas email subject lines

Finn - Oh no! Christmas is only 10 days away

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.

Porter Airlines - A songbook of savings!

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

JOY - Just in time for Christmas Jumper Day! - 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 Christmas subject lines

FlipBoard - Christmassy ideas for your travel bucket list

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

Google - Get last-minute gifting help from Google

Printivo - PFour Cheap but Tangible Gifts to give this Christmas

Rapha - Rapha Gift Guide – presents for all who pedal

Christmas subject lines using emojis

Sony - Looking for last-minute gifts? 🎁

The Showpo Team - SLAY your winter vacay! 🎄🎁

MacPaw - Just a thank you note (and a 30% off coupon)🎄

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

Fleur & Bee - 🎅Straight from Santa's bag.

MacPaw - Want to impress someone with a perfect gift? 🎁

Straightforward - ✨ Complete your Christmas wish list with Straightforward gifts! ✨

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

Your email preheader is the preview text you can see below or next to the subject line in your inbox. See an example in the graphic below.

A graphic showing a subject line and preheader on a mobile device

Use this text to provide further context about the email’s content to entice people to open it. The key is to use your subject line and preheader to create a cohesive content combo people want to click on.

Here are some tips you can use and preheader examples to inspire your own emails: 

  • Highlight the email’s value: Discover the perfect presents for everyone on your list - let the merry magic begin!

  • Add a call to action: Dive into our sleigh full of discounts - unwrap your savings now!

  • Build curiosity: Ever wondered what the perfect gift looks like? Open to find out

  • Add a sense of urgency: Frosty finds available while stocks last

  • Personalize: Duncan, we've handpicked special gift ideas just for you - take a peek!

  • Use emojis: 🌟 Light up your holiday season with dazzling deals and sparkling discounts!

Read about the tips above and more with our guide to writing effective email preheaders that generate opens. 

Now you know the overall strategy your Christmas newsletter ideas should follow, here are 24 top tips for getting the most out of every message you send. We’ve grouped the ideas into sections for Christmas content, engagement, and design. 

1. Create a Christmas wish list

Wishlists are a great way to show your customers products they might be interested in so they can add them to their list for when Christmas arrives. Create an email with a selection of your top products so people can see what’s on offer. 

Consider creating lists that appeal to different groups of customers. You could even segment your email subscriber list and send each lush list to the most relevant audiences. 

See an example from Hunting for George in the image below. It contains images of the products with a link to their listing and the current price.

pre-christmas newsletter example hunting for george wishlist
Image credit: Hunting for George

2. Create a Christmas gift guide

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

The below image shows an email from P&Co promoting its Christmas gift guide. The brand gathered a collection of crowd-pleasing items and arranged them by price and collection.

Gift guide email from P&Co.
Image credit: P&Co.

3. Combine Christmas and Black Friday

Black Friday comes bang in the middle of the Christmas shopping period. Use your Black Friday emails to mention that now is a great time to save when buying Christmas gifts. That’s what Unisport does in the email below. 

Christmas email from Unisport featuring Black Friday colour schemes
Image credit: Unisport

4. Run a Christmas contest

Contests can be a good way to generate brand visibility during the Christmas period. Just choose a relevant theme, make the instructions for entering super clear, and add a social sharing element for brand awareness.  

The screenshot below shows a great example of a contest email from the graphic design tool Canva. By encouraging people to share their designs on social media the brand is able to generate brand visibility while highlighting the types of content people can create with the platform. 

Canva Christmas email
Image credit: Canva

5. Create a year-in-review email

Thank your customers for their support and share the highlights of the past year. You may even want to offer them a gift to show how much you appreciate them.

In the email below, &Open shares a year-end message and links to its digital gift guides. 

christmas customer appreciation email example featuring digital gift guides from &Open
Image credit: &Open

6. Wish your subscribers a Merry Christmas

Christmas is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. As a business looking to make the most of the opportunity, it’s easy to forget that Christmas is also a time to take a break, think of others, and spend time with those close to you. 

With that in mind, consider spending a minute to send your subscribers a Merry Christmas message. Whether you make it fun or sincere, your customers will appreciate the time you took to send the message.

Greetings card company Thortful sent a Christmas poem to its email subscribers to wish them a Merry Christmas.

Christmas email from Thortful with a red background
Image credit: Thortful

7. Offer Christmas discounts

Providing your customers with Christmas email discount codes on products they've already shown an 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 Rifle Paper Co. It works because the offer is super clear and there's a big call-to-action button for people to click on. 

christmas discount email example from Rifle Paper Co.
Image credit: Rifle Paper Co.

8. 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 consider offering free shipping, just like Tattly did in their Christmas newsletter below.

Tattly Christmas email campaign offering free shipping with flashing GIF
Image credit: Tattly

9. Create a post-Christmas offer

The time after Christmas is a good opportunity to make sales as people look to take advantage of post-holiday offers and New Year sales. 

Here's an enticing post-Christmas email template including a discount from Leesa. Look how enticing the red buy button is. Meanwhile, the additional offer of a free pillow may provide the value needed to convince subscribers to buy. 

Your merriest guide to Christmas email marketing
Image credit: Leesa

10. Tap into the last-minute gifts market

We’re all guilty of some last-minute Christmas shopping! Smart email marketers have tapped into this trend and created favorable deals for the less-prepared Christmas 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.

The email below from Fleur & Bee is a good example of a last-minute gift reminder email. The brand highlights that despite the timing, the gift doesn’t feel low effort. It also offers free priority shipping to ensure the gift arrives on time. 

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

11. Give something back

Christmas is about giving, so what better time to share a little something with your subscribers? Sharing a freebie with your email list could make their day! 

We love this creative email newsletter from LevelUp because it offers different gifts that subscribers can unwrap.

Levelup Christmas newsletter example orange present wraps green background
Image credit: Levelup

12. Create a fun Christmas email sign-off

Consider finishing off your email with a Christmas message as a sign-off. What you write in your message is up to you, but some ideas for a Christmas email sign-off include:

  • Thank your subscribers for their support during the year

  • Wish them an enjoyable festive season

  • Add some Christmas-themed puns or jokes

  • Share a hint at what you have coming in the year ahead

  • If you're taking a break, let subscribers know when you plan to start sending emails again

Feeling stuck for inspiration? Then use our AI email generator to come up with a message for you.

A Christmas email sign-off
Source: MailerLite

1. Take advantage of personalization

Email personalization allows you to send targeted content that is relevant to your subscribers. Increased relevance leads to better-performing email campaigns. 

You can make your emails personal by adding dynamic text snippets or by segmenting your subscribers based on information in their profile and then sending relevant content.

Resy takes the idea of personalization to another level by using their Christmas campaign to look back on their customer’s journey with them so far.

personalised email showing how the reader used Resy throughout the year
Image credit: Resy

2. Send emails at the most impactful time

The time and day you send emails can make a big difference to whether people open them. Send at the right time and the email will be visible when customers log into their account. But get it wrong and your message will be lost at the bottom of a pile of promotions.

Our article on the best time to send emails has plenty of general data you can use to guide your campaigns. For example, Thursday is the best day for opens and people are more likely to open emails sent between 11 AM and 12 PM and 6 and 7 PM.  

3. Optimize your emails for mobile

People are opening more emails on mobile phones than ever before. You have to ensure that your emails are mobile responsive, so your subscribers get a smooth experience no matter what device they use.

👉 Tip

If you use MailerLite, your email design is automatically responsive. It’ll format correctly regardless of the device your subscribers are using.

SKAF Christmas newsletter example cars offers white background
Image credit: SKAF

4. 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 the 3-4 platforms your subscribers are most active on and add social media sharing buttons for those. 

Wildist had a creative Christmas newsletter idea when it came to sharing. They encouraged subscribers to forward Wildist newsletters to friends and family to inspire gift ideas for themselves!

Wildist wishlist email forwarding example
Image credit: Wildist

5. Test your campaign

Continuous experimentation helps you grow faster. Testing your Christmas emails lets you discover what works best and what doesn't so you can improve. 
Run A/B tests to see how a single item performs. You can test your subject line, headline, or email content to see which variation performs better.

6. Add urgency

Do you know what drives even more sales than a discount? A discount with a time limit. Adding urgency to your email campaigns incentivizes people to act quickly and buy your product.

👉 Tip

You can easily add a countdown timer like this to your email using MailerLite's simple Drag & drop editor. Just choose the relevant block, drag it into place and customize the design to fit your brand.

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
Image credit: Harry's

7. Create a powerful CTA

A good CTA tells your audience what to do and motivates them to go ahead and do it! Here are a couple of techniques you can use to create a CTA that stands out:

  • Make the reason for clicking obvious. For example, instead of “Click here” say “See the guide”

  • Use approachable action verbs like “Start,” “Get” or “Buy”

  • Focus on the benefit of the action. For example, change “Buy now” to “Get 50% off”

  • Use contrasting colors for the button so it’s easy to see

👉 Tip

You can learn all the best practices to create an email CTA that converts in our ultimate guide on call-to-actions. 

Deki promoted their Christmas sale with a simple but powerful CTA: ‘Start gifting’ to inspire action with affirmative language.

Deki Christmas newsletter example with green background
Image credit: Deki

8. Write captivating email copy

Remember that people see tons of marketing messages during Christmas. The usual newsletter copy might not be enough to stand out at this time of year: you need to go the extra mile with your Christmas email copy. 

👉 Tip

Writing good copy takes practice. But there are best practices you can use to get up to speed quickly. 

For example:

  • Focus on the benefits

  • Make your offer clear

  • Focus on one goal in your copy

  • Use a spelling or grammar checker

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs

  • Bring attention to content with bolding, bullet lists and headings

Check out this guide to writing email content people care about to discover more.

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 Christmas newsletter idea 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
Image credit: Goat story

9. Add a lighthearted message

‘Tis the season of good cheer, after all! Add a touch of humor to your Christmas newsletter to make it memorable. Take it as an opportunity to use all those holiday puns for email marketing you’ve been saving, like this one from Wonderbly.

Wonderbly Christmas email example
Image credit: Wonderbly

The final step to creating emails that work is perfecting the design. Here are some Christmas email design tips you can use to create campaigns filled with festive cheer.

1. 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 Christmas email design needs to have a festive color scheme to mark the season.

The below holiday email from Starbucks goes all out with a red, green and white design that helps associate the product with Christmas.

Starbucks Christmas email in red and green colors with festive drink cups
Image credit: Starbucks

2. Add animations

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

👉 Tip

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

A cool example of animations done well is this email newsletter by Brit+Co, in which flashing images promote different gift ideas. It’s eye-catching, effective and we’re especially big fans of the Christmas tree glasses!

Brit + Co Christmas newsletter example animated collage white elephant
Image credit: Brit + Co

3. Use emojis

To emoji, or not to emoji? It depends on your target audience, but emojis can be a fun way to add some personality 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.

👉 Tip

Did you know that emojis are particularly effective in subject lines? Businesses in many industries see a bump in open rates when they add emojis to subject lines. Take a look at our guide to using email emojis in subject lines, to find out more!

Experiment with your own emails to see how people react, and adjust the number of emojis accordingly (you might find out no emojis at all is best).

Christmas lead magnet email example
Created in MailerLite

Whether you’re creating a Christmas email campaign, landing page or pop-up, there’s no need to start from scratch. Instead, you can pick one of our festive templates and customize it to meet your marketing needs.

You can find your holiday templates when creating a new newsletter, landing page or pop-up in your MailerLite account. Simply click on the tab labeled Template gallery and explore the different templates.

If you need some fresh inspiration, take a look at our holiday templates.

Christmas newsletter templates

Landing page Christmas templates

Pop-up Christmas templates

With an automated workflow, you can create your Christmas series, turn on the workflow and let MailerLite 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.

Here’s an e-commerce automation workflow example including 4 Christmas email campaigns.

Date Campaign Description
Mid-November Wishlist or gift guide Gift recommendations
3 weeks before Christmas Early gift Discount or free shipping
1 week before Christmas On-time delivery reminder Deadline to purchase gifts with countdown
1 week after Christmas End of year Say thanks, recap the year or offer a discount
Automated Christmas email workflow - MailerLite
Source: MailerLite

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!

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated with new insights and holiday email examples for Christmas 2023.

Duncan Elder
Duncan Elder
I’m Duncan, a content writer at MailerLite. I love building websites with no-code tools and writing about what I learn. I created my first site in 2011 with Blogger—it’s safe to say that website builders have improved a lot since then!